SURF-IT Research Projects  


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2007 SURF-IT Research Projects

The following faculty-mentored research projects are available during the 2006 SURF-IT Program. They are divided into their own unique areas of research. Select a link for an overview of the project, associated faculty mentors, project prerequisites, and related publications.

Undergraduate Research Projects Mentored by Calit2 Faculty

    1) Active Space: Visualizing Motion Capture Data 

    2) Automated Text Analysis of Documents from the Hurricane Katrina Response 

    3) Beyond Play – Artificial Worlds and Gaming Capital 

    4) Blog Readers 

    5) Computer Games and Moral Courage 

    6) Electronic Circuits With Single-Molecule Components 

    7) Metaphor Extraction for Learning Systems 

    8) Nomatic Aid 

    9) Nomatic Gaim 

    10) Supporting Efficient Approximate Keyword Search in the Family Reunification Project 

    11) Technosocial Systems for Environmental Sustainability 

    12) The Use of Digital Media in Teaching and Learning Activities 

 Project #1:  Active Space: Visualizing Motion Capture Data
Faculty Mentor:  Professor John L. CrawfordDance

Description:  Active Space is an interactive media system incorporating video-based motion tracking, motion capture, real-time video and audio synthesis, high bandwidth networking, and multi-channel visuals and sound. It is used to create interdisciplinary dance and theatre performances and media installations. The system continually senses, measures and responds to the movement of participants, providing an array of tools with which to engage and “play the space” as an instrument.

Motion tracking involves real-time sensing and analysis of location, speed, duration and various other characteristics of movement. The results of this analysis are fed to a computer system that generates video and audio in response to the movement. Motion capture is the technique of sampling movement in 3D space and creating graphical representations of the movement. Typical applications of motion capture tend to result in realistic animations, but the aesthetic focus of our Active Space work goes beyond realism to explore notions of imagistic association, embodiment and reflexivity. We are particularly interested in the dynamic that develops between improvisational and compositional elements.

Student’s Research-Related Duties and Expected Outcomes: The participants in this project will design and build software to provide a new motion capture visualization capability for the Active Space system. Two software modules will be developed. The flow engine module will analyze motion capture data (3D point clouds) to produce a simplified 3D scene flow exploiting spatial-temporal coherence in the marker data. The interactive renderer module will create a dynamic parameterized visualization of the 3D scene flow data, integrated within the Max/MSP Jitter interactive media environment.

The student participants will analyze and characterize 3D motion capture data from the Vicon motion capture system in the design, implement and test the 3D scene flow and parameterized visualization algorithms. The student participants will have contact with an interdisciplinary group of graduate and undergraduate students working on other aspects of Active Space research.

Outcomes for the student participants will include experience in designing and building real-time media software systems, knowledge of motion capture protocols and data interchange formats, familiarity with the Max/MSP Jitter interactive media environment and experience with its application programming interface, and the opportunity to participate in the interdisciplinary research activities of the Embodied Media Performance Technology Lab.

Prerequisites: Experience in C/C++ programming is required. An interest in digital animation and interactive media is desirable. Completion of computer graphics courses such as ICS 111, 112, or 113 would be an asset, but is not required.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   John Crawford. Active Space: Embodied Media in Performance. In SIGGRAPH 2005 Proceedings (Sketches Program), August 2005.:
   Christian Theobalt, Joel Carranza, Marcus A. Magnor and Hans-Peter Seidel, Combining 3D flow fields with silhouette-based human motion capture for immersive video, Graphical Models, Volume 66, Issue 6, November 2004.:
   Liu, G., Zhang, J., Wang, W., and McMillan, L. Human motion estimation from a reduced marker set. In Proceedings of the 2006 Symposium on Interactive 3D Graphics and Games, March 2006.:
   Jitter SDK:

 Project #2:  Automated Text Analysis of Documents from the Hurricane Katrina Response
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Carter T. ButtsSociology

Description:  A major challenge in responding to disasters is the coordination of activities by a large number of organizations with highly varied structures, missions, and capabilities. One way in which emergency management organizations respond to this challenge is via the production of documents such as situation reports (SITREPs), which serve to collect and communicate status information to those involved in the response. The aim of this project is to investigate the use of automated text analysis tools for the extraction of information from such reports.

The data to be analyzed for this project consists of a corpus of organizational documents produced during the response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. By use of word frequency, author-topic, and semantic network models, the following questions will be addressed:

1. In comparing across public/private status, scale of operations, and geographical location, which dimensions
best serve to predict differences among organizational documents?
2. What are the primary topics addressed within the corpus, and how does their incidence vary across
space and time?
3. What are the primary “themes” (i.e., networks of semantic associations) within the corpus, and how
do these change over time?

This research is expected to contribute to our knowledge of events during the Hurricane Katrina response, and to suggest strengths and weaknesses of current analysis tools for use with organizational documents such as SITREPs. The findings from this work may help to inform the design of improved tools for tracking and summarizing organizational activities during disasters.

Student’s Research-Related Duties and Expected Outcomes:
In the course of this project, the student researcher(s) will be expected to analyze data from the Hurricane Katrina corpus, using a variety of methods. Anticipated activities include the use of word frequency models for topic extraction and analysis, scaling/clustering of documents via edit distances, and semantic network extraction using Automap. In addition to quantitative analysis of organizational documents, student researcher(s) may be involved in building a concept thesaurus for the Katrina corpus, and in other aspects of the data preparation process. The student researcher(s) will also prepare their research findings for presentation to peers and faculty within the program. Skills developed as a result of involvement with this project are expected to include familiarity with a number of text analysis tools and methods, as well as experience in the analysis of organizational data. This experience could serve well either in preparation for future work in natural language processing/data discovery, or for work in the social sciences.

Prerequisites: This project can support 1-2 student researchers. Knowledge of basic programming techniques is expected; familiarity with R and Perl is recommended, but is not required. Some training in probability and/or statistics is necessary, and prior experience in working with textual data (either manually, or using automated techniques) will prove helpful. Beyond the above, successful researchers will be highly self-motivated, and
capable of independent work.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   The following books and articles are suggested as background for those interested in learning more:
• Auf der Heide, E. (1989). Disaster Response: Principles of Preparation and Coordination. St. Louis, MI: Mosby.
• Carley, K.M. and Palmquist, M. (1992). “Extracting, Representing and Analyzing Mental Models.” Social Forces, 70(3), 601-636.
• Manning, C. and Schtze, H. (1999). Foundations of Statistical Natural Language Processing. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
• Steyvers, M., Smyth, P., Rosen-Zvi, M., and Griffiths, T. (2004). “Probabilistic Author-Topic Models
for Information Discovery.” The Tenth ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining. Seattle, Washington.:

 Project #3:  Beyond Play – Artificial Worlds and Gaming Capital
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Peter O. KrappFilm & Media Studies

Description:  Massively multi-player online computer games create an environment with real consequences, as there is value in converting different forms of capital into one another - which creates capital value beyond just the marketplace, namely the kinds of social and cultural value that are then parlayed back to the marketplace in an endless loop. This project aims to take a closer look at the extent to which players have the right to conduct for-profit exchange and real-money trade. This will entail an in-depth comparison of the response to these phenomena from game developers, who are either opposed to the practice (Blizzard) or somewhat welcoming of its unrealized possibilities (Sony Online Entertainment). By the same token, the project will trace a history of what passes for “play” and what constitutes a “game”. For although Linden Lab’s “metaverse,” Second Life has revolutionized the possibilities of trading game currency for real-world currency, in doing so it has catapulted itself outside the realm of traditional multi-player games by dint of their programmatic refusal to define itself as a game but rather as a “3D Online Virtual World Imaged, Created, and Owned by its Residents” (

There are pleasures derived from computer games that are not limited to manipulating digital toys. The interdisciplinary field of inquiry opened up by computer games in their historical, social, aesthetic, ideological, and economic dimensions is developing rapidly. While much academic research into videogames tends to focus either on formal aesthetic qualities of the games themselves, or on the actions and interactions of gamers at play, such games have value and currency beyond the moment of engagement. An account of massively multiplayer online role-playing games that exclusively appeals to their status as games to explain how or why they generate these forms of capital will implicitly recreate a hard distinction between gaming and not-gaming as distinct modes of human experience, thus relying on a problematic opposition between play as a lack of consequences on the one hand versus productivity and seriousness on the other. There are a number of in-game economies as well as a large and growing number of people who draw a real-money profit from their activities in artificial worlds such as Second Life, World of Warcraft, or Everquest. Parlaying value is a good way to start looking at the economic, social, and cultural principles underlying the phenomenon of these peripheral economies and real-money trade (the sale of virtual in-game assets for real world currency, either on such markets as eBay or on any game-specific trading forum). One can observe how financial, social, and cultural capital are three distinct yet interrelated forms of capital, and to do so allows us to begin to explain how virtual worlds are not entirely distinct from and should not be set apart from everyday life, but rather are macrocosms for ordinary human behavior in a digital society. To what extent can such emergent play resist classification as “work” and to what extent must it to maintain subscriptions? How desirable is trading in and around games, from the gamers’ and from the developers’ perspectives? How does the industry address itself to this budding secondary market? What are its costs and its benefits?

Student’s Research-Related Duties and Expected Outcomes:
To investigate the socio-cultural and economic implications of real-money trade on synthetic worlds, a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods will be used to learn more than is currently known about the extent to which economies of online games and those of the real-world are connected, drawing heavily from both humanistic inquiry and that of the social sciences. This project is currently funded by the UROP program, the UCI Libraries (with the purchase of a virtual island in Second Life), and the by the Department of Film & Media Studies at UCI.

Prerequisites: Students must be juniors or seniors in good standing at UCI, and should have taken a number of relevant classes on computer games and digital culture, as well as at least one class each in micro- and macro-economics. In addition, one would expect a demonstrated interest in the interdisciplinary nature of this project - spanning, at a minimum, the history of technology, digital culture as studied in the arts and humanities, computer science, and some economics.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Balkin, J., & Simone Noveck, B. (eds.). (2006). The State of Play: Law, Games, and Virtual Worlds. New York: NY: New York University Press.

Benkler, Y (2006). The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Caillois, R. (1961). Man, Play, and Games. New York, NY: The Free Press of Glencoe, Inc.

Castronova, E. (2001). Virtual Worlds: A First-Hand Account of Market and Society on the Cyberian Frontier CESifo Working Paper Series No 618, 43(618) 1-40.

Castronova, E. (2005). Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Castronova, E. (2006). A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Real-Money Trade in the products of Synthetic Economies. Info, 8(6), 1-38

Ducheneaut, N et al. (2006). Building an MMO With Mass Appeal: A Look at Gameplay in World of Warcraft, Games and Culture. 1(4), 281-317.:

 Project #4:  Blog Readers
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Bill TomlinsonInformatics

Description:  During the past few years, blogs have become a powerful force in the news media, a popular outlet for self-expression, and the object of an increasing amount of academic research. Most research thus far has focused on bloggers, with such topics as social network analyses between bloggers, tools to assist in blog publication, and the management of identity and presentation of self through a blog. Through channels such as comments, email, IM, and in-person interaction, readers can also, often do, take a very large part in shaping the blog. Despite this participation, relatively little research has focused on the practices of blog readers, tools to support blog reading, or the role that readers play in the co-construction of blogs. Professor Bill Tomlinson and doctoral student Eric Baumer propose to engage in a study of blog-reading practices in order to understand the role of the reader in this increasingly prominent medium.

Duties & Outcomes: The investigation itself will consist largely of ethnographic-based methods, including participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and experience sampling, as well as other methods, including automatic tracking and logging of reading patterns. Students will assist with all stages of the project, including helping to produce scholarly publications about the research.

Prerequisites: We are seeking either an anthropology student with some degree of knowledge about electronic and social media, or an informatics student with knowledge of anthropological and ethnographic techniques.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Nardi et al. - Blogging as a social activity:
   (optional) Herring et al. - Genre analysis of weblogs:

 Project #5:  Computer Games and Moral Courage
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Kristen R. MonroePolitical Science

Description:  Main Faculty Mentors: Kristen Monroe as Director of the Center
Executive Board Members: David Easton (Social Science), Johanna Shapiro (Medicine), Philip Nickel (Humanities and Biological Science), Kamal Sadiq (Social Science), Mahtab Jafari (Pharmacology), and Roxanne Cohn Silver (Social Ecology)

If violent computer and video games encourage violence, do analogous non-violent games foster non-violence? Unfortunately, no one knows, because no such games exist. The faculty of the UCI Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality, under the Directorship of Kristen Monroe, offer motivated students the opportunity to work on a project designed to:

· research the literature on existing computer/video games
· develop a prototype for a game that fosters moral courage, not aggression, and
· develop and administer psychological tests to determine if participation in such games results in shifts in attitudes toward those judged “different” in a negative sense.

At the end of the program, we may contact local computer companies to determine their interest in working with us on this program.

Summer 2007 Program, Specific Student Duties and Expected Outcomes:

Weeks 1-4.
Students will concentrate research in the three theme areas (above):
· Research suggesting cooperation, altruism, and related forms of behavior are part of our human nature and hence should be incorporated into our models of human behavior. This includes work on cooperation/altruism in animal behavior, which suggests humans may have a predisposition toward helping and altruism as part of our primate nature, and research on the human biological/health benefits from friendship and caring.
· Work on any existing computer/video games and their effects on players, i.e., in fostering aggressive behavior.

Weeks 5-8.
Students will study existing scenarios designed to teach ethics in order to develop a prototype of a game designed to teach altruism, helping and cooperation. They will build on Professor Monroe’s work on real life experiences of rescuers, bystanders and perpetrators of ethnic violence and genocide during the Holocaust and utilize the initial game, developed in the Calit2 Program during 2005 and 2006, to construct their own game.

Weeks 9-10.
Students will administer the preliminary game to other students after administering psychological tests to assess the impact of participating in such games and tests to assess the feasibility of developing such a game and whether there would be a market for such a game.

Broader Impact of the Project. The UCI program is part of a broader effort between the CEM and the Caucus of Concerned Scientists, Committee on Altruism and Ethics, established by the International Society of Political Psychology (hereafter ISPP). To disseminate results, we have established ties with appropriate human rights’ organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Detroit Holocaust Museum, and will work to develop further projects to expand and broaden our work to include students other than UCI students. Students who do superior work will be asked to participate in a paper to be presented at a professional conference, and then submitted to a professional journal.

Research Facilities. UCI Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality, UCI Computer facilities.

Students: Individualized work under the supervision of Professor Monroe and graduate student assistants, funded via a grant from the Biosophical Institute. Up to 10 students may participate.

Prerequisites: Students must be able to do social science library research and must have some interest in and minimal experience with computer/video games. Some writing skills are required. We expect students to refine these skills during the full 10 weeks. In addition to this, we will ask computer science students to develop computer and video games to create role playing games that can teach tolerance. Students will be exposed to critical experiments in social and political psychology. They then will work with Professor Monroe to create computerized versions of these games. (Faculty in Social Ecology, Social Science, and Computer Science also may participate in the program.)

Prerequisites include Computer skills, ability and willingness to do library research and independent work in an internship program and to work with others on a group project.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Web site for International Society of Political Psychology, Caucus of Concerned Scholars, Committee on Ethics and Morality.:
   Kristen Monroe’s The Hand of Compassion (Princeton UP 2004) or The Heart of Altruism (Princeton UP, 1996), any introductory text to social psychology. Summary articles on animal behavior (cooperative? altruistic? aggressive?) and on the biological benefits of friendship are available in the Center office, as is a summary of projects from 2006 and 2005.:

 Project #6:  Electronic Circuits With Single-Molecule Components
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Philip CollinsPhysics & Astronomy

Description:  This NSF-funded nanotechnology project is part of a collaboration bridging electronics, physics, and biochemistry. Four research groups led by Prof. Collins have jointly developed techniques for building operational electronic circuits at the single-molecule scale. Carbon nanotubes are used as the interconnecting wires, and a variety of interesting molecules including proteins and peptides are investigated. The resulting circuits are of commercial interest as chemical and biological sensors and provide a new method of collecting signals from the physical world.

Our present research is focused on improving the number of circuits that can be reliably fabricated and tested. Because each experiment involves the creation of only one chemical bond, traditional chemistry techniques lack the resolution to determine the reaction’s yield, and our team must develop new ways of controlling the fabrication and characterizing reactions with the necessary resolution.

Student’s Research-Related Duties and Expected Outcomes:
SURF-IT fellows will be integrated into a team working on the fabrication and testing of nanocircuits. Students will receive hands-on training in atomic force microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and nanocircuit preparation and handling. The student will also initiate a project directed at the construction of a new test apparatus involving software, electronics, optical video and pattern recognition, and three-dimensional positioning. This project could lead to suitable Senior Honors Theses for students continuing research during the academic year.

Prerequisites: Minimum requirements include completion of Physics 52AB or Chemistry 51ABC. Preference will be given to students specializing in a relevant related field through courses such as Phys 133 or Chem 153. Previous research experience is a plus but not a prerequisite.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Successful applicants will meet with Prof. Collins during the Spring Quarter and will be assigned readings of relevant material. Interested applicants may look at the following journal articles, available online and in the library, to learn more about the topic:
“Molecules get wired” by R. F. Service. Science vol 294, pg. 2442 (21 Dec 2001).
“Carbon nanotubes – the route toward applications” by R. H. Baughman. Science vol 297, pg. 787 (2 Aug 2002).
“Identifying and counting point defects in carbon nanotubes” by Y. Fan. Nature Materials, vol 4, pg. 906 (Dec 2005).:

 Project #7:  Metaphor Extraction for Learning Systems
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Bill TomlinsonInformatics

Description:  In a seminal work on the topic, Lakoff and Johnson describe how metaphor, more than just a poetic or linguistic device, is fundamental to the structuring of our lived experience. Furthermore, they argue that functioning in daily lives requires the ability to easily and fluidly switch between different metaphorical framings of a given situation. An important step in cultivating the ability to switch between different metaphors is to develop an awareness of what metaphors are commonly used, as well as where and how they are used. Professor Bill Tomlinson and doctoral student Eric Baumer are developing a system, based on previous work, using text mining and computational linguistic techniques to automatically extract metaphorical patterns and relationships from bodies of text. The current system is focused on finding metaphors in students' written class assignments to help improve their critical thinking and writing skills.

Duties & Outcomes: The student will assist with the implementation and evaluation of the metaphor extraction system and with the writing of scholarly publications about the project.

Prerequisites: We are looking for students who are knowledgeable about
probability and probabilistic learning. Skills in Python (or similar scripting language) and MySQL (or similar database language)a significant plus. Interest in psycholinguistics also a benefit.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Lakoff G. and Johnson, M. 1980/2003. Metaphors We Live By, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, 1980/2003. - Ch 1, 2, 3, 5:
   Mason - CorMet:

 Project #8:  Nomatic Aid
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Donald Jay. PattersonInformatics

Description:  Nomatic*Aid consists of a handheld geo-tagging photo device that enables coordination between human relief workers during, as well as in the weeks and months after, crises. For an effective crisis response, spatial and temporal information about the resources (e.g. water, arable land, vaccines) and displaced people has to be collected and collated by the team of responders working on the field. The information garnered needs to be disseminated and collated by a central server. Since a network infrastructure may not be available after a crisis, the handheld devices are expected to form a mobile delay tolerant network. Such a system uses the idea of parasitic data transport by encouraging nodes to physically carry data for others when network connectivity is not available.

This project intends to use camera cell phones equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS) to tag, store, and communicate "capsules" of context-based data. The handheld devices will serve both as data collection and storage devices as well as communication nodes. Since the devices have limited transmission range, unpredictable mobility, and limited battery power, routing algorithms that exploit these unique challenges will be designed.

Student Research-Related Duties and Expected Outcomes:
Student participants will be expected to write computer code (primarily in Java) which will be developed for mobile phones from an existing laptop based environment. Tasks include stabilizing and hardening the software, assisting with release engineering and documentation, participating in design decisions about software features and implementing those features and testing the resulting system. Students will be exposed to localization techniques using WiFi access point beacons and recent machine learning techniques for making routing decisions.

Prerequisites: Students should be comfortable writing Java code in a collaborative environment using open source tools and methodologies. Experience with Eclipse, Subversion, SOAP, Gnu Autotools, and mobile phone development and/or a willingness to learn them is required. Previous experience with artificial intelligence techniques is, not required. Students should be comfortable problem solving, should be self-motivated and able to research answers to potentially difficult technology integration problems.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   1. S. Burleigh, A. Hooke, L. Torgerson, K. Fall, V. Cerf, B. Durst, K. Scott, and H. Weiss, “Delay-tolerant networking: an approach to interplanetary internet,” Communications Magazine, IEEE, vol. 41, no. 6, pp. 128–136, 2003.

2. T. Liu, C. M. Sadler, P. Zhang, and M. Martonosi, “Implementing software on resource-constrained mobile sensors: experiences with impala and zebranet,” in MobiSys ’04: Proceedings of the 2nd international conference on Mobile systems, applications, and services, (New York, NY, USA), pp. 256–269, ACM Press, 2004.:

 Project #9:  Nomatic Gaim
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Donald Jay. PattersonInformatics

Description:  The goal of Nomatic*Gaim is to encourage appropriate IM communication through remote awareness of context. Traditional indications of user interruptibility in IM are limited to a few static phrases such as “online/offline” and “available/not available”. Now as laptops begin to replace desktops as the computer platform of choice and as cell-phones come pre-installed with IM clients, it is harder and harder to decide if a user is interruptible with such simple phrases.

Nomatic*Gaim attempts to circumvent this problem by capturing information about a user’s environment from sensors such as ambient audio, light levels, motion, and location, and turn that into an appropriate description of the user’s current context. That information is determined using artificial intelligence techniques and then is presented on the user’s IM status line. This allows for people on a buddy list to determine if it is appropriate to interrupt a user or not by observing automatically generated phrases such as “at home” instead of “available”.

Student Research-Related Duties and Expected Outcomes:
Student participants will be expected to write computer code (primarily in C) which will help to push forward the technology being demonstrated by the existing Nomatic*Gaim project. Tasks include stabilizing and hardening the software for use in multiple OS environments, assisting with release engineering and documentation, participating in design decisions about software features and implementing those features. Students will be exposed to localization techniques using WiFi access point beacons and recent machine learning techniques, particularly Markov Logic Networks. Interested students may be given the opportunity to port the project to a mobile phone platform.

Prerequisites: Students should be comfortable writing C code in a collaborative environment using open source tools and methodologies. Experience with Eclipse, Subversion, SOAP, Gnu Autotools and/or a willingness to learn them is required. Some previous experience with artificial intelligence techniques is preferred, but not essential. Students should be comfortable problem solving, should be self-motivated and able to research answers to potentially difficult technology integration problems.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   1. D. J. Patterson, X. Ding, and N. Noack, “Nomatic: Location by, for, and of crowds.,” in M. Hazas, J. Krumm, and T. Strang, eds., Location- and Context-Awareness, Second International Workshop, LoCA 2006, Dublin, Ireland, May 10-11, 2006, Proceedings, vol. 3987 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Springer, 2006, pp. 186–203.

2. R. E. Grinter and L. Palen, “Instant messaging in teen life,” in CSCW ’02: Proceedings of the 2002 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work, (New York, NY, USA), pp. 21–30, ACM Press, 2002.

3. M. Richardson and P. Domingos, “Markov logic: A unifying framework for statistical relational learning,” Machine Learning, 2005.:

 Project #10:  Supporting Efficient Approximate Keyword Search in the Family Reunification Project
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Chen LiComputer Science

Description:  There are many websites that help people look for their loved ones, especially during and after disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, Tsunami, and the September 11 attacks. We are developing a project called "Family Reunification" (, which acts as an information mediator between these websites and the people who are looking or want to post messages for their loved ones. Instead of going to each website that lists safe/missing people and search for their loved ones, users can come to the project website. The bigger vision of the project is to research on how to manage a structured information system powered by a backend database system, where its information is coming from the Web. We focus on research issues such as crawling, information extraction, data uncertainty, data lineage, approximate query processing on text, and management of structured data and unstructured data in the same infrastructure. We are looking for a student to help our research on supporting efficient approximate keyword search on the data collected from Web sources. For example, if a user types in a keyword query “Michael New Orleans”, we want to return those people records with these three keywords and those with approximate keywords such as “Micheal New Orlean.” Such a feature will make it much easier for users to find useful information from noisy data.

Student’s Research-Related Duties and Expected Outcomes: The student is expected to analyze the “noisy” data retrieved from Web sources, read related papers on approximate string matching, and implement algorithms to support efficient approximate keyword search on the data. The student will work with the faculty and graduate students to implement the algorithms and integrate the implementation to the system. The project will provide an excellent opportunity to the student to learn how to manage Web data, and apply their CS knowledge in a real-world application.

Prerequisites: The student should have taken ICS184 or an equivalent database course. ICS185 is not a must but highly recommended. The student should have strong programming skills in C/C++, and be good at algorithm development.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   The student needs to various technical reports and papers on approximate string matching. We can provide them for interested students.:

 Project #11:  Technosocial Systems for Environmental Sustainability
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Bill TomlinsonInformatics

Description:  Professor Bill Tomlinson is working on a book relating to environmental technologies and technosocial systems. By helping people understand the world’s environmental issues, alter their own lifestyles, and work together in groups, these systems can enable humanity to achieve environmental sustainability.

Duties & Outcomes: The student will assist Professor Tomlinson with document-based research on numerous aspects of technology and environmental issues. Depending on the student's background and interests, he or she may also be asked to help with the creation of several visualizations for the book as well.

Prerequisites: The student should have strong writing and research skills. A basic understanding of technological systems (e.g., social networking sites, computer graphics), and how people interact with those systems is a plus.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   B. Tomlinson, M. L. Yau, E. Baumer, S. Goetz, L. Carpenter, R. Pratt, K. Young, C. May-Tobin. 2006. "The EcoRaft Project: A Multi-Device Interactive Graphical Exhibit for Learning About Restoration Ecology." In: ACM Conference On Human Factors In Computing Systems (CHI 2006), Work in Progress. Montreal, Canada.:

 Project #12:  The Use of Digital Media in Teaching and Learning Activities
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Mark J. WarschauerEducation

Description:  The Tiger Woods Learning Center (TWLC) was established by the Tiger Woods Foundation as a way to provide technology-intensive out-of-school learning opportunities for low-income K-12 youth in an Hispanic community of Southern California. The TWLC makes cutting edge use of computers, online resources, and other digital media to provide career exploration and preparation activities in areas such as robotics, digital design, animation, biotechnology, alternative energy, communications, and engineering.

With funding from the Mott Foundation, an interdisciplinary team in the UCI Department of Education is drawing on theory from informatics, media studies, and education to evaluate and analyze teaching and learning activities at the TWLC and, in particular, the impact on students' lives of their innovative experiences with information technology. This research seeks to contribute to our theoretical understanding of learning with information technology and also influence how digital media are used in instruction in a range of school and community programs.

Student's Research-Related Duties and Expected Outcomes:

The SURF-IT Fellow will engage in an array of activities designed to better understand how low-income youth learn through cutting-edge use of technology. Specific activities will involve observing instruction, interviewing students, collecting student-produced materials, and analyzing and interpreting all this data together with other data collected by the research team over the previous year. Student's will master qualitative research and media analysis skills related to use of information technology for education and social development.

Prerequisites: Prior familiarity with issues related to technology, learning, and social development is required, as is some previous experience with qualitative research. Prior direct involvement in a field research project on technology and learning is highly desirable.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Warschauer, M. (2003). Technology and social inclusion: Rethinking the digital divide. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Warschauer, M. (2006). Laptops and literacy: Learning in the wireless classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.