Category Archives: Computer Science

News and Updates from Computer Science. For more news and information about the department, please visit:

Tufts team wins international computational biology competition

A team of Tufts computer scientists and mathematicians won top prize in the Disease Module Identification DREAM Challenge, which is an “open community effort to: (1) Systematically assess module identification methods on a panel of state-of-the-art genomic networks, and (2) discover novel network modules/pathways underlying complex diseases.” The competition is driven by the interconnected nature of multiple genes interacting within molecular pathways to drive physiological and disease processes.

Out of 42 teams from across the globe, Team Tusk won first place with its response, “A Double Spectral Approach to DREAM 11 Subchallenge.” Team members included, from the Department of Computer Science, Professor Lenore Cowen, Assistant Professor Ben Hescott, and master’s student Jake Crawford. They worked alongside Assistant Professor Xiaozhe Hu and Ph.D. student Joanne Lin from the Department of Mathematics.

Communicating health risks with visualizations

Associate Professor Remco Chang creates visualizations to help communicate health risks to patients.

Associate Professor Remco Chang creates visualizations to help communicate health risks to patients.

Associate Professor Remco Chang, students, and collaborators at Maine Medical Center (MMC) created a project to investigate how older men with prostate cancer use visualizations to better understand their own health risk information. Chang, master’s student Anzu Hakone, E16, recent graduate Nate Winters, E16, doctoral recipient Alvitta Ottley, EG16, postdoctoral researcher Lane Harrison, and MCC collaborators Dr. Paul Han and Caitlin Gutheil have a paper entitled “PROACT: Iterative Design of a Patient-Centered Visualization for Effective Prostate Cancer Health Risk Communication” appearing at the 2016 IEEE InfoVis conference. The web-based visualization prototype, PROACT, supports patients to learn about their cancer risk and the possible side effects of different treatment options.

Combining cloud and internet to support VR

Doctoral student Osama Haq and Assistant Professor Fahad Dogar work on improving virtual reality applications.

Doctoral student Osama Haq and Assistant Professor Fahad Dogar work on improving virtual reality applications.

Assistant Professor Fahad Dogar and doctoral student Osama Haq are working on providing a suitable network support for emerging real-time applications (e.g., virtual reality). They are exploring how the highly reliable, but expensive, cloud network infrastructure could be combined with the best-effort, but cheaper, Internet paths. The goal is to provide guaranteed bandwidth and low-latency for such applications. The preliminary idea and feasibility of this work appeared in ACM HotNets 2015. The ongoing research in this project also involves collaborators from Boston University’s Department of Computer Science.

Driving the Autobahn

Professor Kathleen Fisher, Remy Wang, and Diogenes Nunez worked on a Haskell program called AUTOBAHN.

Professor Kathleen Fisher, Remy Wang, and Diogenes Nunez created a Haskell program called AUTOBAHN.

A paper by doctoral student Diogenes Nunez, senior Remy Wang, and Professor and Chair Kathleen Fisher, entitled “AUTOBAHN: Using Genetic Algorithms to Infer Strictness Annotations,” will appear at the 2016 Haskell Symposium. This work, which started as a project in Associate Professor Norman Ramsey’s functional programming class, tackles the long-standing problem of how to improve the performance of Haskell programs by telling the compiler which program fragments should be evaluated eagerly. Currently, inserting the appropriate annotations is a black art, known only to expert Haskell programmers. The Autobahn tool developed by Nunez and Wang automatically suggests appropriate places to put annotations to improve a number of performance metrics.

Souvaine appointed to NSF leadership role

Professor of Computer Science Diane Souvaine has been elected vice chair of the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation. It’s the first time in NSF history that women hold the three top leadership positions: director, chair and vice chair.

The 24-member NSB serves as an independent advisor to both the president and Congress on policies related to science and engineering, and education in those disciplines. President Barack Obama first appointed Souvaine to the NSB in 2008 and reappointed her to a second six-year term in 2014.

Hassoun to Receive EDA Achievement Award

Professor and Chair Soha HassounComputer Science Professor and Chair Soha Hassoun has been selected as the recipient of the Marie R. Pistilli Women in Electronic Design Automation (EDA) Achievement Award for 2016. The award is in recognition of her service to the Design Automation Conference “and the other communities of which she is a member, and for her contribution to research, technology, and the education of engineers in such a wide variety of fields.” It will be presented at the 53rd Design Automation Conference in June. Congratulations, Professor Hassoun!

Computer Scientists and Electrical Engineers Take First Place in High-Tech Track

Mimir Insights, a Tufts student startup team, pose for a photo after winning first place in the High-Tech / General category.

Mimir Insights, a Tufts student startup team, pose for a photo after winning first place in the High-Tech / General category.

Computer science juniors Jon Arbaugh, Ian Leaman, Ian Luo and Abdisalan Mohamud, computer science sophomore Gabriella Bova, and electrical engineering junior Arlo Clarke were part of the team that won first place in the $100k New Ventures Competition’s High-Tech / General track. Their winning company was Mimir Insights, which helps companies selling equipment and services to scientists find the best customers for their products, grow their existing customer base, and build lasting relationships.

Scheutz Talks Robot Cognition with The Conversation

Professor Matthias Scheutz (CS) wrote about robot cognition and morality in a piece for The Conversation called “Why robots need to be able to say ‘No.’”

“In general, robots should never perform illegal actions, nor should they perform legal actions that are not desirable. Hence, they will need representations of laws, moral norms and even etiquette in order to be able to determine whether the outcomes of an instructed action, or even the action itself, might be in violation of those principles,”  Scheutz writes.


Casey and Wan Win Awards for Engineering Education

Carter Casey, computer science

Carter Casey, computer science

Qianwen Wan, electrical and computer engineering

Qianwen Wan, electrical and computer engineering

Carter Casey (CS) and Qianwen Wan (ECE) received awards for Outstanding Graduate Contributor to Engineering Education for significantly enhancing the education programs of their departments. Casey and Wan received the awards at the 18th Annual Graduate Student Awards ceremony on April 29, 2016 in Distler Hall, Granoff Music Center.