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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

  • Putting the squeeze on big files
  • PhD oral defences are scheduled
  • The talk of the campus
Chris Redmond

Toronto Sportsmen's Show | K-W Woodworking Show

[A motley crew looking to the right]

In the asylum, the inmates visit the bath-house. Jeff De Schiffert, Natalie Mathieson, Steve Ryder, Kara Harun and Nathanael Gibbs are among the "anti-socials, mental patients, and political undesirables" at Charenton in the years following the French revolution, in the drama department's production of "Marat/Sade". It runs tonight through Saturday in the Theatre of the Arts (tickets 888-4908).

Putting the squeeze on big files -- by Graeme Stemp for the UW media relations office

Waterloo professor En-Hui Yang's got his work cut out for him. As holder of the Canada Research Chair in Multimedia Compression and Information Theory, he works hard to make innovations in abstract theory and, at the same time, apply the theory into the real world to benefit society.

"I work with both theory and algorithms," says Yang, a professor of electrical and computer engineering. "Theoretical understanding is crucial in order to develop innovative, efficient algorithms. On the other hand, algorithm design often impacts the development of theory. In addition, with algorithms I take the theory and try to find a way to make it work in a real way. If there is a problem, you can fix it because you know both."

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  • One of his challenges is to make the transfer of huge files easier. "There are two types of multimedia compression: lossless compression and lossy compression. Lossless compression sends everything but in a smaller size, while lossy compression gets rid of information that humans don't really need." But these two types of compression are traditional ones. They generally do not take digital rights management into consideration. When information can be widely distributed, you want to not only compress your data, but also protect your data from any possible infringement. So, Yang works on another kind of compression.

    "It's called compression with watermarking. Take digital images, for example. Photographers wanted to protect their picture, so they put copyright information in the image. The image will be compressed, say by JPEG, and the copyright information will be embedded simultaneously in such a way so that the image looks fine, but you can't get rid of the embedded copyright information without rendering the compressed/watermarked image useless."

    Compression with watermarking can also be used as a new way to carry information. While the image is being compressed, other actual information such as relevant text is embedded invisibly into the compressed image. Such a system is very robust because the image actually contains the carried information rather than with the carried information sent along separately.

    Yang also works on improving wireless data transfer through a technique that codes the actual information bits being sent. "The beauty of this system is that you send information within the information. It allows you to encrypt something very easily. Say you send 10 bits of information, then you have two to the power of 10 different combinations. By checking the combination, you can see whether the data is intact or not."

    Another beauty of this method of transfer is that if the signal does get scrambled, the data is not lost. To reorganize the jumbled information, all you have to do is correct the combination. Obviously, Yang's method makes it very easy to correct errors while protecting the integrity of sensitive information.

    "I love to push the theory into the real world," he says. "Sometimes it's not easy to connect the two, but when you do, society and the economy see tremendous short and long term benefits. It's an incredibly rewarding challenge."

    PhD oral defences are scheduled

    There's a story behind each one of them -- the doctoral theses put forward by UW graduate students at the end of their years of research and struggle. Several of them will be defending those theses in the next few days:

    On this week's list from the human resources department:

  • Electrician, plant operations.
  • Writer, dean of engineering, USG 9.
  • Coordinator, graduate admissions and research, school of computer science, USG 4.
  • Giga-to-Nanoelectronics facility manager, electrical and computer engineering, USG 10.
  • Manager, Keystone Campaign, offices of development and alumni affairs, USG 9-11.
  • Graduate assistant, school of computer science, USG 3.
  • General cafeteria helper, food services.
  • Faculty Association assistant, Faculty Association, USG 4.

    Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

  • Physics. Hossam K. Zoweil, "Non-Linear Periodic Structures for All-Optical Switching." Supervisors, J. Lit and H. Peemoeller. Thesis on deposit in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Thursday, March 24, 10 a.m., Physics room 352.

    Electrical and computer engineering. Lin Cai, "Transport Layer Protocol Design for Multimedia Wireless/Wired Networks." Supervisors, X. Chen and J. W. Mark. Thesis on deposit in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Friday, April 1, 10 a.m., CEIT room 3142.

    Electrical and computer engineering. Shaoquan Jiang, "A Study on Security of Multi-User Systems and Stream Ciphers." Supervisor, G. Gong. Thesis on deposit in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Tuesday, April 5, 10 a.m., CEIT room 3142.

    Mechanical engineering. Saeed Behzadipour, "Ultra-High-Speed Cable-Based Robots." Supervisor, A. Khajepour. Thesis on deposit in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Tuesday, April 5, 1 p.m., Engineering II room 1307G.

    Civil engineering. Erasmo A. Rodriquez Sandoval, "A Comparison of Three Hydrological Simulations in a Northern Environment." Supervisors, R. Soulis and N. Kouwen. Thesis on deposit in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Monday, April 11, 9:30 a.m., Engineering II room 2348.

    Germanic and Slavic studies. Rudolf Michaeli, "Continuities and Transformations in Scholarly Writing, 1919-1963: Landschaft, Stamm und Wesen in Selected Works by Joseph Nadler, Walter Muschg, and Benno von Wiese." Supervisor, Gisela Brude-Firnau. Thesis on deposit in the faculty of arts, HH 317. Oral defence Thursday, April 21, 10 a.m., Humanities room 373.

    Psychology. Julie Smith, "Effects of Parent Mediation in Sibling Disputes on Children's Socio-Cognitive Skills and Conflict Interactions." Supervisor, Hildy Ross. Thesis on deposit in the faculty of arts, HH 317. Oral defence Friday, April 22, 2 p.m., PAS building room 3026.

    The talk of the campus

    The annual notice has gone out to the members of UW's staff association: positions on the executive need to be filled for the 2005-06 year, which starts June 1. Since the president is elected ahead of time, it's already known that Stephen Markan, of information systems and technology, will take that post, but that means a president-elect is needed who will step into the president's role in 2006-07. Also called for: a vice-president, a secretary, a treasurer and two directors of the association. There's more information on the association's web site, and it's noted that nominees for office must have been association members for one year (as of the beginning of the term of office).

    Volunteers from the Accounting Student Education Contribution group will be available in the Student Life Centre from 9 to 4 tomorrow and Friday to help people fill out their income tax returns. . . . The current exhibitions at the UW art gallery, "Fictions" by Sarah Nind and "Fair Cruelty" by Shannon Griffiths and Guntar Kravis, have their last day tomorrow. . . . Wanda Sobon, who has been a custodian in UW's plant operations department since August 1985, officially retires April 1. . . .

    'WatPAL': Tablet PCs and Group Work', seminar by Mat Schulze, Germanic and Slavic studies, 10 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library.

    Nutrition Month drop-in with dietitian Irene Pace, 11:30 to 1:30, Student Life Centre.

    'Professionalism in the Classroom' teaching workshop 12 noon, Math and Computer room 5158, details online.

    Stress relaxation series continues: "Focused Relaxation", 12 noon, Math and Computer room 5158, sponsored by Employee Assistance Program.

    'Music of the Renaissance' free concert 12:30, Conrad Grebel University College chapel (Richard Cunningham, countertenor, and David Lenson, lute).

    Mathematics student exchange information session with visiting exchange students and students who have gone on exchanges from UW, 2:30, Math and Computer room 5158.

    Career workshop: "Selling Your Skills", 3:30, Tatham Centre room 1208.

    Student athletes honoured at Financial Athletic Awards reception, 4:30, University Club, by invitation.

    Ontario Green Party leader Frank de Jong speaks 8 p.m., Arts Lecture Hall room 211.

    You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown', play produced by Conrad Grebel University College students, tonight through Saturday 8:00, Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick Street, Kitchener.

    Debating Society public debate: Should the Federation of Students support religious and ethnic clubs? All welcome. Thursday 1 p.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2527 (change from previously announced location). (Debate Club weekly meetings are Wednesdays 5 p.m., CEIT room 1015.)

    'Pre-Slavic Odessa: Legacy of the Graeco-Roman Empire.' Anna Makolkin, University of Toronto, sponsored by classical studies, Germanic and Slavic studies, and Italian studies. Thursday 1:30, Doug Wright Engineering room 1502.

    Persian Culture Exhibition to mark the new year, Thursday 2 to 7 p.m., Davis Centre room 1301.

    Chemical engineering lecture: Park M. Reilly Lecture by John MacGregor, McMaster University, "Data-based Latent Variable Methods for Process Analysis, Monitoring and Control", Thursday 3:30, Coutts Hall room 110.

    Anthropology career night Thursday 5 p.m., Tatham Centre room 2218.

    Arriscraft Lecture: Todd MacAllen and Stephanie Forsythe, Vancouver, "Merchants, Makers and Collaborators: The Ongoing Design of Our Practice", Thursday 7 p.m., Architecture lecture room.

    Rainbow Reels Queer Film Festival Friday night through Sunday, Davis Centre room 1302, details online.


    Mennonites are "A Peace Church in Conversation", says Fernando Enns of Germany's Heidelberg University, who will give the 2005 Bechtel Lectures under that title, tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 in the great hall of Conrad Grebel University College.

    Writing in the arts faculty's research newsletter, Naomi Sunderland of the dean's office reports that on March 4, "Artists from the University of Waterloo and Toronto met with researchers from UW Engineering, Environmental Studies, Computer Science, and Arts to discuss potential links and collaborations. The impetus for the meeting was the combined Canada Council-NSERC New Media Grant due on 15 April. The grant program is intended to link artists with engineers and computer scientists to combine creativity with the development and application of new technologies and knowledge. The networking meeting, held in the Fine Arts Drawing Room, featured participants from Fine Arts, Computer Science, Environmental Studies, English, Architecture, the Computer Systems Group, Drama and Speech Communication, the Institute for Computer Research, and the Office of Research. Participants intend to continue building shared interests and joint projects. Future activities will include a seminar series on Art and Technology to be jointly hosted by the Institute for Computer Research and the Faculty of Arts."

    A volunteer group of enterprise-minded students have announced an event called "UW Apprentice", to promote entrepreneurship in an interactive way similar to the reality TV phenomenon "The Apprentice". Says one of them, Steve Chung of the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs: "This three-day event will take place on campus and will present the players with unique tasks, whether it is selling a product on campus or managing a restaurant. Teams will consist of the faculties within the University -- Arts, Math, Engineering and Science -- and utilize the competitive rivalry that exists between them. All the elements of the acclaimed TV show will be integrated into a university environment. This unique setting will allow UW's entire student population of 20,000 to be exposed to the realities of the uncompromising corporate world. Established Industry Professionals and Distinguished University Staff will evaluate performance and ultimately award the Apprentice with a scholarship. Throughout the three days, individuals will be recognized for demonstrating extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit in a variety of categories." There's more information on a web site, and the deadline for signing up is this Friday; the actual event will run next Monday through Wednesday.

    Tom Chervinsky writes from the Waterloo-Israel Public Affairs Club that his group, "in conjunction with six other clubs", will have a table in the Student Life Centre every day for the next while, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It's a money-raiser for "Save a Child's Heart", which is, he explains, "an Israeli charity that brings children from countries around the world unable to perform the required heart surgery. We will be selling paper hearts that you can sign and post on our poster for a minimum recommended donation of $1. At the end of the campaign we will be sending the poster to the Hostel where the children are recuperating so they can see just how many people are pulling for them. All funds raised will go directly to Save A Child's Heart. Co-sponsoring groups are Smiling Over Sickness, Waterloo Christian Fellowship, Psychology Society, Sociology Society, Planning Students' Association, and UWHIDA."

    The campus recreation program is sending out congratulations to UW's Kendo Club for placing third in an inter-university competition last weekend. . . . A "monster sale" of merchandise from the UW Shop runs today and tomorrow in the multipurpose room of the Student Life Centre. . . . Since "the last Friday of the month" for this month is the Good Friday holiday, payday for faculty and monthly-paid staff will be Thursday, March 24. . . .


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