Computer Engineering and Systems Group’s Faculty and Staff Award winners recognized

M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering and director of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), recognized two Faculty and Staff Award winners in the Computer Engineering and Systems Group during the 2016 Faculty and Staff Awards banquet.

Banks presented Carolyn Warzon with a Staff Excellence Award and Alex Sprintson with the William O. & Montine P. Head Memorial Research Fund Award for Contributions.

Sprintson, who joined the department in 2006, received his B.Sc. degree (summa cum laude), M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, in 1995, 2001 and 2003, respectively. From 2003 to 2005 he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the California Institute of Technology. His honors include the Prof. Andrew Viterbi post-doctoral fellowship, the Wolf Award for his Ph.D. studies, the Miriam and Aaron Gutwirth Fellowship for Special Excellence in Graduate Studies and numerous academic awards of excellence.

Sprintson’s research interests are in the broad area of communication networks with a focus on algorithmic and Information-theoretic aspects of networking, network coding and its applications in communication networks, and Quality of Service (QoS) routing.

Warzon, administrative coordinator for the Computer Engineering and Systems Group, joined the department in 1996. Warzon has been in the college of engineering since 1985. Other honors she has received include the 2005 Presidents Meritorious Service Award, the Dean’s Staff Achievement Award from the college of engineering, and the department’s Outstanding Staff Award.

Researchers in electrical and computer engineering receive award for brain-inspired computing

Two graduate students and their adviser in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University received the Honorary Mention Best Paper Award from the 2016 IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (ISCAS).

Qian Wang, Youjie Li and their thesis adviser, Dr. Peng Li, received the award for their paper titled, “Liquid state machine based pattern recognition on FPGA with firing-activity dependent power gating and approximate computing,” at ISCAS, which was held in Montreal, Canada. This award was conferred by the Neural Systems and Applications Technical Committee of IEEE Circuits and Systems (CAS) Society.

For a very long time, the human brain has been a great inspiration for building efficient intelligent systems. Nevertheless, mimicking the information processing capabilities of the brain in VLSI-based computing systems is a completely nontrivial task and entails the development of efficient processor architectures and hardware-friendly learning mechanisms. The researchers’ paper demonstrates how the liquid state machine (LSM), a biologically plausible recurrent spiking neural network model, can be used to enable brain-inspired neural processors. An LSM processor architecture with integrated on-chip learning capability has been demonstrated on the reconfigurable FPGA platform for pattern and speech recognition applications. This work also investigates novel firing activity-based low power and approximate computing techniques to boost system energy efficiency.

Wang and Li are part of Dr. Li’s research group, and have recently passed their Ph.D. and M.S. thesis defenses, respectively. Dr. Li is a professor in the department, a faculty member of the Texas A&M Institute for Neuroscience and Texas A&M Health Science Center, and an IEEE Fellow. In addition to this award, Dr. Li has received five other best paper awards from premier IEEE/ACM conferences.

ISCAS is the world’s premier networking forum of leading researchers in the highly active fields of theory, design and implementation of circuits and systems.

Duffield appointed Fellow of the IET

Dr. Nick Duffield, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, professor by courtesy in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and Director of the Texas A&M Engineering Big Data Initiative was appointed Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

The IET, which is based in the United Kingdom, is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with more than 167,000 members in 127 countries. It is also the most multidisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century.

IET Fellowship is awarded to individuals who have sustained high levels of achievement, for example through leadership, influence, senior responsibility, innovation and professional service, at the forefront of engineering, technology or cognate disciplines for a period of five years or more.

“I am honored to be recognized as a Fellow by the IET. I intend use my relations with the IET Fellow community to help build international connections in my research fields of communications networking and data science”.

Duffield received his bachelor’s degree in natural sciences in 1982 and a master’s in 1983 from the University of Cambridge, UK. He received his Ph.D. in mathematical physics from the University of London, U.K., in 1987. His research focuses on data and network science, particularly applications of probability, statistics, algorithms and machine learning to the acquisition, management and analysis of large datasets in communications networks and beyond.

Before joining the department, Duffield worked at AT&T Labs-Research, Florham Park, New Jersey, where he held the position of distinguished member of technical staff and was an AT&T Fellow. He previously held post-doctoral and faculty positions in Dublin, Ireland and Heidelberg, Germany.

Duffield, the author of numerous papers and holder of many patents, is co-inventor of the smart sampling technologies that lie at the heart of AT&T’s scalable Traffic Analysis Service. He is specialty editor-in-chief of journal Frontiers in ICT and he was charter chair of the IETF working group on packet sampling. Duffield is an IEEE Fellow and serves on the Board of Directors of ACM SIGMETRICS. He is an associate member of the Oxford-Man Institute of Quantitative Finance.

The goal of IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.

Second Big Data workshop fosters connections across disciplines at Texas A&M University

The second annual Big Data workshop was held recently at Texas A&M University to foster connections across disciplines that intersect this area and help people to continue to identify opportunities for collaboration. The workshop was comprised of 27 short talks from speakers from across the university, organized in thematic sessions with time for discussion. The sessions encompassed Big Data in Sensing and Social Applications; Environment, Resources and Power; Materials; Cybersecurity; and Bioinformatics, Medicine & Health Sciences. Participants also discussed broader issues for big data research in the university, including infrastructure support, computational resources and availability of data for collaboration. There were over 90 registered attendees.

Many researchers across Texas A&M have current or emerging research interests in big data methods, systems or applications, and there are currently opportunities at the federal level for major funding of cross-disciplinary projects in data science.

Building on the first workshop held last year, Dr. Nick Duffield, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of the Texas A&M Engineering Big Data Initiative, and Dr. Dilma Da Silva, head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, organized the workshop to continue to build community amongst big data researchers at Texas A&M.

Since the first workshop, interdisciplinary teams from Texas A&M have submitted proposals for funding opportunities including the NSF BIGDATA and NSF Big Data Spokes programs. In order to help researchers better position themselves for these and other opportunities, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), in partnership with the Texas A&M Division of Research, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), has awarded nearly $350,000 in seed grant funding to seven interdisciplinary research teams for big data.

“Texas A&M is positioned to lead in applications of big data in its disciplinary areas of strength, not only in research, but by leveraging its network of cross-sector partnerships to realize the benefits of big data applications more widely,” said Duffield. Texas A&M will host a conference on “Advances in Big Data Modeling, Computation and Analytics,” on Sept.22-24, which will feature leading researchers and practitioners in the field.

The 2016 workshop program, including slides for some presentations, can be found at

Lin wins Best Paper Award at prestigious conference

Honghuang Lin, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, received a third-place Best Paper Award at the premier conference for the functional design and verification of electronic systems.

Lin, who is in the computer engineering and systems group, his advisor is Dr. Peng Li. He received the award at The Design and Verification Conference and Exhibition U.S. (DVCon U.S.) for his paper, “Functional Coverage Collection for Analog Circuits – Enabling Seamless Collaboration Between Design and Verification,” which is co-authored with engineers from Texas Instruments Inc. The award is voted on by all the participants of the conference.

Lin’s paper addresses the challenges in analog verification coverage, which is an increasingly important topic in the industry, by the proposed Analog Coverage Checking (ACC) framework. It’s the first work to apply functional coverage metrics on analog circuits in a mixed signal simulation environment, which utilizes analog functional checkers deep inside the schematic hierarchy. In addition, it provides a mechanism for seamless collaborations between analog designers and verification engineers, by unifying the definitions of analog functional descriptions in the chip level for analog and mixed signal designs, and the construction of meaningful analog covergroup verification at the top level. It’s also an efficient way to track the verification progress. The proposed ACC framework serves as an efficient tool to embed analog checking in the early design stage and to conveniently track the verification progress.

Lin received his bachelor’s degree in automation from Tsinghua University, China in 2011. His research interests include analog and mixed-signal circuit verification, machine learning based circuit analysis and circuit modeling.

DVCon is the premier conference for discussion of the functional design and verification of electronic systems. DVCon is sponsored by Accellera Systems Initiative, an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating design and verification standards required by systems, semiconductor, intellectual property (IP) and electronic design automation (EDA) companies. In response to global interest, in addition to DVCon U.S., Accellera also sponsors DVCon Europe and DVCon India. For more information about Accellera, please visit For more information about DVCon U.S., please visit