Information Technology : Software

Information Technology Portfolios


Physics ‘Office Hours’ educational learning platform

A physics education researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has designed a novel and interactive app-based study aid platform for students in STEM disciplines. The platform’s interface is built around education research into how students conceptualize problems they do not understand. It is a novel tool to help students see why they are struggling with a particular problem, and what might help them solve it, rather than solving the problem for them. The team’s first working prototype, the Physics Office Hours app, has been designed for use in introductory-level college physics. The app is designed to mimic a scenario students might face during ‘office hours’ with a professor: Rather than offering an answer, the instructor guides the students through problems via a series of questions. A user-friendly online interface allows app content to be easily updated and changed over time and as more problem sets become available. In addition, the app architecture can easily be adapted to problem sets in other STEM disciplines and therefore serves as a platform technology.

More for Less: Higher Throughput, Lower Energy Communications Made Possible In Mobile Devices

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new device and method that brings the benefits of MIMO systems to energy-constrained mobile devices.

The researchers discovered that they could increase the amount of data wirelessly transmitted to an RF receiver without significantly increasing energy consumption by switching between transmit antennas of an RF transmitter on a sub-symbol basis and by adaptively determining how often antenna switching occurs.

In the new system, a transmitter runs on a single RF chain but switches between multiple passive antennas. A data symbol, consisting of waveform patterns, is broken into parts and sent using the multiple antennas. The index of the antennas may be used to convey extra bits of information on top of the original data symbols being transmitted. The receiver, which may use a single antenna, then deciphers the transmit antenna’s index inside each symbol to successfully decode the data signals.

Virtual Touch Screens: New Input for Smaller Devices

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new virtual touch screen technology utilizing unused space to the side of a device display. The technology is a low-cost passive finger localization system based on visible light sensing. It provides a simple and convenient interface that does not require additional external equipment such as a sensor attached to the finger.

A sensor system on the edge of a mobile device uses photodetectors and a light source to track finger motion based on reflected light signals within the narrow light-sensing plane of the virtual touch screen. The signals are converted to orthogonal coordinates and subsequently output to the graphics display screen.

New Software Algorithm Advances Measurement Technology in Agribusiness

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new scanning algorithm for use in assessing yield and quality of crop production.

To determine characteristics such as kernel loading on an ear of corn and ear size, researchers scan up to three ears at a time using a common flatbed scanner. To measure 100 kernel weight, another common yield measurement, researchers weigh a handful of individual kernels and scatter them on the scanner. The resulting images are then analyzed using the algorithm to quickly provide yield data.

The algorithm uses a thresholding technique to separate the ears from the background and a Fourier transform to more accurately estimate kernel length. It also corrects for individual kernels clustering together.

Architecture for Speculative Parallel Execution Improves Performance, Simplifies Programming

UW–Madison researchers have developed a system that permits speculative execution of program tasks prior to determining data dependency. Before commitment of the tasks in a sequential execution order, data dependencies are resolved through a token system that tracks read and write access to data elements accessed by the program portions.

Eliminating the need to wait until late in the program execution to detect or resolve dependencies helps improve processor utilization. Advancing the execution of tasks that ultimately do not experience data dependency problems may have a ripple-through effect, reducing later data dependencies as well.

New Isogeometric Analysis Software for Seamless Integration of Design and Analysis

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new method for creating a CAD-compatible mesh during an isogeometric analysis process. Unlike existing techniques, the method creates meshes without any approximation and delivers optimal convergence rates.

In essence, the researchers have developed a smoothing step that prevents inconsistencies from being introduced into the meshing process as a geometric map of the object is being refined.

Middlebox Scaling for the Cloud

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method that efficiently adjusts the number of middleboxes on demand by transferring not only the flows of instructions but their related middlebox states as well. A new transfer process prevents the loss of data packets and preserves order.

Predicting Computer Memory Failure

The researchers have now developed a method for predicting faults in static random access memory (SRAM) and cache cells. In the new method a memory circuit is artificially aged by reducing voltage, then checked using a predetermined test vector. The vector is altered if there is memory cell failure (i.e., a value of 1 will read out as 0).

The portion of memory being checked may be small and rotated through the entire memory structure to minimize overhead.

Detecting Seismic S Waves with Unprecedented Accuracy

UW–Madison researchers have developed an automatic and extremely accurate method for detecting features of interest in seismic data, including S waves and P waves. Unlike currently available (and error-prone) phase detection methods, the new software identifies potential picks in a single pass through the data without needing to estimate parameters or build a model. Seismic features are identified based on their similarity to a reference set of examples.

The software utilizes a k-nearest neighbors approach. This approach is based on a nonparametric time series classification method.

More Efficient Laminate Analysis

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method for analyzing composite laminate structures that combines the generality of 3-D FEA and efficiency of 2-D FEA whenever it is applicable. The new method works by substituting the laminate layers with much simpler virtual material models having matching characteristics (e.g., overall material properties and relationship between stresses and strains). The updated model can then by analyzed via fully automated 3-D FEA.

The virtual models may be referred to as ABD-equivalent models, as they result in the same ABD stiffness matrices as the real laminate and can act as substitutes if plate-shell assumptions apply.

Intelligent Memory Fault Patching Cuts Costs

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method that allows “patching” of failed memory elements using alternative memory. They determined that under normal operating conditions there is excess capacity in many redundant memory structures, thus providing a solution with little or no cost impact.

In the new method, accesses to data from faulted memory areas is diverted to a secondary memory structure. This secondary memory structure is flagged to increase the persistence of the stored data used for patching against normal updating policies.

Controlling Superconducting Quantum Circuits

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method for controlling superconducting quantum circuits. In the new method, quantized voltage pulses generated by SFQ circuits are used to coherently control superconducting quantum systems, such as qubits or resonator cavities.

More specifically, the method utilizes coherent rotations obtained using a pulse-to-pulse spacing timed to the period of the target oscillator. Controlling the system in this way may be achieved in a low-temperature cryostat without the need to apply external microwave electromagnetic signals. Also, the SFQ-based gates are robust against leakage errors and timing jitter, with high fidelities achievable for gate times on the order of tens of nanoseconds.

Bedside Diagnosis of Swallowing Disorders

UW–Madison researchers have developed software that helps clinicians more easily analyze HRM data. Using a specially adapted manometer inserted through the nasal tract, a series of pressure measurements can be made at different points along the pharynx and esophagus. A computer program uses pattern recognition software to identify changes in pressure when the patient swallows. This data is output as diagnostic values indicating swallowing function.

Accurate Finite Element Analysis over a Tangled Mesh

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method for carrying out FEA over a tangled mesh. The process involves the step of meshing a domain under a field of multiple finite elements. ‘Stiffness contributions’ are computed, both for the finite elements as well as for overlaps. The two calculations are combined and used to generate valid solutions to the proposed design equations.

Precise Restarts for Handling Interrupts in Parallel Processing

UW–Madison researchers have developed an easier method for capturing the precise architectural state of a multiprocessor system. Their approach uses computation checkpoints that hold simplified information sufficient for ‘precisely restarting’ after an interrupt, even though the checkpoints may not technically represent the actual state of the system at the time of interrupt.

Specifically, as the multiple processors execute different parts of a program, the method enforces a consistent order in the commitment of their results. An architectural state is determined by marking interrupts with respect to this commitment order. For example, all preceding executions in the order may be committed, while all later executions are squashed. In this way, ‘precise restartability’ rather than interruptability is used to reflect a total ordering of instructions that is consistent with data flow and sequence.

After an interrupt is handled, execution of the parallel portions is resumed from the architectural state.

SliceHash: High-Performance Indexing for Data-Intensive Systems

UW–Madison researchers have developed a high-performance ‘slicing’ method for organizing index data on an SSD such that related entries are located together.

Buffer indexes are used to accumulate hash-type index data for writing to the flash memory. The grouped data is arranged on the flash memory so that entries related to the same hash are clustered for more efficient lookup. Specifically, data is clustered onto flash ‘pages,’ which are read and written in an order than takes advantages of the underlying parallel structure of the flash memory. Small in-memory indexes – such as hash tables, bloom filters or LSH tables – may be used as buffers to resolve slow random writes. When full, they get written to the SSD.

Placement Gaming Empowers Cloud Users to Assess Service

UW–Madison researchers and others have developed methods to exploit performance inequalities in public clouds using a strategy called placement gaming. In this way, instances can be assessed and chosen by a user.

The approach uses two simple mechanisms. The first is up-front exploration, in which a customer launches more instances than needed and retains only those predicted to perform well. With the second mechanism, the customer can choose to migrate an instance (shutting it down and launching a fresh copy) based on projections of future performance.

Criteria for determining whether to stay or migrate use estimations of an instance’s future performance and may consider historical performance of a particular task or job.

Cache Memory System to Reduce Invalidation Message Traffic

UW–Madison researchers have developed a cache coherence system that streamlines multiple invalidation messages into a single transmission. The system works by delaying and collecting invalidation messages associated with common regions of memory during program executions where data-race conditions do not occur.

Specifically, the method features a cache memory holding lines of data that may be individually invalidated, as in a normal multiprocessor system with cache coherence, and a special cache controller. The cache controller delays communication of select coherence messages and then collects them into a single, combined invalidation message that can be transmitted with fewer demands placed on the interconnection network.

Tactile Button Panel for Use with Touch Screens

UW–Madison researchers have developed a touch screen system that attaches a simple button fixture over a portion of the screen. This is important because virtual ‘buttons’ may be difficult to see or manipulate.

The buttons have clear markings that can be felt by a user. When pressed, the buttons contact the touch screen and the task is performed as usual. The button panel may be mounted permanently or fastened.

Streamlined Scheduling for Large-Scale Chemical Production

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new propagation algorithm to accelerate the solution of MIP models for chemical production scheduling. Based on equipment and material limitations, the algorithm estimates the number of batches and the amount of materials that should be processed in order to meet customer demand. These estimates are used to constrain the search space of the MIP model, leading to dramatic computational improvements.

Interactive Digital Rehabilitation Tool for Stroke

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, University of Wisconsin – Madison and a small company are developing a low-cost technology for in-home rehabilitation specifically targeting hand function in those with upper-limb mobility impairments including those who have suffered a stroke. The technology includes customized game software developed using evidence-based algorithms to systematically increase task difficulty, guide practice, maximize compliance and maintain engagement. The software stores the motion data acquired while patients practice with the system and the stored data is transmitted via internet to be analyzed by a therapist. Through interactive testing during system development, the quality, quantity and synthesis of the collected motion data is delivered in multiple forms that are optimized for both the patient and therapist.

Tracking Tumors for Real-Time Radiation Therapy by Automatic Segmentation

UW–Madison researchers have developed an extremely fast algorithm-based segmentation technique to guide radiation at a rate commensurate with real-time tissue imaging.

Novel Morphological Processing and Successive Localization (MPSL) can be applied to auto-contour the volume, shape and position of a target. The method utilizes predetermined knowledge of the general location and size range of the tumor and based on similarities within value and positioning data, isolates healthy and diseased regions for radiation. More efficient than manual segmentation and more accurate than existing algorithms, the method enables flexible, medical image-guided radiotherapy.

Improving Students’ Retention by Attuning Computerized Teachers to Brain Activity

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method to trigger attention-promoting behaviors presented by robotic, virtual or video-based instruction, using brain-wave measurements indicating drops in user engagement.

User attentiveness is determined by well-accepted EEG measurement of the brain’s electrical activity, like that provided by existing EEG technology. The new system produces an ‘engagement threshold’ to identify periods of declining user attention in real time and signal some modification of the lesson. This modification could take the form of increased audio signals, the use of more pictures, requests for student input or eye and limb movements by robotic instructors. In evaluating student responsiveness to a lesson, this method provides a more robust alternative to other computer-based educational (CBE) tools that gauge effectiveness solely by users’ explicit input or post-hoc comprehension.

Optimized Intensity Modulated Arc Therapy Treatment Planning System

UW–Madison researchers have developed an optimized system and method for producing an intensity modulated arc therapy treatment plan. The system utilizes two main phases to reach an optimal delivery design. Phase one includes obtaining a small set of linked radiation beam apertures and corresponding beam intensities that optimize the approximation of a collection of real-valued intensity maps that are specified along a treatment arc. Phase two requires re-optimizing the beam intensities using dose distributions corresponding to the apertures generated in phase one.

Clinically Relevant Method for Planning Deployment of Flow-Diverting Devices to Treat Cerebral Aneurysms

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method and algorithm for modeling an aneurysm and virtually deploying a flow-diverting device. The method uses a porous media approach to reduce computational cost and is capable of generating subject-specific computational fluid dynamic (CFD) models in clinically relevant times.

Once image data from a patient are acquired, a pretreatment blood vessel model is generated by segmenting the reconstructed images. The pretreatment blood vessel model then is used to generate a post-treatment blood vessel model by combining morphologically manipulations with physics. A post-deployment model of the flow-diverting device is generated and used with the post-treatment blood vessel model to generate a CFD model.

An integral part of this technology is to derive clinically significant parameters (e.g., local metallic coverage) from the virtually deployed flow-diverting device and to incorporate these parameters into the CFD model. Hence, this model can be used by clinicians to plan treatment of cerebral aneurysms. Furthermore, with the availability of post-treatment angiographic imaging data, more accurate CFD models can be created using the same methodology for post-treatment hemodynamic evaluations in a clinical operating room.

New Touchscreen User Interface Provides Improved Accessibility for Individuals with Disabilities

UW–Madison researchers have therefore developed a complementary feature that works with the tactile keypad and allows users with any residual vision to operate the touch screen directly. This is useful for those with low vision as well as people with any type of reading problem.

The user initially touches the screen anywhere and drags a finger down or across the screen.  When he or she enters into a virtual button while dragging in this fashion, the device automatically switches into a mode where each item entered is highlighted and read aloud (or, more commonly, through headphones). In this fashion a person can move about the screen to have text read or find a desired button. When the desired button is found, the user can just lift the finger and touch the button in the normal fashion.  

While a person who is blind could use this method, it would not be reliable since he or she would not be able to see where the buttons were and could miss one easily. But for users who have difficulty seeing or reading a kiosk, this technique provides them with a much faster method of use. It also is transparent to other kiosk users who can continue to use the kiosk in the regular fashion. 

Operating System Support for Restartable File Systems

UW–Madison researchers have developed techniques that provide a restartable file system that allows the operating system to respond to faults or failures in the file system without restarting the whole system or losing data. The techniques create a “logical membrane” around the file system. When a file system failure occurs, the failure is isolated without significantly impacting the execution of the operating system or applications.

The four key components of the method are checkpoints, operation logging, unwinding and object tracking. During normal operation, the system logs file system operations, tracks file system objects and periodically performs lightweight checkpoints of the file system state. If a file system crash occurs, the system delays pending file system operations, halts in-progress file system operations and unwinds current operations to a safe state. After recovery, it restores the file system using the most recent checkpoint and rebuilds the file system state using inter-checkpoint logs. Applications are unaware of the crash and restart. Through isolation of the file system, this technique can avoid restarting the operation system in response to file system failures. This improves reliability by allowing applications to keep executing without losing state and improves the user experience.

Tailored Radiopharmaceutical Dosimetry for 4-D Treatment Planning System

UW-Madison researchers have developed a system for precisely tailoring the quantity and timing of the administration of a radiopharmaceutical to a particular patient. To generate time-activity curves, an imaging radioisotope is first administered and the subject is scanned using dynamic PET/CT imaging. From the acquired datasets, the critical organ, which displays toxicity at the lowest injection level, is determined. A fractionation scheme is then developed for tumor control and toxicity avoidance, and precise, patient-specific administration schedules are created based on the effect that varying dose rates have on the critical organs and tumors. This two-step technique can provide sufficient precision to allow the combination of radiopharmaceutical treatment with other radiation treatment such as external-beam radiotherapy.

Combined Keyboard and System for Improved Accessibility to Electronics

UW–Madison researchers have developed an extension to the EZ Access set of design guidelines, techniques and hardware components. Compact EZ Access keys and functionality can be incorporated into existing or new public information and transaction machines to provide both standard and special keyboard behaviors needed by people with different disabilities. The system incorporates the EZ UP and DOWN, EZ ACTION, EZ BACK and NEXT and EZ HELP buttons of the original EZ Access system into a typical keyboard to improve accessibility of the system and add convenience to users without disabilities. These buttons enhance the functionality of the original arrow and enter keys of a keyboard to allow easy navigation by page, screen or element, while maintaining typical functionalities such as moving the text cursor and typing carriage returns.

Automated Software System for Optimal Beam Setup in Radiation Cancer Therapy Systems

UW-Madison researchers have developed software that uses iterative processes and parallel computing power to select the optimal beam setup to treat tumors while sparing surrounding tissue.  Therapists begin with an estimate of a dosage scheme, and the software computes the average dose that can be applied to each organ that may be at risk of radiation exposure.  Each organ is given an adjustable weight of its importance.  Based on those weights and potential beam configurations, the program uses nested partitioning—an industrial engineering technique that has never been applied to radiation treatment planning before—to evaluate each potential beam setup.

Estimating the Effect of Large Design Changes on Previously Computed Engineering Simulation Results

UW-Madison researchers have developed a method for modeling products that does not require re-meshing. Previous simulation results are used to estimate the effect of design changes. The result is a swift but accurate estimation of design changes on product performance.

Rapid Statistical Timing Analysis of Integrated Circuits to Test and Enhance New Circuit Designs

UW-Madison researchers have developed a new algorithm for STA of VLSI latch-based circuits with feedback loops.  This algorithm expands upon previous developments in timing variable correlation by incorporating analysis of transparent latches and feedback loops.  The algorithm also overcomes the cost and time limitations of traditional methods.  When compared to the Monte Carlo method, considered the gold standard of computational simulation, the new method is 303 times faster and has an average error of only 1.1 percent. 

The increase in computational speeds makes STA of VLSI circuits faster and less expensive.  The increase occurs because the iterations used to determine the average timing results converge more quickly.  This new method of STA will enhance the development and testing of new circuit designs, accelerating the VLSI circuit industry and reducing the cost of digital technologies.

Computer Storage Device Providing Implicit Detection of Block Liveness

UW-Madison researchers have developed a controller within a storage device that can determine liveness of a block without input from the operating system. Each block includes stored data and metadata, which describes whether the block is active (live) or inactive (dead). A controller situated between the disk/operating system interface and the read and write circuits reads the metadata for each block and digitally shreds the data on dead blocks. A smart controller, harnessing this liveness detection technology, can detect when a file has been deleted and then overwrite the data with special patterns to ensure such data cannot be recovered.

Partial Enumeration Model Predictive Controller for MIMO Systems

UW-Madison researchers have developed a method of predictive control for MIMO systems that is approximately 100 times faster than complete enumeration on industrial size applications. This approach compares system conditions to a table of known probable solutions. If any of those solutions are optimal, the model skips calculation. If none are optimal, a suboptimal solution is used, while the controller calculates the optimal solution and adds it to the table. The table of solutions is created by a training period in which expected parameters are modeled.

Efficient Statistical Timing Analysis of Circuits

UW-Madison researchers have developed an accurate statistical timing analysis for integrated circuits that efficiently predicts signal delay. They created a quadratic timing model that partitions the circuit into approximately equal elements and assumes uniform properties for each element. The analysis provides information about the signal delay and determines whether it is small enough for the system to operate correctly.

Control System for Internal Combustion Engines

UW-Madison researchers have developed an engine control system that models and evaluates engine states in real-time, providing more precise control over performance, especially in engines with variable valve actuation. Key to the technology is a computationally efficient thermodynamic model of a cylinder, or “virtual cylinder,” which is implemented as part of the engine’s computer system. This model estimates the mass air per cylinder (MAC) for each actual cylinder at least a fraction of an engine cycle ahead of real-time operation (generally, 0.1 to 4 cycles ahead). This, in turn, allows real-time adjustments to fuel injection and other parameters, like spark advance, offering more precise engine control. Because the virtual cylinder model estimates MAC at the cylinder itself, these estimates may be more accurate than those achieved with traditional techniques that predict MAC at the throttle. The model also accounts directly for cylinder gas dynamics, rather than indirectly through volumetric efficiency (VE) corrections and other similar techniques. Moreover, because it models cylinders individually, the virtual cylinder approach allows the each cylinder’s fuel injection and spark to be set in accordance with its own MAC estimate, rather than an average MAC value for all cylinders.

Efficient Statistical Timing Analysis of Circuits

UW-Madison researchers have developed a systematic STA solution that takes into account correlations caused by global variations and path reconvergence. They extended the commonly used canonical timing model to represent all timing variables in the circuit as a weighted linear combination of a set of independent random variables. A variation vector consisting of all these weights is used to specifically represent both global and path correlation information.

Determining Film Stress from Substrate Shape Using Finite Element Procedures

UW-Madison researchers have developed a method for analyzing the magnitude and spatial distribution of stress in thin films applied to substrates such as those used in the fabrication of integrated circuits and similar microelectronic and micromechanical devices. The method uses experimentally measured substrate shape data and finite element analysis to determine all characteristics of a thin-film stress field. First, the substrate is analyzed by itself to obtain the finite element nodal forces at the top surface of the substrate. Then the film is analyzed separately using these nodal forces as known loads to determine the stresses they will produce in the thin film.

SISO Model Predictive Controller

UW-Madison researchers have developed a fast, easily tuned controller specifically tailored to SISO processes. The controller combines the best features of model-based control methods and PID controllers and performs better than PID controllers on all SISO processes.

This offset-free, constrained, linear quadratic (CLQ) controller has three modules: a state and disturbance estimator, a target calculation and a constrained dynamic optimization. Each of the modules is implemented efficiently so that the overall CLQ algorithm has little computational cost and can be applied using simple hardware and software.

Computer Architecture Providing Transactional, Lock-Free Execution of Lock-Based Programs

The researchers have now extended this work to create a transactional lock removal (TLR) protocol that provides "lock-free" execution even when data conflicts are present. When data conflict is detected, TLR employs a conflict resolution scheme that determines which thread can retain ownership of the necessary data and execute the critical section first without causing errors. The scheme executes critical sections concurrently, but fairly, whenever possible, and efficiently when not.

Method and Device for Parallel Execution of Computer Software Using a Distilled Program

UW-Madison researchers have developed a sophisticated new model to achieve parallel processing of computer programs through speculation. The technique employs a speculative approximation of an original program, called a distilled program, which makes predictions about control and data flow to break dependencies that would otherwise serialize execution.

More specifically, a computer program is monitored to identify predictable, recurring behaviors, and a simpler, “distilled” version is created by assuming that these behaviors continue to repeat. The distilled version executes faster than the original program, but with no guarantee of accuracy. As the distilled program runs, it forwards starting points and other necessary data to secondary processors, which carry out the portions of the original program corresponding to each checkpoint. As the secondary processors finish their tasks, their state data are used to verify the state data assumptions of the distilled version. If mistakes are found, the speculative execution can be stopped and program execution restarted from the last checkpoint.

System for Accurately Forecasting Prices and Other Attributes of Agricultural Commodities

UW-Madison researchers have developed a method and system for forecasting agricultural commodity prices and amounts of consumption, production and trade flows across regions, under a variety of scenarios. The method involves use of a general-purpose computer and employs a multi-component spatial equilibrium function that approximates an inter-regional market in agricultural commodities. The method generally involves first creating an inputs database that contains definitions of the regions and forecast scenarios. The inputs database also contains several years of industry data, including commodity prices and amounts of consumption, production, and trade flow in the regions. The function is refined and solved by maximizing a consumer and producer surplus net of all transaction costs to generate the forecasts. To further refine the forecasts, the method may be solved for an optimal amount of intermediate commodities consumed in the making of the final processed commodities.

Concurrent Execution of Critical Sections by Omitting Lock Acquisition

UW-Madison researchers have developed a novel method for coordinating access to data shared by multiple program threads. Based on the insight that critical sections can often be executed simultaneously without conflict, each program thread of this invention first detects the beginning of a critical section, and then tentatively executes it without first acquiring the lock. The provisional execution is finalized only if no conflict is detected; otherwise execution is quashed. In other words, when a critical section can be executed concurrently by more than one thread without conflict, the step of acquiring the lock becomes unnecessary and is omitted.

System for Calculating the Spatial-Temporal Effects of Environmental Conditions on Animals

UW-Madison researchers have developed an accurate method to predict and thereby diminish or even prevent these negative effects. Their system uses an integrated set of models to incorporate all the conditions needed to accurately predict how animals (both ectotherms and endotherms) will react to changes in their surroundings.

The software package contains three subsections: a microclimate model, a model for warm-blooded animals with fur or feathers, and a model for cold-blooded animals, including insects and reptiles. Input for the models is taken from the animal’s temperature-dependent behaviors, morphology and physiology.

The software has been successfully used in a number of cases. For example, Professor Porter used it to calculate annual respiratory volumes for several sizes and species of birds in Florida. As a result of this work, the EPA elected to cancel registration of a particular pesticide in Florida.

Touch Screen for the Vision-Impaired

A UW–Madison researcher has developed a touch screen system that uses audio ridges to indicate the outlines of virtual buttons on the touch screen display. A separate spoken message describes the function of each button. In this way, a user may use a finger to scan the surface of the touch screen to identify its general spatial arrangement and obtain a mental map of button placement, size and function.

Photorealistic Three-Dimensional Models of Real Scenes by Voxel Coloring

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new scene reconstruction algorithm that guarantees a consistent reconstruction is found, even under severe visibility changes. The technique generates a photorealistic three-dimensional projection of a real object or scene by modeling intrinsic color and texture information.

Specifically, the voxel coloring algorithm works by discretizing scene space into a set of voxels that are traversed and colored in a special order. It identifies a special set of invariant voxels, which together form a spatial and photometric reconstruction of the scene, fully consistent with the input images.

Data Mart with Web Inquiry to PeopleSoft Financials Data

UW-Madison computer scientists have now developed a Web-based software application providing ready access to financial data in PeopleSoft, a state-of-the-art public sector accounting system. Rather than accessing the operational database, the application, called WISDM for Wisconsin data mart, uses a high-performance extract database (the data mart) to deliver PeopleSoft data to users. The WISDM application allows users to access financial ledger pages via a simple Web interface. By clicking individual cells in these pages, the user can drill down to a list of transactions and journals supporting the cell total. Links from these lists allow the user to view the actual source document (e.g., purchase order) in the PeopleSoft database itself. WISDM also provides several simple query interfaces into various journals, transaction lists and source documents that have been transferred into the data mart from PeopleSoft Financials. Because PeopleSoft does not support any custom exports at this time, each site using the WISDM software must develop its own export mechanism.

Brain and Deep Tissue Visualization by Diffusion Tensor Imaging

UW–Madison researchers have developed a post-processing algorithm that accepts diffusion weighted images acquired with diffusion weighted gradients in any 3-D orientation and with any combination of eigenvalues as input.

The code calculates the diffusion tensors for each voxel and provides as output several types of maps, including trace, fractional anisotropy, volume ratio, absolute value color and vector maps. The algorithm also provides a description of the mean diffusion properties of the region of interest and details of the diffusion characteristics of selected voxels.

Predicting Protein Hot Spot Residues

UW–Madison researchers have created the most accurate program ever developed to predict hot spot residues in proteins and model the effects of alanine substitution on each of the amino acids. The program uses a modified Knowledge-based FADE and Contacts (or KFC2) approach.

Measuring Lignin in Corn Stalks

UW–Madison researchers have developed an automated method to scan and analyze corn stalks. The algorithm extracts information about rind thickness, vascular bundles, density and size. The new method uses a flatbed scanner to image samples. The images are acquired as RGB color at a resolution of 800 dpi. Thresholding techniques are used to assess the outer ring boundaries and vasculature.

Mobile Tools for Autism & Communicative Disorders Therapy

A Researcher at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point has developed a suite of medically secure mobile application tools to instantly communicate, track and analyze behaviors and medical interventions for a variety of communication spectrum disorders, especially focusing on Autism therapies. In addition, this system is designed to increase the ability of organizations to train new therapeutic staff in the field through calculated suggestions from an artificial intelligence engine. The suite of apps consists of 1) a data entry, tracking and analysis tool 2) a video capture, sharing and behavior tagging tool, and 3) an artificial intelligence tool. An online Knowledge Automation Expert System (a type of Artificial Intelligence software) is used to track treatment, look for patterns in said treatment, and provide guidance on the next best steps based on each child’s needs. The applications are media rich and allow parents, therapists, and medical doctors to record, track, and observe actual behavior in real time through interactive charting, video sharing, and video conferencing. The video sharing and conferencing provide a way for therapists in the field to work in real-time with senior therapists remotely, thus increasing the level of training for field staff.

These apps are cross mobile platform compatible (Android, iOS and Blackberry) and have several levels of security ensuring patient record safety. This streamlined system of apps work together to capture all critical data from the medical treatments as well as the behavior therapy treatments and provide analysis tools to track and understand changes in the pattern of behavior and reduce subjective interpretation. The final product simplifies communication among parents, therapists and doctors, as well as providing an easy method for therapeutic organizations to efficiently train their staff in the field through direct access to senior therapists and their experience.

Interactive Degree Planner

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater and University of Wisconsin – Madison and a Wisconsin based startup company have developed the Interactive Degree Planner, a web-based digital tool that conveniently calculates a multiyear course plan that satisfies all program and degree requirements in the shortest possible time to graduation. The Planner considers courses already completed by a student and then creates a comprehensive degree plan that will allow for completion of all degree requirements. Among other variables, the optimization software considers when courses are offered along with prerequisites needed for admittance to courses and determines a semester by semester schedule for the remaining courses needed to achieve the degree . This interactive tool will facilitate efficient and cost-effective degree plans as well as serve as a valuable aid for student advising.