Newsletter for Spring 2004

In this issue…

IAP Research Day to be held on March 17th, 2004

On Wednesday March 17, 2004, our department will be holding its 4th Annual Industrial Affiliates Program (IAP) Research Day. This is an opportunity for our students to show off results from their research work and to get feedback from a broad audience. More importantly, it is a wonderful opportunity for members of our larger community—including alumni of the department—to get acquainted with the various research projects undertaken by members of our faculty.

The main event in our IAP Research Day is a Poster Session, which will be held in the CS Research Lab from 10:00am to 2:00pm (with Lunch served at 12:30pm). During this poster session, attendees are invited to walk through the lab, browse through the over 40 posters on display, listen to on-demand brief presentations and demonstrations by graduate students, and chat with faculty members. The format of the Poster Session is intentionally flexible and informal to accommodate the wide interests and time constraints of our guests, who are welcome to come for any part of the session (noting that the period from 1:00pm-2:00pm will also be open to undergraduate students of our department). A list of poster abstracts is available from:

Please let us know if you will be able to attend by sending an email to For more information on our IAP program, please refer to: Industrial Affiliates Program

Research Excellence Awards for 2003 Announced

In early 2003, the CS faculty resolved to create a Research Excellence Award (REA) to present to Ph.D. students who have produced outstanding research results over the course of their careers at Boston University. To be considered for this award, students must first be nominated by their advisor. The winners are then recommended by a faculty REA selection committee and approved by the entire faculty. Two graduate students won these awards for 2003: Liang Guo (PhD’03) and Shudong Jin (PhD’03).

Liang Guo’s Ph.D. thesis (under Professor Ibrahim Matta) considered novel extensions to the existing Internet architecture to manage traffic using fast flow classification. Results from his thesis have been widely disseminated in top networking conferences and have spurred a great deal of interest in the community at large. Liang has accepted a position as a Research Scientist at Motorola Labs.

Shudong Jin’s Ph.D. thesis (under Professor Azer Bestavros) looked at scalable content delivery on the Internet and at various aspects that affect it. Specifically, he looked at the impact of workload characteristics and of Internet topology on the scalability of end-system multicast and streaming content delivery techniques. Numerous results from his thesis were published in some of the best venues in networking. Shudong has accepted a tenure-track assistant professorship in the CS department of Case Western Reserve University.

Currently, the department is funding REA awards through discretionary funds available to individual faculty members. Suggestions for other means to support this initiative are welcome!

For more information on the REA awards, please refer to Research Excellence Award

Leonid Levin Delivers the 2004 Kolmogorov Lecture

Professor Leonid Levin delivered the 2004 Kolmogorov Lecture and was awarded the Kolmogorov Medal “in recognition of his contribution to science”.

This annual University of London lecture celebrates the life and work of Andrei Nikolaevich Kolmogorov, one of the greatest mathematical and scientific minds of the last century. The lecture addresses current issues arising from the impact of Kolmogorov’s work in the fields of mathematical and computer science. Each Kolmogorov Lecture is given by one of the leading figures in their field, who is presented with a medal in recognition of their own contribution to science.

In announcing the 2004 Lecture, the Kolmogorov Lecture committee noted:

Professor Levin, one of the world’s foremost researchers in the field of Kolmogorov Complexity, works in the field of mathematical probability and the theory of computation, particularly in regard to randomness and complexity in computing. First introduced to Kolmogorov at the age of 15 during a school visit, he was later taught by Kolmogorov at Moscow University and was advised by him for his doctoral thesis. Professor Levin went on to become one of the originators of the theory of NP completeness (alongside S.A. Cook and R. Karp).

Professor Leonid Levin’s lecture was entitled “Randomness and Non-determinism”. For more information, please refer to

CS and Biology at BU Team Up in a $2.4M Ecosystem NSF Project

Diane Hirsh (CAS'04), standing, and assistant professor Margrit Betke examine data from the bat censusing project, using imaging and computational software they developed.

Computer Science Professor Margrit Betke and Biology Professor Thomas Kunz have assembled a multidisciplinary team (from fields including biology, computer science, mathematics, meteorology, entomology, and economics) that will deploy an unprecedented battery of high-tech gadgetry (including infrared thermal imaging cameras, Doppler radar, ultrasonic recording devices, and the emerging technology of computer vision) to measure the benefits bats provide to natural and agricultural ecosystems. This team secured a five-year $2.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s ITR program to pursue its goals.

Quoting from an article on this effort in the Fall 2003 edition of the Arts and Science magazine of Boston University (available from

Computer vision (a key technology in the bat-censusing project-is a concept about as counterintuitive as a bat’s ability to “see” with sonar). Scientists, including CAS Assistant Professor Margrit Betke, are teaching computers to “see” in a way analogous to the way humans do-to interpret real-world visual data, whether it’s cars on a highway, faces in a crowd, or clouds of flapping bats. Computer vision techniques could aid in homeland security, traffic management, and the creation of adaptive technologies that allow disabled people to use computers and appliances-among many other potential applications. In the bat-censusing project, Betke and Associate Professor Stan Sclaroff, along with GRS student Stephen Crampton and CAS senior Diane Hirsh, trained their computers to interpret thermal video images of Brazilian free-tailed bats swarming from Texas caves. Each frame of the video is a mosaic of pixels. Some of these pixels depict bats, while the rest are trees, sky, and other parts of the world that the scientists refer to as “non-bat” or, simply, “uninteresting,” at least according to the parameters of this project.

For more information on this project, please refer to

20th Anniversary Lecture Series Features Icons in Many CS Areas

The 20th Anniversary Lecture Series, which runs through the 2003/2004 Academic year, kicked into high gear with world-renown CS icons giving lectures throughout the Fall 2003 Semester.

On October 27th, our department played host to Michael Rabin of Harvard University, one of the most celebrated figures of Computer Science, who has been recognized by awards including the ACM Turing Award, The IEEE Charles Babbage Award, The Harvey Prize for Science and Technology, as well as by election to academies including the US National Academy of Sciences, the French Academy of Sciences and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. In his lecture, Michael Rabin presented his recent work on hyperencryption and practical everlasting security.

On November 3rd, our department welcomed Takeo Kanade who gave a lecture on Video Acquisition, Processing and Modeling of a Dynamic Scene by Many Cameras. Dr. Kanade is a leading figure in multiple areas of robotics: vision, multimedia, manipulators, autonomous mobile robots, and sensors. He has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and is a Fellow of the IEEE, a Fellow of ACM, and a Founding Fellow of American Association of Artificial Intelligence.

On November 24th, Bruce Maggs of Carnegie Melon University gave a lecture on various technical issues related to Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), drawing on his experience as Akamai Technologies’ Vice President for Research and Development.

On December 8th, Albert Meyer delivered a lecture in which he recounted his experience with an experimental approach to teaching computability theory using the Scheme programming language at MIT. Prof. Meyer is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the ACM.

On December 15th, Jon Crowcroft of Cambridge University (UK) wrapped up the lecture series for the Fall semester. His lecture on Scalable Ubiquitous Computing Systems touched up on the fantastic challenges ahead of the CS community as we increasingly embed computers in our environment, weaving them in the fabric of our homes, shops, vehicles and even farms. Jon Crowcroft is one of the leading figures in the networking community. He is a fellow of the ACM, a fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the IEE and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and a Senior Member the IEEE.

The purpose of the BUCS 20th Anniversary Colloquium Series is to bring to campus some of the most prominent computer scientists in order to introduce them (and in many cases to re-introduce them) to the department so that they may see first-hand how far the department has come along, and in order for the department to hear of their impressions and feedback on the department’s ambitions for the coming years.

Currently, the department is funding this Lecture Series through its IAP funds and we are actively looking for ways to establish a permanent Distinguished Lecture Series that would run annually. Suggestions for other means to support this initiative are welcome!

For more information on the REA awards, please refer to our Twentieth Anniversary Lecture Series

Department Holiday Party Held at The Castle!

The department faculty and students were treated to an end-of-semester party at the BU Castle. With family and friends we celebrated the end of a wonderful year with many successes that made us all proud! It was a blast!

Pictures and special moments of this event are available on the Web at