UNB Annual Lecture in Computer Science

The Annual Lecture in Computer Science at UNB was established through the generosity of Dr. Colin Ware. Colin Ware was a professor in the UNB Faculty of Computer Science from 1985 until 1999. During this period Colin cofounded two companies and developed the Fledermaus 3-dimensional geospatial visualization system that is widely used today in oceanography. In 1999, Colin requested that all royalties from his share of the Fledermaus agreement with UNB be transferred to the Faculty of Computer Science for the purpose of funding an Annual Lecture Series. Since 1999, Colin has worked at the University of New Hampshire as Director of the Data Visualization Research Lab in the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping. He continues to develop innovative software and to publish significant research articles. Colin's second textbook entitled "Visual Thinking for Design" was published in 2008.

2017 Lecture

Ravin Balakrishnan

Speaker: Ravin Balakrishnan, Professor & Chair, Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto
Date: Friday, April 7th @ 11AM
Where: University of New Brunswick, Wu Conference Centre, 6 Duffie Drive, Fredericton, N.B.
(See parking map here)

The rebirth of natural user interfaces
Date: Friday, April 7th @ 11AM

Abstract: (pdf intro)
As with most new research endeavours, the push for more “natural” user interfaces can be traced back several decades. Early seminal concept demonstrations like Krueger’s VideoPlace, Wellner’s Digital Desk, and Bolt’s Put That There as well as the voluminous body of tangible user interface work in the 1990’s hinted at fascinating interaction possibilities if only underlying enablers like computer vision, speech recognition, and haptics actually worked. Today, many of these technologies are finally at a stage where once dreamy natural interactions can be a reality. In this rebirth, however, most examples I see tend to slavishly follow the mantra of mimicking the supposedly natural interactions we do in the real world. This, I argue, is a lost opportunity. Lest we follow in the footsteps of the early horseless carriages, we really need to start exploiting the sensing technologies available to us to build interfaces that do not necessarily mimic what is ostensibly “natural”, but rather exploit our ability to learn and adapt to new things while possibly enhancing that which might be natural. Examples from past and present will illustrate my argument, while also demonstrating that interfaces that at first glance seem completely unnatural, such as the pencil and handwriting, might well be rather appropriate with a tad bit of effort on our part.

Ravin Balakrishnan's Bio: http://www.dgp.toronto.edu/~ravin/#briefbio

2013 Lecture

Ming Li

Speaker: Dr. Ming Li, University of Waterloo, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science
Dates: Thursday, April 11 and Friday, April 12, 2013.
Where: University of New Brunswick, Wu Conference Centre, 6 Duffie Drive, Fredericton, N.B.
(See parking map here)

Information Distance from a Question to an Answer ---- Building natural language interface for computers, phones, cars, and home electronics
Date: Thursday, April 11
Time: 7:00 pm

Click here (15 MB) to download a .pdf version of the talk
 (or .ppt file (10 MB), contains animations).

The big data and knowledge from the Internet have helped us to build a powerful cross language question answering engine RSVP. We were not just interested in building a system, but we wanted to study a fundamental theory of information, naturally enabled by such big data. In this lecture we will explain the theory of information distance and how this theory can help us to compute the distance from a query to an answer candidate, to improve speech recognition, to properly classify queries, and to do cross language translation of queries.

Optimized Spaced Seeds for Homology Search
Date: Friday, April 12
Time: 9:00 am

Click here (1.2 MB) to download a .pdf version of the talk
 (or .ppt file (1.4 MB), contains animations).


Homology search, finding similar parts between two sequences, is the most fundamental and popular task in bioinformatics. Traditional homology search technologies are either too slow or too insensitive.

We present the mathematical theory of optimized spaced seeds, that allow modern homology search to achieve high sensitivity and high speed simultaneously. The spaced seed methodology is implemented in our PatternHunter software, as well as many other modern homology search software, serving thousands of queries daily.

Joint work with Bin Ma, John Tromp, and Uri Keich.

Ming Li Biography:
Ming Li is a Canada Research Chair in Bioinformatics and a professor at the University of Waterloo. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, ACM, and IEEE. He is a recipient of E.W.R. Steacie Fellowship Award in 1996, the 2001 Killam Fellowship, and the 2010 Killam Prize. Together with Paul Vitanyi they have co-authored the book "An Introduction to Kolmogorov Complexity and Its Applications". He is a co-managing editor of Journal of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology.


2012 Lecture2012 CS Annual Lecture - Alan Mackworth

Speaker: Dr. Alan Mackworth, University of British Columbia, Department of Computer Science
Date: Wednesday, March 21, 2012.
Where: University of New Brunswick, 15 Dineen Drive, Head Hall Dineen Auditorium.
(See parking map here)

Designing Constraint-Based Agents
Time: 2:30 p.m.

Click here to download a .pdf version of the talk
 (or .ppt file (4.6 MB), contains animations).
This talk included videos (circa 1992) of soccer playing robots, and a video of a robot called Ainia.

dcba In order to thrive, an agent must satisfy dynamic constraints deriving from four sources: its internal structure, its goals and preferences, its external environment and the coupling between its internal and external worlds. The life of any agent who acts without respecting those constraints will be out of balance. Based upon this view of agents, I shall give four perspectives on the theme of designing constraint-based agents. The first is a discussion of the evolution of the concept of constraints in intelligent systems, from static to dynamic constraints. Second, I shall present our theory of constraint-based agent design and a corresponding experiment in robot architecture. Third, I shall sketch our work on the design of two assistive technology prototypes for people with physical and mental disabilities, who live with significant additional constraints. Finally, our collective failure to recognize and satisfy various constraints could explain why many of the multiple worlds we live in seem to be so out of kilter. This approach hints at ways to restore the balance.

Computation and Sustainability: Beyond Green IT
Time: 7:00 p.m.

Click here to download a .pdf version of the talk.

Computer Sustainability Our planet is suffering global crises of poverty and inequity, overdevelopment, environmental degradation, climate change, healthcare costs, educational disparities and aging demographics. Given these crises of sustainability, does computer science have anything to offer? There are many initiatives in green computing that certainly are significant. However, beyond those, an interdisciplinary field of computational sustainability is emerging. It aims to develop computational models and methods for decision making concerning the management and allocation of resources to help solve problems of sustainability. Moreover, it is focused on the design of computational systems that support sustainability directly. Sustainable systems must satisfy physical, chemical, biological, psychological, economic, and social constraints. Consider constraints such as those imposed by energy supply, water resources, waste management, greenhouse gas emissions, ocean acidity, climate, ecological footprint, biodiversity, habitat, harvesting and global equity. A sustainable system is one that operates within an envelope defined by the constraints it should satisfy. Sustainability is constraint satisfaction. In this talk, I shall sketch the constraint-based computational sustainability framework, describe the design of several systems and speculate on the scope of future developments.

Alan Mackworth Biography:
Alan Mackworth Alan Mackworth is a Professor of Computer Science and Canada Research Chair in Artificial Intelligence at the University of British Columbia. He was educated at Toronto (B.A.Sc.), Harvard (A.M.) and Sussex (D.Phil.). He works on constraint-based artificial intelligence with applications in vision, robotics, situated agents, assistive technology and sustainability. He is known for his work in constraint satisfaction, robot soccer, hybrid systems and constraint-based agents. He has authored over 100 papers and co-authored two books: Computational Intelligence: A Logical Approach (1998) and Artificial Intelligence: Foundations of Computational Agents (2010). He served as the founding Director of the UBC Laboratory for Computational Intelligence. He is a Fellow of AAAI, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and the Royal Society of Canada.


Lectures from Previous Years

2010 LectureColin Ware

  • Visual Thinking and Visual Thinking Tools
    Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2010.
    Time: 2:30 p.m.
    Speaker: Dr. Colin Ware.
    Institution: University of New Hampshire, Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping
    Where: University of New Brunswick, 15 Dineen Drive, Head Hall Dineen Auditorium.
    "We know next to nothing about how collective cognition works, or when it works, or how to make it work better; we have some ideas about it, but at best they've the status of artisanal rules of thumb." Bactra review of Edwin Hutchins's book Cognition in the Wild."
    link: Visual Thinking and Visual Thinking Tools

  • The Acrobatic Maneuvers of Feeding Humpback WhalesDate: Wednesday, March 10, 2010.
    7:00 p.m.
    Dr. Colin Ware.
    University of New Hampshire, Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping
    University of New Brunswick, 15 Dineen Drive, Head Hall Dineen Auditorium.

    "The talk will focus on how data from suction cup tags, placed on the whale can be used to reconstruct what the animal did underwater.Humpbacks are the most acrobatic of whales. They have huge flukesand flippers and they use these to execute a great variety of feeding strategies, enabling them to feed on herring, krill and sand lance."

    link: The Acrobatic Maneuvers of Feeding Humpback Whales

    Colin Ware is a psychologist and computer scientist who, for the past seven years has been developing data visualization tools to help scientists understand what humpback whales do when they feed underwater. He has participated in numerous whale tagging research cruises both off the coast of New England and in the fjords of the West Antarctic Peninsula. In this informal talk he will discuss what they have found out about the feeding strategies of Humpback whales.

2007 Lecture

  • Where did it go? How data compression saves the day

    Date: 12-Oct-2007.
    Speaker: Dr. Nigel Horspool.
    Institution: University of Victoria.
    links: Dr. Nigel Horspool

2006 Lecture

  • Linear Optimization – Twenty years of Interior Point Methods – What is next?

    Date: 05-Oct-2006.
    Speaker: Tamas Terlaky.
    Institution: McMaster University.
    links: IVS/NVision Lecture

2002 Lecture

  • Super-Recursive Algorithms as a new Level of Information Processing
    Computer Science and Information Technology: Past, Present, and Future

    Date: 25-March-2002.
    Speaker: Dr. Mark Burgin.
    Institution: UCLA.