Can AI Be Fair?


Experts from across the country in computer science, philosophy, law, and other fields gathered at a Caltech workshop to examine a question: Can artificial intelligences, or machine-learning algorithms, be fair? Computer scientists talked about addressing various issues using specific types of machine-learning techniques. For example, if you are training an algorithm on data that has preexisting biases, then those biases will be reflected in the algorithm's results. Machine-learning programs typically learn from so-called training data and then, from the data, come up with a model that makes predictions about the future. The goal is to attempt to remove any possible racial or other bias from the models. One of the activities in the workshop involved looking through studies investigating the fairness of machine-learning programs, or algorithms, used for making predictions in college admissions, employment, bank lending, and criminal justice. The participants of the workshop said they thought the cross-disciplinary nature of the workshop was tremendously useful. [Caltech story]

Tags: CMS

Seeing Farther and Deeper


Katie Bouman, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, creates images from nonideal sensor data and mines for information from images using techniques that can be applied to everything from medical imaging to studying the universe. She likes to search for information hidden in images, imperceptible to humans, that she can use to learn about the environment around us. [Profile of new EAS faculty member Professor Bouman]

Tags: research highlights CMS Katie Bouman

James R. McLaughlin Receives 2019 Henry Ford II Scholar Award


Computing and mathematical sciences student James R. McLaughlin, advised by Professor Peter Schroeder, is a recipient of the 2019 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. James has a strong interest in cyber security, machine learning, and augmented reality. He will be working as a software engineer for Citadel (a global hedge fund) during the summer of 2019. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to engineering students with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.

Tags: honors CMS Henry Ford II Scholar Award James R. McLaughlin Peter Schroeder

CS + Social Good


Through TechReach, a new student club, Caltech undergrads aim to use tech skills to address social problems. Among people who are homeless, lack of connection to family and friends poses an often-overlooked obstacle to stability and well-being. Nivetha Karthikeyan, Myra Cheng, and Andrew Hess address the problem by developing new technological tools for Miracle Messages, a nonprofit that helps reunite homeless people with friends and relatives. Miracle Messages helps homeless individuals record video or audio messages to loved ones they have lost all contact with, and then volunteers scour social media and other digital platforms to find those loved ones and deliver the message. They hope to expand TechReach to five or six new projects involving larger numbers of computer science volunteers and a broader range of issues.

Tags: CMS Nivetha Karthikeyan Myra Cheng Andrew Hess

Undergraduate Fellowship Winner Will Study Artificial Intelligence and Machine-learning Applications for Health Care


Meera Krishnamoorthy, a senior in electrical engineering, has received a National Physical Science Consortium (NPSC) Fellowship that will fund up to six years of graduate training. Krishnamoorthy will be enrolling in a computer science PhD program at the University of Michigan, studying artificial intelligence and machine-learning applications for health care, such as turning complex medical data into actionable knowledge that ultimately improves patient care. "Engineering is a great way to solve problems in multiple disciplines," she says. Krishnamoorthy's interest in machine learning was sparked by coursework and a research project she worked with Professor Yisong Yue, and her academic advisor has been Professor Steven Low. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE honors CMS alumni Steven Low Yisong Yue Meera Krishnamoorthy

Winners of the 2019 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Announced


The student winners of the 2019 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes were announced at the end of this academic year. Anupama Lakshmanan, advised by Professor Mikhail Shapiro has received the prize in Biotechnology. Her research is in engineering of acoustic protein nanostructures for non-invasive molecular imaging using ultrasound. Seyedeh Mahsa Kamali, advised by Professor Andrei Faraon has received the prize in Nanotechnology. She focuses on changing paradigms in optical design through engineering materials at the nanoscale. Linqi (Daniel) Guo, advised by Professor Steven Low has received the prize in Environmentally Benign Renewable Energy Source. His research quantifies the impact of transmission network topology in electrical power system robustness against disturbances and failures. Chris Rollins, advised by Professor Jean-Phillippe Avouac has received the prize in Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection. Chris studies the way that the Earth deforms gradually over periods of years and decades and uses this to shed light on how earthquakes work, where and how often they might occur in the future, and the hazard they may pose. Nicholas Flytzanis, advised by Professor Viviana Gradinaru has receive the prize in Entrepreneurship. His research is in engineering viruses to serve as next-generation gene therapy delivery vehicles for the treatment of human disease.

Tags: APhMS EE honors MCE CMS Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes

Yanke Song Receives 2019 Henry Ford II Scholar Award


Applied and computational mathematics student Yanke Song, advised by Professor Peter Schroeder, is a recipient of the 2019 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. He is interested in Numerical Algorithms, Data Science, Learning Theory and Optimization, as well as the application of those to real-world problems. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to engineering students with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.

Tags: honors CMS Henry Ford II Scholar Award Yanke Song Peter Schroeder

"Neural Lander" Uses AI to Land Drones Smoothly


Professors Chung, Anandkumar, and Yue have teamed up to develop a system that uses a deep neural network to help autonomous drones "learn" how to land more safely and quickly, while gobbling up less power. The system they have created, dubbed the "Neural Lander," is a learning-based controller that tracks the position and speed of the drone, and modifies its landing trajectory and rotor speed accordingly to achieve the smoothest possible landing. The new system could prove crucial to projects currently under development at CAST, including an autonomous medical transport that could land in difficult-to-reach locations (such as a gridlocked traffic). "The importance of being able to land swiftly and smoothly when transporting an injured individual cannot be overstated," says Professor Gharib who is the director of CAST; and one of the lead researchers of the air ambulance project. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights Morteza Gharib Yisong Yue Soon-Jo Chung Animashree Anandkumar

Undergrad Weighs in on Privacy Laws


Computer science junior Rona Yu has embarked on a yearlong project to answer the question: “What should the nation be doing, right now, to draft a privacy regulation?" She has written a paper that covers the points that new privacy legislation should be prioritizing, as well as the potential unintended consequences of the legislation that has been proposed. She is also preparing a document describing her findings that I will submit to the Federal Trade Commission. [Caltech story]

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Professor Beck Receives Masanobu Shinozuka Medal


James L. (Jim) Beck, George W. Housner Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus, has received the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Masanobu Shinozuka Medal, "for his original contributions to subset simulation in reliability analysis of stochastic systems, a powerful technique that allows probabilistic estimation of rare events; for his pioneering work in developing technologies for machine learning in earthquake engineering applications." The medal is given in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of stochastic mechanics, reliability and risk and simulation. [List of medal recipients]

Tags: honors MCE CMS James Beck