The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 2, Number 3

February 14, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


UCLA Center for Communication Policy
On January 29, 2003, the third report of the UCLA Center for Communication Policy's Internet Project was released. The series of reports, collectively titled Surveying the Digital Future, seeks to understand and document "the impact of online technology on America." Many aspects of online behavior are analyzed in the January 2003 report, revealing several trends in Internet usage. It considers the effects of the Internet on a wide range of people, including consumers, children, and general users. It also discusses how people communicate and gather information online. [CL]
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Sandia National Laboratories: News Center [.pdf]
Sandia National Laboratories publishes its quarterly journal of research and development at this Web site. Free to the general public, Sandia Technology summarizes current work related to national security, energy development and infrastructure, and various other advances made at the installation. The fall/ winter 2002 issue centers on sensors for all kinds of purposes. From sensors that monitor water supplies to air-sniffing devices that can detect chemical and biological toxins, Sandia is extremely adept in this area. All back issues of Sandia Technology are also available for browsing, which cover topics such as nuclear power and smart machines. [CL]
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Bridging the Vector Calculus Gap [.pdf, .tex]
A project underway at Oregon State University is attempting "to bridge the 'vector calculus gap' between the way vector calculus is usually taught by mathematicians and the way it is used by other scientists." Six papers and five presentations are available on the project's Web site; the documents explain the importance of the research and propose specific changes to current teaching methods. The Ideas section looks at four topics in calculus and considers how mathematicians approach them differently than other scientists. Some of the material in the Labs section requires a password, but everything else on the site is immediately accessible. [CL]
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Creating High-Level Components with a Generative Representation for Body-Brain Evolution [.pdf]
The journal Artificial Life from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology deals with virtual and physical creations that simulate life-like behavior. While the entire journal cannot be viewed online, this free sample paper proposes a way to encode artificial creatures based upon fundamental characteristics of programming languages. The paper "identifies a class of representations, called generative representations, and investigates their impact on the problem of evolving locomoting robots." The material is appropriate for researchers investigating similar topics. [CL]
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EROS: The Extremely Reliable Operating System [.pdf, .ps]
The Extremely Reliable Operation System (EROS) "is a capability-based operating system designed to support the security and reliability needs of active systems." The EROS homepage has documentation about the system's development and principles, as well as source code and links to download the software. Developers will find tutorials, installation instructions, and manuals on programming for EROS. John Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania are the two main contributors to the project. [CL]
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Using Geographic Information Systems to Map Crime Victim Services [.pdf]
The US Department of Justice released this document in February 2003 about the use of geographic information systems (GIS) in law enforcement. "GIS is an application that links database software to graphics software to create visual images of various types of data in map format." The report outlines the applications of such systems in police cars and at victim assistance facilities, providing examples of situations where it has been used successfully and cases that could have benefited from GIS. Concerns about privacy and confidentiality related to GIS are also identified. [CL]
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Architectures for Intrusion Tolerant Database Systems [.pdf]
The Cyber Security Group at Pennsylvania State University is developing database software that can detect "attacks by malicious transactions" and repair the database with no interruption. This research paper proposes five different schemes for implementing such a system, with each one building on the previous. Some of the main goals for the schemes are automatic damage repair, attack isolation to prevent multiple attacks of the same type, and damage containment during the repair process. One of the most active faculty members of the research group, Assistant Professor Peng Liu, is the author of this paper, which was presented at a conference in December 2002. [CL]
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Advantage Warfighter: ERDC Research Gives US Forces the Edge [.pdf]
This report from the US Army Research and Development Center describes new technologies that "assist soldiers as they maneuver, deploy, sustain, survive, and train." Advanced techniques and equipment are highlighted in each of these five categories. For example, the Joint Rapid Airfield Construction program, as the name implies, is working on a method of quickly setting up a base for aircraft to land, possibly in unfamiliar territory. Another project is a protective structural system that can be easily transported and reconfigured. Many more technologies are outlined in the report. [CL]
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Educational Technology and Society [.pdf]
Educational Technology and Society is a quarterly electronic journal that addresses "issues affecting the developers of educational systems and educators who implement and manage such systems." Published partly in association with the Learning Technology Task Force of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the journal often has special features or focuses; for instance, the October 2002 issue has several articles on recent advances and developments in learning technology. Other sections provide case studies, reviews of books, software, Web sites, and related formal discussions. Complete instructions regarding article submission are given on the journal's homepage. [CL]
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Concepts and Applications of Inferential Statistics
A professor of psychology at Vassar College is the author of this impressive online statistics textbook. Seventeen chapters and numerous appendixes range in topic from beginning concepts to what would likely be covered in a second or intermediate course in statistics. Easy to navigate, the online interface provides quick access to all sections of the book, and some of the book's material is interactive, such as calculators and sampling distribution functions. A companion site to the text, offered by the same individual, has a large selection of statistical tools and demonstrations. [CL]
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Digital Signal Processing Tools [.pdf]
A collection of seven Java applets and associated tutorials are available on this site from the Signals and Systems Group at the University of Edinburgh. The tools illustrate various concepts of digital signal processing, like convolution, correlation, the Fourier transform, and discrete-time applications of each. Seven other applets that demonstrate more advanced concepts are also available, but no documentation or explanation accompanies them. A few conference publications and reports related to these educational materials are presented. [CL]
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The Journey Inside [Flash, RealPlayer, .pdf]
The Web designers at Intel did a tremendous job when designing The Journey Inside, a Web site on computer and Internet-related technologies. Six sections offer interactive lessons, video demonstrations, and interesting stories about fundamental concepts. The first section provides a general introduction to computers. Next is an informative overview of Circuits and Switches, followed by a discussion of Digital Information storage and analysis. Microprocessor basics, the Internet, and Technology and Society round out the last three sections. Teachers can also find useful resources on this site, but they first need to complete a free registration. [CL]
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Grade school students will find a valuable online tutor for almost any topic in mathematics. The three most useful sections of the site are Algebra Solutions, Geometry Solutions, and Formula-To-Go. The first two explain many common mathematical properties and offer mini-lessons and worksheets about each topic. Formula-To-Go has equations, tables, and calculus identities that make an excellent quick reference. Another section that is better suited for practice is the questions archive. Teachers can also make use of the archive, which contains over 30,000 questions and solutions that span fourteen categories. [CL]
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WebEE: The Electrical Engineering Homepage [.pdf, .zip]
WebEE is a great reference for electrical engineers, students, or electronics hobbyists. A long list of schematics describes how to build circuits for different applications, such as audio filters, waveform generators, and battery chargers. A schematic and instructions are even included that describe how to modify a Nintendo Game Boy to be used as an oscilloscope. Several categories of downloadable software are given on WebEE, as well as a plethora of tutorials about various subjects and equipment. Most of the material is located on the WebEE site; however, some of it links to offsite resources. A forum is also available (after a free registration) to exchange ideas or ask questions. [CL]
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Multimedia Math Glossary
Harcourt School Publishers maintains this glossary of mathematics terms, with custom glossaries for each grade level from kindergarten to sixth grade. Students are not only provided with definitions but also pictures and animations that explain the meaning of the word. Some of the terms are not strictly related to mathematics; for example, units of measurement and measuring devices are also identified. The glossaries contain over 300 terms, and they are very easy to use. [CL]
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Recurrence Sequences [.dvi, .pdf]
A book on recurrence sequences, an advanced topic in number theory, can be downloaded from this site. It deals mainly with linear recurrence sequences, and provides extensive theory, methods, and equations. While the material is quite complex, it has applications for various disciplines. The authors state, "these sequences appear almost everywhere in mathematics and computer science." The book is in draft form, and will be featured in the Surveys and Monographs series of the American Mathematical Society sometime in 2003. Until then, however, the book can be accessed here for the purpose of correcting any errors. [CL]
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The 12 Deadly Sins of Site Design [.pdf]
BBC Training and Development released this report on poor Web site design practices in October 2002. It documents the results of a study conducted by the organization, which evaluated over 60 prominent UK Web sites on their ease of use, presentation, and relevancy. While the report was prepared mainly to help companies improve the online experience for their customers, anyone who deals with Web development (even for personal Web pages) can learn some valuable lessons. Some of the most common pitfalls of site design are outlined. A frequent problem arises from not understanding how people use the Web, and design time is wasted on useless features while other important features are neglected. This report identifies many problems like this, and once they are identified, they are often easy to correct. [CL]
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The History of Mathematics [.pdf, .ps, .dvi, .tex]
Trinity College in Ireland hosts this site about the History of Mathematics. Rather than identifying key discoveries and theorems, the site mainly gives accounts of many prominent mathematicians and focuses on their research and contributions. Most material deals with the period between the 17th and 19th centuries, a time that produced many ideas that form the basis of modern mathematics. Some famous people highlighted on the site include Descartes, Fermat, and Sir Isaac Newton. A number of historical papers written by these mathematicians are available to be downloaded. [CL]
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General Electric Company: Innovation Timeline [Flash, QuickTime]
Now over 110 years old, General Electric played an important role in the worldwide adoption of many modern technologies. The company maintains this timeline of events and innovations that happened since its formation. Beginning with Thomas Edison's carbon filament lamp in 1879, the timeline briefly describes each entry and its significance. A picture and the occasional video clip are also included. While some of the material pertains to GE history, it mainly represents technological progress made at the national level. [CL]
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Taxi2000 [RealPlayer, .pdf]
Originally developed at the University of Minnesota, personal rapid transit (PRT) systems are now being explored further by a spin-off company called Taxi2000. The system is designed to operate on raised guideways and is set up in grid formations that can easily be expanded. While still in the planning stages, a great deal of information is presented on the Taxi2000 homepage. Many publications can be downloaded, including detailed descriptions of the Taxi2000 concept and a projection for ridership in the Twin Cities area. Video animations show how the system will operate and easily fit into crowded cities. News about the construction of a prototype and other progress is also given online. [CL]
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Two on Hydrogen Power
Bush Cites Need to Develop Affordable Hydrogen-Powered Fuel Cells
FreedomCAR: Office of Transportation Technologies [.pdf]
In his State of the Union Address on January 28, 2003, President Bush made a case for further fuel cell development. Current efforts in this area have not determined how to efficiently produce or extract hydrogen for the cells. In hopes of solving this problem, Bush proposed a $1.2 billion FreedomFUEL initiative. The first site discusses the initiative and its potential to create a nearly pollution-free method of electricity generation. FreedomFUEL is closely related to the FreedomCAR program, which has its homepage at the second site. News releases and fact sheets are available, as well as overviews of fuel cells and the technical goals of the program. [CL]
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Mobile Technology Comparison Simulator [Flash, .zip],1983,inContentId+09009403800327ce-inLocaleId+1,00.html
Lucent Technologies presents this educational tool "to clearly demonstrate how different data rates, and the effect of 'dial-up' versus 'always on' connections, impacts the usability of typical mobile services." By comparing the speed and operation of four different technologies, the tool demonstrates how each performs in real time. It explains the effect of encryption on bandwidth and how connection speed depends on a combination of bandwidth and latency. Several applications of mobile services are examined, including file download, Web browsing, and streaming audio and video. The later two sections cannot be viewed online; rather, the user must download the full simulator to access them. [CL]
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NOVA: Battle of the X-Planes [Flash]
First aired on February 4, 2003, Battle of the X-Planes looked at the development of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). The JSF is intended to be the next-generation military jet for the US, and Boeing and Lockheed Martin are vying to have their respective version chosen by the government. This is the companion site to the NOVA episode. Many interactive features, interviews, and articles attest to the sheer magnitude of the project. One section of the site explains the many design decisions that need to be considered for a stealth aircraft. Another section provides a first-hand account of visiting highly classified military sites and the development process of the JSF. [CL]
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Sky Station [.avi, DivX]
While satellites are the current backbone of telecommunications and wireless infrastructure, the company that maintains this Web site envisions a completely new technology. The Stratospheric Telecommunications Service (STS) relies on "lighter-than-air platforms which are held in a geo-stationary position in the stratosphere (approximately 21Km) over a major metropolitan area." The Sky Station company documents much of the STS theory online, as well as maintaining news and information articles about the progress of the system's development. US and international organizations have already reserved some of the radio frequency spectrum for stratospheric platforms, and it seems to have considerable support from important agencies. [CL]
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Topic In Depth

Music Technology
1. Doug Barnes's Music Technology Handouts
2. Music Technology Articles
3. MTG: Music Technology Group [.pdf]
4. Sound in Space
5. How Things Work: Compact Disc Players
6. Loris [.pdf, .ps, .aiff]
7. MP3.Org: MPEG-4 Becoming Louder, Clearer?
8. Beyond 2000: Turning the Tables
With the exception of orchestral performances and truly "unplugged" concerts, today's music has evolved into a very hi-tech industry. It takes elements from many disciplines, including computer science, electrical and mechanical engineering, mathematics, and physics. Because music technology encompasses everything from audio compression and encoding to advanced sound equipment, this Topic in Depth has quite a broad scope.

A decent introduction to some aspects of music technology (1) mainly deals with sound recording. It covers topics such as sampling, sequencing, and FM synthesis. Some of this material is also explained on this site (2); however, there are a couple articles that address current issues. One discusses the popular and controversial MP3 audio compression standard, while the other considers how the Internet effects musicians and the music culture as a whole. The Music Technology Group at a university in Barcelona, focuses on a variety of audio processing and analysis principles. Over ten years of research papers, journal publications, and other documents can be downloaded from the group's home page (3). A similar organization at the University of York maintains this page on 3-D audio and ambisonics (4). There are several sections that describe the basics of ambisonics and provide suggestions for experimentation, as well as a couple of papers on surround sound systems and other research projects. The current dominant music media format is the compact disc, which has enjoyed tremendous success for many years. This site (5) explains how CD players work by listing and answering many common questions about CD operation. Loris, a project of the CERL Sound Group, is an open source application used to process digitized sounds. A number of publications and several demonstrations of sound morphing are given on the Loris home page (6). Although the MP3 standard was the breakthrough that allowed music to be highly compressed for easy storage and transmission, a new standard, appropriately dubbed MPEG-4, could soon replace the aging technology. This news article (7), from November 22, 2002, outlines the audio and video capabilities of MPEG-4 and discusses some hotly contended licensing issues. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab has created a robotic disc jockey that randomly selects records and mixes them on turntables. Beyond 2000 (8) reports on the DJ I Sound System and how it works. [CL]
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From The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2002.

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Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2002. The Internet Scout Project (, located in the Computer Sciences Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, provides information about the Internet to the U.S. research and education community under a grant from the National Science Foundation, number NCR-9712163. The Government has certain rights in this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the entire Scout Report provided this paragraph, including the copyright notice, are preserved on all copies.

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