2019 Seton Hall Skills in Cloud

Welcome to the June 5, 2019 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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Leading Memory Systems Researcher Receives Top Computer Architecture Award
Association for Computing Machinery
Jim Ormond
June 5, 2019

ACM and IEEE have named University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher Mark D. Hill to receive the 2019 Eckert-Mauchly Award for his contributions to the design and evaluation of memory systems and parallel computers. The Eckert-Mauchly Award is considered the computer architecture community's most prestigious award. Hill, widely regarded as the world’s leading memory systems researcher, has contributed significantly to the fields of cache memories, memory consistency models, transactional memory, and simulation. His work has been guided by the idea that researchers should create both designs and models. Hill will be presented the award at the ACM/IEEE International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA) later this month in Phoenix, AZ.

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Research Overcomes Key Obstacles to Scaling Up DNA Data Storage
North Carolina State University
Matt Shipman
June 3, 2019

North Carolina State University (NC State) researchers have created new techniques for labeling and retrieving data files in DNA-based information storage systems, overcoming two key obstacles to widespread adoption of DNA data storage technologies. The challenges are how to identify the strands of DNA that contain the correct file, and once those strands are identified, how can they be removed so they can be read without destroying them. The researchers addressed these problems with two techniques together called DNA Enrichment and Nested Separation (DENSe). NC State’s Kyle Tomek said the two techniques “when used in tandem, open the door to developing DNA-based data storage system with modern capacities and file-access capabilities.” Added NC State’s James Tuck, “Next steps include scaling this up and testing the DENSe approach with larger databases.”

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Close up on a computer chip How Quantum Computer Could Break 2,048-Bit RSA Encryption in 8 Hours
Technology Review
May 30, 2019

Researchers at Google and Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology have developed a more efficient technique for decryption calculations by quantum computers. Google's Craig Gidney and KTH's Martin Ekera demonstrated that a quantum system could crack 2,048-bit RSA encryption with just 20 million quantum bits (qubits), rather than requiring 1 billion qubits as previously theorized, in only eight hours with this technique. The technique uses modular exponentiation, a mathematical process for finding the remainder when a number is raised to a certain power, and divided by another number. Gidney and Ekera have formulated various ways to optimize this process, reducing the resources required to run the large-number-factoring Shor's algorithm. Said the researchers, "The worst-case estimate of how many qubits will be needed to factor 2,048-bit RSA integers has dropped nearly two orders of magnitude."

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A student on his computer RIT Student Develops Tool to Visualize Molecular Dynamics of Proteins in Virtual Reality
Rochester Institute of Technology
Luke Auburn
May 30, 2019

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) researcher Kyle Diller, a fifth-year computer science student from East Windsor, NJ, has developed an application for the molecular visualization program UCSF ChimeraX that can help scientists visualize molecular motion and the dynamics of proteins using virtual reality headsets. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) are developing new visual capabilities for the app, to permit more life-like multidirectional shadowing and virtual reality. The plug-in allows users to display an atomic structure and manipulate the view to see how the protein or structure changes. Said RIT’s Gregory Babbitt, "I think it is a perfect example of how a student can take an open-ended class project and develop it into something that can help the broader scientific community."

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Machine Learning Sniffs Out Its Own Machine-Written Propaganda
Tiernan Ray
June 2, 2019

Researchers at the Allen Institute and the University of Washington's Paul Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering have modified a neural network to create a natural language processing algorithm that generates, as well as detects, convincing fake articles. The researchers tweaked OpenAI's popular GPT-2 network to produce the "Grover" program, which serves as both a fake-news "generator," and a "discriminator" to identify that false content. Grover produces disinformation after being fed a massive volume of curated human-written online news texts, supporting a language model that the network utilizes to create its own texts. The discriminator can identify Grover's fake text because it knows the generator's word-assembling "decoder" component chooses the most likely word combinations in a specific pattern. The researchers said innovations like Grover offer an "exciting opportunity for defense against neural fake news," as "[t]he best models for generating neural disinformation are also the best models at detecting it."

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European Processor Initiative Announces First Design
Scientific Computing World
June 4, 2019

The European Processor Initiative (EPI) has delivered its first architectural design for a microprocessor for high-performance computing (HPC) to the European Commission. The EPI is the cornerstone of the European Union's strategic plans in HPC, as it aims to develop the first European HPC System for the HPC and automotive sectors through the development of an HPC general-purpose processor, accelerator, and platform for automotive development. Said Matthias Traub of BMW Group Research, "The combination of general-purpose processors, hardware accelerators, security modules, and further IP modules on a system-on-chip is one of the key success factors for realizing a high-performance and energy-efficient automotive computing platform for autonomous driving and connected mobility."

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A professor guiding an infant interacting with the prototype, engaging the deaf infant with sign language Robotics and American Sign Language
USC Viterbi School of Engineering
Lila Jones
May 29, 2019

Researchers at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering, Gallaudet University, Yale University, and University G. D'Annunzio of Chieti-Pescara in Italy have developed a learning tool to give deaf infants greater exposure to sign language at a young age, to help them develop a strong foundation for vocabulary, grammar, and language. The Robot Avatar Thermal-Enhanced Prototype (RAVE) system consists of a digital human on a screen, several sensing devices, and a tangible, three-dimensional robot. The robot attracts the attention of the hearing-impaired baby with physical movements and directs the infant's eyes to the screen. The on-screen avatar engages the baby in conversation with American Sign Language as well as natural human facial expressions, posture, and body language that would go with this normal communication experience.

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A hotel in Japan replaced its front desk staff with robots. Automation Could Force Millions of Women to Find New Jobs
The Wall Street Journal
Eric Morath
June 4, 2019

A McKinsey Global Institute analysis warns automation could displace 107 million employed women worldwide by 2030, with the sexes almost equally impacted by technological innovation. Trends could include virtual assistants taking over clerical work, broader uptake of cashierless checkouts, and artificial intelligence agents at call centers. Clerical tasks are particularly susceptible to replacement with automation, and McKinsey estimates that women hold 72% of those jobs in advanced economies. McKinsey also projects that 171 million new women-held jobs will arise by 2030, with the rate of expansion slightly greater for women than for men, given women's predominance in healthcare employment. Being hired for these new jobs will require reskilling and transitioning into new occupations, which McKinsey suggests may be easier for men than for women.

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Intelligent Algorithms for Genome Research
Technical University of Munich (Germany)
May 28, 2019

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany worked with international scientists to establish a repository to ease access to pre-trained models for genomic research. Stanford University's Anshul Kundaje said the Kipoi repository is a resource "not just [for] sharing data and software, but sharing models and algorithms that are already trained on the most relevant data." Kipoi currently houses more than 2,000 trained models that are freely accessible, allowing scientists to transfer learning, or enable models trained on specific datasets to learn similar tasks faster. Kipoi is geared toward models that connect genotype and phenotype, simplifying identification of genetic disease causes.

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MIT researchers putting their fleet of autonomous “roboats” to the test on the swimming pool Autonomous Boats Can Target, Latch Onto Each Other
MIT News
Rob Matheson
June 5, 2019

Working together, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions in the Netherlands have designed autonomous boats that automatically target and latch onto each other. The "roboats" are outfitted with sensors, thrusters, microcontrollers, global positioning system modules, computer vision software, LiDAR, and cameras, to enable on-demand canal transportation. The roboats can identify and link with docking stations, and can be guided to targets by control algorithms or programmed to repeat docking maneuvers if initial attempts fail. Said MIT's Daniela Rus, "The aim is to use roboat units to bring new capabilities to life on the water.”

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Vulnerability of Cloud Service Hardware Uncovered
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Monika Landgraf
May 31, 2019

Researchers at Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have found that field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) have vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cyber criminals. FPGAs are capable of assuming nearly every function of every other computer chip. They stand out because of their comparatively low current consumption, which makes them ideally suited for server farms run by cloud service providers, but also leaves open a gateway for malicious attacks. The versatility of FPGAs enables hackers to carry out so-called side-channel attacks, in which bad actors use the energy consumption of the chip to retrieve information allowing them to break its encryption. Said KIT researcher Jonas Krautter, "It is possible to tamper with the calculations of other customers or even to crash the chip altogether, possibly resulting in data losses."

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