The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 1, Number 20

November 8, 2002

A Publication of the Internet Scout Project
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


The Hypercar Concept [.pdf]
The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) introduces the Hypercar vehicle on this Web site. Focusing on environmentally friendly operation, lightweight construction, and streamlined, aerodynamic design, the Hypercar attempts to maximize fuel efficiency. While it is still in the research and development phase, RMI hopes to make it the dominant vehicle on the road by 2020. A great deal of information is given on this site, addressing issues of safety and performance, advanced composites, hydrogen fuel cells, and hybrid-electric drivetrains. There are technical publications on different design aspects of the Hypercar, as well as analyses of possible effects on different industries resulting from the Hypercar's deployment. [CL]
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The Open Interface: Beyond Keyboards and Mice
The Stanford Archimedes Project researches and develops tools that improve accessibility to information technology. This article, printed in a journal of the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand, describes much of the project's current work. One of the breakthrough devices from Archimedes is the Total Access System (TAS), which provides "access to computers and other electronic devices via speech recognition, head and eye tracking, and other 'human-centred interfaces.'" The TAS stems from research conducted to help the disabled; however, the interface could benefit everyone and make the keyboard and mouse obsolete. [CL]
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Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center: Public Roads Magazine [.pdf]
Public Roads Magazine is a bimonthly publication of the Federal Highway Administration. Each issue has several articles about "advances and innovations in highway/ traffic research and technology, critical national transportation issues," and other topics regarding federal highway policies. Besides the main general interest articles, there are specialized sections on technical news, Internet resources, and recent publications. The magazine was first publicly distributed in 1993, and every edition is available from an online archive. The home page of the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center has much more information on specific research projects. [CL]
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Electronic Transactions on Numerical Analysis [.pdf, .ps]
"Electronic Transactions on Numerical Analysis (ETNA) is an electronic journal for the publication of significant new and important developments in numerical analysis and scientific computing." All thirteen volumes are all available on the ETNA home page, dating back to 1993. Four papers constitute the 2002 volume; however, additional papers could be added if more are accepted. One interesting paper considers methods of digital image reconstruction. Most papers propose new algorithms or analyze the effectiveness of their implementations in linear algebra and continuous models. ETNA is published at Kent State University. [CL]
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HyperTransport Technology: Simplifying System Design
HyperTransport technology is an architecture that allows data transfer between chips in excess of ten gigabytes per second. This white paper from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), released in October 2002, considers the potential of HyperTransport in designing an input/ output bus for a microprocessor. The technology, while accommodating high speed demands, requires relatively little power, making it ideal for a wide range of applications. The report outlines the advantages of HyperTransport technology over other bus designs, concluding that it can be easier to implement while having superior performance at a lower cost. [CL]
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Chemical Engineering Progress (CEP) is a journal of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. A special promotion is underway, as of November 8, 2002, that allows free registration and access to the online version of the magazine, including over a year of back issues. The promotion will continue "for a limited time;" unfortunately, no clarification is given. Several departments keep readers up to date on research and development within the industry. Individual articles commonly focus on issues regarding environmental protection, material handling, biotechnology, and much more. The journal is very diverse and is suitable for anyone interested in chemical engineering. [CL]
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Dedicated Outdoor Air Systems [.pdf, .ppt]
Engineers at Pennsylvania State University have devised an air conditioning system that is more efficient than current standards and is highly resistant to dangerous airborne microbes such as anthrax. Because the Dedicated Outdoor Air System (DOAS) does not use recirculated air, a letter contaminated with anthrax would not spread throughout the building. A detailed technical overview of the concept is given on the DOAS home page, as well as an assessment of its benefits over traditional air conditioning. A collection of over twenty research papers and five presentations related to the system's development is also provided. [CL]
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Creating Interoperable Meshing and Discretization Software: The Terascale Simulation Tools and Technology Center
Recent advances in parallel computer design have made the most powerful scientific computers of today possible. These machines, of which there are only a handful in the world, are classified as terascale computers, meaning they can process over a trillion operations per second. The Terascale Simulation Tools and Technology Center presented this paper at an international conference in June 2002. The paper outlines the center's technical objectives, with emphasis on the development of "technologies that enable application scientists to easily use multiple mesh and discretization strategies within a single simulation on terascale computers." The center is multi-institution effort between several government laboratories. [CL]
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Bores: Introduction to DSP
Bores Signal Processing is a UK-based company that specializes in digital signal processing (DSP) training. A free service offered on the Bores Web site is this introduction to DSP theory and application. After beginning with a brief overview of DSP, the material delves into the process of converting analog signals to digital signals. Other topics include aliasing, frequency resolution, and quantization error. The material is supported with clear illustrations of sinusoids and techniques of waveform filtering. An advanced DSP online course is also available on the Bores Web site. [CL]
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Demos with Positive Impact [QuickTime, .avi, .zip, .mwt]
Developed primarily for instructors of general college and advanced high school mathematics, this Web site is a collection of teaching tools and demonstrations that intertwines common scenarios with mathematical principles. Some of the demos are browser-based, like one that uses a Java applet to show the steps for multiplying two matrices. Others require some prior setup; for example, the concept of infinite series can be explained quite easily by dividing quarters of a donut among three student volunteers. Complete descriptions of the demos, with materials lists, are given. There are additional activities that use graphical calculators or software. [CL]
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Welcome to the Web
Welcome to the Web is a great place to learn the basics of using the Internet and the World Wide Web. It is tailored to children, but if inexperienced adults can get past the cartoon drawings, anyone can benefit from the site. The first section provides an overview of the Internet and some terminology. Next is a section on guestbooks, followed by an overview of Web browsers. "Searching the Net" and research techniques comprise the last two sections. Each category consists of several interactive Web pages that lead the user through each step. Once the user has completed the sections, he/she can try the challenge that tests all of the previous materials. [CL]
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Mindshare: PC System Architecture [Windows Media Player, .pdf]
Mindshare is a company that specializes in technical training for a variety of computer technologies. Five short courses can be accessed from the Mindshare home page at no charge, after completing a quick registration. The online courses give an overview of the "PCI-X System Architecture, Rambus, USB 2.0, PCI Power Management, and Infiniband System Architecture." Each of these technologies is introduced with a virtual presentation, which shows video of the speaker and the slides used in the talk. The Web interface is very well designed and easy to use. The presentations range from 45 minutes to over two hours. [CL]
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Macalester College Problem of the Week
The Macalester College Problem of the Week (MacPOW) is a tradition that began in 1968 as a fun, challenging activity for freshmen college students. It continues to this day, and about 200 problems are archived on this Web site (out of nearly 1,000 total). All of the unique conundrums are mathematically oriented, and most are word problems that require visualization and critical thinking skills. There is a mailing list to which users can subscribe and receive solutions to each problem at the end of the week. However, because MacPOW is maintained by a professor who regularly uses these problems in class, solutions only remain on the site for the duration of each semester. [CL]
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Teach R Kids Math: Math for Elementary School Kids
Teach R Kids Math is a Web site with a large assortment of interactive lessons that demonstrate basic mathematical concepts. The material ranges from basic counting for preschoolers to more advanced topics for elementary school students. Online worksheets help children practice multiplication and division, rounding, fractions, number sequences, and much more. Some of the activities are timed, which allows the child to see his/her improvement. The site "has been designed by children and adults," making it especially tuned to the most efficient ways of conveying information. This site is also reviewed in the November 8, 2002 Scout Report. [CL]
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University of Strathclyde: The Z-Transform
This site offers a no-nonsense introduction to the Z-Transform, which "is used to take discrete time domain signals into a complex-variable frequency domain." It is divided into two main sections; the first derives the Z-Transform and considers its properties, while the second describes its applications for solving various types of mathematical problems. The material is mostly text and equations, but there are some graphics and diagrams that depict important concepts. For practice, users can try their hand at solving some sample problems given in the tutorial sections of the site and check their answers with the solutions provided. [CL]
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Atrevida: Game Programming Tutorials
Although it is labeled as an introduction to PC game programming, the tutorials given on Atrevida additionally cover many aspects of mathematics and general computer science. A modest background in the C language is suggested, but many of the sections involve more theory than actual programming. There are nearly twenty topics that explain basic computer operation, graphics programming, and the 80x86 assembler. A very interesting section describes sound waves and compression techniques, while another provides an overview of binary arithmetic and the octal and hexadecimal number systems. Many more items are listed on the main page, but are without links. This could indicate a substantial addition to the site being prepared by the author. [CL]
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Fuel Cell Today
Fuel Cell Today is a useful online resource with a very diverse range of materials about fuel cell technology. Possibly the most interesting part of the site is the Reference Centre, where users can find information on different types of fuel cells, their applications, history of their development, possible materials to use in their design, and more. All educational and technical descriptions are intended to promote the global adoption of fuel cells as a clean, efficient energy source. There is also plenty of literature in the Knowledge Bank. Fuel cell news and emerging technologies are covered, and the site is updated often. [CL]
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Two about the Smart Gun
Justice Dept. Reaches for "Smart" Gun
Metal Storm [.pdf]
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is exploring a unique application of biometrics technologies: a handgun that can recognize its owner and only fire when being held by that person. This innovation could make it impossible for a criminal to steal an officer's firearm and use it against other people. Although this may seem like an uncommon situation, the October 22, 2002 news article attributes it to "one in six" killings of law enforcement agents. The technology would use fingerprints, grip recognition, or some other means of identifying the person holding the gun. Metal Storm, the company that is working with the NIJ to develop the gun, has presentations and technology descriptions on its home page. [CL]
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Special Supplement Homeland Security: Preparing for Tomorrow's Battles
The Federal Computer Week publication offers this special feature on the applications of technology for fighting terrorism. One of the articles in the report focuses on usability of key technologies, like geographic information systems for disaster response. Making these kinds of tools easier to use is beneficial from any standpoint, but specifically, it can help prevent, or at least minimize, damage from terrorist acts. Another focus of the report is automated speech processing, which is a critical technology for handling the massive amount of intercepted dialogue that could indicate terrorist activity. Possibly the most chilling article deals with a government effort to assess the potential impact of an attack on critical infrastructure. This would involve sophisticated simulations of disruptions to the power grid, telecommunications, and spread of biological weapons. [CL]
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An Atlas of Cyberspaces
"CyberGeography is the study of the spatial nature of computer communications networks, particularly the Internet, the World-Wide Web and other electronic 'places' that exist behind our computer screens, popularly referred to as cyberspace." The Atlas of Cyberspaces highlights many efforts from around the world to visualize this type of information. Some of the features have links to download software tools, like an experimental browser that portrays Web sites as three dimensional buildings (the bigger the building, the more popular it is). Other features are more abstract; one project at Harvard University developed a visualization tool that depicts users' online behavior. [CL]
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Alice is a free "3D interactive graphics programming environment" developed at Carnegie Mellon University. The Windows-based authoring tool includes a program from a professor at the University of Tokyo that allows the user to create 3D models. Alice is then used to paint the objects, which can be included in Web sites and viewed by anyone with the free browser plug-in. The tools are known for their ease of use, but this does not limit the amount of documentation included on the Alice home page. Due to the extensive functionality of the programs, they are quite large and can take several hours to download on a slow connection. [CL]
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Boxes and Arrows
Boxes and Arrows is a monthly online journal that addresses "the complex task of bringing architecture and design to the digital landscape." Articles are written by peers of this multi-disciplinary field, and contributions are encouraged. The goal of the journal is to stimulate thought-provoking discussion about a wide range of topics, including professional practices, case studies, historical perspectives, and more. To this end, an online discussion thread accompanies each article published in Boxes and Arrows. No formal registration is required to participate. Every article is available online since the journal's debut in March 2002. [CL]
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Aurora Flight Sciences [.mpeg, QuickTime, .pdf]
Aurora Flight Sciences most recently made headlines with a test of its MarsFlyer, a prototype aircraft that, in its final version, will be used by NASA to gather information about the Red Planet's atmosphere. The company's Web site has information about this and many other specialized aircraft, as well as a video from the tail of the MarsFlyer as it was dropped from 100,000 feet. Specific information about composite structures and metal fabrication is presented for both Aurora products and products from other companies. Aurora Flight Sciences is also, incidentally, one of the first to use the dot-aero domain name. [CL]
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Elsam: Horns Rev Offshore Wind Farm [AxisCamControl, Windows Media Player]
The Danish energy producing company Elsam is currently building "the world's largest offshore wind farm" in the North Sea. 80 turbines were erected over summer 2002, which was when the project began. The Horns Rev project is part of a long term plan for Denmark to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 50 percent by 2030. A monthly newsletter is published online with all of the developments and milestones accomplished. There is substantial material on the wind farm's construction. The specifications of the turbines are quite impressive. Analysis of wind speeds, water conditions, and other location specific data conveys the complexity of the design process. A description of the various stages of construction is also very interesting. [CL]
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Topic In Depth

Digital Imaging and Image Processing
1. Kodak Digital Learning Center
2. Digital Imaging
3. HIPR2: Image Processing Learning Resources
4. Introduction to Metric Pattern Theory [.zip, Mathwright32 Reader, MathwrightWeb]
5. Journal of Electronic Imaging Online [.pdf, .ps.gz]
6. Mathematics Experiences Through Image Processing (METIP)
7. Philips: Making 3-D TV Possible
8. Technology Review: Holograms in Motion
Applications for image processing exist in many of today's top technologies. Embodying many elements from computer science and mathematics, the science is used in digital cameras, photo editing tools, and much more.
The first site is an excellent introduction to digital imaging from the Eastman Kodak Company (1). There are five lessons with review questions and competency exams, covering fundamentals, image capture, and processing. A more technical introduction is found at the Digital Imaging Glossary (2). This educational resource has several short articles about compression algorithms and specific imaging techniques. The Hypermedia Image Processing Reference (3) goes into the theory of image processing. It describes operations involving image arithmetic, blending multiple images, and feature detectors, to name a few; and several of the sections have illustrative Java applets. The Center for Imaging Science at John Hopkins University (4) offers two chapters from a book on "metric pattern theory." A brief overview of the material is provided on the main page, and the chapters can be viewed on or offline with special plug-ins given on the Web site. The Journal of Electronic Imaging (5) is a quarterly publication with many papers on current research. The final issue of 2002 has a special section on Internet imaging that is quite interesting. A research project at the University of Washington (6) focuses on the role of mathematics in image processing. Besides a thorough description of the project, there is free software and documentation given on the Web site. Philips Research (7) is working on a product that seems like something from a science fiction movie. Three dimensional television and the technologies that make it possible are described on the site. Related to this is a November 2002 news article discussing holograms and 3-D video displays (8). The devices are being studied by the Spatial Imaging Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. [CL]
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