University of Hawai‘i Data Visualization Expert to Build the Top System in the Nation


The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa will be home to the best data visualization system in the United States, thanks to a major research infrastructure grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The NSF provided $600,000 and the University of Hawai‘i (UH) added $257,000 for a total of $857,000 to develop a large CyberCANOE, which stands for Cyber-enabled Collaboration Analysis Navigation and Observation Environment. The CyberCANOE is a visualization and collaboration infrastructure that allows students and researchers to work together more effectively using large amounts of data and information.  It was designed by Computer and Information Science Professor Jason Leigh, who is also the founder and director of the Laboratory for Advanced Visualization and Applications (LAVA) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

UH’s CyberCANOE represents the culmination of over two decades of experience and expertise for Leigh, the grant’s principal investigator, who developed immersive virtual reality environments while at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago- notably the CAVE2 System, which is sold commercially today by Mechdyne.

The UH CyberCANOE will provide an alternative approach to constructing ultra-resolution display environments by using new and completely seamless direct view light emitting diode displays, rather than traditional projection technologies or liquid crystal displays. The net effect is a visual instrument that exceeds the capabilities and overcomes the limitations of the current best-in-class systems at other U.S. universities.

“This comes at the best time for Hawai‘i as the number of students interested in information and computer science is skyrocketing. Last year about 170 freshman computer science students entered the program, this year we will receive 270,” said Leigh. “The University of Hawai‘iʻs CyberCANOE will give these students access to better technology than what will be available on the continent.”

The new 2D and 3D stereoscopic display environment with almost 50 Megapixels of resolution will provide researchers with powerful and easy-to-use, information-rich instrumentation in support of cyberinfrastructure-enabled, data-intensive scientific discovery.

Increasingly, the nation’s computational science and engineering research communities work with international collaborators to tackle complex global problems. Advanced visualization instruments serve as the virtual eyepieces of a telescope or microscope, enabling research teams and their students to view their data in cyberspace, and better manage the increased scale and complexity of accessing and analyzing the data.

“I’m highly excited about this multidisciplinary collaboration between information and computer sciences, the Academy for Creative Media System and electrical engineering,” said co-principal investigator and UH Mānoa Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering David Garmire.  “It will advance the state of the art in research infrastructure for information-rich visualization and immersive experience while providing unique opportunities for the student body.”

At least 46 researchers, 28 postdocs, 833 undergraduates and 45 graduate students spanning disciplines that include oceanography, astrobiology, mathematics, computer science, electrical engineering, biomedical research, archeology, and computational media are poised to use the CyberCANOE for their large-scale data visualization needs. The CyberCANOE will also open up new opportunities in computer science research at the intersection of data-intensive analysis and visualization, human-computer interaction and virtual reality.

UH System’s Academy for Creative Media (ACM) founder and director Chris Lee, who is also a co-principal investigator on the grant, said, “ACM System is thrilled to be able to continue to support Jason Leigh and his team in securing a second NSF Grant.  This new CyberCANOE builds upon the two earlier ‘mini’ CyberCANOEs, which ACM System fully financed at UH Mānoa and UH West O‘ahu.”

The new CyberCANOE, which is expected to be built in about three years, will enable Leigh’s advanced visualization laboratory to provide scientific communities with highly integrated, visually rich collaboration environments; to work with industry to facilitate the creation of new technologies for the advancement of science and engineering; and to continue ongoing partnerships with many of the world’s best scientists in academia and industry.  With the CyberCANOE, the lab will also support the country’s leadership position in high-performance computing and in contributing advancements to complex global issues, such as the environment, health and the economy.

For more about Professor Jason Leigh and the University of Hawai‘s CyberCANOE see:

About the University of Hawai‘i System

Established in 1907 and fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the University of Hawai‘i System includes 10 campuses and dozens of educational, training and research centers across the state. As the sole public system of higher education in Hawai‘i, UH offers an array of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees and community programs.  UH enrolls more than 60,000 students from Hawai‘i, the U.S. mainland and around the world.  For more information visit

[Article from Honolulu Star Advertiser available here]

[Coverage from Hawaii News Now available here]

ICS Faculty inventors honored

The University of Hawaii launched the first Hawaiʻi chapter of the National Academy of Inventors, an organization of more than 200 U.S. and international universities and research institutions and more than 3,000 individual members who have obtained patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Among those recognized at the inaugural dinner were current ICS Faculty members Kim Binsted, Lipyeow Lim, and Jan Stelovsky. They also got their own trading cards!

For more information, see the UH News announcement.

Sitchinava awarded $400K by NSF to research provably efficient GPU algorithms

Assistant Professor Nodari Sitchinava has received a grant in the amount of $400,000 over four years from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award is part of the joint $800,000 project with New York University to study the algorithmic aspects of GPU computing and to develop a simple but accurate theoretical model for GPUs. The project aims to develop and implement algorithms that will improve the state of the art code base of general purpose computation on GPUs in the areas of combinatorial algorithms, computational geometry, visualization, search algorithms, and data structures.

The project is funded through the NSF’s “Algorithms in the Field” program.

Semi-seminar on monoidal computer

Dusko Pavlovic will run an informal weekly seminar on monoidal computer on Fridays from 11-12 noon in ASECOLab (POST 311).  He describes it as follows:

If anyone is interested in a

  • diagrammatic model of computation
  • that lets you prove things about computability, complexity,
  • randomized computation, one-way functions
  • central dogma of (program) evolution
  • and more
  • all entirely in pictures

then please join us!

I will begin with a very quick introduction into semantics of computation, spell out the graphical language of monoidal computer, and then proceed towards one of the applications developed so far, depending on participants’ interests and my focus.

Monoidal computer has evolved as my answer to the following questions:

Why is it that the practice of computation is mostly driven by high level programming languages, but the theory of computation is still done in low level machine languages of turing machines, boolean circuits etc?

Why is there no high level view of cryptography? (this has a practical impact: people describe their algorithms in english, which leads not only to misunderstandings and errors in implementation, but also to substantially erroneous proofs.)

I use the tools developed in semantics of programming languages to try provide such a view. I will try to reach the point where we can define one-way and trapdoor functions. this requires capturing feasible randomized computation modulo computational indistinguishability.

Another direction is to define a von Neumann-style model where genes are programs, organisms are computational processes (but with resources, not just with data), and to try to explain algorithmically the central dogma of evolutionary genetics: that the dynamic adaptations acquired by an organism cannot be inherited. wouldn’t evolution be more efficient if they could? Why was LaMarck wrong?


Robertson and HICHI members win Best Paper award at CHI 2015

The paper “Designing Political Deliberation Environments to Support Interactions in the Public Sphere,” by HICHI lab members Bryan Semaan (now at Syracuse University), Heather Faucett (now at UCI), Scott Robertson, Misa Maruyama and Sara Douglas, won a Best Paper Award at CHI 2015 in Seoul. According to the conference organizers: “The SIGCHI Best of CHI Awards honor exceptional submissions to SIGCHI-sponsored conferences. Receiving a Best Paper Award is an outstanding accomplishment. It indicates that the CHI Associate Chairs and Best Papers committee identified your paper as being among the top 1% of all submissions to CHI 2015.”
Abstract: “Little is known about the challenges and successes people face when piecing together multiple social media to interact in the online public sphere when: seeking information, disseminating information, and engaging in political discussions. We interviewed 29 US citizens and conducted 17 talk-out-loud sessions with people who were using one or more social media technologies, such as Facebook and Twitter, to interact in the online public sphere. We identified a number of challenges and workarounds related to public sphere interactions, and used our findings to formulate requirements for new political environments that support the interactions in the public sphere. Through evolving requirements generation, we developed a new political deliberation technology, dubbed Poli, which is an integrated social media environment with the potential to enable more effective interactions in the public sphere. We discuss several remaining questions and limitations to our tool that will drive future work.”

Binsted receives $1M funding from NASA

Professor Kim Binsted has received funding of $1M over three years from NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI)  for her project “Using Analog Missions to Develop Effective Team Composition Strategies for Long Duration Space Exploration”. Binsted’s proposal was one of 24 selected to help investigate questions about astronaut health and performance on future deep space exploration missions.

More information about the joint NASA/NSBRI program is available here.

This research is part of the Hawaii Space Exploration and Analog ( project.

Pavlovic co-chairs National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber-Defense Research

The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have designated the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R).

“This designation is demonstrative of the quality and substance of the education the University of Hawaiʻi has to offer, and more importantly underscores justification for additional grant and research capacity to be brought to bear on information assurance and cybersecurity related curricula,” stated Captain Cliff Bean, Commander of National Security Agency/Central Security Service Hawaiʻi. “Increasing the number of students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related fields is critical to federal government agencies, the State of Hawaiʻi, local industry and businesses.”

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa electrical engineering Associate Professor Yingfei Dong, a network security specialist, and information and computer sciences Professor Dusko Pavlovic, a security science specialist, led the UH effort to apply for the National Center of Academic Excellence program.

Read the full press release here.  At the ceremony, ICS Chair David Chin and Yingfei Dong is shown with Dr. Leonard T. Reinsfelder (Associate Director for Education and Training at NSA), Lynne Clark, (Chief, National Information Assurance Education and Training Program), and Jacqueline Sullivan (Acting Program Lead for the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity Training & Education Program):


ICS Affiliate of NCWIT recognizes regional winners

Nine female high school student from throughout the state, including five from Kalani High, were recognized as Hawaiʻi Regional Winners for their notable projects in computer science by the National Center for Women and Information Technology. The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing (AspireIT) honors young women who are active in computing and technology.

The Hawaiʻi affiliate of NCWIT is supported by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Department of Information and Computer Sciences. Department Chair and Professor David Chin spoke to the students about how computer sciences and engineering are really about creativity and how each of them can “create something real that comes out of your mind.”

Two of the five Kalani students won scholarships to attend UH Mānoa and take courses in the Department of Information and Computer Sciences. Madisyn Sim received the 2015–2016 scholarship, while Camelia Lai received the 2016–2017 academic year scholarship. In addition, Riley Kishaba, Yongqi Lin and Madisyn Sim, all from Kalani High, received the 2015 Hawaiʻi Affiliate Award Runner-Up recognition in the National AspireIT competition. Other students recognized for their oustanding work are Erina Baudat of Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy, Yu-Ann (Ashley) Chen of Hilo High, Sara Nakagaki of Kalani High and Aliya Petranik of Punahou School.

ICS Professor Kim Binsted presented her current work with the HI-SEAS project led by the UH and funded by NASA. The project isolates a group of people in a structure high atop Mauna Loa on Hawaiʻi Island to try and find solutions that will one day sustain travelers to deep space.

ICS Professor Susanne Still also spoke to the high school students about her work studying machine learning or machines that learn by getting feedback.

ICS team leads effort for Coast Guard security exercise

The University of Hawaiʻi hosted the first national Maritime Cybersecurity Exercise at UH Mānoa. Conducted by the United States Coast Guard Sector Honolulu, the two-day event focused on maritime industrial computer systems and networks, with a focus on Hawaiʻi’s container cargo distribution system.

“Specifically for Hawaiʻi, our maritime community is essential because that’s where our goods come in from. They come in via ship or barge, they’re transported around the state,” said Capt. Shannon N. Gilreath, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu.

The cybersecurity exercise follows the recent cyberattacks on the Sony Corporation and other high profile companies, highlighting the vulnerability of even the most sophisticated network systems.

“In the same way that we prepare for hurricanes and tsunamis, we’re trying to prepare our maritime community from a potential cyberattack,” Gilreath said.

The exercise brought together information technology professionals from the Coast Guard and the community, as well as students, faculty and staff from the university’s information technology and computer science programs.

A UH team led by ICS Assistant Faculty Specialist Gerald Lau developed a hands-on exercise involving an interactive simulation of maritime industrial computer systems and networks—called a cyber range.

For more details, see the news release.

Nostalgia just became a law of nature

Simon Dedeo recently published an article titled “Nostalgia just became a law of nature” reviewing Professor Susanne Still’s research into the relationship between the dissipation in a system and what we know about the system.   Read the entire article here.