ESE Colloquia & Events

Fall 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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Tuesday, September 27th
Gad Allon
University of Pennsylvania, M&T Program Director
Managing Service Systems in the Presence of Social Networks

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Abstract: We study the optimal service differentiation policy for service organizations with the presence of social networks. In our framework, customers' beliefs of the service quality evolve over time according to their own experiences and the reported experiences from their friends in the network. We characterize the conditions under which such belief system converges and the corresponding optimal service differentiation policy. Our main results can be summarized as follows. First, contrary to the existing literature, we show that, when customers directly report their experiences, the importance of a customer only depends on his economic value and his friends' economic values. In other words, the optimal policy only needs first-order friendship. Second, we demonstrate that the value of knowing social network structures critically depends on the correlation between customers' economic and social values. The social network value is higher if the correlation is lower. Third, we use a novel data set with more than 15,000 customers to show empirically that for many service providers, specifically those targeting mid and high end customers there are negative correlations between the social values and economic values of their customers. We also provide an intuitive explanation, with empirical justifications, of the differences between firms’ correlations.

Bio: Gad Allon is the Jeffrey A. Keswin Professor and Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions. He received his PhD in Management Science from Columbia Business School in New York and holds a Bachelor and Master degree from the Israeli Institute of Technology.
His research interests include operations management in general, and service operations and operations strategy in particular. Professor Allon has been studying models of information sharing among firms and customers both in service and retail settings, as well as competition models in the service industry. His articles have appeared in leading journals, including Management Science, Manufacturing and Service Operations Management and Operations Research. Professor Allon won the 2011 "Wickham Skinner Early-Career Research Award" of the Production and Operations Management Society. He is the Operations Management Department Editor of Management Science and serves on the editorial board of several journals. Gad is an award-winning educator, teaching courses on scaling operations and operations strategy. He is the co-founder of ForClass, a platform that enables professors to drive higher student engagement and accountability in their classrooms.

Tuesday, October 4th
Matteo Rinaldi
Northeastern University
Paradigm Shift in MEMS toward Multi-Functional and Near-Zero Power Integrated Microsystems

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Abstract: Sensors are nowadays found in a wide variety of applications, such as smart mobile devices, automotive, healthcare and environmental monitoring. The recent advancements in terms of sensor miniaturization, low power consumption and low cost allow envisioning a new era for sensing in which the data collected from multiple individual smart sensor systems are combined to get information about the environment that is more accurate and reliable than the individual sensor data. By leveraging such sensor fusion it will be possible to acquire complete and accurate information about the context in which human beings live, which has huge potential for the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) in which physical and virtual objects are linked through the exploitation of sensing and communication capabilities with the intent of making life simpler and more efficient
for human beings.

This trend towards sensor fusion has dramatically increased the demand of new technology platforms, capable of delivering multiple sensing and wireless communication functionalities in a small foot print. In this context, Micro- and Nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS) technologies can have a tremendous impact since they can be used for the implementation of high performance sensors and wireless communication devices with reduced form factor and Integrated Circuit (IC) integration capability.

This talk presents a new class of MEMS/NEMS devices that can address some of the most important challenges in the areas of physical, chemical and biological detection and can be simultaneously used to synthesize high-Q reconfigurable and adaptive radio frequency (RF) resonant devices. By combining the unique physical, optical and electrical properties of advanced materials such as thin film piezoelectric materials, graphene, photonic metamaterials, phase change materials and magnetic materials, multiple and advanced sensing and RF communication functionalities are implemented in a small footprint. Furthermore, a new class of sensors that can remain dormant, with near zero power consumption, until awoken by an external trigger or stimulus are presented as a solution to fundamentally break the paradigm of using active power to sense infrequent events and
enable a nearly unlimited duration of operation for unattended ground sensors.

Bio: Matteo Rinaldi received his Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Systems Engineering from the
University of Pennsylvania in 2010. He joined the Electrical and Computer Engineering
department at Northeastern University as an Assistant Professor in January 2012.

Dr. Rinaldi’s research focuses on understanding and exploiting the fundamental properties of
micro/nanomechanical structures and advanced nanomaterials to engineer new classes of
micro and nanoelectromechanical systems (M/NEMS) with unique and enabling features
applied to the areas of chemical, physical and biological sensing and low power
reconfigurable radio communication systems. In particular, his group has been actively
working on experimental research topics and practical applications to ultra-low power
MEMS/NEMS sensors (infrared, magnetic, chemical and biological), plasmonic micro and
nano electromechanical devices, medical micro systems and implantable micro devices for intra-body networks, reconfigurable radio frequency devices and systems, phase change material switches, 2D material enabled micro and nano mechanical devices.

The research in Dr. Rinaldi’s group is supported by several Federal grants (including DARPA, NSF, DHS) and the Keck foundation.

Dr. Rinaldi has co-authored more than 70 publications in the aforementioned research areas and also holds 2 patents and more than 10 device patent applications in the field of MEMS/NEMS.

Dr. Rinaldi was the recipient of the IEEE Sensors Council Early Career Award in 2015, the NSF CAREER Award in 2014 and the DARPA Young Faculty Award class of 2012. He received the Best Student Paper Award at the 2009, 2011 and 2015 (with his student) IEEE International Frequency Control Symposiums and the Outstanding Paper Award at the 18 th International Conference on Solid-State Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems, Transducers 2015 (with his student).

Tuesday, October 11th - CANCELLED
Tomas Palacios
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Bio: Tomás Palacios is the Emmanuel E. Landsman Career Development Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Masscahusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is affiliated with the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and with the Microsystems Technology Laboratory. He studied Telecommunication Engineer in the Polytechnic University of Madrid, and he received his MS and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of California - Santa Barbara in 2004 and 2006, respectively.
Tomás´ research interests include the design, processing and characterization of new electronic devices based on wide bandgap semiconductors for power amplification and digital applications beyond 100 GHz. When not at MIT, Tomás enjoys reading, listening to classical music, hiking and attending plays and concerts.
He is also author or coauthor of more than 130 scientific papers in international journals and conferences, three book chapter and multiple invited talks and patents. Recently Tomás has been awarded the DARPA Young Faculty Award (March 2008), the Office of Naval Research’ Young Investigator Award (March 2009) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award (July 2009).

Thursday, October 20th
The Jack Keil Wolf Lecture in Electrical and Systems Engineering
Thomas Kailath
Stanford University
The Process of Making Breakthroughs in Engineering
3pm, Wu and Chen Auditorium. Reception to follow in Levine Lobby

Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract: This presumptuous title was first suggested as a challenge, followed by an offer that I could not refuse. So, while there is no magic formula for making breakthroughs in any field, it is possible to glean some useful pointers from past experiences. Several factors come into play, technology being only one of them. The talk will examine these via a review of several case histories.

Bio:Thomas Kailath received a B.E. (Telecom) degree in 1956 from the College of Engineering, Pune, India, and S.M. (1959) and Sc.D. (1961) degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then worked at the Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena, CA, before being appointed to Stanford University as Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering in 1963. He was promoted to Professor in 1968, and appointed as the first holder of the Hitachi America Professorship in Engineering in1988. He assumed emeritus status in 2001, but remains active with his research and writing activities. He also held shorter-term appointments at several institutions around the world: UC Berkeley, Indian Statistical Institute, Bell Labs, Indian Institute of Science, Cambridge University, K. U. Leuven, T.U. Delft, Weizmann Institute, Imperial College, MIT, UCLA ,T. U. Munich. 

His research and teaching have ranged over several fields of engineering and mathematics: information theory, communications, linear systems, estimation and control, signal processing, semiconductor manufacturing, probability and statistics, and matrix and operator theory. He has also co-founded and served as a director of several high-technology companies. He has mentored an outstanding array of over a hundred doctoral and postdoctoral scholars. Their joint efforts have led to over 300 journal papers, a dozen patents and several books and monographs, including the major textbooks: Linear Systems (1980) and Linear Estimation (2000). 

He received the IEEE Medal of Honor in 2007 for "exceptional contributions to the development of powerful algorithms for communications, control, computing and signal processing." Among other major honors are the Shannon Award of the IEEE Information Theory Society; the IEEE Education Medal and the IEEE Signal Processing Medal; the 2009 BBVA Foundation Prize for Information and Communication Technologies; the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award; election to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; foreign membership of the Royal Society of London, the Royal Spanish Academy of Engineering, the Indian National Academy of Engineering, the Indian National Science Academy, the Indian Academy of Sciences, and TWAS (The World Academy of Sciences). 

In November 2014, he received a US National Medal of Science from President Obama "for transformative contributions to the fields of information and system science, for distinctive and sustained mentoring of young scholars, and for translation of scientific ideas into entrepreneurial ventures that have had a significant impact on industry."

Tuesday, October 25th
Grace Hopper Lecture Series
Muriel Medard
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Network Coding - A Personal Account of Combining Theory and Practice
3pm, Wu and Chen Auditorium

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Abstract: This talk seeks to illustrate the interplay between theoretical development and engineering implementation, with a personal slant. It centers on Network Coding (NC), a modern information theoretic development that leverages algebraic data manipulation during transport through a network to enhance resource usage. The addition of data manipulation to network modeling went beyond traditional graph theoretic considerations, allowing a significant relaxation of constraints that had original been treated as essential and, consequently, to the circumvention of impasses. The new model afforded opportunities for improved resource usage in existing networks through developments such as our Random Linear Network Coding (RLNC). While RLNC provided provably optimal throughput within standard theoretical frameworks, introducing it into the most common Internet transport protocol, Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), required an inventive reinterpretation of TCP’s control signals. Our recent theoretical results in Equivalence Theory show there is no benefit, in terms of throughput, in combining NC with the type of coding commonly used to palliate mistransmissions in error-prone media such as wireless links. These results confirm the sense behind current operational practice, but contradict long-standing folk-theorems regarding the benefit of joint coding. However, when other performance metrics such as energy consumption are taken into account, in practice we have shown that combining NC with coding for wireless links leads to marked, cumulative gains. We shall conclude the talk with open challenges and research directions driven by the coming convergence of data storage and networking. No background knowledge will be assumed.

Bio: Muriel Médard is the Cecil H. Green Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at MIT and leads the Network Coding and Reliably Communications Group at the Research Laboratory for Electronics at MIT. She has co-founded two companies to commercialize network coding, CodeOn and Steinwurf. She has served as editor for many publications of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), of which she was elected Fellow, and she is currently Editor in Chief of the IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications . She was President of the IEEE Information Theory Society in 2012, and served on its board of governors for eleven years.  She received the 2009 IEEE Communication Society and Information Theory Society Joint Paper Award, the 2009 William R. Bennett Prize in the Field of Communications Networking, the 2002 IEEE Leon K. Kirchmayer Prize Paper Award and several conference paper awards. She was co-winner of the MIT 2004 Harold E. Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award. In 2007 she was named a Gilbreth Lecturer by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

Tuesday, November 15th
Douglas Densmore
Boston University

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Bio: Douglas Densmore is a Kern Faculty Fellow, a Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science and Engineering Junior Faculty Fellow, and Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boston University. His research focuses on the development of tools for the specification, design, and assembly of synthetic biological systems, drawing upon his experience with embedded system level design and electronic design automation (EDA).

He is the director of the Cross-disciplinary Integration of Design Automation Research (CIDAR) group at Boston University, where his team of staff and postdoctoral researchers, undergraduate interns, and graduate students develop computational and experimental tools for synthetic biology. His research facilities include both a computational workspace in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering as well as experimental laboratory space in the Boston University Center of Synthetic Biology (CoSBI).

His research interests include Computer Architecture, Embedded Systems, Logic Synthesis, Digital Logic Design, System Level Design, and Synthetic Biology.

Thursday, November 17th
Alexandros Dimakis
University of Texas at Austin
3-4pm, Towne 337

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Abstract: TBA

Bio: TBA

Tuesday, November 29th
Andrea Alù
The University of Texas at Austin

Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract: TBA

Bio: TBA

Thursday, December 1st
Todd Coleman
University of California, San Diego
The Interplay between Data Science, Technology, and Health
11am-12pm, Towne 337

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Abstract: Dr. Coleman will discuss his research group’s efforts in developing flexible multi-functional flexible electronics and scalable inference tools to provide vulnerability profiles and decision support tools for improved interpretation of health and promotion of decision-making. Recent work in advancing flexible physiologic sensors, antennas, and integrated circuits will be discussed, with an emphasis on approaches that are clinically viable, and are compatible with scalable industry-adopted fabrication methods. Dr. Coleman will also discuss novel applied probability methods of interpreting such acquired physiologic data for prediction, diagnosis, and improving health outcomes. An emphasis will be placed on engineering aggregate systems that address socioeconomic and scalability challenges. A few examples will be provided, that include: developing inexpensive and easy-to-deploy physiologic screening tools to predict delayed neurodevelopment in infants; and developing new approaches to measure and interpret electrical activity of the digestive system for disambiguating and identifying physiologic abnormalities underlying GI disorders. Throughout the talk, Dr. Coleman will emphasize the inter-disciplinary nature of this research, involving themes from applied mathematics, electrical engineering, bioengineering, and medicine.

Bio: Todd P. Coleman received B.S. degrees in electrical engineering (summa cum laude) and computer engineering (summa cum laude) from the University of Michigan. He received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from MIT in electrical engineering, and did postdoctoral studies at Mass General vccvHospital in quantitative neuroscience. He is currently an Associate Professor in Bioengineering at UCSD, where he is the co-director of the Center for Perinatal Health within the Institute of Engineering in Medicine. His research has been featured on CNN, BBC, and the New York Times. In 2015, Dr. Coleman was recognized by the National Academy of Engineering as a Gilbreth Lecturer; by the Root as "one of 100 African-Americans most responsible for 2015's most significant moments, movements, and ideas"; and by TEDMED as an invited speaker.


Tuesday, December 6th
Alex Zettl
University of California, Berkeley
Exploring sp2-bonded materials: From graphene liquid cells to quantum craters and atomic collapse

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Abstract: I will discuss recent experiments on nanostructures based on sp2-bonded carbon and boron nitride, including determination of the detailed (dynamic) atomic structure in graphene and BN sheets using transmission electron microscopy, the imaging of foreign atoms and molecules within nanoscale environmental liquid cells, the creation of customized "quantum craters" for relativistic Dirac fermions, and the observation of atomic collapse long ago predicted for ultra-heavy nuclei.

Bio: Alex Zettl received his B.A. from UC Berkeley in 1978 and his Ph.D. from UCLA in 1983. He joined the Physics Department faculty at UC Berkeley in 1983. Currently he is Professor of Physics at UC Berkeley, Senior Scientist at LBNL, and Member of the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute at Berkeley. Awards and Honors include Presidential Young Investigator Award (1984-89), Sloan Foundation Fellowship (1984-86), IBM Faculty Development Award (1985-87), and Miller Professorship (1995), Lucent Technologies Faculty Award (1996), Fellow of the American Physical Society (1999), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Outstanding Performance Award (1995 and 2004), James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials (2006), Miller Professorship (2007), and R&D 100 Award (2004 & 2015).