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Spring 2020 Colloquia

Check back soon for more information on the computer science seminar series. Unless otherwise noted, the seminars meet on Mondays at 4pm in Stanley Thomas 302. If you would like to receive notices about upcoming seminars, you can subscribe to the announcement listserv.

Feb 10

Interactive Visual Analysis at Scale: From Data to Actionable Insights

Fabio Miranda | New York University

Abstract: Over the past decade, technological innovations have produced a wealth of large and complex data sets on almost every aspect of human life, from natural science to business and social science. The analysis of this data is usually an exploratory process in which domain expertise plays an important role. It is, therefore, essential to integrate the user into the analysis loop, enabling them to formulate hypotheses and gain actionable insights into domain-specific problems. Interactive visualization is central in the support of this process, but the scale and complexity of the data present several challenges. My research focuses on proposing new methods and systems that allow for the interactive visual analysis of large data of different types, such as time-series, spatio-temporal, geometry, and image data. By combining visualization, machine learning, data management, and computer graphics, my work tackles fundamental challenges in data science, enabling effective analysis of large data to untangle real-world problems. In this talk, I will present my most recent contributions in the interactive visual analysis and exploration of large urban data, motivated by problems such as urban noise, neighborhood characterization, accessibility, and shadow impact on public spaces. The techniques and tools have been used by different domain experts, including urban planners, architects, occupational therapists, and acoustics researchers, allowing them to engage in data-driven science to better understand cities.

About the Speaker: Fabio Miranda is a postdoctoral research associate at the Visualization and Data Analytics Center (VIDA) and the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) at New York University. He received his PhD from New York University in 2018, advised by Professor Claudio T. Silva. During his PhD studies, he completed internships at Argonne National Laboratory, IBM Research, AT&T Labs Research, and Sandia National Labs. His research proposes new techniques that allow for the interactive visual analysis of large-scale data. He has worked closely with domain experts from different fields, from urban planning to occupational therapy, and the outcome of these collaborations includes not only research published in leading visualization, database, HCI, and AI venues, but also systems that were made available to experts in academia, industry, and government agencies. His work has also received extensive coverage from different media outlets, including The New York Times, The Economist, Architectural Digest, Curbed, among others.

Feb 12

Trajectories - My Journey So Far

Dieter Pfoser | George Mason University

This talk will be held on Wednesday, February 12th, at 4:00 p.m. in Stanley Thomas 302. Please note the special weekday for this event.

Abstract: Trajectory datasets have sparked a lot of research ranging from physical database work and graph algorithms to becoming a valuable resource in urban science. We will initially discuss fundamental algorithmic efforts related to spatiotemporal database queries and using trajectories to calculate travel times for road networks and their effect on shortest path calculations. While interesting as a data type, trajectories are also an important resource when it comes to understanding human mobility and what goes on in a city. Here, we will look at how people’s itineraries can be used to compile a trajectory-driven travel guide and how we identify underlying transportation networks and respective travel choices. The talk concludes with current challenges and research directions.

About the Speaker: Dr. Dieter Pfoser is a professor and chair of the Dept. of Geography and GeoInformation Science at George Mason University. He received his PhD in computer science from Aalborg University, Denmark in 2000. At GMU he teaches courses related to geospatial data management, Linked Data, Web application development using open-source software, and data visualization. His research interests include data management, data mining for spatial and spatiotemporal data, graph algorithms for dynamic networks, and user-generated content, e.g., map-matching and map construction algorithms. Over the years, Dr. Pfoser’s research has been supported by grants from NSF, DARPA, NGA, DHS, and the European Commission. More information on his work can be found at

Feb 13

Optimizing Distributed Machine Learning with Reinforcement Learning

Hao Wang | University of Toronto

This talk will be held on Thursday, February 13th, at 2:00 p.m. in Norman Mayer, Room # 200A. Please note the special weekday, time, and venue for this event.

Abstract: In the era of Internet of Things, mobile computing and Big Data, millions of sensors and mobile devices are constantly generating massive volumes of data. To utilize the vast amount of data without violating data privacy, Federated Learning has emerged as a new paradigm of distributed machine learning that orchestrates model training across mobile devices. In this talk, I will first introduce the current challenges in distributed machine learning, and then present my recent work on statistical heterogeneity in federated learning, and distributed machine learning on a serverless architecture. Specifically, I will talk about applying reinforcement learning to optimize distributed machine learning by learning the best choice for task scheduling and resource provisioning.

About the Speaker: Hao Wang is a 5th year Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Professor Baochun Li. Hao received both of his B.E. degree in Information Security and M.E. degree in Software Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2012 and 2015, respectively. His research interests include large-scale data analytics, distributed machine learning, and datacenter networking. He has published 16 papers (including eight first-author papers) in prestigious networking and system conferences and journals, such as INFOCOM, SoCC, TPDS, and ToN. For more information about Hao, please visit

Feb 17

Enabling Multidisciplinary Science With Social Media Using Natural Language Processing and Network Analysis

Aron Culotta | Illinois Institute of Technology

Abstract: Online social networks present exciting opportunities for conducting multidisciplinary research in human sciences such as public health, sociology, political science, and marketing. However, properly analyzing this noisy, non-representative data requires advances in natural language processing, network analysis, machine learning, and causal inference. In this talk, I will summarize our recent progress in three fundamental areas that support this growing field: (1) controlling for confounds in text classification; (2) using distant supervision to train machine learning models; (3) using causal inference to understand how language affects perception. Applications discussed will include smoking cessation, deceptive marketing, political sentiment, and disaster management.

About the Speaker: Aron Culotta is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where he leads the Text Analysis in the Public Interest Lab and co-directs the bachelor's and master's programs in artificial intelligence. He obtained his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2008, where he developed machine learning algorithms for natural language processing. He was a Microsoft Live Labs Fellow, completed research internships at IBM, Google, and Microsoft Research, received paper awards at AAAI and CSCW, and is a Program co-Chair for ICWSM-2020. His research is supported by several NSF-funded collaborations with researchers in public health, political science, marketing, and emergency management.

Mar 2

Making Decisions From Human Knowledge and Preferences

Rupert Freeman | Microsoft Research

Abstract: Even in the age of big data and machine learning, human knowledge and preferences still play a large part in decision making. For some tasks, such as predicting complex events like recessions or global conflicts, human input remains a crucial component, either in a standalone capacity or as a complement to algorithms and statistical models. In other cases, a decision maker is tasked with utilizing human preferences to, for example, make a popular decision over an unpopular one. However, while often useful, eliciting data from humans poses significant challenges. First, humans are strategic, and may misrepresent their private information if doing so can benefit them. Second, when decisions affect humans, we often want outcomes to be fair, not systematically favoring one individual or group over another.

In this talk, I discuss two settings that exemplify these considerations. First, I consider the participatory budgeting problem in which a shared budget must be divided among competing public projects. Building on classic literature in economics, I present a class of truthful mechanisms and exhibit a tradeoff between fairness and economic efficiency within this class. Second, I examine the classic online learning problem of learning with expert advice in a setting where experts are strategic and act to maximize their influence on the learner. I present algorithms that incentivize truthful reporting from experts while achieving optimal regret bounds.

About the Speaker: Rupert Freeman is a postdoc at Microsoft Research New York City. Previously, he received his Ph.D. from Duke University under the supervision of Vincent Conitzer. His research focuses on the intersection of artificial intelligence and economics, particularly in topics such as resource allocation, voting, and information elicitation. He is the recipient of a Facebook Ph.D. Fellowship and a Duke Computer Science outstanding dissertation award.

Mar 9

Robust Multi-view Visual Learning: A Knowledge Flow Perspective

Zhengming (Allan) Ding | Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Abstract: Multi-view data are extensively accessible nowadays thanks to various types of features, viewpoints, and different sensors. For example, the most popular commercial depth sensor Kinect uses both visible light and near-infrared sensors for depth estimation; automatic driving uses both visual and radar/lidar sensors to produce real-time 3D information on the road, and face analysis algorithms prefer face images from different views for high-fidelity reconstruction and recognition. All of them tend to facilitate better data representation in different application scenarios. This talk covers most multi-view visual data representation approaches from two knowledge flows perspectives, i.e., knowledge fusion and knowledge transfer, centered from conventional multi-view learning to zero-shot learning, and from transfer learning to few-shot learning.

About the Speaker: Zhengming Ding received the B.Eng. degree in information security and the M.Eng. degree in computer software and theory from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC), China, in 2010 and 2013, respectively. He received the Ph.D. degree from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Northeastern University, USA in 2018. He is a faculty member affiliated with the Department of Computer, Information and Technology, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis since 2018. His research interests include transfer learning, multi-view learning and deep learning. He received the National Institute of Justice Fellowship during 2016-2018. He was the recipient of the best paper award (SPIE 2016) and the best paper candidate (ACM MM 2017). He is currently an Associate Editor of the Journal of Electronic Imaging (JEI) and IET Image Processing. He is a member of IEEE, ACM, and AAAI.

Mar 16

Discerning Code Changes From a Security Perspective

Yue Duan | Cornell University

Abstract: Programs are not immutable. In fact, most programs are under constant changes for security (e.g, vulnerability fix) and non-security (e.g., new features) reasons. These code changes have exposed great security challenges. In this talk, I will present my unique approach that combines static/dynamic program analysis with other techniques including deep learning and virtual machine introspection (VMI), to understand code changes from a security perspective in mobile and PC software domains, and further solve real-world security issues. First, Android packers, as a set of code transformation techniques, have rendered existing malware detection techniques obsolete. I will talk about DroidUnpack, which is a VMI based Android packing analysis framework, to perform the first large-scale systematic study on Android packing techniques, and report some surprising findings. Second, Android third-party libraries (TPL) have become one of the major sources of Android security issues. We propose LibBandAid to automatically generate updates for TPLs in Android apps in a non-intrusive fashion. Third, I will present a novel technique named DeepBinDiff, an unsupervised deep neural network based program-wide code representation learning technique for binary diffing.

About the Speaker: Yue Duan is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at Cornell University. He received his Ph.D in Computer Science from UC Riverside. He earned his M.S and B.S from Syracuse University and Xi'an Jiaotong University respectively. During his PhD studies, he interned at NEC Labs and Fujitsu Laboratories of America. Before that, he served as a system software engineer at Nvidia GPU driver team for 1.5 years. His research interests mainly lie in System Security, Mobile Security, Deep Learning and Blockchain. His work has been extensively published in leading security conferences including ACM CCS, NDSS and RAID. 

Mar 20


Sarah Preum | University of Virginia

Abstract: TBA

This talk will be held on Friday, March 20th, at 4:00 p.m. in Stanley Thomas 302. Please note the special weekday for this event.

Mar 23


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Mar 30


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Apr 20


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Apr 27


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