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 http://ecencesg.wpengine.com/bigdata2016/.

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 www.accellera.org. For more information about DVCon U.S., please visit www.dvcon.org.

Three computer engineering professors named IEEE Fellow

Three professors in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University were named Fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). Dr. Jiang Hu, Dr. Peng Li and Dr. Xi Zhang were named IEEE Fellows for their research contributions.

IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement. The IEEE grade of Fellow is conferred by the IEEE board of directors upon a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. The total number selected in any one year cannot exceed one-tenth of one percent of the total voting membership.

Hu was elected for contributions to gate, interconnect and clock network optimization in VLSI circuits, Li was elected for contributions to the analysis and modeling of integrated circuits and systems and Zhang was elected for his contributions to quality of service (QoS) in mobile wireless networks.

Dr. Jiang Hu

Digital VLSI chips, such as microprocessors and video decoders, are mostly composed by logic gates, which are connected by interconnect wires and synchronized by clock networks. Hu’s research accomplishments encompass all these three key elements. For gate optimizations he is a main contributor to the state-of-the-art solutions that address industrial challenges in nanometer VLSI technologies, including competing design objectives, complex models, non-ideal effects and huge problem sizes. Interconnect is a critical bottleneck to digital chip performance.

On interconnect optimization, Hu has produced large impact in both academia and industry. His research results have been applied on many industrial chip products, facilitating better chip performance, less chip power, shorter design turn-around time and solving difficult design cases. Hu is also highly recognized for his research on VLSI clock network optimization. Among many contributions, he pioneered the concept of cross-link, which greatly enhances clock network robustness with very high energy-efficiency, and inspired numerous follow-up research activities. Hu’s overall achievement is instrumental in shaping the course of VLSI optimization research and helping the VLSI industry tackle real world challenges.

Dr. Peng Li

Li obtained his Ph. D. in electrical and computer engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and joined the department in 2004. He has established expertise in electronic design automation, integrated circuits and systems, brain-inspired computing and aspects of computational neuroscience. In addition to his elevation to IEEE Fellow, his work has been recognized by various distinctions including four best paper awards from prestigious VLSI and EDA conferences, an NSF Career Award, four Inventor Recognition Awards from the Microelectronics Advanced Research Corporation and the Semiconductor Research Corporation. Li received the Best Paper Hat Trick Award, Prolific Author Award and Top 10 Author in Fifth Decade Award, all from the IEEE/ACM Design Automation Conference, the world’s premier VLSI technology conference.

Li’s former associates have obtained faculty and research positions in academia and industrial labs (Michigan Tech, Cornell Medical College/Cornell University, Intel Strategic CAD Laboratories) and research and development positions in the United States high-tech industry. He has brought his work to the real world through technology transfer and consulting for major semiconductor firms and startups.

Dr. Xi Zhang

Zhang, director of the Networking and Information Systems Laboratory, joined the department in 2002. He received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science (electrical engineering – systems) from The University of Michigan. He was a research fellow with the School of Electrical Engineering, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, James Cook University, Australia. He was with the Networks and Distributed Systems Research Department, AT&T Bell Laboratories, Murray Hills, New Jersey, and AT&T Laboratories Research, Florham Park, New Jersey.

Zhang has published more than 300 research papers, two books and multiple book chapters on mobile wireless networks, statistical delay-bounded QoS guarantee for multimedia wireless networks, 5G mobile wireless networks, wireless cognitive radio networks, wireless sensor networks, underwater wireless networks, network protocol design and modeling, statistical communications, random signal processing, information theory and control theory and systems. His publications have been extensively cited in the research community.

He received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2004 for his research in the areas of mobile wireless and multicast networking and systems. He is an IEEE Distinguished Lecturer for the IEEE Communications Society and IEEE Vehicular Technology Society. He received Best Paper Awards at IEEE GLOBECOM 2014, IEEE GLOBECOM 2009, IEEE GLOBECOM 2007 and IEEE WCNC 2010. Zhang is author of an IEEE BEST READINGS (receiving the top citation rate) journal paper. He also received a TEES Select Young Faculty Award for Excellence in Research Performance from the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M in 2006.

He is serving as, or has been editor for numerous IEEE Transactions and Journals, including IEEE Transactions on Communications, IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology, IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, IEEE Communications Letters, IEEE Communications Magazine and IEEE Wireless Communications Magazine. He has served as the technical program (TPC) chair for IEEE GLOBECOM 2011, TPC vice-chair for IEEE INFOCOM 2010, TPC area chair for IEEE INFOCOM 2012, Panel/Demo/Poster chair for ACM MobiCom 2011 and general vice-chair for IEEE WCNC 2013, etc.

Duffield receives DARPA grant for research on network resilience

Dr. Nick Duffield, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, and professor by courtesy in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, is part of a group that was awarded a multi-million dollar contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to help develop new networking and security technologies at the Wide Area Network (WAN) edge.

The awards fall under DARPA’s Edge-Directed Cyber Technologies for Reliable Mission or Edge-CT program that the agency says will combine real- time network analytics, holistic decision systems and dynamically configurable protocol stacks to mitigate WAN failures and attacks on the fly. Its objective is to bolster the resilience of communication over Internet Protocol networks solely by instantiating new capabilities in computing devices within user enclaves at the WAN edge.

The project is led by Applied Communication Sciences with partnership from Apogee Research, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania and Texas A&M University, where Duffield is principal investigator. The partners propose to develop Distributed Enclave Defense Using Configurable Edges (DEDUCE). DEDUCE is a new architectural approach to edge-directed network adaptation that incorporates novel approaches to sensing, actuation and control, creating a robust and scalable system that exceeds Edge-CT goals and evolves in response to changes in the network.

Duffield’s involvement in the project stems from his research in Network Tomography, in which end–to-end performance measurements between network edges can be correlated to identify common origins of performance degradation. In DEDUCE, this information will be used to inform strategies for alternate routing on an overlay network between enclaves. Duffield was a co-recipient of the ACM SIGMETRCIS Test of Time Award in both 2012 and 2013 for work in Network Tomography.

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.

Duffield elected to the Board of Directors of the ACM’s Sigmetrics

Dr. Nick Duffield, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, was elected to the Board of Directors of the Association for Computing Machinery’s (ACM) Sigmetrics.

Sigmetrics is the special interest group of ACM that is concerned with computer systems performance evaluation, and Duffield was one of four candidates elected to the position.

“I feel honored to have been given the opportunity to contribute to the performance analysis community and help with the issues technical societies are facing such as developing their publication channels, making conferences more affordable for junior researchers, increasing the participation of women and minorities and increasing their membership and profile in an increasingly cross-disciplinary environment,” he said.

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 was a research professor at the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science at Rutgers University. Prior to that he 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 a co-inventor of the smart sampling technologies that lie at the heart of AT&T’s scalable Traffic Analysis Service. He recently was named specialty editor-in-chief of the newly created journal Frontiers in ICT and he was charter chair of the IETF working group on packet sampling. Duffield is an IEEE Fellow and was a co-recipient of the ACM Sigmetrics Test of Time Award in both 2012 and 2013 for work in Network Tomography.

ACM, the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, delivers resources that advance computing as a science and a profession. ACM provides the computing field’s premier Digital Library and serves its members and the computing profession with leading-edge publications, conferences and career resources.

Ponniah and Kumar publish monograph on designing secure protocols for wireless ad-hoc networks

Jonathan Ponniah and P. R. Kumar, in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, and a co-author Yih-Chun Hu, have published a monograph on designing secure protocols with provable security guarantees for wireless ad-hoc networks infiltrated with adversarial nodes. The monograph is titled “A Clean Slate Approach to Secure Wireless Networking,”

The authors note that the current process of designing secure protocols is tantamount to an arms race between attacks and “patches” that does not provide any security guarantees. Motivated by this, they introduce a system theoretic approach to the design of secure protocols with provable security as well as optimality guarantees.

Ponniah is a post-doc who completed his PhD under the advise of Kumar who is a university distinguished professor.

Computer Engineering Alumnus Shiyan Hu named the prestigious ACM Distinguished Speaker

Computer Engineering Alumnus Shiyan Hu, who is currently an Associate Professor at Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Tech, has been named an Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Distinguished Speaker. ACM is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, and its Distinguished Speaker Program brings distinguished speakers from academia, industry, and government to ACM members as well as the general computing community for the dissemination of the state-of-the-art research. ACM Distinguished Speaker Program recognizes the leading experts in ACM and sponsors them for their lectures. Each distinguished speaker serves a three-year term. Prof. Hu will deliver the speech in the fields of Computer Aided Design for VLSI Circuits and Cyber-Physical Systems.

Prof. Hu obtained his Ph.D. at Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering from Texas A&M University in 2008 and he is currently an Associate Professor at Michigan Tech, and also serving as Director of the Michigan Tech Cyber-Physical System Research Group, Co-Director of Michigan Tech Institute of Computing and Cybersystems, and Director of the Michigan Tech VLSI CAD Research Lab. He has been a Visiting Professor at IBM Research (Austin) during Summer 2010, and he will be a Visiting Associate Professor at Stanford University later this year.

His research interests include Computer-Aided Design of VLSI Circuits, Embedded Systems, Cyber-Physical Systems and Smart Home Cybersecurity, where he has published over 80 refereed papers (including 30+ in journals). He is a recipient of ACM SIGDA Richard Newton DAC Scholarship, a recipient of Faculty Invitation Fellowship from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and a recipient of the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award.

Prof. Hu is an Associate Editor/Guest Editor for 5 IEEE/ACM Transactions including IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems, IEEE Transactions on Computers, IEEE Transactions on CAD, IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics and ACM Transactions on Embedded Computing Systems. He has served as General Chair, Technical Program Committee (TPC) Chair, TPC Subcommittee Chair, Session Chair, and TPC Member for various conferences for more than 70 times, which include the TPC Subcommittee Chair for the premier conferences IEEE/ACM Design Automation Conference (DAC) in 2014 and 2015, and IEEE/ACM International Conference on Computer Aided Design (ICCAD) in 2011. He is a Senior Member of IEEE.

Prof. Hu’s research has been highlighted in various public media such as CBS, IEEE Spectrum, Communications of ACM, Science Daily, PC World, Daily News and Biotech Daily. His ultra fast slew buffering technique has been widely deployed in industry. As an example, it became a default option in the IBM physical design flow used for designing over 50 microprocessors and ASIC chips including IBM flagship chips POWER 7 and 8. His microfluidic biochip physical design research was featured in the Front Cover of the premier IEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience in March 2014. He was among 62 researchers invited from the European Union and the United States to attend the EU-US Frontiers of Engineering Symposium of National Academy of Engineering in 2014.

CESG Seminar: Microwave Superconducting Circuits

Last week, Friday April 24th, Dr. Kyle Sundqvist gave a talk on microwave superconducting circuits. In particular, he described SQUID, or Superconducting Quantum Interference Device, and the role of superconducting circuits and their role in quantum optics and information.

Superconducting quantum computing is a form of quantum information implementation that utilizes superconducting electrodes. Unlike other units of quantum computing, this integrated superconducting circuit involved in a qubit is a multi-level system. Dr. Sundqvist describes SQUID, which acts as the Josephson inductance in the superconducting qubit when it is unpumped. A flux-pumped SQUID provides an additional parallel element in the circuit. These superconducting circuits exhibit quantum mechanical properties on the macroscopic level which enables them to be used in quantum computing experiments and applications. Lately, parametric amplifiers have become more popular in the field, and SQUID provides a parametric gain in superconducting circuits.

Dr. Kyle Sundqvist is a visiting assistant professor here at Texas A&M, in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Physics at the University of California, Berkeley. His primary studies are electron and hole transport in ultrapure, sub-Kelvin germanium for improved detectors in the search for particle dark matter. He also researched superconducting devices with application to quantum information.