IEEEE CCECE 2014 and Cognitive Agent Simulation

This past week I attended IEEE Canadian Conference on Electrical and Computer Engineering (CCECE2014) in Toronto, Canada. I was there because of two papers I was a co-author on. The work was part of a side project I was involved in on cognitive agent simulation. The idea was inspired by the observation that in the spring time, many newborn animals are struck as they cross the street. Later in the year, it seems that fewer animals meet this fate. So have the animals which survived observed the doomed creates being struck, learned something about the environment, and managed to become more intelligent? We aimed to model this type of environment, and then re-create the most basic intelligence to try to replicate this behaviour with a cognitive agent.

I was responsible for implementing the simulation tool and the naiive learning algorithm which we also presented at the conference. The simulator was created in c/c++ and was designed in such a way that later on the intelligence algorithms could be swapped out, so that we could also experiment with more sophisticated learning algorithms.

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Recent Computer Related Events

The last few months have been crazy.

I’ve had a couple of job interviews with tech companies in California, attended a BB10Jam, released a couple of playbook apps, started on some side research projects at school. So this post is all about talking a bit about each of those things.

Job Interviews in Grad School
If you are like me and don’t like to say no to anything, you’ll probably go along with the whole interview process – just to see where it takes you. Also if you are like me and a busy grad student – you probably will not have time to prepare properly for the interviews. This is probably a big mistake (or maybe not). From my perspective, the technical questions in the interviews went pretty well when they were directly in my areas of expertise. As soon as they meandered to peripheral areas, things got a little ugly. Worse still was the coding questions. While I do try to keep up my skills in this area, grad students (particularly PhD) students in comp sci aren’t always well known for being code monkeys. We spend most of our time reading papers, proposing algorithms and mechanisms for solving problems. We then either 1) Hire an undergraduate student for the programming or 2) Make use of as many open source tools as possible and “macgyver” them into suiting our needs. In the extreme case we may code some specialized tool for what we need as well. So as you can guess, my coding skills were rusty. If I were to prepare in the future, I’d focus on this for as much time as I could before starting the interview processes. But since these interviews all contacted me first, that wasn’t an option.

BB10Jam
Despite all the doom and gloom in Waterloo these days about RIM, I still like to develop apps for the Playbook for a few reasons. 1) RIM lives where I live. 2) I got a free Playbook at a conference. 3) The AppWorld is not saturated with a million of the same type of app yet.

 

So after developing a couple of apps I noticed they were having a BB10Jam here in Waterloo and went. The event was really good. The people were friendly and nice, and it was much less stuffy than some of the previous RIM events I have attended. Maybe it is a sign things are starting to reverse. Beyond just that though, the platform looks pretty good. I also got a developer device and am working on some apps for it now. The biggest selling point in developing for them right now for BB10 is the $10,000 reward for any app that can make $1,000 in the first year. Also at the event there were many stats showing increasing numbers of developers and apps in the store which all sounds good. Another interesting bit of info was that BB users are more likely to pay for their apps compared to other platforms. All of this makes it increasingly attractive to develop for the platform. So at the end of the BB10Jam I came away pretty excited to get at it. Just need to find the time now!

BB Playbook Apps
If you have read this blog previously, you may noticed something about one of my apps. The first one I made was a telnet application. I had the intention to also include ssh, but have not had the time to include this bit of code yet. The biggest challenge with that app was developing a console library for displaying the text. At the time Cascades was not available yet, and this type of thing was a bit tricky. There’s more info on it here: http://www.jasonernst.com/2012/01/24/opengl-console-library-for-blackberry-native-sdk-playbook/. The app is available here for free on the appworld: http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/77778/?lang=en

The second app I created is a web server. The inspiration for this was that I wanted to be able to serve images from the camera onto a website hosted on the playbook. This way you can leave your playbook setup as a sort of security camera. So the first step was creating the web-server to serve the content. Right now it just supports serving static content – no php, perl, python etc, but maybe in the future. The next step will be to hook into the camera and serve up a continuously changing image that is polled from the camera regularly. The app is available here: http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/124979/?lang=en

Side Research Projects
The last thing is the side research projects I have taken on in the past couple of months. I have been collaborating with researchers in the math department on two projects. First is a cognitive agent project. In this project we are interested in the intelligence required for a creature to cross a busy street. The first creatures are oblivious to the conditions in which danger may exist so they cross the road. As some of them are hit, the creatures which follow can observe the conditions and avoid crossing. Eventually they start to learn when it is safe to cross. The focus of the work is the underlying learning mechanisms for this problem.

The second project I am involved in is a vehicular traffic simulation tool. An existing tool was developed several years ago, however there were some shortcomings in the model. The model is based on the Nagel-Schreckenberg traffic model, however the ramps on the highway were only one cell. Because of this limitation, it becomes difficult to properly simulate certain highway configurations such as clover-leaf ramps. My recent work on this project has extended the model to address this limitation.

AINA 2009 Conference Presentation

This past week I travelled to the UK to present at my first International Conference – Advanced Information Networking and Applications (AINA 2009) in Bradford, UK. My presentation was on “Fair Scheduling in Wireless Mesh Networks with Multiple Gateways”. The paper for the conference was published in the main AINA conference and I presented on the first day, in the first session. It was nice to have it over with right away so that I could relax and focus on meeting as many people as possible at the conference.

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Free Wireless Articles via IEEE

Just a quick post today since I’m strapped for time, but thought its pretty useful (and almost a reminder to myself to check this out later). The IEEE has put a bunch of articles related to wireless networks written by leaders in the field up for free for a limited time.

http://www2.computer.org/portal/web/computingnow/focusonwireless

(I know this doesn’t benefit me directly since I already belong to those societies and could probably get access to them through my libraries, but they seem interesting enough and I will likely read at least a few the next chance I get). It’s also helpful for those people who don’t necessarily have normal access to IEEE articles a chance to try them out. Topics include Pervasive Computing, Internet Computing, Security, RFIDs and more. Check it out if you get a chance!

University of Guelph Research Day – Winter ’08

University of Guelph Research Day Winter 08

On December 2nd and 4th 2008, Research Day for the Computer Science Department at the University of Guelph is taking place. Research Day is a day where many of the graduate and some undergraduate students present research projects in various stages. For the graduate students the projects consist of initial results and proposals for thesis documents while the undergrads present results from their research projects.

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