SIGBITS September 2020

A WPI Computer Science Department summary of short notes on happenings involving faculty and students.

Phone: 508-831-5357
Fax: 508-831-5776

SIGBITS September 2020

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WPI Again Ranked as 2nd Best Computer Science Program in the U.S.

College Factual has again ranked WPI as the 2nd best school to study Computer Science in the United States in their 2020 rankings. The ranking methodology takes into account factors such as education quality and earnings of graduates.

Elke Rundensteiner

Rundensteiner Grants and Publications

Elke Rundensteiner received a two-year $832,046 grant from the Army Research Lab to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to accelerate the assessment and prevention of corrosion in metals, such as any metal on military vehicles, used in the field. Rundensteiner and her team, including Fatemeh Emdad as a Co-PI, will work with Army researchers and engineers to provide experimental data sets, introduce critical problems, and mentor students working on the project. The WPI research team is using machine learning and deep learning to analyze the data and develop easy-to- interpret visualization tools to aid in the design of new corrosion-resistant materials. Funding: The Army Research Lab has an option to extend the two-year $832,046 grant to a five-year $2.4 million grant.

Read article "Army partnership links worldwide scientific community"

She received a new award from the NSF Info Integration & Informatics Program. The title is Scalable Event Trend Analytics For Data Stream Inquiry.


Rodica Neamtu, Ramoza Ahsan, Cuong Tri; and Lovering, Charles J., Gabor Sarkozy, Elke Rundensteiner, "A General Approach For Supporting Time Series Matching using Multiple-Warped Distances" IEEE Transaction on Knowledge and Data Engineering 2020.

ML Tlachac and Elke A. Rundensteiner, ``Screening for Depression with Retrospectively Harvested Private versus Public Text'', IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics (J-BHI), 2020.

T. Hartvigsen, C. Sen, X. Kong and E. Rundensteiner, Learning to Selectively Update State Neurons in Recurrent Networks, ACM CIKM 2020. (full research track).

Allison Rozet, Olga Poppe, Chuan Lei, Elke Rundensteiner, Muse: Multi-query Event Trend Aggregation ACM CIKM 2020 (Short Paper Track).

Dongyu Zhang, Jidapa Thadajarassiri, Cansu Sen, and Elke Rundensteiner, Time-Aware Transformer-based Network for Clinical Notes Series Prediction, Machine Learning for Healthcare (MLHC), August 2020.

T. Hartvigsen, C. Sen, X. Kong and E. Rundensteiner, Recurrent Halting Chain for Early Multi-label Classification, ACM KDD 2020. (research track).

Cansu Sen, Thomas Hartvigsen, Biao Yin, Xiangnan Kong and Elke Rundensteiner, Human Attention Maps for Text Classification: Do Humans and Neural Networks Focus on the Same Words?, The 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL 2020), 2020.

Hamid Mansoor, Walter Gerych, Luke Buquicchio, Kavin Chandrasekaran, Elke Rundensteiner, and Emmanuel Agu, ARGUS: Interactive Visual Analytics Framework for the Discovery of Disruptions in Bio-Behavioral Rhythms, EuroVis 2020, Short Paper.

Liang Zhang, Noura Alghamdi, Mohamed Y. Eltabakh, and Elke A. Rundensteiner, Big Data Series Analytics Using TARDIS and its Exploitation in Geospatial Applications, ACM SIGMOD 2020. Demonstration paper.

Ml Tlachac and Elke Rundensteiner, Depression Screening from Text Message Reply Latency 42nd Annual International Conference of IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC), (in conjunction with the 43rd Annual Conference of the Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Society (EMBC 2020),). Montreal, Canada, July 20-24, 2020.

Ml Tlachac, Elke Rundensteiner, Kerri Barton, T. Scott Troppy, Kirthana Beaulac and Shira Doron, Anomalous Antimicrobial Resistant Trend Identification, 42nd Annual International Conference of IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC), Montreal, Canada, July 20-24, 2020.

Yanhua Li

Li CAREER Award and Publications

Yanhua Li received an NSF CAREER award for his project entitled "Spatial-Temporal Imitation Learning".


He and his students and collaborators have published a number of papers below.

Menghai Pan, Weixiao Huang, Yanhua Li, Xun Zhou, Jun Luo, xGAIL: Explainable Generative Adversarial Imitation Learning for Explainable Human Decision Analysis. the 26th SIGKDD conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, San Diego, CA, August 23 - 27, 2020.

Yingxue Zhang, Yanhua Li, Xun Zhou, Xiangnan Kong and Jun Luo, Curb-GAN: Conditional Urban Traffic Estimation through Spatio-Temporal Generative Adversarial Networks the 26th SIGKDD conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, San Diego, CA, August 23 - 27, 2020.

Huimin Ren, Menghai Pan*, Yanhua Li, Xun Zhou and Jun Luo, ST-SiameseNet: Spatio-Temporal Siamese Networks for Human Mobility Signature Identification the 26th SIGKDD conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, San Diego, CA, August 23 - 27, 2020.

Mingzhou Yang, Yanhua Li, Xun Zhou, Hui Lu, Zhihong Tian, Jun Luo, Inferring Passengers: Interactive Choices on Public Transits via MA-AL: Multi-Agent Apprenticeship Learning. The Web Conference, Taipei, Apr. 20-24, 2020.

Tianfu He, Jie Bao, Ruiyuan Li, Sijie Ruan, Yanhua Li, Li Song, Hui He, Yu Zheng, What is the Human Mobility in a New City? -- Transfer Mobility Knowledge Across Cities. The Web Conference, Taipei, Apr. 20-24, 2020.

Sijie Ruan, Jie Bao, Yuxuan Liang, Ruiyuan Li, Tianfu He, Chuishi Meng, Yanhua Li, Yingcai Wu, Yu Zheng, Dynamic Public Resource Allocation based on Human Mobility Prediction. The ACM international joint conference on pervasive and ubiquitous computing, Cancun, Maxico, Sep. 12-16, 2020.

Yingxue Zhang, Yanhua Li, Xun Zhou, Xiangnan Kong, Jun Luo, Off-Deployment Traffic Estimation -- A Traffic Generative Adversarial Networks Approach IEEE Transactions on Big Data, Accepted for publication, 2020.

Huimin Ren, Yun Yue, Chong Zhou, Randy Paffenroth, Yanhua Li, and Matthew Weiss, Robust Variational Autoencoders: Generating Noise-Free Images from Corrupted Images. AdvML'20: 2nd Workshop on Adversarial Learning Methods for Machine Learning and Data Mining, San Diego, CA, August 24, 2020. (Held in conjunction with ACM SIGKDD 2020).

Erin Solovey

Solovey Projects and Papers

Erin Solovey was awarded a $24,750 supplement from the National Science Foundation to support undergraduate researchers on the NSF-funded project "CHS: Medium: Improving Information Accessibility with Sign Language First Technology."

She started a new joint project: Closed-Loop BCI Using Adaptive Kinetic Architectural Design to Regulate Human Emotional States with Ali Yousefi (WPI Computer Science) and Soroush Farzin (WPI Civil & Environmental Engineering), funded through WPI's Transformative Research and Innovation, Accelerating Discovery (TRIAD) program

She gave a talk titled "Decoding Brain and Biosensor Signals for Human-Computer Interaction" at the Women in Data Science Central Massachusetts Conference.

Solovey, E.T., Ryan, K.J., Cummings, M. (2020). CODA: Mobile Interface for Enabling Safer Navigation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Real-World Settings. International Journal of Human Computer Studies, 145, 102508.

Unal, D., Arrington, K., Solovey, E., Walker, E. (2020). Using Thinkalouds to Understand Rule Learning and Cognitive Control Mechanisms within an ITS. In Proc. International Conference of Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED).

Liu, R., Walker, E., Friedman, L., Arrington, C.M., Solovey, E.T. (2020) fNIRS-based Classification of Mind- wandering with Personalized Window Selection for Multimodal Learning Interfaces. Journal on Multimodal User Interfaces.

K. Pahlavan, J. Ying, Z. Li, E. Solovey, J. P. Loftus, and Z. Dong. RF Cloud for Cyberspace Intelligence. IEEE Access 8 (2020): 89976-89987.

R. Liu, E. Solovey (2020). AI for Adaptive Brain-Computer Interfaces: Challenges and Opportunities Proc. of CHI 2020 Workshop on Artificial Intelligence for HCI: A Modern Approach.

L. De Carli, I. Ray, E. Solovey (2020). Enabling IoT Residential Security Stewardship for the Aging Population. In Proc. CHI 2020 Workshop on Designing Interactions for the Ageing Populations - Addressing Global Challenges.

R. Moradinezhad, E. Solovey (2020). Embodied Conversational Agent Behavior and its Impact on Trust in Other Agents. Proc. of CUI@CHI: Mapping Grand Challenges for the Conversational User Interface Community CHI 2020 Workshop.

Rodica Neamtu

Neamtu Happenings

Rodica Neamtu advised two student teams that won a Provost MQP Award:

Alternative Augmentative Communication for People with Disabilities (Students: Andrew Robertz, Richard Valente, Cole Winsor, Zachary Emil. Advisor: Rodica Neamtu)

Anomaly Detection in Time Series Data Generated by Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (Student: Petra Kumi Co-advisors: Rodica Neamtu, Erin Solovey, Suzanne Weekes)

Read article "Provost's MQP Awards Recognize Outstanding Work"

R. Neamtu, R. Ahsan, C. D. T. Nguyen, C. Lovering, E. A. Rundensteiner and G. Sarkozy, "A General Approach For Supporting Time Series Matching using Multiple-Warped Distances," in IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering


Women Impact Network Award (Co-PI: Alycia Abbott) - Taking Collaboration Among Women to the Next Level

United States Army Research Laboratory grant (PI: Danielle Cote, Co-PI: Rodica Neamtu) Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment supercomputer computational resources grant

Undergraduate summer research:

In collaboration with Erin Solovey -- Providing Easy Access to High-level Data Analysis with BrainEx. Students: Ellery Buntel , James Plante, and Eric Schmid

In collaboration with Danielle Cote -- Microtrac and Hall Flow, Spherical Nano-indentation Students: Aaron Krueger, Ashley Schuliger, and Christopher Vieira

In Collaboration with Destin Heilman -- Exploring Machine Learning Methods for Nuclear Export Sequence Identification. Student: Erin Conneilly

Co-Director of Bucharest Center which debuted on March 13, 2020 with five IQP projects ranging from preserving urban wetlands, to designing inter-generational learning centers, to help promote eco-tourism, correlation-based analytics for allergens and expanding economic collaboration between US and Romania.

Craig Shue

Shue Announces Awards and Publication

Craig Shue shared news that the WPI Scholarship for Service (SFS) Program has been renewed by the National Science Foundation. The grant is for $4,836,782 and runs from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2025 and is managed by Shue, Lorenzo De Carli, Robert Walls, Craig Wills. Beckley Schowalter serves as the program manager for SFS grant. The grant funds scholarships for students studying cyber security.

Learn more about CyberCorps

He also shared news that WPI received its first scholarship under the DoD Cyber Security Scholarship Program. The award is for $94,653 and runs from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. Harrison Kyriacou was selected in nation-wide award competition. Congratulations, Harrison!

He announced the 2020 NSF Scholarship for Service awardees. Nicole Conill, Adrian Curless, Carly Pereira, and Brian McKay received awards this year. Congratulations to all! SFS currently funds 11 students in the program and has 17 program alumni.

He has a recent publication: Yunsen Lei, Julian P. Lanson, Remy M. Kaldawy, Jeffrey Estrada, Craig A. Shue, "Can Host-Based SDNs Rival the Traffic Engineering Abilities of Switch-Based SDNs?," IEEE Network of the Future (NoF) Conference, October 2020.

Mark Claypool

Claypool Award and Activities

Mark Claypool received a Google Faculty Award, titled "Usable Latency Compensation for Cloud-based Game Developers." The research focus is to design and develop a new technique that ameliorates the effects of latency on players for Google's new Stadia cloud-based game streaming system.

He built his own lightboard to use for remote teaching and configured his setup to allow live teaching via Zoom and the use of Powerpoint. In doing this he learned about three-point lighting, OBS (used for Twitch), virtual audio cables, polarized lenses and more. Fun stuff!

Read more about Live Lightboard Lectures (LLL)

He is the general chair for the first ACM Game Systems workshop, ACM Game Systems (GameSys), in Instanbul, Turkey, on May 2021.

Some of his recently accepted publications include:

Mark Claypool, Andy Cockburn and Carl Gutwin. The Impact of Motion and Delay on Selecting Game Targets with a Mouse, ACM Transactions on Multimedia, Computing, Communinication and Applications (TOMM), Volume 16, Number 2s, Article 73, May 2020.

Robert Salay and Mark Claypool. A Comparison of Automatic versus Manual World Alteration for Network Game Latency Compensation, In Proceedings of the ACM Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI PLAY), Online (virtual conference), November 2-4, 2020.

Chunzhen Jiang, Aritra Kundu, and Mark Claypool. Game Player Response Times versus Task Dexterity and Decision Complexity, In Proceedings of the ACM Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI PLAY), Online (virtual conference), November 2-4, 2020.

Shengmei Liu, Mark Claypool, Bhuvana Devigere, Atsuo Kuwahara, and Jamie Sherman. 'Git Gud!' - Evaluation of Self-Rated Player Skill Compared to Actual Player Performance, In Proceedings of the ACM Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI PLAY), Online (virtual conference), November 2-4, 2020.

Jacob Whitehill

Whitehill Awards

Jacob Whitehill is a senior personnel member on the new "NSF AI Institute for Student-AI Teaming" grant (PI: Sidney D'Mello from University of Colorado Boulder; $20M in total). The high-level goals of the project are to develop new computational methods to facilitate collaborative learning between students and AI-based learning assistants, and also to study how human students and automated AI partners can best work together in the classroom.


He is a co-PI of a new NSF RAPID grant (PI: Shichao Liu from WPI; $199,943) to study changes in students' engagement, stress, and learning outcomes due to the coronavirus epidemic.


He was a Program Co-Chair (together with Anna Rafferty from Carleton College) of the Educational Data Mining 2020 conference, with about 300 attendees this year.

Recent Publications include:

Pham, M., Li, Z., and Whitehill, J. "How Does Label Noise Affect the Quality of Speaker Embeddings?". InterSpeech 2020.

Aguerrebere, C., Bulger, M., Cobo, C., Garcia, S., Kaplan, G., and Whitehill, J. "How Teachers Affect Students' Online Participation in EFL Courses in Uruguay". Computer-Based Learning in Context, 2020.

Neil Heffernan

Heffernan Activities

Neil Heffernan and his ASSISTments project report a five times increase in usage during the COVID-19 pandemic scaling to 300,000 students! Dr Heffernan and his wife Cristina Heffernan are proud to be helping over 10,000 teachers teach better during this pandemic that is causing such disruption.

He gave the keynote at the Artificial Intelligence in Education 2020 Conference where he explained ASSISTments and his vision for crowdsourcing.

Patikorn, T. & Heffernan, N. T. (2020, August 12) Effectiveness of Crowd-Sourcing On-Demand Tutoring from Teachers in Online Learning Platforms Proceedings of the Seventh ACM Conference on Learning @ Scale (L@S). Pages 115-124. Best Student Paper Awardee.

The Journal of Educational Data Mining release a special issue related to the competition his team ran with over 70 researchers from around the world participating.

Read more about ASSISTments Longitudinal Data Mining Competition

Other recent academic publications include:

Patikorn, T., Baker, R. S., & Heffernan, N. T. (2020). ASSISTments Longitudinal Data Mining Competition Special Issue: A Preface. JEDM | Journal of Educational Data Mining, 12(2), i-xi.

Lu, X., Ostrow, K., & Heffernan, N. (2020) Save Your Strokes: Chinese Handwriting Practice Makes for Ineffective Use of Instructional Time in Second Language. AERA Open. Volume 6(2),

Ghosh, A., Heffernan, N., & Lan, A. (2020) Context-Aware Attentive Knowledge Tracing. ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (KDD), Aug. 2020.

Varatharaj, A., Botelho, A., Lu, X., & Heffernan, N. (2020) Supporting Teacher Assessment in Chinese Language Learning Using Textual and Tonal Features. Accepted in the 21st International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED). pp. TBA.

Erickson, J. A., Botelho, A. F., McAteer, S., Varatharaj, A., & Heffernan, N. T. (2020). The Automated Grading of Student Open Responses in Mathematics. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK ’20), March 23-27, 2020, Frankfurt, Germany. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 10 pages.

Carlo Pinciroli

Pinciroli Awards and Paper

Carlo Pinciroli was the recipient of an Amazon Research Award for the project "An Immersive Interface for Multi-User Supervision of Multi-Robot Operations."

He is a co-PI on a new NSF award "Phase II I/UCRC WPI: Center for Robots and Sensors for the Human Well-Being".

Jayam Patel, Carlo Pinciroli. Improving Human Performance Using Mixed Granularity of Control in Multi-Human Multi-Robot Interaction. IEEE International Conference on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (Ro-Man 2020).

Mike Gennert

Gennert Publications

Mike Gennert and co-authors Carlotta Berry (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) and Rebecca Reck (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) received the 2020 best paper award from the Multidisciplinary Engineering (MULTI) Division of ASEE for their paper "Practical Skills for Students in Mechatronics and Robotics Education".

H. Kimpara, K.C. Mbanisi, J. Fu, Z. Li, D. Prokhorov, M.A. Gennert, "Human Model-based Active Driving System in Vehicular Dynamic Simulation", IEEE Trans. Intelligent Transportation Systems, Vol. 21, No. 5, pp. 1903-1914, May 2020.

V. Jagtap, S. Agarwal, A. Wagh, M.A. Gennert, "Transportable Opensource UI for Generic Humanoids - T.O.U.G.H.", accepted to Int. J. Advanced Robotic Systems, Special Collection on Open Source Robots, Mar. 2020.

H. Kimpara, K.C. Mbanisi, Z. Li, K.L. Troy, D. Prokhorov M.A. Gennert, "Force Anticipation and Its Potential Implications on Feedforward and Feedback Human Motor Control," Human Factors, Mar. 2020.

M.A. Gennert, N. Lotfi Yagin, J.A. Mynderse, M. Jethwani, V. Kapila, "Workshops for Building the Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering Education Community", ASEE Virtual Conference, Jun. 2020.

J.A. Mynderse, N. Lotfi Yagin, N. Bajaj, V. Vikas, M.A. Gennert, "Work in Progress: Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering Definitions among Students, Educators, and Industry Professionals", ASEE Virtual Conference, Jun. 2020.

C. Berry, R. Reck, M.A. Gennert, "Practical Skills for Students in Mechatronics and Robotics Education", ASEE Virtual Conference, Jun. 2020.