Seniors receive Computing Research Association accolades

The Computing Research Association (CRA) recently honored two Computer Science and Engineering seniors for outstanding research in their specific areas of computing: Jory Denny was named a finalist for the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award 2011, and Jeffrey Deuel was named as honorable mention.These are significant awards in computing research at the undergraduate level, and only exemplary entries are considered for the award.Undergraduates from around the nation are nominated by their professors, and an award committee searches the nominations for demonstrated excellence with regard to computing research. The quality of research plays a big part in the decision-making process, but also considered is the student's academic record as well as community service.Denny's research centered on multiple robotic problems, ranging from motion planning to the simulation of group behaviors.His first project involves the development and improvement of techniques for motion planning in complex environments. Complex environments are large and may contain areas of free space or narrow passages. Denny's work improves upon existing methods of motion planning by improving region identification."I designed and implemented a method of storing the regions in a hierarchical modular manner, which is used to recursively break up and descend into regions, if needed. Previously only a common method of statistical clustering, K-means, was used for region identification. I questioned the effectiveness of K-means, and led a comparative study of it with other statistical methods of clustering to identify the regions on a variety of environments. We concluded that various methods dramatically change the regions created, and have an effect on the efficiency of motion planning," Denny said.His work led to a first-author paper on the subject that is currently under review to IEEE International Conference on Robots and Automation (ICRA) 2011. Denny wrote the first draft of this paper, designed and implemented the algorithm, and designed the experimental analysis for it.Denny's second project focuses on modular design and implementation of the behavioral framework and multi-agent interactions. The research question explored how explicit communication between agents can influence behaviors, and dynamic group formation in the group hierarchical structure."My first contribution was designing and implementing an explicit decentralized communication framework for inter-agent communication in both simulation and robotic experimentation. I designed and implemented a generic message passing framework within simulation, implemented behaviors with this communication, and improved the framework for distributed applications. The message passing framework handles two main types of communication, intra-group and inter-group. I discovered that agents can benefit from explicit message passing, improving the efficiency of capturing for pursuers in heuristic-based Pursuit-Evasion strategies."Denny was supervised by Dr. Takis Zourntos (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Dr. Nancy Amato.Deuel's work focused on building a podcast search engine for Nokia smart-phones.A phone application was designed to take a user defined search of podcasts, compile results from prominent podcast search engines, and create html code to display the results in a way that was easily visible on a hand-held device. This page would open in the user's default browser using a connection method of their choice. From this page they could select to see more information on a specific result, download one of the podcasts to their phone, or view other results if desired."One of the most important aspects of this build is how quickly it completes each task," Deuel said. "Originally the search obtained full results for every podcast. For popular topics this could mean up to 1000 podcast series, each with multiple episodes. To speed up the process I found a way that allows the search to only retrieve basic information about each result during the initial search. We used a second Java Server Page that looks up the source site for the result and displays the relevant information. This method significantly reduced the load times for popular queries."Deuel's research was supervised by Dr. Frank Shipman.