On November 8, 2018, we saw long plume of smoke from behind the mountain north of our house in Newbury Park: the beginning of the Hill Fire. The smoke has getting darker, and started covering the sky. The Santa Anna wind was blowing hot and dry from the North-East. About an hour later we received a message that there was a mandatary evacuation for our area. We started packing right away, but we took the advice more urgently when we saw tongues of fire on the crest of the mountain less than a mile north of us. We got in the car, and started heading out, only to be stuck in a long procession of cars making their way to the 101 and out of danger. We took the Portrero road through Hidden Valley, and we arrived at Westlake Village, where we waited for news. When it became apparent that we would not be coming home that night, we drove south to family. We wanted to return 3 days later, when the mandatory evacuation was lifted, but by that time the Woosley Fire has made its way to Mt. Boney, close and visible about a mile south of our home. We saw a lot of fire activity, and constant fly over and dumping the “red stuff” – the “red stuff” is mostly water, mixed with ammonium phosphate or sulfate (fertilizers), with guar gum or clay (thickeners) and iron oxide (color). The air quality was very poor, with residents getting headaches and nausea. We decided to evacuate again, this time north.
During my PhD years (1997-2001) in the Computer Science department, at the University of Toronto, my advisor Stephen Cook and I worked on laying the computational complexity foundations of Linear Algebra. To that end we deployed Berkowitz’s algorithm for computing the characteristic polynomial, as it allowed us to state major theorems of linear algebra in the theory NC2 (fast parallel computations). We published the final version of our result in the Annals of Pure and Applied Logic. Recently, Iddo Tzameret and Stephen Cook strengthened those results considerably in this paper.
On November 6, 2018, at 7:30am, I am giving a talk to the Regional Defense Partnership for the 21st Century (RDP-21) on Computer Science at CI. Here is the meeting location.
It was a pleasure to speak at the AWS/CSU Research in the Cloud series. By nature I am not a strong promoter of any technology, and the browser, OS or editor “wars” frankly bore me; I sometimes use a “lesser” technology because it happens to be more convenient, or because I don’t have the time to learn a “better” technology, or many other good reasons.
However, as a researcher and teacher I am absolutely thrilled with what AWS has to offer. I regularly give tours of our computer labs at CSU CI (to local companies, prospective graduate students, CSU trustees, fundraising prospects, etc.), and I explain that three things make it possible for a relatively small and unknown campus like ours to compete in scientific & engineering output in the national and international arena:
- How cheap embedded systems have become; a Google Raspberry Pi is $35, and it comes with Linux and GPIO that makes it into a universal controller.
- How cheap 3D printing has become, and in turn this frees us to some extent from having to build an expensive manufacturing lab.
- And AWS: Amazon Cloud Computing Services. Instead of buying, maintaining, cooling and powering expensive servers, we can immediately utilize the required services, and pay as we go. This works very well for a university because we do not have to make up-front capital investments, and our usage is not always the same (e.g., practically no classes in the summer).
Material related to the talk
- Examples of AWS related projects that my students and I have undertaken over the last year: http://prof.msoltys.com/?tag=aws.
- AWS presentation slides.
- Video of the presentation (my talk start at about 12min)
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Voyager is a software that implements what is called an invisible bit (aka, a tracking bit), that can be used to track certain activities. Voyager deploys the AWS network infrastructure, and its Data Base, the Relational Database Service (RDS). Voyager has been implemented at CI by a group of Computer Science students, as a Research & Development project for the HTTF. From AWS website:
Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud. It provides cost-efficient and resizable capacity while automating time-consuming administration tasks such as hardware provisioning, database setup, patching and backups. It frees you to focus on your applications so you can give them the fast performance, high availability, security and compatibility they need.
For this project, we are also using the following tools: EC2, S3 and Route 53.
Daniel Vournazos is a Software Engineer for the Android platform at Google; he graduated from CI with a bachelors in CS and Mathematics. He originally got started with Android development through a directed study and capstone under CI Computer Science professor AJ Bieszczad. From there he worked at a local company doing some light Android work until he got a job in Glendale at Mobileforming. There he worked with amazing peers that created an environment for substantial growth, on a variety of Android apps, which helped him with getting hired at Google.