ESE Colloquia & Events

Fall 2015-Spring 2016

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 2015

Keren Bergman

September 15
Boon Thau Loo
University of Pennsylvania
Declarative Network Programming: From Implementation, to Verification, and Synthesis

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Abstract: Declarative networking is a programming methodology that enables developers to concisely specify network protocols and services, and directly compile these specifications into a dataflow framework for execution. This talk describes advances in declarative networking, tracing its evolution from a rapid prototyping framework towards a platform that serves as an important bridge connecting formal theories for reasoning about protocol correctness and actual implementations. The second half of the talk explores new frontiers in declarative network synthesis, in particular, our recent work on NetEgg, a scenario-based programming framework that allows network operators to program network policies by describing representative example behaviors. Given these scenarios, our synthesis algorithm automatically infers the controller state that needs to be maintained along with the flow-table rules to process network events and update state. The talk concludes with an outline of ongoing research directions, in the areas of declarative automation in software-defined data centers.

Bio: Boon Thau Loo is an Associate Professor in the Computer and Information Science (CIS) department at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the CIS Masters Chair, overseeing all masters programs within the CIS department, and Director of the Master of Science in Engineering in CIS program. He received his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from the University of California at Berkeley in 2006. Prior to his Ph.D, he received his M.S. degree from Stanford University in 2000, and his B.S. degree with highest honors from UC Berkeley in 1999. His research focuses on distributed data management systems, Internet-scale query processing, and the application of data-centric techniques and formal methods to the design, analysis and implementation of networked systems. He was awarded the 2006 David J. Sakrison Memorial Prize for the most outstanding dissertation research in the Department of EECS at UC Berkeley, and the 2007 ACM SIGMOD Dissertation Award. He is a recipient of the NSF CAREER award (2009) and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Award (2012). He has published 100+ peer reviewed publications and has supervised 7 Ph.D dissertations. His graduated PhD students include 3 tenure-track faculty members and winners of 3 dissertation awards.

Keren Bergman

September 22
H. Vincent Poor
Princeton University
Fundamental Limits on Information Security and Privacy

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Abstract: As has become quite clear from recent headlines, the ubiquity of technologies such as wireless communications and on-line data repositories has created new challenges in information security and privacy. Information theory provides fundamental limits that can guide the development of methods for addressing these challenges. After a brief historical account of the use of information theory to characterize secrecy, this talk will review two areas to which these ideas have been applied successfully: wireless physical layer security, which examines the ability of the physical properties of the radio channel to provide confidentiality in data transmission; and utility-privacy tradeoffs of data sources, which quantify the balance between the protection of private information contained in such sources and the provision of measurable benefits to legitimate users of them.  Several potential applications of these ideas will also be discussed.

Bio: H. Vincent Poor is Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University, where he is also the Michael Henry Strater University Professor. His research interests are primarily in the areas of information theory and signal processing, with applications in wireless networks and related fields. Among his publications is the recent book Principles of Cognitive Radio (Cambridge University Press, 2013).  An IEEE Fellow, Dr. Poor is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences, and is a foreign member of the Royal Society. Recent recognition of his work includes the 2014 URSI Booker Gold Medal, and honorary doctorates from several universities.

Keren Bergman

September 29
Mo Li
University of Minnesota
Silicon photonics: Breadboard for novel optical physics and materials

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Abstract: Development of silicon photonics has already been taken over from academia by the semiconductor industry aiming to build low-power inter-chip and intra-chip optical interconnect in large-scale with a bandwidth potentially reaching Tbits/sec. On the other hand, in research laboratories, integrated silicon photonic circuits provide high performance optical instruments enabling exploration of new optical physics and novel optoelectronic materials. In this talk, I will showcase four examples of my group’s research in photonics using silicon photonic chips as the underlying optical breadboards. First, we demonstrate a cavity optomechanical system that can mechanically shuttle photons between distant cavities and measure spin angular momentum of photons. Second, we show the integration of surface acoustic waves devices operating at microwave frequency up to 20 GHz with nanophotonic cavitis and strong acousto-optic modulation enabled by co-confinement of light and sound waves. Third, a recently emerged two-dimensional material, black phosphors or phosphorene, is integrated on silicon photonics to achieve efficient broadband photodetection, enabled by black phosphorus’ direct and narrow bandgap. Finally, we introduce rare-earth transition-metal magnetic materials, whose magnetization can be switched by ultrafast laser pulses, to demonstrate the first all-optically switchable magnetoresistive devices that can be integrated with silicon photonics. This latest result of ours introduces a brand new category of non-volatile and ultrafast opto-magnetic devices to the inventory of photonic devices for information recording and communication.

Mo Li is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Minnesota. From 2007 to 2010, he was a postdoctoral associate in Department of Electrical Engineering at Yale University. He received his Ph.D. degree in Applied Physics from Caltech in 2007. His honors include Guillermo E. Borja Career Development Award of UMN in 2015, NSF CAREER Award in 2014, McKnight Land-Grant Professorship of UMN in 2013 and an AFOSR Young Investigator Award in 2012. His primary research interests are nanophotonics, nano-optomechanical systems (NOMS), 2D material optoelectronics, NEMS/MEMS, quantum photonic measurement and sensing.

Keren Bergman

October 6
Kerry Bernstein
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
A Matter of TRUST

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Abstract: Just after midnight on 6 September, 2007, four Israeli aircraft penetrated Syrian airspace and destroyed a facility that was later confirmed to be developing a nuclear reactor. A May 2008 report in IEEE Spectrum cited European sources later claiming that the Syrian air defense network had been deactivated by a secret built-in kill switch activated by the Israelis. Whether or not the claim was true, this example highlights the potential risks associated with counterfeit or compromised hardware that now exists. Given that the human OS is now performed upon electronic venues, the vulnerability in general of electronic component compromise presents challenges to defense, business, as well as personal security.

Counterfeiting and cloning undermines the economic underpinnings of our industry as well. Electronic component vulnerabilities begin before the component is even manufactured, extending through design and fabrication, into the supply chain, as the part makes its way from conception to its intended application. Because of the global nature of semiconductor design and fabrication, developers must also protect and control the intellectual property expressed in these parts as well. This talk will first provide a taxonomy of the electronic component threat space, and then will survey exemplary approaches for assessing and assuring component integrity. Looking ahead, the talk will conclude with a glimpse at future technologies being developed by DARPA-funded researchers to provide confidence in the devices we depend upon on a daily basis.

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 security; anti-counterfeiting and smuggling mitigation technologies; high performance computing technology/design; and post-CMOS devices. He formerly spent 33 years at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center and IBM Microelectronics, where he was a Senior Technical Staff Member working in the areas of high performance/low power devices / circuits / architectures; emerging post-CMOS logic switch technologies; and 3D Chip Integration. He attributes any successes realized to be due in large part to being surrounded by wonderful people throughout his entire career.

Mr. Bernstein has co-authored four (4) textbooks, holds 155 patents, and is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Mr. Bernstein received his B.S. (1978) in Electrical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

October 12 - Special Seminar
Urbashi Mitra
University of Southern California
Active Target Localization via Adaptive, Sparse Sampling

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Abstract: Consider a field of interest from which you can only collect a few observations.  From these observations, we wish to detect whether a target exists and its location. Such a problem arises in military surveillance, environmental monitoring, cyber-security, medical diagnosis, epidemic detection.  In this talk, we consider a novel approach to target detection from sparse samples.  In particular, we model the target of interest as one emitting  a signature that has spatial extent across the field (versus being a single pixel); furthermore this signature is spatially separable and decays as a function of the distance of the observation point from the target.  The  target detection and localization algorithm employs highly incomplete and noisy samples.  For example, one can imagine a vehicle, autonomously traversing over the field to collect these samples and actively determining the next sample to collect.  The novelty of this work is the use of separability and bilinearity to achieve a multi-dimensional trade-off in sample complexity, navigational complexity and detection/localization error, subject to computational tractability. We use methods from matrix completion to solve the localization problem. Thus, matrix completion coupled with binary search provides a solution to the exploration-exploitation problem for target localization. We note that the assumptions on the field are fairly generic and are applicable to many decay profiles; furthermore, our approach does not need exact knowledge of the target signature. Our analysis of the algorithm makes use of tools from concentration of measure in high-dimensional geometry and optimization theory with emphasis on low-rank matrix recovery.  We are able to provide characterizations of the localization performance as a function of sample complexity and features of the underlying signature.  The method is compared to gradient search methods and provides strong improvements and robustness to noise.

Bio: Urbashi Mitra received the B.S. and the M.S. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley and her Ph.D. from Princeton University. After a six-year stint at the Ohio State University, she joined the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, where she is currently a Professor. Dr. Mitra is a member of the IEEE Information Theory Society's Board of Governors (2002-2007, 2012-2017) and the IEEE Signal Processing Society’s Technical Committee on Signal Processing for Communications and Networks (2012-2016). Dr. Mitra is a Fellow of the IEEE.  She is the inaugural Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Molecular, Biological and Multi-scale Communications. Dr. Mitra is the recipient of: 2014-2015 IEEE Communications Society Distinguished Lecturer, 2012 Globecom Signal Processing for Communications Symposium Best Paper Award, 2012 NAE Lillian Gilbreth Lectureship, USC Center for Excellence in Research Fellowship (2010-2013), the 2009 DCOSS Applications & Systems Best Paper Award, Texas Instruments Visiting Professor (Fall 2002, Rice University), 2001 Okawa Foundation Award, 2000 OSU College of Engineering Lumley Award for Research, 1997 OSU College of Engineering MacQuigg Award for Teaching, and a 1996 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award. Dr. Mitra currently serves on the IEEE Fourier Award for Signal Processing, the IEEE James H. Mulligan, Jr. Education Medal and the IEEE Paper Prize committees. She has been an Associate Editor for the following IEEE publications: Transactions on Signal Processing (2012-2015), Transactions on Information Theory (2007-2011), Journal of Oceanic Engineering (2006-2011), and Transactions on Communications (1996-2001). She has co-chaired: (technical program) 2014 IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory in Honolulu, HI, 2014 IEEE Information Theory Workshop in Hobart, Tasmania, IEEE 2012 International Conference on Signal Processing and Communications, Bangalore India, and  the IEEE  Communication Theory Symposium at ICC 2003 in Anchorage, AK;  and  general co-chair for the first ACM Workshop on Underwater Networks at Mobicom 2006, Los Angeles, CA Dr. Mitra was the Tutorials Chair for IEEE ISIT 2007 in Nice, France and the Finance Chair for IEEE ICASSP 2008 in Las Vegas, NV.  She served as co-Director of the Communication Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California from 2004-2007.  Her research interests are in: wireless communications, biological communication, underwater acoustic communications, communication and sensor networks, detection and estimation and the interface of communication, sensing and control.

Keren Bergman

October 13 - Rescheduled date TBA
Tomás Palacios
System-Level Applications of Two-Dimensional Materials:
Challenges and Opportunities

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Abstract: Two dimensional materials represent the next frontier in advanced materials for electronic applications. Their extreme thinness (3 or less atoms thick) gives them great mechanical flexibility, optical transparency and an unsurpassed surface-to-volume ratio. At the same time, this family of materials has tremendously diverse and unique properties. For example, graphene is a semimetal with extremely high electron and hole mobilities, hexagonal boron nitride forms an almost ideal insulator, while MoS2 and other dichalcogenides push the limits on large area semiconductors.

The successful growth of these materials over large areas has allowed their use in numerous system-level demonstrators. For example, the zero bandgap of graphene and its ambipolar has been used in a wide variety of rf and mixed applications, including frequency multipliers, mixers, oscillators and digital modulators. At the same time, the wide bandgap of MoS2 in combination with advanced fabrication technology has enabled its use in memory cells, analog to digital converters and ring oscillators with orders of magnitude better performance than other materials for large area applications. These and other examples will be discussed to highlight the numerous new opportunities of 2D materials.

Bio: Tomás Palacios is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he leads the Advanced Semiconductor Materials and Devices Group. His research focuses on the combination of new semiconductor materials and device concepts to advance the fields of information technology, biosensors and energy conversion. His work has been recognized with multiple awards including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the DARPA, ONR and NSF Young Investigator Awards, the IEEE George Smith Award, and numerous best paper awards at conferences such as IEDM, DRC and ISCS. Prof. Palacios has authored more than 200 contributions on advanced semiconductor devices in international journals and conferences, 40 of them invited, 5 book chapters and 20 patents. He is the founding director of the MIT Center for Graphene Devices and 2D Systems (MIT-CG), as well as a recently-funded AFOSR MURI on flexible 2D electronics.

Keren Bergman October 20 - Rescheduled date TBA
Alfred Hero
University of Michigan
Graph Continuum Limits in Data Science
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Abstract: Many problems in data science fields including data mining, computer vision, and machine learning involve combinatorial optimization over a graphs, e.g., minimal spanning trees, traveling salesman tours, or k-point minimal graphs over a feature space.  Certain properties of minimal graphs like their length, minimal paths, or span have continuum limits  as the number of nodes approaches infinity. These include problems  arising in spectral clustering, statistical classification, multi-objective learning, and anomaly detection. In some cases these continuum limits lead to analytical approximations that can  break the combinatorial bottleneck.  In this talk, I will present an overview of some of the remarkable theory of graph continuum limits and illustrate with data science applications.

Bio: Alfred O. Hero III received the B.S. (summa cum laude) from Boston University (1980) and the Ph.D from Princeton University (1984), both in Electrical Engineering. Since 1984 he has been with the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he is the R. Jamison and Betty Williams Professor of Engineering and co-director of the Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) . His primary appointment is in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and he also has appointments, by courtesy, in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Statistics. From 2008-2013 he held the Digiteo Chaire d'Excellence at the Ecole Superieure d'Electricite, Gif-sur-Yvette, France. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and several of his research articles have received best paper awards. Alfred Hero was awarded the University of Michigan Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award (2011). He received the IEEE Signal Processing Society Meritorious Service Award (1998), the IEEE Third Millenium Medal (2000), and the IEEE Signal Processing Society Technical Achievement Award (2014). Alfred Hero was President of the IEEE Signal Processing Society (2006-2008) and was on the Board of Directors of the IEEE (2009-2011) where he served as Director of Division IX (Signals and Applications). He served on the IEEE TAB Nominations and Appointments Committee (2012-2014). Alfred Hero is currently a member of the Big Data Special Interest Group (SIG) of the IEEE Signal Processing Society. Since 2011 he has been a member of the Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics (CATS) of the US National Academies of Science.

Alfred Hero's recent research interests are in the data science of high dimensional spatio-temporal data, statistical signal processing, and machine learning. Of particular interest are applications to networks, including social networks, multi-modal sensing and tracking, database indexing and retrieval, imaging, biomedical signal processing, and biomolecular signal processing.

Keren Bergman October 27
Mohammad Hafezi
University of Maryland
Exploring Topological Physics in Photonic Systems
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Abstract:One of the promising applications of quantum computers is quantum simulation --- the ability to simulate quantum dynamics on an engineerable physical system. Such simulators allow us to investigate models that are practically impossible to study on a classical computer. For example, there are tremendous efforts underway to better understand systems with topological order --- global properties that are not discernible locally. The best known examples are quantum Hall effects in electronic system, where insensitivity to local properties manifests itself as conductance through edge states that is insensitive to defects and disorder.

In this talk, I demonstrate how similar physics can be observed for photons; specifically, how various quantum Hall Hamiltonians can be simulated in an optical platform. I report on the first observation of topological photonic edge state using silicon-on-insulator technology. Furthermore, the addition of optical nonlinearity to this system provides a platform to implement fractional quantum Hall states of photons and anyonic states that have not yet been observed. More generally, the application of these ideas can lead to development of optical devices with topological protection for classical and quantum information processing. For more information visit:

Bio: Mohammad Hafezi is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Maryland (UMD), and a fellow at the Joint Quantum Institute (NIST-UMD) and IREAP. He received his diploma from Ecole Polytechnique (Palaiseau) in 2003. After obtaining his Ph.D. from the physics department at Harvard University, he moved to the Joint Quantum Institute as a postdoc in 2009. His research is at the interface of theoretical and experimental quantum optics and condensed-matter physics with a focus on fundamental physics and applications in quantum information science, precision measurement, and integrated photonics. His recent awards include the Sloan Research Fellowship and the Young Investor award of the Office of Naval Research.

Keren Bergman

November 3
The Jack Keil Wolf Lecture in Electrical and Systems Engineering

Mildred Dresselhaus
The Oncoming Challenge in Engineering Research and Education
3pm, Wu & Chen Auditorium

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Abstract: Speaking on this topic gives me an opportunity to show what advances in science could do for stimulating industrial applications and new educational directions. In 1960 and again in 1990, I had another similar opportunity when I was forced by circumstances to change research fields. Recently, advances in technology and the expected federal support for research is giving me another opportunity to rethink new directions for engineering research and education.

Bio: Mildred Dresselhaus is an Institute Professor at MIT in the departments of Electrical Engineering and Physics. Recent research activities in the Dresselhaus group that have attracted wide attention are in the areas of carbon nanotubes, graphene, and other nanocarbon materials, as well as low-dimensional thermoelectricity. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and has served as Director of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, President of the American Physical Society, Treasurer of the National Academy of Sciences, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, chair of the U.S. National Academy Decadal Study of Condensed Matter and Materials Physics, and on many advisory committees and councils. Dr. Dresselhaus has received numerous awards, including the U.S. National Medal of Science, the Fermi Award, the Kavli Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and 31 honorary doctorates worldwide. She is the co-author of eight books and about 1700 papers primarily on carbon science, and is particularly well known for her work on carbon nanomaterials and other nanostructural systems based on layered materials, like graphene, and more recently beyond graphene, like transition metal dichalcogenides and phosphorene. More generally, her research over the years has covered a wide range of problems in condensed matter and materials physics.

Keren Bergman December 1
Paulo Tabuada
Robust Cyber-Physical Systems: An Utopia Within Reach
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Abstract: Robustness plays a major role in the analysis and design of engineering systems. Although robust control is a well-established area within control theory and fault-tolerant computation is a well-established area within computer science, it is surprising that robustness remains a distant mirage for Cyber-Physical Systems. The intricate crochet made of control, computation, and communication yarns is known to be brittle in the sense that “small” software errors or "small" sensing, communication, or actuation noise can lead to unexpected, and often unintended, consequences. In this talk I will build on classical notions of robustness from control theory and computer science to make progress towards the utopia of robust Cyber-Physical Systems.

Bio: Paulo Tabuada was born in Lisbon, Portugal, one year after the Carnation Revolution. He received his "Licenciatura" degree in Aerospace Engineering from Instituto Superior Tecnico, Lisbon, Portugal in 1998 and his Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2002 from the Institute for Systems and Robotics, a private research institute associated with Instituto Superior Tecnico. Between January 2002 and July 2003 he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. After spending three years at the University of Notre Dame, as an Assistant Professor, he joined the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he established and directs the Cyber-Physical Systems Laboratory.

Paulo Tabuada's contributions to cyber-physical systems have been recognized by multiple awards including the NSF CAREER award in 2005, the Donald P. Eckman award in 2009 and the George S. Axelby award in 2011. In 2009 he co-chaired the International Conference Hybrid Systems: Computation and Control (HSCC'09) and joined its steering committee in 2015, in 2012 he was program co-chair for the 3rd IFAC Workshop on Distributed Estimation and Control in Networked Systems (NecSys'12), and in 2015 he was program co-chair for the IFAC Conference on Analysis and Design of Hybrid Systems. He also served on the editorial board of the IEEE Embedded Systems Letters and the IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control. His latest book, on verification and control of hybrid systems, was published by Springer in 2009.

Keren Bergman December 8
Randall Berry
Northwestern University
Competition and Investment with Shared Spectrum
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Abstract: Access to electromagnetic spectrum is the lifeblood of the wireless industry - an industry that has seen an explosion in demand for wireless data. Meeting the demand will require additional spectrum. However, the traditional approach of clearing spectrum and reallocating it to commercial uses is becoming increasingly difficult. This in turn has led to much interest in new approaches for spectrum management and in particular for approaches in which spectrum is shared among different users. These approaches raise not only technical challenges but also can fundamentally change the economic interactions among wireless service providers. In this talk we will discuss several models that seek to provide insight into such scenarios.

Bio: Randall Berry joined Northwestern University in 2000, where he is currently a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He received the M.S. and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT in 1996 and 2000, respectively. Dr. Berry is the recipient of a 2003 CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. He is an IEEE Communications Society Distinguished Lecturer for 2013-15. He has served as an Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications from 2006 to 2009, and an Associate Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory from 2009 to 2011, in the area of communication networks. He has served on the program and organizing committees of numerous conferences including serving as the co-chair of the 2012 IEEE Communication Theory Workshop and a technical co-chair of 2010 IEEE ICC Wireless Networking Symposium. He is an IEEE Fellow.