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Student Research

CSCI Major Janie Martin ’18 –Breakthrough Achievement at Hackathon!

Senior Janie Martin attended Rice University’s 7th annual Hackathon this past weekend in Houston with the goal of trying to solve some of the biggest problems in health care today.  The Hackathon competitors were in a 36 hour race against each other to develop new software and hardware to solve challenges identified by doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital. About 400 hackers competed for various prizes.

For Janie, the competition provided an opportunity to solve a medical problem that she herself once suffered from, encephalitis.  Janie and her teammates developed a product called Memory Eyes which is a device that uses image detection and facial recognition software to assist with cognitive disorders.  Cognitive impairment is a major component of encephalitis.  As Janie explains it, with encephalitis,  “You could be standing in a grocery store talking to someone when suddenly you have no idea where you are or who they are.” “With a press of a button, Memory Eyes will tell you who you’re talking to, where you are and remind you what you were there to get.”

Click on the link below to read more about Janie’s accomplishments and other cutting edge health care successes of Hackathon!



CSCI Major Mary Catherine Greenleaf ’19: Digital Humanities Experience

Mary Catherine, a Computer Science and Studio Art major, describes her recent participation in a Digital Humanities project, and shares her enthusiasm for blending art with computer science.



CSCI Major Johanna Goergen ’16 Thesis Defense

Date: 4/8/2016
Time: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Computer Science Dept.
(reception at 3:30)

Johanna Goergen ’16 will defend her Thesis on Friday, April 8th at 4pm in the CSCI Department.

“Leveraging Parameter and Resource Naming Conventions to Improve Test Suite Adherence to Persistent State Conditions”

A web application is a software application whose functionality can be accessed by users over the Internet via web browsers. As web applications take on vital and sensitive responsibilities, it is critical that web applications are well-tested and maintained before they are deployed to the public and with every subsequent update or change. A common approach to automating web application testing is test suite generation based on user sessions. Although these approaches to automated testing are promising,
they leave room for improvement in effectiveness due to their lack of adherence to requirements imposed by data outside of application code, such as data stored in databases. My objective is to contribute an approach to creating more effective web application test suites based on predicting the content of the application’s external data store(s) throughout testing.


CSCI Summer Research Spotlight

Find out what Azmain Amin, a junior who worked with Professor Sara Sprenkle and fellow junior Mina Shnoudah did over the summer….





(Prof. Salan, Paul Jang, Bipeen Acharya, and Prof Sprenkle)


Senior Honors Thesis Presentations:

Friday, April 10, 3:45-4:45 p.m. in Parmly 405 

“Towards an Automated and Customizable Linear Cryptanalysis of a
Substitution-Permutation Network Cipher for Use in Embedded Systems”
Bipeen Acharya
“Customizable Method of Automatically Detecting Malicious User Activity
in Web Applications”
Paul Jang

Haley Archer-McClellan ’15’s IUI Conference Experience

Standing near the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa!

By Haley Archer-McClellan

Sooner or later, everything connects.

It’s the middle of finals week, and everyone is in their own headspace. As a student body, we’re over-caffeinated, we’ve had too little sleep, and I think it’s safe to say we aren’t busy thinking a lot about how beautiful the world around us is (although with the improved weather these past few days, that isn’t as true as it could be). However, all I can think about is this time a year ago. I was so excited to finish my second semester of Real Analysis, and little did I know I was about to get an email that would begin easily the best year of my life so far.

The night after finals ended, I got an email from a research lab offering me a position in their Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program for the summer. If you don’t know about the REU program, it’s a National Science Foundation-funded program aimed at, as the name implies, making research experience possible for undergraduate students who may be interested in graduate-level research. In particular, the program aims to provide opportunities for students from smaller liberal-arts colleges to experience research at larger research institutions. In my case, this was the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), an Army-funded University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

A position in the Narrative Group at ICT seemed right up my alley – investigating how people experience, interpret, and narrate the events of their lives. I got to work with Andrew Gordon and Melissa Roemmele, two researchers in the Narrative Group, who are working on modeling behavior interpretation and narrative-generation. The program took about ten undergraduates and ICT also hosted many graduate interns and international research students. Over the ten weeks of the internship, I saw research more intimately than ever before, met some of the most intellectually passionate students I could imagine, and got to experience the bizarre transition from Lexington, Virginia to Los Angeles, California.

For some students who participate in REUs, the experience ends with the summer. However, I was lucky enough that Andrew and Melissa allowed me to help with a conference submission- a short paper describing the findings so far, as well as the methods we used in the first steps of generating narrative based on behavior. As an undergraduate still not really sure whether I was hoping to do research in the future, I wasn’t at all expecting the paper to be accepted into the conference. I had emailed my advisor, Professor Levy, about the possibility of department funding for conference travel, but I worked actively to keep my hopes down. When the date on which authors were supposed to be notified came and went, I was disappointed to be sure, but I figured it was for the best in the grand scheme of things.

A day or two later, I got an email from Andrew – the paper had been accepted. I was simultaneously stunned and excited, and emailed Professor Levy once again as a shot in the dark. “Professor Levy, is there any possibility that funding would still be possible for the conference? The paper was accepted.” With both department support and a scholarship for travel from the Association of Computer Machinery, I registered for the International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces and booked my first international plane ticket, trying to figure out how I would make it from Lexington, Virginia all the way to Haifa, Israel during a school week.

Triangle Charades.1
Melissa and I acted out a quick game of Charades to convey the idea of interpreting behavior automatically.

The conference on Intelligent User Interfaces is focused on the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Human-Computer Interaction. This takes a host of different meanings, from recommendation systems and intuitive map interfaces to multitouch typing, layered stereoscopic displays, and interface adaptation for users with impaired dexterity. If technology is becoming ubiquitous, how do we make it as intuitive as possible? Can we simulate the way we already think about and interact with the world?

Before this February, the farthest that I’d ever been from my hometown of Austin, Texas was the ski town of Whistler, British Columbia in 2003. The most indispensable part of this conference for me was the experience of being so far from home, meeting people from around the world who have written in the same field as me, and scheduling my time out of the conference so I could see as much as possible of Israel.

Standing in front of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem!

Because neither of us had ever been to Israel, Melissa Roemmele and I travelled together. We arrived in Tel Aviv a day early and, over the course of our time there, managed to see what we could of Jerusalem, Haifa, Akko, and Tel Aviv. The entire duration of the conference, I felt for the first time in quite a while that I truly knew what I was doing. Everything I had done up until then led me to a demo session meeting a graduate student whose father and sister both went to W&L; to sitting across from a graduate student from Japan who that night won Best Paper at the conference; to hearing about the potential of the Heider-Simmel Interactive Theater project from Wolfgang Wahlster, that day’s keynote speaker. I have never felt so continuously starstruck as I did talking over lunch to people I had earlier that day heard speak eloquently, hopefully about the future of intelligent interface design. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt as hopeful or as inspired as I did that week, and in the time following the conference.
In under a week I managed to see more of the world than in my twenty years combined. While it was a sharp change coming back to Lexington, back to classwork and short writing assignments and club meetings, I’ve never before felt like I know what I’m doing, like anything is possible and the future is right ahead of me. I’m not a sentimental person, but I can’t help but muse on how beautiful a year it’s been, on how far I’ve come and how much further there is to go.

As I go into my first final of the term today, for Women’s and Gender Studies, so many perspectives we’ve discussed this term revolve around the necessity of narrative. Everything we experience in life comes down to how we frame it. How we narrate the events in our lives says a lot about those events, but it also determines how we interpret those events. Sooner or later, everything connects. What a year and what a world.


Computer Science Students Wow at SSA 5

At SSA 5, Computer Science students represented themselves, their projects, and the department quite well.

alicia2Alicia Bargar ’13 started the day off with a presentation about her summer research project, focused on improving the abilities of human-robot interaction, specifically in its use in therapy of children with autism spectrum disorders.

marmorstienRichard Marmorstein ’14 was the computer science representative in a panel on digital humanities projects at W&L.  While the other projects were presented by humanities students, Richard presented his work with Professor Paul Gregory (philosophy) and Professor Sara Sprenkle (computer science) on developing an online symbolic logic tutorial, which is used in Professor Gregory’s Philosophy 170: Introduction to Logic course.

The final poster session featured six computer science students.

suraj_slamSuraj Bajracharya ’14 presented “Simultaneous Localization and Mapping in an Inexpensive Wheeled Robot”, his independent study project with Professor Simon Levy.  Audience members could drive the robot and see how the robot visualized obstacles.

aerialSSAHaley Archer-McClellan ’15 and Deirdre Tobin ’15 presented their summer research project, entitled “Exploring a Text-Based Analysis of Persistent-State Dependencies in Web Applications”.  They presented their methodology for finding relationships between web application resource names using textual clues.  Their work is  supervised by Professor Sara Sprenkle.

Three computer science students presented projects based in other departments: Lee Davis ’13 presented a poster on the results his independent study with Professor Natalia Toporikova from biology: “Computational Model of Pre-Botzinger Complex”, while Ginny Huang ’14 and Cathy Wang ’15 presented “Zeckendorf’s Theorem, Tiling Proofs, and the 3-bonacci Sequence”, supervised by Professor Gregory Dresden of the Math Department.

Beyond these presenters, many computer science students also participated in book colloquiums and performances and supported their friends by attending their sessions.

Student Researchers Scene on Campus

Professor Levy and student researchers Olivier Mahame ’14, Bipeen Acharya ’15, and Suraj Bajacharya ’14 demonstrate flying their drone in the Great Hall of the Science Center. Read the story
Richard Marmorstein ’14 presents his progress on developing and testing an online symbolic logic tutorial to Professor Sprenkle.  The application he is developing will be used by Professor Gregory in logic courses and by Professor Sprenkle in web application testing experiments.

Photos courtesy of Kevin Remington and Scene on Campus.

Cobb ’12 a Finalist in ACM Student Research Competition at SIGCSE

Cobb '12 at SIGCSE
Camille at the "welcome gate" to SIGCSE

Camille Cobb ’12 was a finalist in the ACM Student Research Competition held at SIGCSE 2012 in Raleigh, NC.  Camille presented her poster on “Exploring Text-Based Analysis of Test Case Dependencies of Web Applications” in a four-hour session to unknown judges, which placed her in the top five student researchers.  She gave a well-received 12-minute presentation two days later with tough competition–by all accounts, the finalists were all very strong.

The official W&L story

Camille presents her research along with the four other finalists.

Cobb ’12 Receives Honorable Mention in CRA Undergraduate Research Award

The CRA announced their list of Undergraduate Research Awards, which included an honorable mention for Camille Cobb ’12. Camille has worked on automatically testing web applications with Professor Sprenkle for two years and worked this past summer on visualizing medical processes with Professor Lori Clarke from the University of Massachusetts. Camille has presented her work in poster sessions at several conferences and has a conference paper under submission.

From the announcement:

This year’s nominees were a very impressive group. A number of them were commended for making significant contributions to more than one research project, several were authors or coauthors on multiple papers, others had made presentations at major conferences, and some had produced software artifacts that were in widespread use. Many of our nominees had been involved in successful summer research or internship programs, many had been teaching assistants, tutors, or mentors, and a number had significant involvement in community volunteer efforts. It is quite an honor to be selected for Honorable Mention from this group.