Professor Desbrun Interviews Pixar President and Pixar Animation Senior Scientist


Listen to Professor Mathieu Desbrun’s conversation about the history and future of computer graphics research with Ed Catmull (co-founder, Pixar Animation Studios; president, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios) and Tony DeRose (senior scientist, Pixar Animation Studios). [SIGGRAPH Spotlight: Episode 6]

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Teaching Machines How to Learn


Animashree (Anima) Anandkumar, Bren Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, develops efficient techniques to speed up optimization algorithms that underpin machine-learning systems. Speaking about the connections between industry and academia she explains,“bridging the gap between industry and academia is really important. It is a big part of what brought me to Caltech. The sooner we can take theory and deploy it practically, the faster innovation moves and the more impact it can have.” [Interview with Professor Anandkumar]

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Sorting Molecules with DNA Robots


Lulu Qian, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, and colleagues have developed a "robot," made of a single strand of DNA, that can autonomously "walk" around a surface, pick up certain molecules and drop them off in designated locations. [Caltech story]

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Training a Machine to Watch Soccer


Yisong Yue, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and colleagues have developed an algorithm that can automatically recognize formations of teams—how they arrange themselves on the field—when analyzing player tracking data. The algorithm can also imitate players' behavior. "We're training the algorithm to understand soccer at the same level that a fan would. It's not just mindlessly watching faceless players move across a field; it's watching strikers and right midfielders and forwards arrange themselves in specific formations," says Professor Yue. [Caltech story]

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Visualizing the Complex Behavior of Vortices Surrounding Hummingbird Wings


Peter Schröder, the Shaler Arthur Hanisch Professor of Computer Science and Applied and Computational Mathematics, and his team have built a computational algorithm to model the behavior of vortices—rotating regions of fluids that form phenomena such as tornados or whirlpools. [Caltech story]

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Deep Learning Networks and Sensorimotor Control


Professor John Doyle and colleagues are among only nineteen groups in the United States to receive National Science Foundation (NSF) funding to conduct innovative research focused on neural and cognitive systems. They aim is to integrate the capabilities of deep learning networks into a biologically inspired architecture for sensorimotor control that can be used to design more robust platforms for complex engineered systems. [NSF release]

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Creature-Cataloging Contest for Computers


Caltech and Cornell teamed up to create the iNaturalist Challenge, a competition to create the best machine-learning algorithm for identifying the world's plant and animal species. The contest was an outgrowth of the institutions' previous work together on Visipedia, a visual encyclopedia created by a network of people and machine-learning computers that harvest image information off the internet. The technology was developed for the encyclopedia by Pietro Perona's Vision Group at Caltech and Serge Belongie's Computer Vision Group at Cornell Tech. [Caltech story]

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Designing Computer Software of the Future


Fernando Brandao, Bren Professor of Theoretical Physics, and colleagues are developing quantum algorithms for optimization problems. "We are still far from knowing all the applications of quantum computing, and that's part of the excitement—there are possibilities we haven't even dreamed of yet,” says Professor Brandao. [Caltech story]

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Neural Networks Model Audience Reactions to Movies


Yisong Yue, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and colleagues have created a new deep-learning software capable of assessing complex audience reactions to movies using the viewer's facial expressions. "Understanding human behavior is fundamental to developing AI [artificial intelligence] systems that exhibit greater behavioral and social intelligence. For example, developing AI systems to assist in monitoring and caring for the elderly relies on being able to pick up cues from their body language. After all, people don't always explicitly say that they are unhappy or have some problem," Professor Yue says. [Caltech story]

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One Step at a Time: A Conversation with Professor Ames


Aaron Ames, Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, handbuilds bipedal robots and designs the algorithms that govern how they walk. These algorithms couple efficiency equations with boundary constraints to teach robots to generate their own walking gait. [Interview with Professor Ames]

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