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Picture of the Kapoho Bay USB form factor based on the Loihi neuromorphic research chip system.

Intel Announces Neuromorphic Computing Research Collaborators

 

The Neuromorphic Computing team in the Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has been selected as one of 13 universities working with Intel on their neuromorphic computing platform, Loihi.  Key faculty involved include Dr. Jim Plank and Dr. Garrett Rose.  This work is also in collaboration with EECS alumna Dr. Catherine Schuman at ORNL.

 

Intel Announces Neuromorphic Research Progress

 

On December 6, 2018, Intel named academic, government and corporate research groups participating in its Intel Neuromorphic Research Community (INRC) and discussed research progress from the inaugural INRC symposium held in October. The goal of the INRC is to tackle the challenges facing the adoption of neuromorphic architectures for mainstream computing applications. INRC members will use Intel’s Loihi research chip as the architectural focal point for research and development. Intel hopes the findings of this community will drive future improvement of neuromorphic architectures, software and systems, eventually leading to the commercialization of this promising technology.

Mike Davies, director of the Neuromorphic Computing Lab at Intel, said, “While there are many important unsolved neuromorphic computing research problems to explore at all levels of the computing stack, we believe the state of neuromorphic hardware currently leads the state of neuromorphic computing software. We’re confident this network of INRC members will rapidly advance the state of neuromorphic learning algorithms and demonstrate the value of this emerging technology for a wide range of applications.”

Who is Participating: Fifty projects have been selected to participate in the INRC. Engaged INRC members will receive access to Intel’s Loihi neuromorphic research chip and software, and are invited to participate in technical symposiums where progress, results and insights will be shared among the community. INRC-supported workshops will offer members an opportunity to learn to develop for Loihi in extended hands-on tutorial sessions and hackathons hosted by Intel Labs researchers and collaborators.

Among the 50 selected projects, teams from 13 universities were selected to receive funding to pursue their research plans. These teams come from a wide range of academic institutions around the world, and include the University of Tennessee’s Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

What Is Neuromorphic Computing: Neuromorphic computing entails nothing less than a bottom-up rethinking of computer architecture. By applying the latest insights from neuroscience, the goal is to create chips that function less like a classical computer and more like a human brain. Neuromorphic chips model how the brain’s neurons communicate and learn, using spikes and plastic synapses that can be modulated based on the timing of events. These chips are designed to self-organize and make decisions in response to learned patterns and associations.

The goal is that one day neuromorphic chips may be able to learn as fast and efficiently as the brain, which still far outperforms today’s most powerful computers. Neuromorphic computing could lead to big advancements in robotics, smart city infrastructure and other applications that require continuous learning and adaptation to evolving, real-world data.

What is Next: Intel has released early versions of its software development kit for Loihi, named Nx SDK, to engaged INRC members. Researchers may remotely log in to Intel’s neuromorphic cloud service to access Loihi hardware and Nx SDK to develop their algorithms, software and applications. Additionally, Intel has supported Applied Brain Research to port its Nengo software framework to work with Loihi. Nengo is freely available today for research use.

Loihi hardware has been made available to select INRC members for research in domains such as robotics that require direct access to hardware. These systems include a USB form factor code-named “Kapoho Bay.” In addition to providing a USB interface to Loihi, Kapoho Bay offers an event-driven hardware interface to the DAVIS 240C DVS silicon retina camera available from iniVation*, among other peripherals.

Next year, Intel and INRC members expect to contribute much of the enabling software and research results to the public domain in the form of publications and open source software. INRC membership is expected to steadily grow, and as the foundational algorithms and SDK components mature, Intel foresees an increasing project focus on real-world applications, ultimately leading to the commercialization of neuromorphic technology.

 

For more information, please visit https://newsroom.intel.com/news/intel-announces-neuromorphic-computing-research-collaborators/

Picture of Dr. Lynne Parker

Parker Named Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science

UT Professor Lynne Parker has been selected as a 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow for her work as a leading researcher in robotics and for her distinguished professional service.

Parker, a member of the Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, is now the 32nd faculty member at UT so honored, and the 10th from the Tickle College of Engineering.

“It’s always nice to be honored, especially when it comes from your peers in science and engineering,” said Parker, who is already an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Fellow. “This is validation, not just on a personal level, but on the growing importance of my chosen field of research.”

In her selection, the AAAS noted her “foundational contributions to distributed robotics and for distinguished service and accomplishment to professional societies and administration in government.”

As a sign of her leadership in the emerging field of artificial intelligence, she is currently serving as assistant director for artificial intelligence for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

In that role, she is the White House lead for AI policy and engages with numerous stakeholders in areas of importance to the leadership of the United States in AI, including research and development priorities and coordination, budgetary matters, advancing AI infrastructure, education and workforce initiatives, advancing AI innovation, national security and defense considerations of AI, and international activities in AI.

“AI is a topic of intense national and international attention, and the world is looking to the United States to provide leadership,” Parker said at the time of her appointment. “The opportunity to help lead the nation in an area that has such national and international importance, and which has been the focus of my career, is a once-in-a-lifetime privilege. I am honored to be asked to serve the nation in this manner.”

Parker also previously served as Division Director for Information and Intelligent Systems at the National Science Foundation, further demonstrating her leadership in shaping the nation’s artificial intelligence capabilities.

During her time at UT, Parker founded the Distributed Intelligence Laboratory and the Center for Intelligent Systems and Machine Learning, served as associate department head, associate dean for faculty affairs and engagement, and most recently was interim dean before being named to her new role in Washington, DC.

She remains affiliated with UT thanks to the Intergovernmental Personnel Act, which allows the temporary assignment of personnel to the federal government from universities.

 

C O N T A C T

David Goddard, 865-974-0683, david.goddard@utk.edu

New Campus Safety App- LiveSafe

Picture of the LiveSafe App Screen on an iPhone

LiveSafe meets student requests for a mobile solution to simplify communication with the university. Users have convenient access to campus resources and services without having to search the internet for them. 
LiveSafe can be a practical resource—whether it’s using the SafeWalk feature as they go to and from study sessions, reaching out to the Student Counseling Center for assistance, or reporting a lab incident.
The campus safety app is transitioning from Guardian to LiveSafe. The new app provides additional functionality to improve your personal safety and make campus safer. Guardian will continue to function through the transition.

For more information and instructions on how to sign up for the LiveSafe app, visit tiny.utk.edu/livesafe.

Picture of EECS winners at the 2018 R&D Awards

EECS & ORNL are Winners at the 2018 R&D Awards

At the 2018 R&D Awards, EECS Governor’s Chair Professor Dr. Yilu Liu and her research team have been awarded jointly with Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the development of a Mobile Universal Grid Analyzer (m-UGA). It has been selected as one of the 100 Most Technologically Significant New Products of the Year in IT/Electrical.

The R&D 100 Awards have served as the most prestigious innovation awards program for the past 56 years—with the celebration having taken place at the black-tie awards presentation on Nov. 16 in Orlando. The R&D 100 Conference was launched in 2015 as an executive educational event that both celebrates the historic R&D 100 Awards and provides unique opportunities for R&D professionals to learn, network and collaborate.

Picture of Jared Smith at the CSAW 2018 Cybersecurity Games

EECS Professor and Student are Winners at CSAW 2018, the World’s Biggest Student-led Cybersecurity Games

Dr. Max Schuchard, EECS Assistant Professor in Computer Science, and Jared Smith, EECS Computer Science Ph.D. student, have won first place in the Applied Research Competition at CSAW, the largest student-led cybersecurity competition in the world, now in its 15th year.

The duo took first place for their presentation of their paper “Routing Around Congestion: Defeating DDoS Attacks and Adverse Network Conditions via Reactive BGP Routing.”

Long recognized as the premier showcase for young security researchers whose work has already appeared in peer-reviewed scientific journals and conferences, the Applied Research Competition requires a poster and one student to present the research to a panel of judges.

This competition assesses the top scholarly security research from the previous year. With eligibility limited to previously published papers or camera-ready papers, this competition has a reputation for drawing some of the best security research worldwide.

Picture of Berat Arik, Jared Smith and unidentified University of Kentucky student, in Toronto, Canada

CS Student Presents Paper and Poster at Security Conference in Toronto

Undergraduate senior in CS and HackUTK leader Berat Arik traveled to Toronto, Canada in mid-October to present a poster and short paper at the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS). CCS is one of the largest and most selective academic security venues, with a full paper acceptance rate of 17% in 2018 among a total of 809 papers submitted. Berat, in collaboration with a 4th-year math PhD student from the University of Kentucky, completed this research during his summer internship at Oak Ridge National Lab in 2018, where both students were mentored by ORNL staff memberJared Smith. Jared is also a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow in the UT Computer Security Lab advised by Dr. Max Schuchard

Their short paper presented early work on the first operating-system and architecture-independent malware detection system, leveraging raw binary memory snapshots and deep learning to predict when a device has been compromised. For more information, view the paper at https://tiny.utk.edu/deepforensics.

Picture of 4 professors attending the SC Conference in Nov. 2018

UT is Full Speed at SC Conference

Four computational science research centers from the University of Tennessee—the Bredesen Center, the Global Computing Laboratory, the Innovative Computing Laboratory, and the SimCenter—will represent the university at this year’s International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis (SC18) on November 11–16 in Dallas, Texas.

In modern science, computational modeling and simulation using high-performance computing (HPC) represents a new branch of scientific methodology, known broadly as “computational science,” that now sits alongside traditional theory and experiment. Computational science is accelerating things like drug development and energy research and enabling scientists to tackle problems that were simply intractable without HPC.

SC18, sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), brings together over 10,000 scientists, engineers, and industry leaders in HPC for invited talks, panels, research papers, tutorials, workshops, posters, and Birds of a Feather sessions. This capstone conference enables the principal architects of HPC and computational science to share new insights and ideas with their peers and nurture essential collaborations in the field. For its part, the University of Tennessee has a decades-long history in HPC and computational science—boasting four major research centers described below—and SC18 is the ideal venue to present its cutting-edge research.

The Bredesen Center offers one of the world’s leading interdisciplinary PhD programs in Data Science and Engineering (DSE) by bringing together students and researchers from the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The Bredesen Center distinguishes itself from traditional PhD programs by allowing students to create customized PhD experiences working on interdisciplinary projects sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy as well as other government agencies. DSE students have access to world-class computing expertise and resources at the university and at ORNL—including ORNL’s new Summit supercomputer. A large array of other ORNL facilities generate unique scientific data sets and enable cutting-edge research in computational and data sciences. DSE focus areas include life and health sciences, materials science, advanced manufacturing, national security, transportation, urban systems, and environmental sciences. The Bredesen Center also offers an interdisciplinary doctorate in Energy Science and Engineering.

https://bredesencenter.utk.edu/

 

The Global Computing Laboratory, headed by Prof. Michela Taufer, focuses on various aspects of HPC and its use in application science. The lab is engaged in the design and testing of efficient computational algorithms and adaptive scheduling policies for scientific computing on GPUs, cloud computing, and volunteer computing. Interdisciplinary research with scientists and engineers in fields such as chemistry and chemical engineering, pharmaceutical sciences, seismology, and mathematics is at the core of the lab’s activities and philosophy.

https://globalcomputing.group/

 

The Innovative Computing Laboratory, founded by Prof. Jack Dongarra in 1989, is a large computer science research and development group situated in the heart of the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus. The lab’s mission is to ensure that the University of Tennessee is a world leader in advanced high-performance and scientific computing through research, education, and collaboration. Specializing in numerical linear algebra, distributed computing, and performance analysis and benchmarking, the lab employs over forty researchers, students, and staff, and has earned many accolades, including four R&D100 awards.

https://www.icl.utk.edu/

 

SimCenter, headed by Prof. Tony Skjellum, is a research incubator at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) for interdisciplinary work with a foundation in HPC, modeling and simulation, data analytics, and machine learning. The SimCenter helps faculty and students at all levels advance their research and learning in a variety of fields including biology, computer science, mathematics, energy, the environment, smart cities, aerospace, and advanced materials. SimCenter is also UTC’s core facility for advanced computing and network infrastructure and offers HPC and Virtual Private Cloud Resources for faculty and outside collaborators undertaking computing and big data problems across a spectrum of disciplines. One of the center’s goals is to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration in computational sciences and engineering by providing meeting space, making connections among faculty, and offering proposal development and other research support.

https://www.utc.edu/simcenter/

Picture of Dr. Nicole McFarlane

Detecting Danger

One of the most routine procedures for patients with diabetes is also one of the most painful: the frequent need to draw blood for a glucose test.

Thanks to ongoing innovation from Nicole McFarlane, those days may be numbered.

McFarlane, an assistant professor in the Min H.Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has made great strides in recent years in the development of new types of sensors.

“We’ve taken a two-pronged approach,” McFarlane said. “We’ve aimed to build a better sensor that will require a smaller sample size, but also be able to reliably replace the sensors people currently use.”

McFarlane and her team have been working with analyte sensors, which are designed based on biology and can be implanted inside a patient to allow for continuous, accurate monitoring when paired with a neuro transmitter.

Doing so would not only eliminate the need for people with diabetes to prick their fingers multiple times a day, but would resolve the issue of patients skipping testing.

In keeping time with ever-changing technology, the eventual goal is to take these first-generation sensors and add machine learning, allowing for “smart” devices.

Such devices could potentially deliver medication as needed, which would allow for a reduction in or elimination of the need for insulin injection.

Picture of Dr. Nicole McFarlane's sensor

 

In addition to having practical application in the medical arena, the properties of the sensors being developed by McFarlane also hold promise in other areas. For example, as a detector at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Scientists working at SNS gain access to behaviors and properties of materials at the smallest scales, allowing them to improve fields as diverse as electronics and medicine.

The problem is that a common means of measurement requires the use of photomultiplier tubes, which are expensive, require massive cooling efforts, and can be somewhat delicate, since they are inside a glass tube.

McFarlane’s sensors, on the other hand, provide solutions for all of those issues and have a key added advantage as well.

“The Department of Energy is very interested in the ability to use the sensors because they are smaller, faster, and more cost efficient than tubes,” McFarlane said. “We use the same technology as the camera in your phone, which has the added benefit of not being magnetic.”

That last point is vital because the vast magnetic field generated by equipment at SNS could have the unwanted outcome of interfering with results of experiments.

The DOE’s Office of Science was impressed enough with the idea that it recently awarded McFarlane and her team $600,000 to build out the concept for use at SNS.

Proof that, while the device itself is small, the impact it could have is huge.

EECS Professor Receives Award

EECS Professor, Dr. Fei “Fred” Wang, is a recipient of the IEEE IAS Industrial Power Conversion Systems Department Gerald Kliman Innovator Award. Dr. Wang was awarded at the IEEE Energy Conversion Congress & Expo in Portland, Oregon on September 27, 2018.

IEEE IAS Industrial Power Conversion Systems Department Gerald Kliman Innovator Award was established in 2005 to honor innovators who contributed to the technical areas of this department. The award may be presented annually to an individual for meritorious contributions to the advancement of power conversion technologies through innovations and their application to industry. The technical field for this award includes, but is not limited to Electrical Machines, Electrical Drives, Power Electronic Systems and Power Electronic Devices. This Award is named in honor of Dr. Gerald Kliman, in memory of his many contributions and innovations to these technical areas. This award is sponsored by General Electric through the IEEE Foundation.

Dr. Fei “Fred” Wang is a professor and Condra Chair of Excellence in Power Electronics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is a founding member and serves as the Technical Director of the NSF-DOE Engineering Research Center CURENT. He also holds a joint position in Oak Ridge National Lab. His experience also includes 8 years as an associate professor and the Technical Director at the Center for Power Electronics Systems, Virginia Tech, and 10 years as an engineer and R&D manager at General Electric. His research interests include WBG power electronics, and power electronics applications in electrified transportation, renewable energy systems and electric grid. Dr. Wang is a fellow of the IEEE and fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Inventors.

Picture of power lines

Microgrids Hold the Key to Keeping Power Flowing After Disasters

Hurricanes cause problems, injuries, and even deaths in a number of ways, not the least of which is failure of the power grid.

In the case of Hurricane Maria, for example, the amount of time it took to restore power in the US territory of Puerto Rico became an international story. It was seven months before most power had been restored.

Power loss can be life-threatening in many ways—from hospitals and shelters losing the ability to run critical care devices to failed pumping stations exacerbating flooding to fires sparked by people trying to cook or provide heat.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Microgrid technology now being refined will make it less likely for power to go off and, if it does, allows it to be restored much quicker.

Researchers at UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have spent much of the past decade improving microgrid technology, helping make the systems more efficient, dependable, autonomous, and cost-effective.

“They are smaller, more localized, and much easier to control and repair if needed,” said Leon Tolbert, Min H. Kao Professor in UT’s Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “If there is a loss of power we can get it restored in hours rather than weeks or months.”

Think of microgrids as backup generators for the full power grid. They unite to distribute power across a region, but if something threatens the system they can operate independently. So when a storm strikes a power plant, the grid goes into “island mode.” Each microgrid switches to focusing just on its own area so one plant going down doesn’t affect the operation of the rest.

Microgrids Explained: Keeping the Power On During Storms

Tolbert points out that the benefit of microgrids means critical emergency services like hospitals, first responders, and emergency shelters can continue to operate without disruption.

“Microgrid stations aren’t just connected to the grid but also have back-up power sources for when the rest of the grid goes down,” Tolbert said. “It varies, but they can have solar panels, fuel cells, diesel, even batteries—whatever it takes to keep them running in their particular environment.”

Fueled by the outcry over the length of time it took to restore power after Hurricane Sandy, the Associated Press studied how long it typically took to restore power to customers.

They found that, on average, swaths of coverage areas remained without a functioning power grid two to three weeks after major hurricanes.

And these weren’t in rural areas but major global centers like New York, Miami, New Orleans, and Houston.

Tolbert, along with joint UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Power Electronics Yilu Liu and joint UT-ORNL Professor Fred Wang, is helping change that.

“The big thing in the past has been the cost, but the price of materials has come down and solar panels, fuel cells, and batteries are becoming cheaper all the time,” Tolbert said. “They are now practical. They just have to be implemented.”

CONTACT:

David Goddard (865-974-0683, david.goddard@utk.edu)

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