Highlights from the 2019 ITA Workshop's Graduation Day

The catamaran at Catamaran Resort. Presentations are held on this beautiful boat.

Highlights from the 2019 ITA Workshop’s Graduation Day

On a windy, rainy day in Pacific Beach, CA, attendees of the 2019 Information Theory and Applications Workshop gathered inside the Catamaran Resort for presentations and posters, plenaries led by experts in the field, and an improv show and games. Wednesday, February 13th marked the workshop’s third full day of events. In case you couldn’t make it, we’ve highlighted a few interesting presentations and events below:

John Murray-Bruce delivering his presentation at ITA 2019.

Decoding the Information in Shadows

John Murray-Bruce says he can’t stop looking at shadows. As a research associate at Boston University, he’s part of a team that investigates how analyzing shadows using digital cameras allows us to reconstruct scenes that lie outside the camera’s field of vision. This technology could one day help make autonomous cars smarter and safer, and assist in search-and-rescue operations.

For example, if a child racing into the street is blocked from view by another vehicle, Murray-Bruce’s work could help a self-driving car recognize the child’s shadow and avoid a collision. In the case of a house fire or other emergency, the technology could also enable emergency personnel to reconstruct the content of individual rooms and identify ones with people before entering the building. Ideally, this would make rescue efforts more efficient and targeted, and reduce the time authorities spend in hazardous areas.

This research is done in collaboration with Charles Saunders and Vivek Goyal of Boston University.

Working Toward a More Personalized Search Engine

How do you accurately rank restaurants from best to worst, when search results are determined by opinion? Ehsan Emamjomeh-Zadeh, a graduating Ph.D. student at the University of Southern California, develops algorithms that could one day boost the accuracy with which search engines predict a user’s preferences. The goal, he says, is to make search results accurate and relevant to a user’s tastes as many times as possible.

Polar Codes: Communicating More with Less

The 5G network is likely to be released in 2020, when it will integrate high-resolution, 3D-video into phones, and increase smartphones’ connectivity with other “smart devices” in the home. To ensure a reliable connection to the 5G network, however, phones need hardware that can sometimes increase their overall weight.

Future postdoctoral fellow Seyyed Ali Hashemi has streamlined the process of decoding the error-correcting codes, or “polar codes,” that ensure your smartphone and the 5G network keep talking. In doing so, he has reduced the memory space needed and halved the size of the required hardware, without noticeably sacrificing performance.

In late 2018, QI’s own Alexander Vardy collaborated with Ido Tal, an ITA fellow, to invent an algorithm that ensures that polar codes will work efficiently in smartphones. Their algorithm was recently licensed by Samsung.

Improv show at ITA 2019!

Information Theorists Do Improv, Too

The father of information theory, Claude Shannon, had a brilliant mind that delighted in both high-level mathematics and play. Shannon famously juggled and rode a unicycle down the halls of Bell Labs in New Jersey during his time there.

In keeping with Shannon’s playful spirit, the ITA workshop closed the day with a talent show, improv sessions, and games. The venue, Catamaran Resorts, was also decorated throughout with colorful comics that mimicked street artist Banksy’s self-shredding portrait; the comic “Model Z” showed a pay-as-you-go scooter replacing the shredded image of a sportscar.

Curious About ITA?

The Information Theory and Application Center in the Qualcomm Institute has much to offer year-round. In addition to its annual workshop, ITA organizes a post-doctoral Fellowship that encourages visiting scientists to work with UC San Diego researchers across disciplines. The Fellowship is now accepting applications for 2019.

Closing night at the ITA 2019 Graduation Day.


Media Contacts

Alicia Clarke
(858) 822-5825