Very proud to receive this recognition

The Foundation is named after Tadeusz Kościuszko, full name Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko (middle name particularly appropriate for those of us living in Ventura County), who was a military engineer and statesman, fought in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth’s struggles against Russia and Prussia (1790s), and on the American side in the American Revolutionary War. A close friend of Thomas Jefferson’s, with whom he shared ideals of human rights, Kościuszko wrote a will in 1798 dedicating his American assets to the education and freedom of U.S. slaves.

For more information see the Tadeusz Kościuszko Wikipedia page.

Paper with Ryan McIntyre to appear in the Journal of Discrete Algorithms

Happy to announce that Ryan McIntyre’s masters thesis results, An improved upper bound and algorithm for clique covers (prelim), will be published as our joint paper in Journal of Discrete Algorithms.

Our paper is on indeterminate strings, which are important for their applicability in bioinformatics. (They have been considered, for example, in Christodoulakis 2015  and Helling 2017.)

An interesting feature of indeterminate strings is the natural correspondence with undirected graphs. One aspect of this correspondence is the fact that the minimal alphabet size of indeterminates representing any given undirected graph corresponds to the size of the minimal clique cover of this graph. This paper first considers a related problem proposed in Helling 2017: characterize $late \Theta_n(m)$, which is the size of the largest possible minimal clique cover (i.e., an exact upper bound), and hence alphabet size of the corresponding indeterminate, of any graph on n vertices and m edges. We provide improvements to the known upper bound for \Theta_n(m). Helling 2017 also presents an algorithm which finds clique covers in polynomial time. We build on this result with an original heuristic for vertex sorting which significantly improves their algorithm’s results, particularly in dense graphs.

This work was the result of building on Helling 2017 (see this post) and of a year of research undertaken by Ryan McIntyre under my (Michael Soltys) supervision at the California State University Channel Islands.

National Engineers Week Banquet @CSUCI

It was a great pleasure to Emcee the National Engineers Week of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties banquet at CSU Channel Islands (CI). This was the 45th annual engineering week dinner, and the second year (in a row) that it took place at CI.

Thank you to my colleagues Jason Isaacs and Houman Dallali, and their students Adan Sanchez, Alexandra Collette and Nicole Dubin for a display of the student engineering projects at CI. We were delighted to announce that we are welcoming the first cohort of Mechatronics students in the fall of this year (2018). It was especially appropriate to welcome engineers from the local businesses and the local Navy bases at CI, as we pursue three interdependent missions:

  • Scholarship
  • Teaching
  • Engagement in the community

The pièce de résistance event of the evening was a keynote address by  Dr. Adam Steltzner, NASA Engineer with Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Dr. Steltzer is a renowned engineer who led the team responsible for the Curiosity Rover’s successful landing on Mars (the EDL: Entry, Descent, Landing system); the famous 7 Minutes of Terror. Last year Dr. Steltzer was named to the National Academy of Engineering.

It was a great honor to meet Dr. Steltzer and listen to a first hand account of the mission.

Why is it called the 7 Minutes of Terror? In just seven minutes, NASA’s six-wheeled rover called Curiosity, must go from 13,000 mph as it enters the Martian atmosphere to a dead stop on the surface.

During those seven minutes, the rover is on its own. Earth is too far away for radio signals to make it to Mars in time for ground controllers to do anything. Everything in the EDL system must work perfectly, or Curiosity will not so much land as go splat. The team that invented the EDL system, led by Dr. Steltzer, has spent nearly 10 years perfecting it.

Speaking at the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce

my remarks

  • Thank you for the opportunity to tell you about Computer Science at CI
  • We are a fast growing Dept we doubled our majors to 400 in the last 3 years
  • We are starting a new engineering program in Mechatronics (Mechanical & Engineering) this fall after years of preparation.
  • We have a program in IT, one Computer Science, and the new Mechatronics program. Also programs in Cybersecurity, robotics, and Game design.
  • We work with the local community: with IT & Manufacturing companies, with Navy, HTTF, and we started an Advisory Board consisting of heads of local business & industry.
  • To give you an idea about our work, I will talk about 3 directions, but there are many more:
    • Houman Dallali Mechatronics he was the first targeted Mechatronics hire, and he works in intelligent prosthetics. Cheap Controllers (Raspberry Pi’s) and 3D printers have revolutionized our field, but ours is still an expensive endeavor and we rely on the community for example, companies such as Advanced Motion or Amgen have given us equipment.
    • Jason Isaacs Swarmathon Jason has a PhD in engineering from UCSB, like most of our faculty has years of industrial experience, but loves the University setting and has come back. NASA wants to go to Mars, and Jason and his student are participating in one aspect of that endeavor: a swarm of robots that will be released on Mars to collect raw components to make fuel for the journey back home. We took 3rd place at the competition at Cape Canaveral in Florida in 2017.
    • I work in Algorithms generally speaking, they are the snippets of ideas that become code that run your computers. But I also work, and consult, in Cybersecurity, and we have an ongoing collaboration with HTTF. Set up by the Secret Service and the FBI to aid local law enforcement in dealing with the sophisticated digital crime, they have a lab in Camarillo, at a secret location, and our students have worked on several R&D projects for them, for example SEAKER last summer.
  • Today I have brought two students with me Vlad Synnes and Samuel Decanio who will tell you a little bit about themselves, and a little bit about Voyager” a project that we did for the HTTF.

I will be giving a talk on Cybersecurity for small businesses on December 8

Detective Kimo Hildreth and I will be giving a talk at a breakfast event on Cybersecurity for Small Businesses on Friday December 8, 2017, at 8:30am. To RSVP and view more event details click here. The event is organized by  Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, and it will take place at 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd, in the “Oak and Park Room”.

msoltys-talk-dec8-2017

First CS Advisory Board meeting

The first Computer Science Advisory Board meeting will take place on November 3.

Time, Location and Parking

Agenda

  • Introductions & Lunch
  • Presentation – Computer Science and Mechatronics
  • Discussion

Presentation Slides

AdvisoryBoard-Nov2017

Pictures from the event

Chairs Meeting

CSU CS/IS/SE/IT/CE Chairs Meeting

Organizers:

Time, Place & Wifi:

  • October 27, 2017, 9:30am to 4:30pm
  • CSU Channel Islands, John Spoor Broome Library, 2nd Floor (J.H.Evans ­ BRO 2533) Conference Room
  • Parking: You can use your CSU institution parking permit at CI: A2 lot is a good place to park; parking can be a challenge at CI, but Fridays tends to be easier.
  • WiFi: You can use Eduroam, or the “CI” SSID with login: solutionGuest and password: SolutionCenter
  • Suggested hotel: 4994 Verdugo Way, Camarillo, CA 93012

Material:

dinner

  • 6pm at Bistro 13 near the Hotel
  • It will be a “no-host” dinner with a everyone paying their own tab.
  • Dinner was originally scheduled at the Safire restaurant, but it was closed with an eviction notice when we got there 🙂

Photos

iSprinkle – a topical capstone project @CSUCI @cagomez805


iSprinkle is a Raspberry Pi powered irrigation controller which will allow a user to set an initial irrigation schedule for a sprinkler system using a web interface, after which it will use the local weather forecast to adjust the base watering schedule as needed. iSprinkle is the result of a senior Capstone project (COMP499)  at California State University Channel Islands, undertaken by student Carlos Gomez in 2016, advised by Michael Soltys. A detailed write up of the project, where we partnered with Prof. Adam Sędziwy (who visited CI in June 2016), can be found here:

A short version of the above paper will be presented at INDOTEC2017:

iSprinkle was also presented at SCCUR 2016, the Southern California Council for Undergraduate Research Conference at UC Riverside on November 12, 2016.

The design of a system such as iSprinkle requires a holistic approach that is very different from most class assignments. The former usually span a few files that are to be turned in within a week or two, making it difficult to implement a system with many “moving parts.” However, iSprinkle’s functionality is divided between the front-end and back-end, both of which need to communicate so that the user’s requests are fulfilled. Designing such a system requires taking into consideration many aspects; from major decisions such as deciding on a backend language to use, to minutiae such as the date and time formats to use across the backend and front end to maintain consistency.


By doing so, iSprinkle will be able to irrigate more efficiently compared to a fixed schedule; by progrmmatically modifying the user’s watering schedule, iSprinkle will increase/decrease the amount of watering that the schedule dictates depending on data that it receives from a weather API. iSprinkle hopes to make it easier for homeowners to conserve water by automating adjustments to their irrigation schedule.

Carlos Adrian Gomez has since graduated from CI, and is working as a Software Engineer in the Ventura area.

Carlos’ on twitter

CI Computer Science students build a digital forensic tool

On August 7, 2017, the CI Computer Science students presented a prototype of a digital forensic tool, which we named SEAKER (Storage Evaluator and Knowledge Extraction Reader), as part of their Masters COMP 524 Cybersecurity course. This project was a collaboration between the Ventura County District Attorney (VCDA) Digital Forensics Lab and CI Computer Science, under the umbrella of the SoCal High Technology Task Force (HTTF).

The students presented a live demo with devices supplied by the Ventura County DA.  The SEAKER prototype was able to compile search results in less than a minute depending on the size of the device. According to VCDA officials at the presentation this is a remarkable increase in efficiency and will be a useful tool in the field: while imaging of a hd can take up to 4 hours, SEAKER performs a triage search in minutes.

Digital Forensics (DF) deals with the recovery and investigation of clues from digital devices (computers, handhelds, iPads, routers, modems, DVRs, etc.). The goal of this effort is to support or refute a hypothesis in court. DF is a complex and technical field: it can be used to attribute evidence to specific suspects, confirm alibis or statements, determine intent, identify sources, or authenticate documents.

A DF investigation commonly consists of 3 stages: acquisition or imaging of exhibits, analysis and reporting. The SEAKER tool helps with the acquisition of data from digital devices in a way that prevents tampering.

The SEAKER project was a fantastic learning experience for our students, as its design and prototyping combined many different skills: The C programming language, BASH shell scripting, the Linux Operating Systems and command line, the Raspberry Pi hardware, Gliffy diagrams, Dropbox Paper (which we used as a Wiki); Slack collaborative discussion / brainstorming tool, the GitHub software repository which was used as a collaborative tool in the design of the software that animated the Raspberry Pi, WordPress blogging, AWS S3 which served as a repository of the final product, Grep (regular expressions and pattern matching), working with different file systems, and of course strict performance (speed, read only). All of this had to be combined by a group of 18 students, with different backgrounds and skill sets to produce something that could be used by DF examiners.

One of the CI pillars is Community Engagement and Service Learning. This approach identifies needs in the community, and builds a curriculum around research and development to address those needs. The SEAKER project is a great example of such a symbiotic relation between CI and the community. Also, it is an example of the strength of a pedagogical approach that combines both theory and practice. Without theory a field becomes a collection of ad hoc procedures. But without practice theory becomes an abstract exercise in intellectual virtuosity. We plan to build on the approach that combines the Service Learning and Theory & Practice paradigms as we go forward with our Computer Science program in Security Systems Engineering and our Masters level offering in Cybersecurity.

Some photos from the event:

Original event announcement.