Welcome to the June 30, 2017 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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large tank holding cooling system for IBM’s  17-qubit processor Quantum Computers Are About to Get Real
Science News
Emily Conover
June 29, 2017

Industry and academic researchers are racing to develop quantum computers, with "quantum supremacy" likely be reached within a few years, according to the University of Chicago's David Schuster. Simulating small molecules or chemical reactions are expected to be among the initial challenges quantum computers will meet, while speculative machine-learning applications include near-flawless handwriting recognition and collision avoidance in self-driving vehicles. However, the systems' real potential is not expected to be realized for more than 10 years. A current limitation of quantum systems is their reliance on large cooling equipment and other bulky gear to maintain their qubits' fragile quantum states, and progress in addressing this constraint is varied. An essential element in accelerating progress in quantum computing is cultivating interest and talent in quantum coding, which publicly accessible resources such as IBM's Quantum Experience aim to provide. Quantum systems' ability to perform increasingly sophisticated tasks will require on-the-fly error correction by diffusing information among many qubits.

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Adaptive Cybersecurity Decision Support to Prevent Cyberattacks
University of Nottingham (United Kingdom)
Lindsay Brooke
June 27, 2017

Researchers at the University of Nottingham in the U.K. are developing a system designed to support organizations of all sizes in maintaining adequate levels of cybersecurity through a semi-automatic, organization-specific security assessment of digital infrastructures. The project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the National Cyber Security Center, will establish the foundations for a digital "Online CYber Security System" decision support service, designed to quickly bring together information on system vulnerabilities and alert organizations that may be affected. "While the U.K. has access to some of the world's leading experts in cybersecurity, the scale and variety of systems in U.K. organizations, both public and private, make it extremely challenging to flag potential system threats in a timely fashion," says Nottingham's Christian Wagner. "This international collaborative project targets a novel approach to semi-automatically identify system vulnerabilities, thus greatly increasing the efficiency and capacity to respond to emerging threats."

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Three dairy cows Image Analysis and Artificial Intelligence Will Change Dairy Farming
Osaka University
June 26, 2017

Researchers at Osaka University in Japan have developed an early detection method for cow lameness, which is also known as hoof disease. The team says the system analyzes images of cow gait by applying human gait analysis, and can identify hoof disease with 99-percent accuracy or higher. The technique enables the early detection of lameness from cow gait, and the researchers hope that a revolution in dairy farming can be achieved through detailed observation by artificial intelligence-powered image analysis. The researchers waterproofed and dustproofed a Microsoft Kinect, and then installed it in a cowshed to detect a large number of cow gaits based on the images captured by the sensor. "This will contribute largely to realizing a smart cowhouse interlocked with an automatic milking machine and feeding robot, both of which have already been introduced to some dairy farms, as well as wearable sensors attached to cows under study," says Osaka professor Yasushi Yagi.

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Korean Computer Scientist Wins 'Influential Paper' Award
Korea Times (South Korea)
Yoon Sung-won
June 26, 2017

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) professor Kim Nam-sung was named this year's winner of the most influential paper award by the International Conference of Software Engineers (ICSE), which is jointly sponsored by ACM SIGSOFT and the IEEE Technical Council for Software Engineering, for his work on new computer structures and circuits, which can reduce leakage current of microprocessors. Recipients are selected by the ICSE committee for review once the paper is considered to have been the most influential paper of the past 10 years. Kim released the paper in 2002, and recently he has been working to improve the energy efficiency of microprocessors via interdisciplinary approaches spanning innovative devices, circuits, and architecture. Kim, who earned his master's and bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), is the first Korean to win the award. He wrote the paper while studying for his doctoral degree at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

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Staff in a modern hospital Research Opportunities and Visions for Smart and Pervasive Health
CCC Blog
Helen Wright
June 29, 2017

Focusing computing research on heterogeneous sensing and data analytics, integrated cyber-human-physical systems, and comprehensive physical and digital security capabilities can revolutionize U.S. health and healthcare and advance basic computing research and contributions to other fields, according to a Computing Community Consortium (CCC) white paper. The report calls for support of new health and healthcare paradigms, value-based treatment, and solving healthcare disparities in smart health research programs via computing. Among the CCC's recommendations to ensure the agenda's success are developing new health data platforms supporting holistic and unconventional data streams, and creating composable architecture for combining devices and data for swift progress in infrastructure to support human-centric healthcare. The report also recommends deploying transformative approaches in sensing using nano-structures, quantum computing, and nonintrusive "wearables" to deliver next-generation technologies for low-cost, pervasive, and individualized health monitoring. Following a workshop last December on the topic, CCC presented draft recommendations at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston, and at the ACM/American Medical Informatics Association Workshop of Interactive Health Systems (WISH 2017) in Denver, CO.

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MIT Researchers Offer Algorithm for Picking 'Winning' Startups
Michael Byrne
June 29, 2017

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed an algorithmic scheme for venture capital investment that pairs the unpredictabilty of Brownian motion with large datasets about startup founders, investors, and performance. MIT's David Scott Hunter and Tauhid Zaman accumulated data on more than 83,000 companies culled from startup databases Crunchbase and Pitchbook, and then correlated it on LinkedIn. The data left them with a set of startup properties or features that could be fed into a predictive model. A study found the model can achieve 60-percent exit rates on optimized investment portfolios, which is about twice the rate of top venture capital firms. "Our analysis showed that the things [venture capitalists] look for are the things we found that are the keys to success," Zaman says. He thinks the model's success in prediction is keyed to how it measures factors such as founder experience, versus how investors measure it in the real world.

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Young boy looking through a window Robots to Help Children With Autism
UoP News
June 27, 2017

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K. are working on the Development of Robot-Enhanced therapy for children with AutisM spectrum disorders (DREAM) project, which aims to develop robots to help children with autism in ways that humans cannot. The DREAM project researchers will design robots that can operate autonomously and help therapists improve the child's social interaction skills, such as turn-taking, imitation, and joint attention. The researchers plan to develop an autonomous robot that minimizes the therapist's intervention so the therapist can focus more on the child and improve therapeutic outcomes. In addition, the robot will function as a diagnostic tool by collecting clinical data during therapy. The goal is to capture and analyze sensor data from the children, including motion/gestures, gaze, facial expressions, sound, and voice, to make the robot understand what the child is doing so they can have a better interaction.

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Deep sea fish Could This Strategy Bring High-Speed Communications to the Deep Sea?
Berkeley Lab News Center
Sarah Yang
June 27, 2017

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a new approach to sending acoustic waves through water by integrating more channels onto a single frequency, which could make underwater high-speed communications possible. "It's comparable to going from a single-lane side road to a multi-lane highway," says University of California, Berkeley professor Xiang Zhang. "This work has huge potential in high-speed acoustic communications." The approach exploits dynamic rotation produced as acoustic waves travel. "The rotation occurs at different speeds for channels with different orbital angular momenta, even while the frequency of the wave itself stays the same, making these channels independent of each other," says Berkeley researcher Chengzhi Shi. He notes algorithms were employed to decode the information from different channels. The team successfully encoded in binary form the letters that compose the word "Berkeley," and relayed the information along an acoustic signal that would normally carry less data.

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Computer System Predicts Products of Chemical Reactions
MIT News
Larry Hardesty
June 27, 2017

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a computer system to predict chemical reaction products by training it on a massive dataset of experimental reactions. Tests showed the system predicts a reaction's major product with 72-percent probability, and ranks the major product among its three most likely results with 87-percent probability. "The vision is that you'll be able to walk up to a system and say, 'I want to make this molecule,'" says MIT professor Klavs Jensen. "The software will tell you the route you should make it from, and the machine will make it." A key goal is to have the system skip the laborious process of discovering exceptions in chemical reactions when building computer models. Novartis' Richard Robinson says the MIT system "offers a different approach to machine learning within the field of targeted synthesis, which in the future could transform the practice of experimental design to targeted molecules."

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How AI Helped the FCC Auction Off $19-Billion Worth of Radio Spectrum
UBC Science
Chris Balma
June 26, 2017

Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada and Stanford University in March organized a $19-billion auction of 84 megahertz of radio spectrum using artificial intelligence (AI). The team of computer scientists and economists designed and developed a reverse auction solution in which the price was set by how low TV broadcasters were willing to go to turn over their unused airwaves. The implication was that in densely populated areas, broadcasters made more money for their sales, while those in less populous regions were paid less for their spectrum. The system also factored in other variables, including the number of trades occurring at once and property rights. The AI-based system may be helpful as countries prepare to sell bandwidth for the future 5G mobile network, while UBC professor Kevin Leyton-Brown says the design could serve as a model for similar auctions even on a much smaller scale.

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Air Force Research Lab Develops Brain-Like Sensory Supercomputing
Defense Systems
Kris Osborn
June 26, 2017

A joint U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)-IBM project seeks to create a brain-like supercomputing system powered by a 64-chip array to enhance sensory processing. The IBM TrueNorth Neurosynaptic System will enable real-time conversion of data from multiple, distributed sensors into symbols. "AFRL will combine this 'right-brain' perception capability of the system with the 'left-brain' symbol processing capabilities of conventional computer systems," IBM says. The scalable platform will have an end-to-end software ecosystem facilitating deep neural-network learning and information discovery. Developers note the system's pattern recognition and sensory processing power will equal that of 64 million neurons and 16 billion synapses, while the processor element will use very little power. "The new neurosynaptic system will be used to enable new computing capabilities important to AFRL's mission to explore, prototype, and demonstrate high-impact, game-changing technologies that enable the Air Force and the nation to maintain its superior technical advantage," says AFRL's Daniel S. Goddard.

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CMU Scientists Harness 'Mind Reading' Technology to Decode Complex Thoughts
Carnegie Mellon News
Shilo Rea
June 26, 2017

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have combined machine-learning algorithms with brain-imaging technology to "mind read," offering evidence the neural dimensions of concept representation are universal across people and languages. The brain's coding of 240 complex events uses an alphabet of 42 neurally plausible semantic features consisting of categories such as person, setting, size, social interaction, and physical action. Each type of information is processed in a different brain system, and by measuring the activation in each of these systems, the program can read what types of thoughts are being contemplated. The researchers used a computational model to assess how the brain activation patterns for 239 sentences corresponded to the neurally plausible semantic features characterizing each sentence. The program then decoded the features of the 240th sentence, which was left of out the original group. The researchers say the model could predict the features of the left-out sentence with 87-percent accuracy.

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Qudits: The Real Future of Quantum Computing?
IEEE Spectrum
Charles Q. Choi
June 28, 2017

Researchers at the National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS) in Canada have built a microchip from off-the-shelf telecommunications components that can produce two entangled "qudits" (quantum objects for which the number of possible states is greater than two) each with 10 or more potential quantum states, comprising 100 dimensions in total. "We have now achieved the compact and easy generation of high-dimensional quantum states," says INRS' Michael Kues. The team also demonstrated sustained entanglement over large distances by transmitting the entangled photons via a 24.2-kilometer-long optical-fiber telecommunications system. The researchers say this method may find use in ultra-secure quantum communications. "Our system...can be created using components that are out on the market, whereas other quantum computer technologies need state-of-the-art cryogenics, state-of-the-art superconductors, state-of-the-art magnets," notes INRS' Roberto Morandotti. The researchers believe generating entangled pairs of 96-state qudits is in the realm of possibility with current components. Kues say the team's next challenge will be performing quantum computation and quantum communications with their system.

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