ESE Colloquia & Events

Fall 2014-Summer 2015

ESE colloquia are held on Tuesdays from 11-12:00pm in Towne 337, unless otherwise noted. For all Penn Engineering events, visit the Penn Calendar.

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Fall 2014

September 11
Giorgio Franceschetti
Professor Emeritus, University Federico II of Napoli
"The 150th birthday of Maxwell Equations"
10:00 am, Towne 337
Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract: In this Colloquium the 150th birthday anniversary of Maxwell Equations is celebrated, and their accomplishments over these 150 years commented. The presentation has been designed for a scientific audience, but not necessarily familiar with electromagnetic phenomena.

In the late seventeenth and eighteenth century, mysterious electric and magnetic different phenomena were exciting curiosity of people, and also interest of some scientists. Their investigation, essentially performed in France and UK, was formalised by two laws, Biot & Savart and Faraday equations.

And then James Clerk Maxwell entered in the arena: a dark penumbra suddenly changed to brilliant light, theoretical results from his new equations were experimentally confirmed, and successive applications implemented.

This Colloquium presents the romance of Maxwell equations, created and not derived from preliminary experiments, and the successive steps of their usage for a number of applications that changed, and are still changing our physical and social life. At the end of the Colloquium, a just one minute additional comment is added: no detail is given here, to hide a thrilling conclusion!

Bio:Giorgio Franceschetti is Professor Emeritus (University Federico II of Napoli, Italy), Honorary Professor (University of Trento, Italy), and Distinguished Visiting Scientist (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, USA). He has been Adjunct Professor at UCLA (1992-2008), Lecturer (Top-Tech Master, Delft University) till 2010, Visiting Professor in Europe, USA, Somalia, and Lecturer in China and India. He is author of about 200 (peer reviewed) papers, 14 books, and recipient of several awards, culminated with the gold medal from the President of Italy (2000), and elevation to the grade of Officer of Italy Republic (2001).

He got the Mountbatten premium for the best published paper (1995/1996 session) on the Proc. IEE (London), and the IEEE Schelkunoff Prize (1999 and 2008) for the best published paper in the two years on IEEE Antennas Propagation Transactions. In addition, he received the prestigious 2007 IEEE GRS-S Distinguished Achievement Award "For outstanding research in Electromagnetics, Propagation, Remote Sensing and Information Data Processing;" and the 2010 IEEE AP-S Distinguished Achievement Award "For outstanding contributions to fundamental electromagnetic theory, including pulsed antennas and arrays, innovative propagation and scattering models, and exploration of new emerging application areas." He was also included in the 2009 NASA Group Achievement Award, Cassini Radar Team, for "Outstanding accomplishment in the acquisition and analysis of Cassini Radar data, contributing to a better understanding of Titan and the Saturn system."

September 30
Rob Nowak
Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"Active Crowdsourcing"
Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract: Human experts are crucial to data analysis, but may often be the information bottleneck in data analysis tasks. I will discuss new theory and algorithms that enable machines to learn efficiently from human experts, using a minimal amount of human interaction. The models so learned then inform the understanding of human cognition and the design of better algorithms for data processing. I will focus on active learning from human experts based on adaptively crowdsourcing training data o a pool of people. Rather than randomly selecting training examples for labeling, active crowdsourcing sequentially and adaptively selects the most informative examples for human evaluation, based on information gleaned from previous human feedback. By making optimal use of human expert judgment, these active learning method can speed up the training of a variety of machine learning algorithms. TBD

Bio: Rob is the McFarland-Bascom Professor in Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his research focuses on signal processing, machine learning, optimization, and statistics. He is a professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, as well as being affiliated with the departments of Computer Sciences and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin.  He is also a Fellow of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and co-organizer of the SILO seminar series.

October 6
Mike Hutton
IC Design Architect and Principal Investigator,  Altera
"FPGA Architecture and Design"
2:00-3:00 pm, Towne 337
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Abstract: Field-Programmable Gate Arrays are flexible hardware devices that fall between dedicated hardware devices such as an ASIC and software programmable devices like a CPU or GPU. FPGAs are used by a wide range of end applications in communications and networking, radar, industrial control devices, and high-performance compute acceleration. In this talk I will overview the architecture of an FPGA - the logic, memory and I/O blocks, programmable routing for joining them together, and some of the interesting software algorithms used for programming FPGAs. I will show some of the more interesting recent changes and trends in FPGAs and some of the challenges going forward for FPGAs and all forms of integrated circuits. Finally, I will spend some time describing the role of industrial research and development for those who are interested in careers in FPGAs or related fields of hardware and software design.

Bio: Mike Hutton is an IC Design Architect and Principal Investigator in the Altera Technology Office. He works on FPGA architecture and CAD, FPGA applications and in particular applying the needs of end-applications to architecture evaluation. His most recent projects for Stratix 10 include designer implications of HyperFlex, memory architecture, power modeling, SEU modeling and support for ASIC prototyping. He received a BMath and MMath in Computer Science from Waterloo and Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He is Associate Editor of IEEE Trans CAD, past Program and General Chair of the Int'l Symposium on FPGAs, and has served on the Technical Program Committees for many research conferences including DAC, DATE, FPGA, FPL and FPT. Outside Altera he has worked at IBM, Northern Telecom, and as Director of Architecture at Tabula. Mike has published 35 academic papers and has 75 issued patents.


October 7
Marius Vassiliou
Institute for Defense Analyses
"How Complex Endeavors go Wrong"
1:30pm-2:30pm, Berger Auditorium

Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract:Why was Admiral Nelson able to win at Trafalgar, while, almost two hundred years later, the United States was unable to rescue its hostages from Iran? An important part of the answer to this question lies in the management, or “Command and Control,” of complex endeavors. We examine 20 situations, from the First World War to the present time, including military operations and responses to natural disasters and terrorist attacks. All have been characterized as experiencing ‘Command and Control failures.’ We identify three categories of failures: (1) failures attributable to a priori structural defects in enterprise approach, or a mismatch between the enterprise approach and the mission; (2) failures attributable to an inability to communicate, because of shortfalls in technology and system design, or because of physical impossibility; and, (3) behavioral failures to communicate or interact. Different enterprise approaches, of varying degrees of centralization, have different failure propensities. For example, a collective that is distributed, but not properly integrated, may sometimes be more adversely affected by communication failures than a traditional hierarchy. Traditional hierarchies, on the other hand, may be stymied by overly constrained information flows and patterns of interaction. Enterprise agility, meaning the ability to reconfigure the enterprise and its approach to meet the needs of the problem at hand, is paramount.

Bio: MARIUS S. VASSILIOU is a project leader and analyst at the Institute for Defense Analyses, where he has worked on conceptual aspects of command, control, communications, and networking. He is the author, with David Alberts and Jonathan Agre, of the book “C2 Re-envisioned: the Future of the Enterprise,” to be published in autumn 2014 by CRC Press. Previously he had a long career in the energy and aerospace industries, including positions as Executive Director, program manager, and scientist at the Rockwell Science Center (now part of Teledyne). He also led the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s Advanced Displays Federated Laboratory consortium, developing new technologies for multimodal interaction, augmented reality, and sensor networks. He has published widely in geophysics, computational physics, information sciences, and R&D management and policy. Apart from his more recent work in command, control, and communications, he is known for his earlier advances in seismology, and for introducing the fast multipole method to computational electromagnetics. He received his PhD in Geophysics with minor in Electrical Engineering from Caltech, MS in Computer Science from USC, MBA from UCLA, and AB from Harvard.

October 14
Herman Schmit
Managing Architect, Altera
"Subversive Innovation"
11:00-12:00 pm, Towne 337
Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract: Being effective in an engineering organization is not easy. In this talk, I will share my observations on why it is hard and offer my advice on how to be effective without losing your mind, your enthusiasm, or your job. I call this "subversive innovation" because the machinery of a technology enterprise is frequently and almost specifically constructed to prevent innovation. If you don't get permission to do something innovative, sometimes those innovations have to be subtle, hidden or disguised.

I put this talk together as part of a technical leadership series at Altera in 2013 and have adapted it for a broader audience. I may offer some vague examples from my experience in Field Programmable Gate Arrays, but most of the discussion is applicable to any large technology enterprise. I have tried to make the talk entertaining and applicable, and would love to collect more specific ways to be subversive innovator.

Bio: Herman Schmit received his undergraduate degree from the Moore School of Electrical Engineering in 1987. For 4 years, he resisted the temptation to swipe a tube from the ENIAC, which was left like junk in the hall of the Moore building. He received his PhD from Carnegie Mellon in 1995. From 1995 to 2003 he was an Assistant and Associate Professor at CMU. Since 2003 he has worked in Silicon Valley, first at two semiconductor startups, and most recently as the FPGA fabric architect at Altera Corporation. He has 45 publications and 98 issued US patents.

October 17
Manfred Morari
ETH Zurich
"Fast Model Predictive Control"
2:00-3:00 pm, Wu and Chen Auditorium
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Abstract: In the 1980s Model Predictive Control (MPC) became the algorithm of choice in the process industries for demanding multi-variable applications involving constraints. Today's vastly more powerful computational resources and a series of new algorithms have made these tools suitable for problems of essentially any size and time scale. I will describe the road taken and illustrate the effectiveness with industrial examples from the automotive and power electronics domains and the industrial energy sector. In the final part of the lecture I will suggest topics of future research.

Bio: Manfred Morari was head of the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering at ETH Zurich from 2009 to 2012 and head of the Automatic Control Laboratory from 1994 to 2008. Before that he was the McCollum-Corcoran Professor of Chemical Engineering and Executive Officer for Control and Dynamical Systems at the California Institute of Technology. He obtained the diploma from ETH Zurich and the Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, both in chemical engineering. After that he was on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin for six years. His interests are in hybrid systems and the control of biomedical systems. In recognition of his research contributions he received numerous awards, among them the Eckman Award, Ragazzini Award and Bellman Control Heritage Award from the American Automatic Control Council; the Colburn Award, Professional Progress Award and CAST Division Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers; the Control Systems Technical Field Award and the Bode Lecture Prize from IEEE; the High Impact Paper Award of IFAC. He is a Fellow of IEEE, AIChE and IFAC. In 1993 he was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

October 28
John Long
Electronics Research Laboratory/DIMES, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
"Future Directions for Silicon Radio Frequency Electronics"
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Abstract: Growth in mobile communication and computing technologies over the past two decades has been driven by innovations in system architectures, software technology, and silicon integration. Analog/RF circuit innovations relevant to developing more efficient infrastructure, conserving energy, and delivering better health care are described in this talk.

Advanced CMOS is the enabling technology for radio frequency circuits designed into almost all low-cost electronic products sold today. The feat of doubling the number of transistors on a silicon IC every 18 months is projected to continue until we reach a gate length approaching 5nm (projected in ~ 2020-2030 by the ITRS). However, continued scaling presents the designer with different transistor behavior with each generation, as the transistor’s electrical characteristics are affected by evolutionary changes in fabrication. Circuit and systems designers must therefore develop scalable designs that can adapt to a dynamic technology platform.

Three examples from recent research into the design of adaptive, wideband, and scalable high-frequency electronics aimed at emerging applications are described in this talk. Wireless silicon sensors capable of measuring position and velocity accurately are needed for intelligent traffic managment schemes. A recently developed mm-wave FMCW radar transmitter IC incorporates the phase-locked loop, digitally controlled oscillator, PA, and calibration circuits in 65nm CMOS. The ADPLL performs autonomous calibration and closed-loop DCO gain linearization in order to output a GHz-speed triangular chirp with high sweep linearity. The transmitter achieves excellent in-band/ out-of-band phase noise performance, ultra-low reference spur levels (-74 dBc), and is scalable to future technology nodes. Scenarios for improving health care often require low-power radios to monitor patients remotely. In the second example, a low-power, autonomous FM ultrawideband transceiver and power management unit that transfers data reliably at 100kbit/s and includes full on-chip digital calibration of the transceiver is described. Finally, fiber-optic technologies in the internet backbone are migrating towards coherent modulation schemes to increase data throughput. A silicon electronic driver capable of producing the 6Vp-p output required to drive a Mach-Zehnder optical modulator is presented. Based on a distributed amplifier architecture, the novel input interface enables performance competitive with III-V semiconductor technologies (i.e., 15ps rise-fall times at 10Gb/s) but on a silicon IC platform capable of full transceiver integration.

Bio: John R. Long received the B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Calgary in 1984, and the M.Eng. and Ph.D. degrees in Electronics from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, in 1992 and 1996, respectively. He was employed for 10 years by Bell-Northern Research, Ottawa involved in the design of ASICs for Gbit/s fibre-optic transmission systems, and from 1996 to 2001 as an Assistant and then Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. Since January 2002 he has been chair of the Electronics Research Laboratory at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. His current research interests include low-power and broadband/mm-wave transceiver circuitry for highly-integrated wireless applications, and electronics design for high-speed data communication systems.

Professor Long is a recipient of the NSERC Doctoral Prize, Douglas R. Colton and Governor General's Medals for research excellence, and Best Paper Awards, including: ISSCC in 2000 and 2007, IEEE-BCTM 2003, and the IEEE-RFIC Symposium in 2006 and 2011. He is a member of the ESSCIRC technical program committee and has served on the technical program committees for the ISSCC (RF subcommittee chair), BCTM, EuMW, and ICUWB conferences. He was co-chair of the European microwave IC conference in 2008 and 2012. Associate Editor of the IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, and General Chair of the IEEE Bipolar/BiCMOS Circuits and Technology Meeting. He is currently a Distinguished Lecturer for the IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society and Editor-in-Chief of the new IEEE virtual journal on RFICs.

November 5
The Jack Keil Wolf Lecture in Electrical and Systems Engineering
Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincetelli
Buttner Chair of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences
University of California, Berkeley
"My Journey from Chips to Swarm Systems"
3:30 pm, Wu and Chen Auditorium

Learn more about this lecture
November 7
Pramod Khargonekar
NSF Assistant Director for the Directorate of Engineering
"Challenges and Opportunities in Engineering Research and Education: A View from NSF"
11:00 am, Wu and Chen Auditorium
Read the Abstract and Bio
Content TBD
seminar-rudy November 19
Rudy Beraha
Qualcomm, Inc
"Mobile Computing: Challenges and Opportunities"
4:00-5:00 pm, Wu and Chen Auditorium
Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract: Mobile computing is the largest technology platform ever deployed in human history. It is transforming our everyday life in unforeseen and unprecedented ways. What are the opportunities and challenges for mobile computing in the next decade? In this talk, I will explore the some of the key technology drivers needed to sustain the mobile computing market growth. This includes: energy management, heterogeneous computing, novel brain inspired computer architectures, semiconductor process technology innovations, and new memory technology.

Bio: Rudy Beraha is the Sr. Director of Engineering at Qualcomm. Rudy has been with Qualcomm R&D since 2005. Before leading the SoC architecture team, he worked on Qualcomm’s first generation OFDMA cellular system, Network-on-Chip architectures, and heterogeneous computing research. Prior to joining Qualcomm, Rudy held various ASIC design and management positions at Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard. Rudy obtained his MS in Electrical Engineering from Caltech in 1992 and Bachelors degrees in Electrical Engineering and Physics from Penn in 1991.

seminar-jelena November 20
Jelena Kovacevic
Carnegie Mellon University
"Problems in Biologic Imaging: Opportunities for Signal Processing"
12:00-1:00 pm, Towne 337
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Abstract: In recent years, the focus in biological sciences has shifted from understanding single parts of larger systems, sort of vertical approach, to understanding complex systems at the cellular and molecular levels, horizontal approach. Thus the revolution of "omics" projects, genomics and now proteomics. Understanding complexity of biological systems is a task that requires acquisition, analysis and sharing of huge databases, and in particular, high-dimensional databases. Processing such huge amount of bioimages visually by biologists is inefficient, time-consuming and error-prone. Therefore, we would like to move towards automated, efficient and robust processing of such bioimage data sets. Moreover, some information hidden in the images may not be readily visually available. Thus, we do not only help humans by using sophisticated algorithms for faster and more efficient processing but also because new knowledge is generated through use of such algorithms. The ultimate dream is to have distributed yet integrated large bioimage databases which would allow researchers to upload their data, have it processed, share the data, download data as well as platform-optimized code, etc, and all this in a common format. To achieve this goal, we must draw upon a whole host of sophisticated tools from signal processing, machine learning and scientific computing. I will address some of these issues in this presentation, especially those where signal processing expertise can play a significant role.

Bio: Jelena Kovacevic received a Ph.D. degree from Columbia University. She then joined Bell Labs, followed by Carnegie Mellon University in 2003, where she is currently the Edward David Schramm Professor and Head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and the Director of the Center for Bioimage Informatics. She received the Belgrade October Prize and the E.I. Jury Award at Columbia University. She is a coauthor on an SP Society award-winning paper and is a coauthor of the books "Wavelets and Subband Coding” and "Foundations of Signal Processing". Dr. Kovacevic is the Fellow of the IEEE and EURASIP and was the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Image Processing. She was a keynote speaker at several meetings and has been involved in organizing numerous conferences. Her research interests include multi-resolution techniques and biomedical applications.

December 2
Dejan Markovic
"Neuroengineering the Next Decade"
Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract: One of the grand challenges in neural engineering is the lack of reliable low-power miniaturized wireless telemetry. Wires affect behavior and fundamentally alter measurements. Wireless capability doesn’t broadly exist today for wide neuroscience community, at rates and channel counts needed, compromising scientific discovery and therapeutic outcomes. Biosignal transducer systems require not just sensing, but also actuation, and closed-loop control.

This talk will address the above challenges, starting with devices for translational animal studies, including wireless neural activity monitoring of brain-injured rats and initial work towards body-powered devices. Findings from animal studies provide key insights into the design of heavily size/energy-constrained wireless neuromodulation technology for human memory restoration.

Bio: Dejan Markovic is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is also affiliated with UCLA Bioengineering Department as a co-chair of the Neuroengineering field. He completed the Ph.D. degree in 2006 at the University of California, Berkeley, for which he was awarded 2007 David J. Sakrison Memorial Prize. His current research is focused on low-power embedded systems for basic neuroscience and clinical neurophysiology, with emphasis on memory and learning. Dr. Markovic co-founded Flex Logix Technologies, a semiconductor IP startup. He received an NSF CAREER Award in 2009. In 2010, he was a co-recipient of ISSCC Jack Raper Award for Outstanding Technology Directions.

December 9
Al Molnar
Cornell University
"Capturing Light-Fields on Chip: lens-less 3-D imaging in standard CMOS"

Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract: Whereas traditional image sensors map the intensity of light at a particular plane, significantly more information is present in a field of light rays. In particular, by mapping the distribution of incident angle in a scene, light-field imaging permits passive extraction of 3-D
structure from a single frame.  I will present a new class of pixel, the “angle-sensitive pixel” (ASP) built in a standard CMOS manufacturing process.  ASPs use pixel-scale diffraction gratings built from metal interconnect layers to generate a strongly angle-sensitive light response.

An appropriately chosen mosaic of ASPs provides a much richer description of incoming light and does so in a computationally compact format, similar to the Gabor filters used in many image-processing applications.  I will discuss several applications for arrays of ASPs, including digital light-field photography, lensless far-field imaging, and near-field lensless 3-D imaging of fluorescent microscale sources.

Bio: Alyosha Molnar received his BS from Swarthmore College in 1997, and after spending a season as a deck-hand on a commercial Tuna fishing boat, worked for Conexant Systems for 3 years as an RFIC design engineer.  He was co-responsible engineer developing their first-generation direct-conversion receiver for the GSM cellular standard.  Starting graduate school at U.C. Berkeley in 2001, Molnar worked on an early, ultra-low-power radio transceiver for wireless sensor networks, and then joined a retinal neurophysiology group where he worked on dissecting the structure and function of neural circuits in the mammalian retina, using a combination of electrophysiology, pharmacology, anatomy, and computational modelling.  He joined the Faculty at Cornell University in 2007, and presently works on low-power full-duplex software-defined radios, neural interface circuits, and new integrated imaging techniques.  He is recipient of the DARPA Young Faculty Award in 2010, NSF CAREER Award in 2012, and Lewis Winner outstanding paper award at ISSCC in 2012, and various teaching awards.

Spring 2015


January 20
Kerry Bernstein
Program Manager (Microsystems Technology Office), DARPA
Talk title forthcoming.

Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract: TBD

Bio: Kerry Bernstein joined DARPA in September 2012 as a program manager in the Microsystems Technology Office. His interests are in the areas of hardware assurance and hardware-based cybersecurity capabilities, anti-counterfeit, anti-tamper and supply chain risk management. His interests also include new technologies for improving Combat ID (CID), Identify-Friend-or-Foe (IFF) and Tag-Track-Locate (TTL).

Mr. Bernstein came to DARPA from IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center where from 2002 until 2012 he was a research staff member working in the areas of high-performance, low-power devices, circuits and architectures, emergent post-CMOS logic switch technologies and architectures, 3D chip integration and radiation-induced upset modeling. From 1978-2002, he was an electrical engineer at IBM Microelectronics working in microprocessor circuit design, high performance product development and technology development applications. During his time at IBM he supported DARPA’s IRIS and TRUST programs.

Mr. Bernstein has co-authored four textbooks, holds 155 patents and is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).  

Mr. Bernstein received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis.