Welcome to the May 16, 2018 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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Platform for Mobile Networks Would Bring Services Up to Speeds of 100 Gbps
KTH Royal Institute of Technology
May 15, 2018

Researchers at Sweden's KTH Royal Institute of Technology and RISE SICS research institute and Belgium’s University of Liege have unveiled a platform for mobile network virtualization that enables network services to operate as fast as the underlying commodity hardware's wireline speed. KTH's Dejan Kostic says this breakthrough can realize "ultra-high throughput with low predictable latency, and high resource efficiency," with the potential to help networks meet performance expectations amid growing demand for mobile network services. The platform, called Metron, can execute early traffic classification and assign tags to data packets, after which the hardware can transmit traffic to the appropriate central-processing unit core of a commodity server based on the tag. "We also exploit our earlier work (called Synthesized Network Functions), to realize a highly optimized traffic classifier by synthesizing its internal operations, while eliminating processing redundancy," Kostic notes. Trials on a 100 Gbps Ethernet network yielded services with significantly reduced latency, higher throughput, and better efficiency than currently available.

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Planned Supercomputer Would Be 10 Times Faster Than Today's No. 1
China Daily
Cheng Yu; Lu Haoting; Zhang Zhihao
May 10, 2018

The National Supercomputing Center in Shenzhen, China, is planning to build an advanced supercomputer that beats the fastest current system by a factor of 10, according to spokesperson Wang Zhenglu. He says the exascale system should be operational by 2020, and will be indispensable in promoting development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area in the areas of cloud computing, big data, and artificial intelligence. "The investment is likely to hit 3 billion yuan [$470.6 million], and key technologies for the supercomputer are expected to be developed independently," Wang notes. The most recent biannual listing of the world's 500 fastest supercomputers ranked China's Sunway TaihuLight and Tianhe-2 as the fastest, while the U.S. Titan system ranked fifth.

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Leather fabric swatches in different colors Graphene-Based Sensor Learns to Feel Like a Human
Chemistry World
Hannah Kerr
May 15, 2018

Researchers at Hanyang University in South Korea have integrated an electric sensor with a machine learning program, creating a device that can differentiate between surface textures, with potential applications in virtual reality, robotics, and medical prosthetics. The sensor is fabricated from a graphene-flake film deposited onto a polyethylene naphthalate substrate. The device registers changes in electrical conductance and resistance via the film when strain causes deformation, boosting the physical contact between individual flakes in the film. The machine-learning program applies the sensor's conductance and resistance data to define specific features connected with different surface texture types. The researchers have applied the graphene film to an artificial fingerprint structure so it reacts to tiny vibrations caused by the ridges on the fingerprint rubbing against a textured surface; the sensor analyzes these signals to identify the "feel" of differently textured fabrics. In a blind test of 50 people, the sensor outperformed humans in classifying 12 new fabrics.

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An warning of an Email hack.  Email Encryption Standards Hacked
Ruhr-University Bochum (Germany)
Meike Drieben
May 14, 2018

A team of researchers from Germany’s University of Applied Sciences and the Horst Gortz Institute for IT at Ruhr University Bochum, and Belgium’s KU Leuven successfully hacked the popular Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME) and OpenPGP email encryption standards via an "Efail" attack, which was effective in 25 out of 35 tested email programs using S/MIME and in 10 out of 28 tested programs using OpenPGP. Neither standard's underlying cryptographic algorithms have been brought up to date in decades, and the team is urging that they be updated accordingly. The Efail technique intercepts and manipulates an email to add the hacker's own encrypted commands, then relays the message to one of the recipients or the sender. Once the email is decrypted, the commands cause the victim's email to establish a link with the attacker the next time the email is opened. The current S/MIME is not suitable for secure communication, although "OpenPGP can be configured and used securely; however, this is often not the case as we showed in our practical analyses and should therefore be considered insecure," says Ruhr University Bochum's Jorg Schwenk.

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Big Data Tool Predicts Best Lung Cancer Treatment
May 13, 2018

National University of Singapore (NUS) researchers have developed a personalized risk assessment tool designed to predict the survival rate and treatment outcomes of early-stage lung cancer patients. The tool relies on a panel of 29 unique extracellular matrix (ECM) genes that serve as biomarkers for the disease’s diagnosis and prognosis, based on their abnormal expression in lung cancers compared to healthy lung tissues. The researchers focused on non-small cell lung cancer, the most common type of lung cancer. The new tool successfully identified early-stage cancer patients who were able to increase their chances of survival through adjuvant chemotherapy. "Our study demonstrates how we can harness and transform unprecedented amount of genomic data into a useful decision-making tool that can be implemented in routine clinical practice," says NUS's Lim Chwee Teck.

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Home aid helping elderly woman dress Robot Teaches Itself How to Dress People
Georgia Tech News Center
Jason Maderer
May 14, 2018

A team of researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology says it has developed a robot that helps hospital patients slide on their gowns. Instead of relying on robotic vision, the robot, a Willow Garage PR2, uses the forces it perceives to guide the garment onto a patient's hand, around the elbow, and onto the shoulder. The robot taught itself to accomplish this task in a single day by analyzing about 11,000 simulated examples of a robot putting a gown onto a human arm, which allowed its neural network to learn to estimate the forces applied to the person. The robot also learned to predict the results of moving the gown in different ways, and used these predictions to select motions that comfortably dress the patient. The team varied the PR2's timing and enabled it to think as much as one-fifth of a second into the future while considering its next maneuver, as less time than that led to more failures.

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Using Data Science to Help Predict Adverse Drug Reactions
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Thomas Coakley
May 9, 2018

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) researchers have integrated natural language processing and deep learning methods to develop a visual analytics system. The system processed more than a million reports on adverse drug reactions gathered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with the goal of being able to better predict harmful reactions from drug-drug interactions. WPI's Elke Rundensteiner says the new system's machine learning and natural language processing capabilities could be applied to the Adverse Event Reporting System software for use by the FDA. The WPI system uses text mining and deep learning to sort and compare the reports of adverse drug interactions, then presents the results in a series of interactive visualizations that allow an evaluator to drill down to a specific drug and specific reports about its interactions.

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DARPA Project to Examine Terahertz for Wireless Communications
Monica Alleven
May 11, 2018

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), in collaboration with the New York University Tandon School of Engineering; the Universities of California at Santa Barbara, Berkeley, and San Diego; Cornell University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as several industrial partners, has launched a hub for advanced wireless and sensing research. Researchers at the ComSenTer hub are developing technologies to take advantage of the high gigahertz and terahertz spectrum for imaging and sensing applications. NYU researcher Sundeep Rangan notes the results of initial millimeter-wave field trials suggest such transmissions provide people with more coverage than had been anticipated.

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A Twitter profile During Disasters, Active Twitter Users Likely to Spread Falsehoods
University at Buffalo News
Cory Nealon
May 11, 2018

Researchers at the University at Buffalo (UB), examining more than 20,000 tweets sent during Hurricane Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombing, found that up to 91 percent of users spread falsehoods either by retweeting or "liking" an original post containing false news. The study, which focused on four false rumors related to the hurricane and bombing, also showed that up to 9 percent sought to verify the false news by retweeting and asking if the information was correct, while up to 9 percent of users expressed doubt about the veracity of a fake news item. UB's Jun Zhuang said the findings were important "because they show how easily people are deceived during times when they are most vulnerable and the role social media platforms play in these deceptions."

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Close up photo of a woman’s blue eye. Eye Scanner Can Tell If You've Mastered a Foreign Language
New Scientist
Sandrine Ceurstemont
May 10, 2018

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have written an algorithm that monitors a person's unconscious eye movements as they read, to assess their proficiency in a foreign language. Yevgeni Berzak and his team used an eye tracker mounted on a desktop to evaluate the competency of English language students. Using factors such as how long a person's gaze remained on a word, the team compared foreign language students to native speakers who performed the same exercise. An algorithm then estimated the participants' language proficiency score based on eye-tracking data, comparing the results to scores on two standardized language tests. The results show a strong correlation between eye movements and reading proficiency. As a next step, the researchers are building a tool to determine a person's abilities while they are reading online, which could serve as the basis for creating personalized online learning tools that modify text to match skill level.

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Candidate Multilinear Maps

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