Presenter: Amit Singer (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday April 8, 2011 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

* Alternate Location: Levine 307 (3330 Walnut Street)*

Motivated by problems in structural biology, specifically cryo-electron microscopy, we introduce vector diffusion maps (VDM), a new mathematical framework for organizing and analyzing high dimensional data sets, images and shapes. VDM is a mathematical and algorithmic generalization of diffusion maps and other non-linear dimensionality reduction methods, such as LLE, ISOMAP and Laplacian eigenmaps. While existing methods are either directly or indirectly related to the heat kernel for functions over the data, VDM is based on the heat kernel for vector fields.

Presenter's Biography:

Amit Singer is an Associate Professor of Mathematics and a member of the Executive Committee of the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics (PACM) at Princeton University. He joint Princeton as an Assistant Professor in 2008. From 2005 to 2008 he was a Gibbs Assistant Professor in Applied Mathematics at the Department of Mathematics, Yale University. Singer received the BSc degree in Physics and Mathematics and the PhD degree in Applied Mathematics from Tel Aviv University (Israel), in 1997 and 2005, respectively. He served in the Israeli Defense Forces during 1997-2003. He was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (2010) and the Haim Nessyahu Prize for Best PhD in Mathematics in Israel (2007). His current research in applied mathematics focuses on problems of massive data analysis and structural biology.

Presenter: Xiaolei Huang (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Monday December 20, 2010 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm

* Alternate Location: Levine 512 (3330 Walnut Street)*

In this talk, we will present shape registration algorithms based on the implicit distance function representation. In its implicit representation, a shape is embedded in a higher-dimensional space as the zero level set of a distance function. In certain applications like shape registration, the implicit representation has advantages because it provides additional support to the registration process and requires matching of not only the shapes but also their clones that are positioned coherently in the embedding space.

Presenter's Biography:

Xiaolei Huang received her B.E. degree in Computer Science from Tsinghua University, China in 1999, and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from Rutgers University in 2001 and 2006, respectively. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering department at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA. Her research interests are in the areas of computer vision, biomedical image analysis, and computer graphics, focusing on registration, segmentation, and deformable model based methods.

Wednesday December 1, 2010

GRASP undergraduate research student, Jessica Wetstone, received an Honorable Mention in the Computing Research Association's Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award competition for 2011!

Event Date(s):
  Friday December 10, 2010 at 1:00pm

Taught by Dr. Katherine Kuchenbecker, MEAM 625: Haptic Interfaces, a grad-level class on the science and technology of touch-based interactions for virtual environments, teleoperation, and autonomous robots.  Twenty-eight students have put together eight great projects and will be demonstrating them for you this Friday:

Wednesday November 17, 2010


The University of Pennsylvania finished in second place at the worldwide Multi Autonomous Ground-Robotic International Challenge (MAGIC) 2010 competition, earning the Penn team a research award of $250,000. To compete, the team traveled to Australia, where the event was held in conjunction with the Australian Land Warfare Conference.

Presenter: Dan Lee, Jonathan Butzke, Alex Kushleyev, Cody Phillips & Michael Phillips

Event Dates:
  Friday December 3, 2010 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

The MAGIC 2010 challenge required competitors to build, develop, and field robot teams to execute an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance mission in a dynamic urban environment. In this talk, the UPenn team will discuss and demonstrate the hardware and software solutions that resulted in their second place finish in the challenge  last month.

Presenter: Gunter Niemeyer (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday December 10, 2010 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

From the very beginning of robotics and telerobotics, we have envisioned using a robot to be our presence at a second location. This includes seeing what the robot sees, feeling what the robot feels. And it is still true today - operators sooner or later want to feel the remote world. Traditional wisdom suggests feeding back sensor information to the user as directly as possible, making the system as transparent as possible. Yet this has always left us in a tight bind between performance and stability.

Presenter's Biography:

Dr. Günter Niemeyer is a senior research scientist at Willow Garage Inc. and a consulting professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. His research examines physical human-robotic interactions and interaction dynamics, force sensitivity and feedback, teleoperation with and without communication delays, and haptic interfaces. This involves efforts ranging from realtime motor and robot control to user interface design. Dr. Niemeyer received his M.S. and Ph.D. from MIT in the areas of adaptive robot control and bilateral teleoperation, introducing the concept of wave variables. He also held a postdoctoral research position at MIT developing surgical robotics. In 1997 he joined Intuitive Surgical Inc., where he helped create the daVinci Minimally Invasive Surgical System. This telerobotic system enables surgeons to perform complex procedures through small (5 to 10mm) incisions using an immersive interface and is in use at hundreds of hospitals worldwide. He joined the Stanford faculty in the Fall of 2001, directing the Telerobotics Lab and teaching dynamics, controls, and telerobotics. He has been a member of the Willow Garage research group since 2009.

Presenter: Pietro Perona (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday November 19, 2010 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

The web is not yet perfect: while text is easily searched and organized, pictures (the vast majority of the bits that one can find online) are still digital dark matter. In order to see how one could make pictures first-class citizens of the web, I explore the idea of Visipedia, a visual interface for Wikipedia that is able to answer visual queries and enables experts to contribute and organize visual knowledge. Five distinct groups of humans would interact through Visipedia: users, experts, editors, visual workers, and machine vision scientists.

Presenter's Biography:

Dr. Pietro Perona is the Allen E. Puckett Professor of Electrical Engineering at Caltech. He directs Computation and Neural Systems (, a PhD program centered on the study of biological brains and intelligent machines. Professor Perona's research centers on vision. He has contributed to the theory of partial differential equations for image processing and boundary formation, and to modeling the early visual system's function. He is currently interested in visual categories and visual recognition.Dr. Perona's research interests also include Computer Vision: recognition, navigation, human-computer interfaces, texture analysis, multiresolution image analysis, diffusions and Human Vision: perception of shape-from-shading, perception of texture and models of early vision.

Thursday October 28, 2010

Mechanical engineer Katherine Kuchenbecker tells a story about one of the most compelling videos she’s ever seen about the sense of touch.....

Wednesday October 27, 2010


Engineering professor invited to appear on Colbert Report


This week, a Penn professor helped Stephen Colbert in his quest to “keep fear alive.”