Welcome to the May 18, 2018 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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Researchers at Keio University in Japan accessing IBM’s quantum supercomputer IBM Selects Keio to Host First Quantum Computing Hub in Asia
The Japan Times (Japan)
Kazuaki Nagata
May 17, 2018

IBM on Thursday opened a research hub at Keio University in Japan to explore quantum computing applications, according to Keio's Naoki Yamamoto. The IBM Q Network Hub is the first Asian facility where scientists will be able to tap into IBM Q, IBM's 20-qubit (quantum bit) computer in New York. Keio's Kohei Ito says a primary goal of the hub will be to identify quantum computing applications, with students, faculty, and private-sector researchers all expected to collaborate on these investigations. Ito notes IBM selected Keio because the institution has a number of quantum-computing specialists. "Research in software development for quantum computers has barely taken place; there was no real hardware system," says Yamamoto. "We are going to be the first to work on it and that's the purpose of this research center."

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Rescue dog and handler wading through rubble after a disaster An Electronic Rescue Dog
ETH Zurich
Fabio Bergamin
May 16, 2018

ETH Zurich researchers in Switzerland have created technology that can detect human metabolic emissions, which could potentially aid search and rescue teams. ETH Zurich's Sotiris Pratsinis and his team developed a device combining sensors that pick up traces of acetone, ammonia, and isoprene with off-the-shelf carbon dioxide and moisture detectors. Humans emit these compounds through their breath and skin, and laboratory tests in partnership with Austrian and Cypriot researchers demonstrated that the device can help in searches for entrapped people. The team employed a test chamber at the University of Innsbruck's Institute for Breath Research to simulate entrapment while volunteers wearing breathing masks spent two hours inside it. Separate breath and skin emission profiles were generated, and Pratsinis says the detector is "the smallest and cheapest device that is sufficiently sensitive to detect entrapped people."

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Aviad Rubinstein, winner of the ACM Doctoral Dissertation award UC Berkeley Graduate Recognized With ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award
May 16, 2018

Aviad Rubinstein has been named to receive the ACM 2017 Doctoral Dissertation Award for his dissertation, "Hardness of Approximation Between P and NP," in which he established the intractability of the approximate Nash equilibrium problem and several other important problems between P and NP completeness. A persistent issue in theoretical computer science concerns whether an approximate Nash equilibrium--a variant of the Nash equilibrium that enables the possibility that a player may have a modest incentive to take a different action--also is intractable. Rubinstein's dissertation proposed new ideas and novel mathematical techniques to demonstrate that the approximate Nash equilibrium is indeed intractable. In addition, Rubinstein's thesis addresses other problems related to P and NP completeness, the most important question in theoretical computer science.

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New Device Could Increase Battery Life of Electronic Devices by More Than a Hundred-Fold
University of Missouri
Jeff Sossamon
May 16, 2018

Battery-operated electronics users often complain that battery life is too short and the devices generate too much heat, and researchers at the University of Missouri (MU) have developed a material that could solve both problems. Led by MU's Deepak K. Singh, the team developed a two-dimensional, nanostructured material by depositing a magnetic permalloy on the honeycomb structure template of a silicon substrate. The new material conducts unidirectional current, and when built into a diode, dissipates significantly less power compared to a conventional semiconducting diode. The new magnetic diode could be used to create new magnetic transistors and amplifiers that dissipate very little power, thus boosting the efficiency of the power source in electronic devices.

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Drone, controller, virtual reality helmet, and cellphone  on a table Researchers Develop Virtual Reality Testing Ground for Drones
MIT News
Jennifer Chu
May 17, 2018

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a virtual reality training system for aerial drones so they can navigate empty space while perceiving a rich, artificial environment. The team says its Flight Goggles system could reduce how often drones crash during training, and function as a virtual testbed for an unlimited number of environments and conditions. "If anything, the system can make autonomous vehicles more responsive, faster, and more efficient," suggests MIT's Sertac Karaman. Flight Goggles combines motion capture, image rendering, and electronics so the team can rapidly process and send photorealistic images to the drone, which processes them at about 90 frames a second. Karaman says the project was inspired by competitive drone racing, with the goal of entering such a contest with an autonomous drone that can compete with drones remotely flown by human operators.

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Making Radio Chips for Hell
IEEE Spectrum
Samuel K. Moore
May 15, 2018

Researchers at the University of Arkansas and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden have developed a wireless radio mixer integrated circuit, known as a mixer IC, which can operate at temperatures up to 500 degrees Celsius. The mixer IC was designed by KTH's Ana Rusu, packaged by Arkansas researcher Alan Mantooth's group, and then tested by Rusu's group. The new device translates a 59-megahertz radio frequency signal to a 500-kilohertz signal to enable signal processing. The researchers are also developing sensors for the interior of diesel engine combustion chambers so computers can better control engine efficiency, as well as developing power electronics for actuating a drill bit at the bottom of an oil well, where temperatures can reach 150 degrees Celsius.

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The CHIMP robot built by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University In a First, Students Will Be Able to Major in AI at CMU
Aaron Aupperlee
May 10, 2018

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) this fall will launch the first artificial intelligence (AI) bachelor's degree program in the U.S. "Specialists in artificial intelligence have never been more important, in shorter supply, or in greater demand by employers," said CMU's Andrew Moore. The program will emphasize ethical and social questions pertaining to AI. Beyond computer science courses, the program will feature AI-related classes on statistics and probability, computational modeling, machine learning, and symbolic computation. CMU, where computer scientists wrote the first AI computer program in 1956, offers the top graduate program for AI in the U.S., according to a U.S. News and World Report ranking. "We want to be the first to offer an AI undergraduate degree. I'm sure we won't be the last. AI is here to stay," says CMU's Reid Simmons.

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Big Data From World's Largest Citizen Science Microbiome Project Serves Food for Thought
University of California, San Diego
Heather Buschman
May 15, 2018

University of California, San Diego researchers have published the first major results from a crowdsourced, worldwide citizen science effort to realize a better understanding of human microbiomes. The researchers say the success of the American Gut Project validates citizen science as a practical model for engaging the public in research. The team asked participants to contribute $99 to receive a kit for the collection biological samples, and mail them back after collection. In addition, each participant was asked to answer a poll that included questions about general health status, disease history, lifestyle, and diet. The team identified the bacteria in samples by sequencing a distinctive genetic marker, while metabolomics techniques differentiated non-living molecules and chemicals and shotgun metagenomics for a complete gene reading. As of mid-2017, the project included microbial sequence data from 15,096 samples provided by 11,336 participants from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and 42 other countries and territories.

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Queen's University Student Has Key to Beating Insurance Fraud
Belfast Telegraph (Ireland)
Allan Preston
May 15, 2018

Jiawen Sun, a researcher at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, U.K., has developed software capable of rapidly sifting through large volumes of an organization's data and detecting insurance fraud. As datasets grow into the trillions of bytes, this creates problems in high-performance computing, making it very difficult to use such systems at full capacity. Sun says this type of research has the potential to improve or change many aspects of daily life. The techniques utilized by the software “accelerate graph analytics up to ten-fold, which is a game-changer for many organizations, allowing them to tap into analysis that they have never used before and at a much faster pace," says QUB's Hans Vandierendonck. Sun received a silver medal at the recent ACM Student Research Competition (SRC 2018) for her work.

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AI Generates New Doom Levels for Humans to Play
Technology Review
May 7, 2018

Researchers at the Polytechnic University of Milan in Italy have found it is possible to have a deep learning algorithm create compelling new game levels in Doom automatically, based on the data in existing levels. The team started with 1,000 Doom levels from an existing repository; they processed each level to produce a set of images representing its most vital features, and created a vector that captured important level features in numerical form. They then applied a generative adversarial network to the dataset to learn how to generate new levels. Researcher Edoardo Giacomello says after about 36,000 iterations, the deep learning networks could generate levels that capture the intrinsic structure of Doom levels, and could be used for level generation in other first-person-shooter games. Such automation of the creation of new levels could have significant implications for game designers.

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