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Academic algorithm takes on fantasy sports

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n 2010, Dr. Sarvapali Ramchurn, a professor at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, and his student, Tom Matthews, were designing algorithms aimed to help form optimal urban fire and rescue teams for emergencies. Unfortunately, the lack of data didn’t allow them to fully test the effectiveness of the algorithms. So they tried the next best thing: They applied their tech to Fantasy Premier League. “We were quite surprised that a basic algorithm could beat 2 million players,” Ramchurn said. “This means most humans typically choose poorly either because they tend to choose players from their favourite teams or do not put enough effort in optimizing their budget.” The computer doesn’t play favourites. It crunches a large set of stats including historical match results, player appearances, goals and assists to determine player point distributions and player price trends. The software could ultimately be applied to any fantasy league. “The difference between leagues are the rules of the game, but the real-world uncertainty is about the same,” Ramchurn said. “The software will make sure the budget available to managers is spent with respect to different possible futures.”

They tested their artificial manager offline against the 2010-2011 Fantasy Premier League and the computer finished in the top 1 percent of the 2.5 million players.

Ramchurn and Matthews envision developing a product that will give advanced analytic advice to fantasy players. Humans do have one advantage over the computer, however. They can see what transpires in real life, whether that’s an athlete’s injury, argument with a manager or off-the-field problems that might impact play. The computer can’t take those situations into account. Next week Ramchurn and Matthews will present their findings at the top artificial intelligence conference in the world, the AAAI-12 in Toronto. One thing they won’t mention is their one gripe with the invention. Says Ramchurn, “We were not too happy that the artificial manager actually beat our own fantasy teams, even though we invented it!” Sept 2012 | VISION INFINITY 1


Harvard cracks DNA storage

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bioengineer and geneticist at Harvard’s Wyss Institute have successfully stored 5.5 petabits of data — around 700 terabytes — in a single gram of DNA, smashing the previous DNA data density record by a thousand times.

Scientists have been eyeing up DNA as a potential storage medium for a long time, for three very good reasons: It’s incredibly dense (you can store one bit per base, and a base is only a few atoms large); it’s volumetric (beaker) rather than planar (hard disk); and it’s incredibly stable — where other bleedingedge storage mediums need to be kept in sub-zero vacuums, DNA can survive for hundreds of thousands of years in a box in your garage. Looking forward, they foresee a world where biological storage would allow us to record anything

human posterity — we simply don’t have the storage capacity. There is a reason that backed up data is usually only kept for a few weeks or months — it just isn’t feasible to have warehouses full of hard drives, which could fail at any time. If the entirety of human knowledge — every book, uttered word, and funny cat video — can be stored in a few hundred kilos of DNA, though… well, it might just be possible to record everything!

The work, carried out by George Church and Sri Kosuri, basically treats DNA as just another digital storage device. Instead of binary It’s also worth noting that it’s data being encoded as magnetic possible to store data in the DNA regions on a hard drive platter, of living cells — though only for strands of DNA that store 96 bits are synthesized, with One gram of DNA can store 700 terabytes of data. each of the bases (TGAC) That’s 14,000 50-gigabyte Blu-ray discs… in a representing a binary value droplet of DNA that would fit on the tip of your (T and G = 1, A and C = 0).

pinky.

To read the data stored in DNA, you simply sequence To store the same kind of data on hard drives it — just as if you were you’d need 233 3TB drives, weighing an sequencing the human astounding total of 151 kilos. genome — and convert each of the TGAC bases back into binary. To aid with sequencing, each strand of DNA has a 19-bit address block and everything without reservation. a short time. Storing data in your at the start so a whole vat of DNA Today, we wouldn’t meter of Earth skin would be a fantastic way of can be sequenced out of order, with cameras, and recording transferring data securely! and then sorted into usable data every moment for all eternity/ using the addresses. 2 Vision Infinity| Sept 2012


Tata’s Airpod: The Future of Transportation?

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ata Motors recently showcased its new AirPod – a car that runs on compressed air using technology developed by Luxembourg’s MDI. The AirPod, currently in the prototype stage, is set to become commercially available in a few years. The AirPod runs on a combination compressed air and battery-powered electric motor. The Verge, reporting on the car, opines that while concept still seems a bit shaky, it could offer cheaper and more environmentally friendly recharging without waiting for something like IBM’s lithium-air battery. The AirPod can run 200km at a top speed between 45 to 70kmph. The car is intended for a single rider, and has a small cargo area in the back. While the technology may be a breakthrough in clean and environmentally friendly engines, the single-user design of the car may make it less than practical for a lot of users, especially in the Indian market and other such overly congested areas of the world. Moreover, as Green Car Reports points out, the car may not be the answer to all our problems, since Compressed air can be made to work as a method of propulsion, but it requires too many compromises–for now, at least–in order to make a road vehicle that runs on air…Light weight is an absolute requirement, and that doesn’t just mean “lighter than most cars”, but lightness at the expense of most other things. Speed isn’t really an option either, with a top speed of between 28-43

mph. And although the car is built on the premise of using compressed air to run, one of the running options suggested is to use an electric motor to compress air while you’re driving along. Get to that stage, and you might wonder if it makes more sense to use that motor to power the vehicle in the first place… So will the AirPod just end up being another alternate-fuel joke? Or can it actually be developed

What is truly revolutionary is that the ease of converting air into an energy source using simple compressors means charging stations can be placed anywhere, and they require no provisioning — no trucks delivering gas, ethanol, or hydrogen — and they produce no emissions, just discharge of the air. into a practical vehicle that has the potential to replace conventional and other alternative energy and electric vehicles in the market? I’d argue that its current single-person design could spell its failure and that Tata needs to work on different kinds of models for an air-powered car. While the tiny car may work for a minimal percentage of automobile consumers both in India and other parts of the world, the greater need for the masses is still better public transport. If the air-compression technology could somehow power buses and metros that may indeed be the future of transportation.

Sept 2012 | VISION INFINITY 3


Google Fiber A Different Kind of Internet

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oogle Fiber is a project to build an experimental broadband internet network infrastructure using fiber-optic communication. Google Fiber starts with a connection speed 100 times faster than today’s average broadband. No more waiting At 1000 Mb per second, Google Fiber is 100 times faster than today’s average Internet, allowing you to get what you want instantaneously. You no longer have to wait on things buffering; everything will be ready to go when you are. So whether you are video chatting, uploading family videos, or playing your favourite online games, all you need to do is click and you’re there. All your favourite Content in one place Watch hundreds of HD channels, tens of thousands of shows and movies on-demand, and all your

favourite Internet content from Netflix—all in one place. So, whether it’s live, on-demand, or online, you can search quickly for and access all of your favourite programs seamlessly. HD never looked this good A bigger pipe means less compression. Luckily, Google’s ultra fast Fiber network has more than enough bandwidth to ensure you get HD in all its glory ... with nothing left behind. Enjoy every view, From every screen. Google Fiber is both your Internet and TV. It brings together your devices and gives you the freedom to search, record and save shows without worry. So sit back and relax. For the first time, catching all your favorite things is almost easier than missing them. Never miss a show again. Or eight. Record up to eight programs simultaneously, just because you can. And with an

unprecedented two terabytes of storage, you will never have to worry about having enough space to record your favorite shows. A world of opportunities for You and your community The Internet is at its best when entire neighborhoods are connected at Fiber speeds. That’s why we are committed to powering up community buildings throughout KC. By joining Fiber, you’ll also help bring 100 times the possibilities to schools, emergency facilities, libraries, and more. It keeps getting better Every day There is more to experience on the web, but to access it, your Internet connection needs to keep up. That’s why, just like the web, Google Fiber keeps getting better. And while Google will make sure your Fiber is always ready for the best the web can offer, where the Internet goes is up to you.

On March 30, 2011, Google announced that Kansas City, Kansas will be the first community where the new network would be deployed. Kansas City beat 1100 other applicants to become the first city in the world to receive Google Fiber! 4 Vision Infinity| Sept 2012


New Use for Those Incredible Nanotubes:

Holograms

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arbon nanotubes — a manmade material many times thinner than a wavelength of visible light — can be used to create highly detailed holograms, researchers say. These carbon tubes are hollow pipes only nanometers, or billionths of a meter, wide. They possess a range of extraordinary physical and electrical properties, such as being about 100 times stronger than steel at one-sixth the weight. Industrial giants, government agencies and academic institutes worldwide are investigating carbon nanotubes as key ingredients for tomorrow’s devices. This work includes researching a variety of applications regarding light — holograms, for instance. Holograms are a special kind of 2D photograph that, when lit up, seem like windows onto 3D scenes. The pixels making up each hologram scatter light falling onto them in very specific ways, causing these light waves to interact with each other to generate images with depth. The smaller the pixels making up the holograms are, the higher

the resolution of the holograms and the more angles one can view them from. “The size of pixels is one of the key limiting features in the state-ofthe-art of holographic displays systems,” said researcher Haider Butt, an optical scientist at the University of Cambridge in England. Now scientists have created holograms using the smallest pixels yet — carbon nanotubes. “Due to the nanoscale dimensions of the carbon nanotube array, the image presented a wide field of view and high resolution,” Butt told InnovationNewsDaily. The researchers used multiwalled carbon nanotubes — tubes within tubes — that were on average 140 nanometers across, or about 700 times thinner than a human hair. These were grown on silicon surfaces like pillars rising from the ground, each reaching about 1,500 nanometers high. Their calculations let them know where these nanotubes should be placed and how wide they should be in order to generate a holographic image of the word “CAMBRIDGE.”

These holographic displays and their pixels are very sensitive to changes in material properties and incoming light. As such, “a new class of highly sensitive holographic sensors can be developed that could sense distance, motion, tilt, density of biological materials,” and features of light falling onto them, Butt said. While promising, carbon nanotubes are still expensive to fabricate, so the team is investigating other materials that could generate holograms in similar ways. “Alternative materials should be explored and researched,” Butt said. “As a next step, we are going to try zinc oxide nanowires to achieve the same effects.” Also, these holograms are static, much like photographs are. In the future, the researchers hope to make the adjustable pixels that could perhaps lead to changeable pictures or even video displays. This might be possible by integrating these pixels with the kind of liquid crystals often seen in modern flat-screen displays. The liquid crystals might be able to shuffle around the location and other features of the pixels, thus altering the holographic image they create.

Sept 2012 | VISION INFINITY 5


a small six-pointed star, is made of two types of rubber, one softer and more extensible than the other. Air is pumped into microchannels in the device through a small tube. “When you put air in, the softer rubber extends more and introduces curvature,” Stokes explains. The star bends around the top of the egg, tight enough to lift it but with enough give so the egg doesn’t break.

Soft Robots for Hard Problems Squishy robots may move manipulate objects in new ways

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he word robot calls to mind images of C-3PO or the Terminator. But robots don’t necessarily need to be gleamingly metallic and hard-edged; some might even be downright squishy. That at least is the vision of some robotics researchers, including Carmel Majidi, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, and head of the school’sSoft Machines Lab. “Nature is just full of examples of functionality without any rigid parts,” Majidi said during the American Physical Society’s March meeting in Boston. Think of an octopus squeezing through a tight opening or a Venus flytrap snapping shut on an unwitting insect. Soft robots could be built from various types of rubber or silicone. Adam Stokes, a postdoctoral fellow in George Whitesides’s lab at Harvard University, showed off a soft rubber gripper picking up an uncooked egg and an anesthetized mouse without damaging them. The gripper, 6 Vision Infinity| Sept 2012

Majidi says the field of soft robotics is still fairly new and that researchers need to find alternatives to air pumps as a way to control the devices. The robots will also need ways to sense their own position. For that he’s exploring the use of microfluidics, specifically liquid-filled microchannels inside a film of rubber. Something as simple as saltwater would render the channel conductive so that the device would become electronic. But there are other fluids that could work, such as Galinstan—an alloy of gallium, indium, and tin that’s liquid at room temperature and a million times as conductive as saline, making it comparable to copper wire. Because bending or stretching such a circuit changes the shape of the microfluidic channel, it also changes the circuit’s conductivity and thus alters an electrical signal passing through it. “You get something that functions like a stretchable circuit,” Majidi says. Such a device could act as a sensor that measures strain, pressure, or curvature. It could even be used as a stretchable antenna And soft devices would be comfortable for human use. “You can wear them, essentially,” Majidi says.

“Nature is just full of examples of functionality without any rigid parts, Think of an octopus squeezing through a tight opening or a Venus flytrap snapping shut on an unwitting insect.” He envisions a sensor worn over a finger or other joint to monitor body motion. Or the soft circuits could be integrated with textiles to create a wearable keyboard or other “smart” clothing.


Samsung Pays Apple $1 Billion Sending 30 Trucks Full of 5 Cents Coins

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ore than 30 trucks filled with 5-cent coins arrived at Apple’s headquarters in California. Initially, the security company that protects the facility said the trucks were in the wrong place, but minutes later, Tim Cook (Apple CEO) received a call from Samsung CEO explaining that they will pay $1 billion dollars for the fine recently ruled against the South Korean company in this way. The funny part is that the signed document does not specify a single payment method, so Samsung is entitled to send the creators of the iPhone their billion dollars in the way they deem best. This dirty but genius geek troll play is a new headache to Apple executives as they will need to

put in long hours counting all that money, to check if it is all there and to try to deposit it crossing fingers to hope a bank will accept all the coins. Lee Kun-hee, Chairman of Samsung Electronics, told the media that his company is not going to be intimidated by a group of “geeks with style” and that if they want to play dirty, they also know how to do it. You can use your coins to buy refreshments at the little machine for life or melt the coins to make computers, that’s not my problem, I already paid them and fulfilled the law. A total of 20 billion coins, delivery hope to finish this week. Let’s see how Apple will respond to this.

Sept 2012 | VISION INFINITY 7


A Message From the Research Wing Our Silver Jubilee association with IEEE, has made IEEE RAIT the oldest student chapter of IEEE in the Bombay Section, and yet the enthusiasm and the passion of our workaholics forever touching new heights. Earlier when IEEE RAIT got entrenched in our college, the number of students aspiring to work for this student chapter multiplied year after year and their ideas and innovations got amplified as well. It was in the space of three years, when our seniors realized the need of a new department to expand the limits of IEEE RAIT for its further development and to deal with the ideas and innovations of the students. This led to the initialisation of the RESEARCH WING. The IEEE Research Wing, as the name suggests, mainly deals with the work pertaining to the research which would later prove beneficial for the growth of IEEE RAIT. Here the ideas of the students are viewed, moulded or and it acts as a means to implement those ideas. The Research wing is concerned about the encouragement of proficient students so that their priceless talent can be used towards innovation and budding enterprise. Over the course of many years, we have encountered numerous Projects like Robotic arms, autonomous line follower robotics, wireless robotics and IC Engines which have been brought into reality. These are acknowledged by many and have even managed to win the awards in different competitions. Our technical team conducts workshops on the same which helps us to enhance our knowledge base too. The workshops are conducted not only for the RAITians but for non RAITians as well. And we are very dignified to say that this isn’t over. Currently, our technical team is working on the Wall Follower Robotics and the Quad Copter which are sure to blow your minds away. If you think we emphasize more on the hardware part, well, then our software team will definitely make you think twice. The team has done an exceptional job of managing our website to keep it thoroughly updated. Our website www.ieeerait.org.in brings you just one click away from getting every information you want to seek about IEEE-RAIT. This team also has successfully conducted workshops on Photoshop and Web Designing. We plan to organise a Project Competition and Exhibition in February 2013. An idea can change lives. And rest assured, we will assist you in the execution of any feasible idea that you come up with. And if your idea really has got that spark that can ignite change, IEEE RAIT itself will sponsor to make your dreams turn into reality. Further, you can also come up with your ideas in paper presentation layout or projects and We shall ensure that your work gets properly certified. So show us what you have got and make use of this opportunity to enhance your profile. Once you come to us you will never return empty handed. We really look forward to all your contributions. Thank you.

Ruchir Kemnaik Research Wing Head IEEE RAIT 8976722572

Manas Dabke Chief Technical Officer IEEE RAIT 9920827127

The Team:

Special Thanks to:

Anuj Mulik Shishir Ambastha

Anirudh Ashok Hima Bulusu Srinath Bharadwaj

Send in your Feedback and Queries to: editor.ieee.rait@gmail.com Visit our website for more details: ieeerait.org.in/publications

8 Vision Infinity| Sept 2012

Vision Infinity 2012  

Vision Infinity is a newsletter bringing you all the latest updates straight from IEEE RAIT's Research Wing.

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