Thursday, April 29, 2010

Innovation week at ANU

Greeting from the last Innovation Week at ANU event for 2010 at "spacedock" (aka John Curtin School of Medical Research), Australian National University, Canberra.

Dr. Thomas Barlow, research strategist, former political advisor and columnist for the Financial Times, and author of "The Australian Miracle". He talked about "Innovation in Australia". Thomas grove a humorous introduction describing the ANU as an oasis of civilisation in
the politics of Canberra. He then suggested Australian might be the only developed nation with an extended period of GDP growth in recent years.

He then explored the myth of the "lucky country" pointing out that Australian has high levels of working hours compared to other developed
nations and that even resources extraction requires technological skills and hard work. Australia's economic growth has been accompanied by an "explosion" in investment in R&D (1.7% of GDP?), greater than the UK.
Australian university have doubled their investment in R&D, joining the "category A" nations, with small populations.

Thomas claimed there have been a revolution in Australia's R&D capability, but few have noticed. However, his comparisons are with the USA and UK, which are now not leading technological countries. He argues that this is a perception problem and attributes this to the structure
of the Australian economy. Previously a major area for R&D was in telecommunications. This investment does not appears to have paid off,
in comparison with Finland: we do not have a Nokia. Australia has had a boom in the services sector. However, this is not visible to the general

Thomas pointed to Westfield has a highly innovative company developing shopping malls. Australian IT companies adapt existing technologies developed elsewhere which help other industries. The Australian coal industry invests heavily in mathematics.

Australian is at the bottom of the "category A" pack of countries. As a result very high levels of investment are needed to create outstanding
universities, Thomas suggests. Instead Australia spreads its investments across a large number of institutions across the country. Also Australia
invests in more researchers, rather than giving each researcher more.

There is a bifurcation happening between research and teaching at university. Those doing teaching are finding it harder to access reach
grants, even as those increase.

All this was good news: we are doing better than we thought, but Thomas argues that this is now a problem. The "Luck Country" adapted technology
from the world. The mood changed to say that Australia had to build its own unique technology. Australia is now providing resources and ingenuity to allow China and India to industrialise. Thomas argues that it is dangerous for Australia to try and emulate China or Finland.

This was a passionate presentation, but at the end I was not clear as to what it was we should be doing.

I asked what we, as a nation should do (on the assumption that minister's offices will be reading this blog posting). The response was that Australia should take the best ideas from round the world and build on them. Universities should aim for high visibility, high impact work.

He said that numerous specialised schemes to help individual industries should be scrapped.

Dr Alex Zelinsky Information Sciences at CSIRO then argued the problem was not government programs, but a cultural issue. Alex has a slide with a photo of a person holding a light bulb. Light bulbs seem to be a theme of innovation events. He injected a does of practicality by pointing out that innovations have to be desirable and viable in the marketplace (or for society generally).

Alex showed examples of unusual inventions which were very original, but did not really meet an unmet need. He argued that innovation is about people building teams, rather than technological gadgetry. Judgement is needed to asses how mature a technology is and when t is time to protect the intellectual property.

Alex pointed out that commercialising research requires 10 to 20 times as much money as the prototype development cost. "Smart money" investors provide relationships as well as early stage funding.

Alex then went through some examples, starting with "Seeing Machines", which listed n the London Stock Exchange, five years ago. It had a way to monitor the face of a driver of a car for safety reasons, funding by Volvo. Seeing machines started without a strategy or plan, simply with
the aim for a spin-off company. Instead of a mass market product costing $200 for the automotive market, the company instead produced technology for medical diagnosis of glaucoma. Alex pointed out that the profit margin for medical instruments was far larger than for automotive equipment. Medical researchers were encourages to publish papers about the product, to confirm its strong research underpinnings.

A higher profile success is CSIRO's patents for the wireless LAN. The CSIRO IP was turned into a chip set used by CISCO. So far CSIRO has
received $US200M with much more to come. The work has a strategy. Alex suggested that this was a good model for new developments, in areas of
optical communications, data storage and clean technology.

The last example Alex gave was the application of optical analysis for driver fatigue, but not for passenger cars, but in very large and expensive mining vehicles. Apart from higher margins, a benefit of this market is that trucks are much roomier than cars, and off the shelf equipment can be used, rather than miniaturised custom equipment. This provided an example of an adaptation for an existence Australian industry: mining.

This was the third and last of the innovation week events. While better than the first of the week, it was not as good as the usual weekly ACT
Innovation presentation. The lesson I have taken away from the week is that innovation is about doing things, not talking about them.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Turning text into information

Alex Krumpholz is talking about how to apply insights from the way web search engines work to the analysis of scientific papers. Current web search engines were derived from previous work on text search systems. It is interesting to see the web search techniques now being applied to text. One example is that the anchor text is used by search engines; that is the text highlighted in a web link on a web page is assumed to describe the document linked. The equivalent for a research paper is the text near a citation. One interesting part of this is that in essence the algorithms are creating useful information from what is just text.

Structural aspects of medical literature retrieval

Alex Krumpholz (SoCS CECS)

CS HDR MONITORING Info & Human Centred Computing Research Group

DATE: 2010-04-15
TIME: 13:30:00 - 14:00:00
LOCATION: Ian Ross Seminar Room

This work discusses the retrieval of medical publications in a clinical setting. It aims to help busy doctors finding literature that are likely to be relevant in the current patient's case. IR related aspects of such a program are investigated.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

CSIRO Super Computer Replacement

The CSIRO has issued a Request for Tender for a "ASC High Performance Computing Cluster". This is to replace an IBM e1350 cluster system (nicknamed "burnet") in Melbourne. There is a 1.30 MB Zip file of tender documents, including a two page statement of requirements, three page software technical specifications (essentially stating a requirement for Linux based software) and a 77 page draft hardware contract.

I wasn't able to find any details as to where the new computer was to be located nor energy
performance requirements. Obviously the computer should not be place at the location of the existing machine, which is taking up prime city office space in Melbourne. Such systems should be in purpose built facilities on a low cost industrial estate, where they can be equipped with low energy and cooling systems. There is no need for the computer to be located at an inner city office, as the computer will be operated remotely over a network. The obvious place to put the computer would be in one of the federal government's new data centres.
2 Requirements – CSIRO ASC Compute Cluster
2.1 ASC Cluster Computer Overview
CSIRO Advanced Scientific Computing (ASC) wishes to renew its existing IBM e1350 cluster system (burnet) ...

The renewed system is targeted to provide services in addition to those available to CSIRO through its partnerships with the Bureau of Meteorology, the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) and iVEC, and in addition to those available internally within CSIRO, such as the GPU cluster.

The system is targeted to provide:
  • nodes with more memory than other available systems
  • services for commercial-in-confidence computing that must be done on CSIRO hosts
  • services that require access to specialised software that cannot be provided on the partnership systems
  • services that require a more flexible environment than cannot be easily provided on the
  • partnership systems
  • close integration with the CSIRO ASC Data Store ...
  • specialised cluster services for CSIRO Mathematics, Informatics & Statistics (CMIS)
  • a development platform for CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research ...
  • a global file system across the cluster ...
From: Statement of Requirements, ASC High Performance Computing Cluster, CSIRO, ATM ID CSIRORFT2010004, 22-Mar-2010

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Teaching Cars to See

Christoph Stiller from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, will talk on "Seminar Details
Scene Perception for Cognitive Automobiles
", at the ANU in Canberra, 25 March 2010:

Seminar Details

Scene Perception for Cognitive Automobiles

Christoph Stiller (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)


DATE: 2010-03-25
TIME: 10:00:00 - 11:00:00
LOCATION: RSISE Seminar Room, ground floor, building 115, cnr. North and Daley Roads, ANU

Environment perception and scene understanding are crucial issues for autonomous or assisted navigation of mobiles. Just like human drivers plan, initiate, supervise, and control suitable behavior based on the perception and understanding of the scene, cognitive systems project those capabilities onto artificial systems. This contribution focuses on methods that provide perceptual capabilities to automobiles. It is embedded in the Karlsruhe-Munich Collaborative Transregional Research Centre A'Cognitive AutomobilesA addressing systematic and interdisciplinary research on machine cognition of mobile systems as the basis for a scientific theory of automated machine behavior. The potential of cooperative perception and behavior is examined. Experimental autonomous vehicles and closed-loop simulations accompany analytic research. Cognitive Automobiles require methods for acquisition of metric, symbolic, and conceptual knowledge. These exploit diversity in the analysis of data from complementary sensors including auto calibrating active vision as well as lidar sensors. Markov Logic Networks are introduced to infer relationships among objects. First results are presented including the teamAs finalistAs entry to the Darpa Urban Challenge.

Christoph Stiller received the Diploma degree in Electrical Engineering from Aachen University of Technology, Germany in 1988. In 1987/1988 he visited the Norwegian University of Technology in Trondheim, Norway for six months. In 1988 he became a Scientific Assistant at Aachen University of Technology. After completion of his Dr.-Ing. degree (Ph.D.) with distinction, he worked at INRS-Telecommunications in Montreal, Canada as a post-doctoral Member of the Scientific Staff in 1994/1995. In 1995 he joined the Corporate Research and Advanced Development of Robert Bosch GmbH, Hildesheim, Germany, where he was responsible for 'Computer Vision for Automotive Applications'. In 2001 he became chaired professor and director of the Institute for Metrology and Control Engineering at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany.

His present interest covers sensor signal analysis, visual inspection, video sensing, information fusion and real-time applications thereof. He is author or co-author of more than 100 publications and patents in this field. He is speaker of the Transregional Collaborative Research Center 'Cognitive Automobiles'. Dr. Stiller is Vice President Publications of the IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society since 2010. He serves as Editor in Chief of the IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Magazine (2009-ongoing) and as Associate Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Image Processing (1999-2003) and IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems (2004-ongoing). He has served as program chair for the IEEE Intelligent Vehicles Symposium 2004 and is appointed general chair of the IEEE Intelligent Vehicles Symposium 2010 in Germany. He is member of the German Electrical Engineering Association (VDE).

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Detecting Bombs in Air Cargo

Dr Yi Liu described the CSIRO Air Cargo Scanner and its Development and Commercialization at ANU today. Surprisingly this is developed by a group of researchers who previously worked on analysing minerals in mines and processing plants. This used neutrons, X-rays and other techniques to discover the chemical composition and shape of minerals at a distance. This experience was applied to detecting bombs and illicit materials in air cargo. This is more difficult than for normal airport luggage, as the cargo containers are much larger and can have a clutter of different materials. The work started in 2002 and prototype was produced in 2005, with the produce now commercialised by Nuctech.

Neutrons can be used to detect the composition of material , but not density or precise shape (20mm x 20mm resolution). X-rays can be used for density and more precise shapes (5 mm x 5 mm) but not composition. A combination of scanning techniques are therefore used to identify both the shape and composition of materials.

The Mark II scanner is at Brisbane Airport. The device has a concrete shield for safety. Cargo containers travel trough the scanner on a conveyor. The system produces a combined false colour image. In a demonstration image the rubber of a motorcycle seat shows as red and the oil in the sump as green, while the metal is black. The operator sits an a normal office desk and views the images on a computer LCD display. The unit is not intended for people or animals, but even so the radiation is at a safe level.

The commercial version from Nuctech works essentially the same as the prototype, but has improvements with a quasi-3D display, dual energy X-ray system and a water radiation shield. The unit has 960 fixed neutron detectors (levels are too low to use a moving detector). The ray system has two detectors at 9 degrees for each x-ray source to provide some three dimensional information.

Future work is on automatic highlighting of suspicious objects in the container, use for sea and land containers and better neutron sources and detectors.

One suggestion I made at the seminar was automatic matching of the manifest to the material detected. Modern manifests are in machine readable format, so the computer system could work out what proportion of materials should be in the container and compare this to what is detected by the scan. The computer system could also look for suspicious similarities between different containers, even those entering at different ports. Also air containers have transparent sides. An optical scanner could also be used (perhaps using infrared). A high resolution optical scanner could be used to recognise any writing on the contents and use this in automated or manual analysis. Analysis could include use of open source analysis, such as information from the web.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

ElectroSpin 2010 in Melbourne

CSIRO are hosting ElectroSpin 2010 in Melbourne this week. I only noticed this because it was taking place in the hotel I was staying in. Electrospinning can be used to make nano fibres using an electrical charge. The fibres can't be produced in large quantities at present and so a re limed to apllications not needing much, such as ultra-fine filters and medicine, rather than bullet proof vests.


CSIRO Air Cargo Bomb Scanner

The "CSIRO Air Cargo Scanner" is a new device for detecting illicit and dangerous cargo. This combines gamma ray and neutron scanning to detect combinations of metallic and organic compounds, including bombs. There will be a seminar on the CSIRO Air Cargo Scanner Development and Commercialization at ANU, 2pm, 1 February 2010:


CSIRO Air Cargo Scanner Development and Commercialization

Yi Liu (CSIRO Process Science and Engineering)

DATE: 2010-02-01
TIME: 14:00:00 - 15:00:00
LOCATION: RSISE Seminar Room, ground floor, building 115, cnr. North and Daley Roads, ANU

CSIRO has developed world first technology combining neutrons and X-rays to present and detect the composition as well as the shape and density information of objects in air cargo. This technology will help Customs to detect contraband and threats hidden in consolidated air cargo more easily.

The presentation will briefly introduce the principles of the technology and the scanner system development. The scanner has been successfully commercialised with a Chinese security equipment specialist - Nuctech Company Ltd.

Dr Yi Liu obtained a B.Sc. degree in Applied Mathematics from Zhongshan (Sun Yatsen) University, Guangzhou, China in 1982. He then worked at the Control Theory Research Laboratory, Institute of System Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (in Beijing) for 3 years before moving to Australia for further education. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in Systems Engineering from the Australian National University, Canberra in 1989. After a short stay in the Mathematics Department, University of Western Australia as a research officer, he joined CSIRO in 1990 working in the areas of On-line Analysis and Control.

Dr Liu's main research interests have been in the areas of signal processing, artificial intelligence, process modelling, control and optimisation and their applications for mineral and energy industries. And more recently, he has been working in the areas of image processing and pattern recognition and their applications to air cargo security scanning. The CSIRO Air Cargo Scanner has been successfully commercialised with a major overseas security company.

Dr Liu was a co-recipient of the IEE (London) Kelvin Premium best paper award in 1989, the CSIRO Medal for research achievement in 2006, and the Eureka Prize for outstanding science in support of defence or national security in 2009.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Connecting up online automatically

Greeting from CSIRO ICT at the ANU in Canberra, where Peter Fox (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) is talking on "The Semantic eScience Framework; toward a configurable data application format?". The aim, as I understand it, is that scientific data will be available online in a way that it can be easily queried. A major application for this technique is measuring the effects of climate change. This is more complex process than a simple web search as the data is structured. I found Dr. Fox's presentation disappointing as there was not demonstration to show that any of what was claimed actually worked in practice. It is very easy to make claims in a presentation using Powerpoint slides.

Some issues I can see with Dr. Fox's approach are those of security of the data and cost. Most e-science systems assume that all the data is available to anyone and is free. However, data access may need to be limited due to contractual agreements, privacy and national security. Also accessing the data and processing it may cost money. As a result one consideration in working out the answer to a question is what data you can get and what it will cost. Dr. Fox ended his talk by mentioning that educators should have access t summary data and that open source has potential, but it was not clear to me how this fitted with the discussion which went before.

As well as the implementation technology using ontologies, what I found of interest was a development methodology. This might have applicability to projects like the NBN, where there is a need to rapidly develop a system which negotiates between components owned by different organisations. It may also be useful for quasi-commercial applications. As an example the smart meters project has the potential to supply data from hundreds of thousands of electricity meters in real time. Apart from billing, this data could be very useful for researching energy use and reducing it. But a system will be needed to easily provide access to the data.

The Semantic eScience Framework; toward a configurable data application format?
Peter Fox (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) ...

This talk is a forward looking, technical one discussing current work including Drupal, Opendap, Virtual Observatories, Provenance, and ontology modularization, and including a summary of the keynote presented at The Australasian Ontology Workshop on December 2.

Professor Peter Fox, now of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Tetherless World Constellation in the US (and previously of UCAR, University Corporation for Atmosperic Research) is known for his work in applications of ontologies to e-science, especially virtual observatories. He is also president of OPeNDAP which has developed standards used by NASA and NOAA to serve satellite, weather and other observed earth science data. See

Peter is available for discussions and meetings from 2--4 December. Contact Kerry Taylor 6216 7038 to arrange. ...

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

CSIRO ICT Centre Conference

Greeting from the 2009 CSIRO ICT Centre Conference. Each year the CSIRO ICT Centre runs a conference for its own staff and invited guests. This year I have been helping with a project featured in the conference and so had the opportunity to attend. There are several hundred people at the conference, with two days of presentations and about two hundred posters. Ken Taylor's VotaPedia system (a CSIRO product) was used last year to choose the best Best Poster and is being used again this year.

After recent success with its wireless patent, the ICT Centre is making sure to protect any idea with commercial potental. But some papers from previous years are available from CSIRO and those from this year will be availble. One or two papers are alreadyavialable, such as "FEM registration for pre- and post-surgery images of Brain Cancer Patients" (Poster, article).

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

GovHack: Mashup Australian Government Data on 30 October

GovHack is a free, intensive event at in Canberra on 30 to 31 October. This is sponsored by the Government 2.0 Taskforce and supported by CSIRO. Government agencies, locals, state, federal and international, might like to come forward with APIs and datasets to be used by the participants. Offer datasets and tools via the Wiki. University and industry researchers can contact Laurent Lefort at CSIRO. The event will explore some of the ideas for the use of government information discussed at Bar Camp Canberra.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Greening IT in ECOS Magazine

I was interviewed for "Greening IT" in CSIRO's ECOS Magazine (August/September 2009, Issue 150, ISSN: 0311-4546). The theme of this issue was "Celebrating 35 years covering environmental issues:
"... Tom Worthington is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at the Australian National University and a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society (ACS), where he was the founding chair of the ACS Green ICT Group. He says IT alluded to many things, of which the ‘paperless office’ is probably the best known.

‘Thanks to the availability of huge volumes of information, we are printing more than ever, because it seems to be human nature to do so,’ he says. ‘IT also promised us a more relaxed lifestyle where we could work from home, and more free time. In fact we tend to use up that free time checking on e-mail, or responding to messages from the boss at all hours.

‘Unfortunately this “always connected” lifestyle means that people are often not connecting with family and what’s going on in their homes.

‘Meanwhile on the environmental front, computers promised to be a clean alternative to traditional dirty manufacturing industries, and while computer plants look sterile and clean, their pollution is hidden,’ he adds. ..."

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Australian prototype single digital backend computing system

CSIRO have issued a request for Expressions of Interest for the "Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) development of prototype single digital backend computing system" . This is to build a specially designed high speed computer for processing data from a new radio telescope. While intended for this one scientific task, the computer design is likely to have application in other areas. As an example, the Australian Defence Department's JORN over-the-horizon radar has similar processing requirements to a radio telescope.
CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) is the lead agency for the new Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope and associated infrastructure in Western Australia. ASKAP will demonstrate key technologies of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), develop the world's best site for centimetre- and metre-wave astronomy and deliver the world's best radio astronomy survey instrument. ASKAP will be a world-leading astronomy research facility in its own right.

CSIRO seeks Expressions of Interest from suitably qualified Suppliers to engage in a mulit-year collaborative partnership to develop a highly-specialised computing system termed the 'Single Digital Backend' (SDB). The SDB is a strategic development to demonstrate a potentially very effective method of handling digitised data from future large astronomical arrays such as SKA. Details fo the scope of the SDB collaboration are detailed in the EOI documentation.
Other Instructions

Some explanation of the ASKAP project is available at -

An overview of Australia's approach to the international SKA project is available at -

A public brief will be conducted at CSIRO ATNF, Marsfield, Sydney, NSW at 3.30pm on Monday 23 February 2009. You must register to attend the brief before the event - please email the EOI contact officer. Please note that attendance at the brief is non-mandatory, but encouraged.

Due to the strategic importance of the SKA Project to Australia, CSIRO has developed an Australian Industry Participation Plan which outlines how Australian companies are given full, fair and reasonable opportunity to supply goods and services to the ASKAP project.

The Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research is offereing interested Australian companies the opportunity to prepare a pre-briefing capability statement to promote their expertise to potential prime Suppliers. These statements will be provided to the primes prior to the briefing to assist them in identifying Austsralian companies that could contribute to their SDB collaboration on a commercial basis.

Interested Australian companies are requested to contact Mr Grant Wilson, Manager Aereospace and Marine Industries at the Departement of Innovation as soon as possible (email

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

ICT Pathway to Sustainable Urban Development in Australia Lost

Transitions: Pathways Towards Sustainable Urban Development in Australia
Transitions: Pathways Towards Sustainable Urban Development in Australia is a collection of 45 articles edited by Peter Newton and published by CSIRO. I was disappointed to not find any mention of the role of computers and telecommunications (ICT) in making a more sustainable urban environment. The Climate Group estimate that ICT could produce a 15% emissions reduction through measures such as better control of motor systems, logistics, buildings and electricity grids.
It is also disappointing to see that CSIRO have held up dissemination of the information in the book and increased its carbon footprint by only offering it in printed format. The book is not offered in electronic format and so will contribute to the greenhouse effect by way of the need to produce and transport paper copies. Readers will have to wait for these paper copies to be delivered and pay an excessive price for the out of date information they contain.

Formidable problems confront Australia and its human settlements: the mega-metro regions, major and provincial cities, coastal, rural and remote towns. The key drivers of change and major urban vulnerabilities have been clearly identified in the 2006 State of Environment Report: Human Settlements as well as several other national-level reports. They involve the critical domains
of: water, energy, waste streams and transport. Urban development will be an explicit focus for the book. 2006/07 marks the year in which most of the world’s population will live in urban compared to rural environments—one of the key global transitions. Australia was among the first countries to make this transition.

As Newton has remarked: “Human Settlements are where all Australians live, where 95% work, and where over 90% of the nations GDP is generated. Their design, planning, construction and operation are fundamental to the productivity and competitiveness of the economy, the quality of life of all citizens, and the ecological sustainability of the continent.”

From: Product Description, Transitions:
Pathways Towards Sustainable Urban Development in Australia
,, 2008

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Rethinking business process management

CSIRO's ICT Center is having a talk by Professor Benatallah on From Business Processes to Service-based Process Spaces, 25 March at ANU in Canberra. IP Australia issued a request for tender for Services Oriented Architecture components on 20 March. It would be interesting to apply Professor Benatallah's techniques to that project.


From Business Processes to Service-based Process Spaces
Professor Boualem Benatallah (CSE, UNSW)
DATE: 2008-03-25
TIME: 14:00:00 - 15:00:00 ...

Over the last decade, capabilities arising from advances in online technologies, especially Service Oriented Architectures (SOA), enabled enterprises to increase productivity, simplify automation, and extend business to locations far beyond their normal operations. Enterprises also embraced emergent process-aware services that enabled automation to gain more visibility in process executions.

The focus of process improvement has expanded to include monitoring, analysis and understanding of business processes. Now, at all levels, business process monitoring and management is firmly recognised as a strategic priority for modern enterprises. However, while business process management and monitoring have enabled enterprises to increase efficiency, new usability challenges have also emerged. These challenges are increasing the pressure for enterprises to look at business processes from an end user's perspective.

In this talk, we propose Process Views as new abstractions focusing on re-conceptualising the form and function of existing business process management systems to create a new generation of service and process-centric systems to better support the management of personal, ad-hoc, and as well as structured business processes over multiple applications and data sources.

We further define and propose Process Spaces as a new research agenda for the business process research community. The term Process Space refers to the superimposition of Process Views over heterogeneous IT systems for the purposes of simplifying access to multiple applications and data sources and to provide the means to manage process views in a unified and flexible manner.

From: From Business Processes to Service-based Process Spaces, CSIRO, 2008

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Metadata for data processing

CSIRO's ICT Centre held a seminar 28 September 2007 by Roland Viger, of the US Geological Survey, Colorado, USA on "Using geoprocessing specification as semantic metadata with GEOLEM". There is a description of GEOLEM available. The techniques might be applied to business applications.

Essentially Roland created a portable layer between the Geographic Information System (GIS) which holds data and an environmental model which uses it. He defines "compound commands" which are a small scripting language to be able to take the data from the GIS and assemble it into something meaningful environmentally. The middle layer is written using Java.

This raises the question as to if this technique could be expanded beyond GISs and environmental applications. Could such scripting languages be used to allow large collections of data to be made understandable for specific groups of users. On the other hand could languages used to define software design, such as used for Shane Flint's Aspect-Oriented Thinking be used for environmental applications, or even language for business logic with ebXML.

Perhaps these techniques could be used to write mini-languages, using XML syntax, to define transformations. These transformations would then process the data. After many layers of transformation the result would be the one the user wanted.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Controlling a real robot from Second Life

UWA TelerobotCSIRO's ICT Centre has more than fifty projects which they will pay university students to do over the summer vacation. One example is to interface a real industrial robot so it can be controlled from within the Second Life Virtual reality world. While the web site says applications have closed, there may be some late applications considered:
Project 41: Use of Gaming Engines for Telerobotics
Location: Canberra ...
Skills: Experience with the Second Life Environment
Experience with scripting in Second Life, programming skills.
Prerequisite Criteria: Partially completed degree in Engineering or Computer Science.
Project description: Controlling the real world from Second Life

The aim of this project is to explore the use of Second Life as a platform for teleoperating real world devices. Second Life provides a sophisticated gaming environment that can be used for interacting with real world devices. You will control a robotic device by manipulating a model of the device you create in Second Life, then investigate the suitability of gaming environments for a teleoperating real world equipment. Your teleoperated device can remain as a permanent demonstration on the Second Life CSIRO island.

Within the telerobotics project there is a Mirror World activity and this vacation project is intended to be an integral part of this activity. Gaming environments provide sophisticated three dimensional worlds that could be much more effective for teleoperating equipment than existing alternatives. The use of gaming environments for teleoperation is a new idea that may expand the reach of teleoperation to applications where teleoperation is in its infancy. The application domain in which we are particularly interested is remote mining. Currently information services are outsourced to call centres and teleoperation provides the opportunity to extend the concept to physical services.

There will be a demonstrator developed that will reside permanently on the CSIRO island in Second Life. The student will apply their gaming skills to controlling a device in the real world from a virtual world. The student will evaluate the effectiveness of the teleoperating from a virtual world.

What is the vacation scholar going to learn through this project?
The student will learn about immersive environments, teleoperation and how to extend a gaming engine to teleoperate a device. They will develop programming skills and skills in evaluating usability.

From: ICT Centre 2007 Vacation Scholarship Program, CSIRO, 28/9/2007
Of course this is not the first robot on the Internet. In 1994 Ken Taylor demonstrated control of a robot in Perth from Canberra. That robot is still online.

Perhaps the student could get second life to work on the OpenMono Linux smart phone and control the robot from that. There is an alpha version of a Second Life client for Linux.

Some of the other projects look interesting as well:
1: Extending the VotApedia Audience Response System # 3
2: Rate Control of Video over IP Networks # 4
3: Security Exposure of Virtual Machines # 5
4: Development of a key management service on a portable Trust
Extension Device (TED) for trust enhanced SOA applications. # 6
5: Interference Study in Wireless Sensor Networks # 8
6: Visual mark-up and rapid prototyping of tailored information delivery systems # page .9
7: Intelligent support for ‘on-the-fly’ document tailoring # 11
8: Declarative program synthesis for the Web # 13
9: Semantic Security Views # 15
10: Change management in Composed Web Services # 16
11: Web Service Mining # 17
12: Bootstrapping Reputation in Web Service Environments # 18
13: Automatic creation of overview pages for science communicators 19
14: Improving search algorithms for better health information # 21
15: Correction of intensity inhomogeneity of Magnetic Resonance images in 3D # 23
16: Design of 3D Visualization tools for brain surface information analysis for Alzheimer's disease diagnosis # 24
17: Live-wire based semi-automatic segmentation of Medical images # 25
18: Building a case database for the Colonoscopy Simulation Project #27
19: Efficient visualization and multivariate analysis of multiple images # 28
20: Post processing techniques to derive and visualize clinically significant information from ambulatory monitoring data. # 29
21: A web based graphical viewer for biomedical time series signals and hierarchical activity profile visualisation # 31
22: Structured Pathology Reporting using Natural Language Input # 33
23: Digital Mammogram Class Library # 35
24: Digital Image Watermarking of Mammograms # 36
25: Statistical parameter estimators in modelling of high electron mobility transistors (HEMTs) # 37
26: Characterization and electromagnetic modelling of board connectors for high speed digital applications # 39
27: Electromagnetic modelling of reconfigurable antenna arrays # 40
28: Modelling electromagnetic waves in millimetre-wave integrated circuits # 41
29: Super-resolution terahertz imaging # 42
30: Non-linear inverse scattering # 44
31: Steerable Antenna Design For Future Gigabit Wireless Networks # 46
32: Improving Performance of Radio Tracking # 48
33: Multi-user WLAN Downlink Implementation for Dense Networks # 50
34: GPS Reference for Radio Tracking System # 52
35: Sigma Delta D/A converter using Rocket I/O # 53
36: Communicating agents for self-repairing power grids # 54
37: Image processing and streaming over a wireless sensor network. # 56
38: Hardware Development of a Small Mobile Robot for Sensor Network Assisted Operations # 58
39: Software Development of a Small Mobile Robot for Sensor Network Assisted Operations # 60
40: Simulation and Visualization Optimization # 62
41: Use of Gaming Engines for Telerobotics # 63
42: Laser targeted positioning of a robotic manipulator # 64
43: Real-time hyper-spectral image processing and classification of marine micro-organisms # 65
44: Computer Controllable Power Switching Device for Avionics Systems # 67
45: Self-assembly Simulator # 68
46: Low power motion tracking in wireless sensor networks # 70
47: On the Reliable Data Transport Protocol in Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) # 72
48: Simulation of Self-repairing Modular Robots # 73
49: Benthic image analysis # 74
50: Power grid outages and PLC # 75
51: Online Food Frequency Questionnaire # 76
52: Sea Sentinel – Propulsion, Steering and Sensor Integration # 77
53: Sea Sentinel – Navigation and Control Systems # 78
54: Visualisation of multiple proteomic data sources # 79
55: Modelling Sensor/Observation Characteristics in SensorML # 80
56: An evaluation of spatial and temporal ontologies # 81

From: ICT Centre 2007 Vacation Scholarship Program, CSIRO, 28/9/2007

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Australian Experimental Hybrid Car

CSIRO Australian Experimental Hybrid CarThe CSIRO produced an Australian Experimental Hybrid Car branded the "aXcessaustralia" (pronounced "Access Australia"). The car uses large capacitors , as well as batteries to store power:
The car features a patented drive train that makes best use of mixed storage. Super-capacitors are used to provide good acceleration and batteries are used to give the car range under electric-only operation (about 20 minutes in urban traffic). The car uses a series hybrid arrangement to give optimum packaging in a small space and an ideal weight split between front and rear.

From: "aXcessaustralia: the car of the not-so-distant future", CSIRO, 29 March 2006
But unlike the Toyota Prius or Honda Civic Hybrid, or even the Indian Reva electric car, the CSIRO vehicle is only experimental. It is intended to have technology from it used in vehicles of the future: you can't buy one.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Secure Web Searching in Orgainsations

Recommended. CSIRO have spun off their search technology in the Funnelback product and ANU IT students working on searching with CSIRO have gone on to work for Google and Microsoft:


Secure Search inside the Enterprise

Peter Bailey, (The ICT Centre, CSIRO)

DATE: 2007-02-28
TIME: 16:00:00 - 17:00:00
LOCATION: CSIT Seminar Room, N101

Providing secure search in the presence of document level security (DLS) is so easy in theory that no one has written papers about it until now. In practice, it turns out that while implementing it is (mostly) easy, user expectations of the search experience get in the way of getting it right. A model of the main factors in secure search implementations is presented, together with an analysis of search performance in an experimental DLS environment. Various conclusions are drawn from the results and about the tradeoffs which can be made to optimise for the user's search experience. Note that we do not attempt to describe how a DLS system itself should be implemented - the search system typically must use whatever underlying security mechanisms exist.

Dr Peter Bailey is the leader of the Search and Delivery Project in the CSIRO ICT Centre

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