Posts Tagged 'university'

Chicken or Egg?

Is Facebook creating a generation of narcissistic self promoters? Or is it simply enabling them by providing them a platform on which to broadcast? Which came first? A York University study concluded that the majority of Facebook users are narcissistic. In addition had, low self esteem, and used the social network to promote themselves. Perhaps to make themselves feel better. Males tended to describe themselves in their “about me” section while women used their photo album to attract onlookers (ITS A TRAP!). So guys, don’t believe the pictures, probably been -shopped. It’s a wide brush to paint 16 million Canadian users by but if you spend anytime on the network you would have to generally agree. Hey, at least we’re not on MySpace amiright?!

So what’s your friend count at?

IBM & University of Toronto to create supercomputer

The University of Toronto and IBM Corp are building Canada’s most powerful supercomputer, a mammoth machine that will need its own building for storage and will be capable of performing 360 trillion calculations per second.

It’s expected the system will be among the top 20 fastest supercomputers in the world and the largest outside the United States. It will be able to store data equivalent to that held by one million regular DVDs.

The entire budget of the project, which includes construction and operating costs, is just under C$50 million ($47 million) over five years.

Its power is roughly equivalent to “30,000 to 40,000 home computers linked together,” said Chris Pratt, strategic initiatives executive at IBM Canada. (link)

Texas Hold’em AI comes out on top this year

So when are they gonna release this program against the online poker websites? Hmm? I can already hear the money rolling in. The amount of money involved here is ridiculous and so tempting that I’m sure the programmers are gonna cave and eventually try it out one weekend. After a few wins and a few bucks, they’ll get caught and then get banned from every poker site. This is like virtual case of the MIT students caught card counting, except with texas holdem.

“One of the proving grounds for artificial intelligence is games. Classic games have a fixed set of rules, and these make it easier for researchers to develop new techniques and algorithms that enable computers to play (and hopefully win) various games. Tic-tac-toe, checkers, and chess are all games where researchers have developed software that is capable of winning or drawing when paired off against the best human players in the world. Last weekend, researchers at the University of Alberta added another classic game to this list: poker. In a series of matches that took place over the Fourth of July weekend in Las Vegas, the researchers’ Polaris poker program won against a group of top-ranked online poker players.” (link)

Copyright battle enters the classroom

Nothing irritates professors more than the thought of students lolling around the dorms, playing video games in a drunken haze, munching on Cheetos, and missing class… then showing up for the exam and doing mysteriously well—especially when the grade is a result of course notes and test answers that they purchased online. While there’s certainly a case to be made for crafting exams that can’t be aced by memorizing an answer list found on the Internet, Dr. Michael Moulton of the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida also thinks there’s something to be said for suing the companies that offer such services. Moulton’s publisher, who has turned his course lectures into e-books, is going after “Einstein’s Notes” offered online to UF students, on the grounds that they constitute copyright infringement.

The case, filed earlier this year in federal court, notes that Moulton has been at pains to copyright his lectures and other course materials (including film study questions). He scrupulously takes notes on his own lectures, records them as audio files, and seeks copyright on them. These lectures have formed the basis for the e-books Wildlife Issues in the New Millennium and Global Perspectives in Biodiversity Conservation, published by Faulkner Press, which you’ve probably read. (ArsTechnica)

Scooter that runs on air

An inventor has created what he claims is the world’s first motorcycle powered by fresh air.

Jem Stansfield says his converted Puch moped produces cleaner air than found in many town and city centres and so can actually reduce pollution.

“It actually fires out cleaner air,” said 37-year-old Stansfield, who used to be a sheep herder.

The University of Bristol aeronautics graduate fitted the Puch with high pressure carbon fibre air cylinders used by fire fighters as breathing apparatus in burning buildings.

The cylinders power two rotary air engines which in turn drive the chain to the rear wheel. (link)

HA! The software says you’re ugly, I told ya so!

Most people can tell you if the person they are looking at is attractive, but they can’t tell you why they think so. Now, a Tel Aviv University student has developed software to crack the age-old problem of identifying facial features that would be considered beautiful by most people.

“Until now, computers have been taught to identify basic facial characteristics – like is this a woman’s face or a man’s,” explains Amit Kagian, who developed the program for his master’s thesis in computer science.

“Our software allows the computer to complete a much more complex task of esthetic judgment, which humans cannot define exactly how they do it. Esthetic judgment is linked to sentiment and more abstract considerations, but now we have made the computer do it. This constitutes a substantial advance in the development of artificial intelligence.” (link)

Rubik’s cube solved in 25 moves

Last year, a couple of fellas at Northeastern University with a bit of spare time on their hands proved that any configuration of a Rubik’s cube could be solved in a maximum of 26 moves.

Now Tomas Rokicki, a Stanford-trained mathematician, has gone one better. He’s shown that there are no configurations that can be solved in 26 moves, thereby lowering the limit to 25.

Rokicki’s proof is a neat piece of computer science. He’s used the symmetry of the cube to study transformations of the cube in sets, rather than as individual moves. This allows him to separate the “cube space” into 2 billion sets each containing 20 billion elements. He then shows that a large number of these sets are essentially equivalent to other sets and so can be ignored.

Even then, to crunch through the remaining sets, he needed a workstation with 8GB of memory and around 1500 hours of time on a Q6600 CPU running at 1.6GHz.

But Rokicki isn’t finished there. He is already number-crunching his way to a new bound of 24 moves, a task he thinks will take several CPU months. And presumably after that, 23 beckons. (link)

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