The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 2, Number 6

March 28, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


PiSTE: Personalized, Immersive Sports TV Experience [.pdf]
The Personalized, Immersive Sports TV Experience (PiSTE) is a project being implemented for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, but if successful, it could have a profound impact on future sporting event broadcasts. It will incorporate "digital video processing, 3D-visualisation and animation techniques" to enable an interactive, multimedia experience. Multiple cameras will be used to create a live 3D model of the sporting event, which will then be broadcast with enhanced content to viewers. Extensive documentation of PiSTE and research papers can be downloaded from the project's Web site. [CL]
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SoundWIRE Group at CCRMA [.pdf, .wav, .mp3]
SoundWIRE, which stands for Sound Waves on the Internet from Real-time Echoes, is a research group investigating streaming audio and underlying network performance characteristics. A novel utility developed by the group measures network delay by recirculating a basic signal between two hosts. "The internet connection itself is thereby converted into a vibrating acoustic medium, producing a resonating tone" that has a frequency (i.e., pitch) proportional to the roundtrip time. This ingenious method is described in detail on the group's homepage. Several research and conference papers can also be downloaded. A number of SoundWIRE experiments are also highlighted, including one that demonstrated Audio Teleportation. This accomplishment was performed with an electronic cello accompanied by its own echo, which was produced by recirculating the cello's signal across several hundred miles via the Internet. [CL]
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Heavy Vehicle Propulsion Materials [.pdf]
The Heavy Vehicle Propulsion Materials (HVPM) program was implemented in 1996 by an office of the US Department of Energy. Its purpose is to develop "key enabling materials technologies to increase energy efficiency and reduce exhaust emissions." Much of the program's work is being done at Oak Ridge National Laboratories, where researchers are working with the diesel engine industry to develop technologies for improved fuel systems, exhaust aftertreatment, structural and insulating materials, and more. This Web site has quarterly reports from 2000 to the present documenting progress, accomplishments, and future work for numerous projects within HVPM. Program highlights provide more succinct descriptions of the different areas of research being investigated. [CL]
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Enabling Applications on the Grid - A GridLab Overview [.pdf]
This paper on computational grid technology is scheduled to be published in the International Journal of High Performance Computing Applications in August 2003. The first part of the paper discusses the great potential of grid computing in scientific and business scenarios, as well as the challenges that must be overcome if it is to be more widely adopted. A specific grid architecture, called GridLab, is initially mentioned, but the second part of the paper goes into more detail about the system's design and implementation. The GridLab project is funded by the European Union. [CL]
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New Technology and Manufacturing Processes [.pdf]
New Technology and Manufacturing Processes is part of the Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center's (PSC's) annual report for 2002. It is comprised of fifteen articles that describe research and innovations at PSC during the year, including areas of Manufacturing Process Design, Semiconductor Design and Production, Design of New Materials, and Aerospace Engineering and Design. The articles are contributed from many different sources and institutions, but they all worked with PSC to take advantage of its powerful terascale computer system for advanced simulation and analysis. [CL]
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Advanced Hydropower Turbine Systems [.pdf]
The Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory manages this program, which explores and develops technology to improve current hydropower resources. Although hydroelectric generation systems produce far fewer harmful emissions than other options, they can have a detrimental effect to downstream water quality. Fish are very susceptible to injury or death from turbine systems. Several reports from the Advanced Hydropower Turbine Systems program, addressing these issues and documenting research into possible solutions, are available from this site. One of the most interesting projects of the program is the Sensor Fish. This device is used "to characterize physical conditions fish experience during passage through hydro turbines, spill stilling basins, high-discharge outfalls, and other dam passage routes." [CL]
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Comparative Assessment of Fuel Cell Cars [.pdf]
The Laboratory for Energy and the Environment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published this study in February 2003. Drawing comparisons between hydrogen fuel cells and other vehicle power sources, the study attempts to predict if fuel cell vehicles will have lower greenhouse gas emissions and power consumption by 2020. Even with more liberal estimates for fuel cell technology advances over the next two decades, the report comes to the same conclusion as previous work done by the group, namely that fuel cells will probably not be better than hybrid electric internal combustion engines. [CL]
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Computer Graphik Topics [.pdf]
INI-GraphicsNet is an international organization of universities and research institutions focusing on computer graphics. Its bimonthly publication, Computer Graphik Topics, contains reports from INI-GraphicsNet about various methods and applications. The articles are written in English, and they have both English and German abstracts. The first issue of 2003 includes articles on biometrics, three dimensional modeling, and digital watermarking for copyrighted material. An archive holds issues dating back to 1995. [CL]
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Applets [.zip]
Technical Aspects of Multimodal Systems (TAMS) is a research group within the informatics department of the University of Hamburg. An assortment of Java applets related to digital design and computer architecture is available on the TAMS Web site. The applets range from basic topics to very specific technologies. Some of the former category include demonstrations of Ordered Binary Decision Diagrams, CMOS technology, and finite state machines. The operation of certain instructions for AMD's 3Dnow! instruction set is an example of what is covered in the later category. Two of the applets are in German, but the rest are in English. [CL]
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OJK's Precalculus Study Page
Precalculus can be a very difficult topic for many people, because it is the beginning of a much different way of looking at mathematics. This Web site is a helpful precalculus study aid for high school and college students. Fifteen chapters can be browsed online, addressing topics such as trigonometry, polar and complex numbers, and polynomial functions. The material more or less covers everything normally taught in precalculus courses. Each chapter is comprised of several subsections, concluding with a practice test. A selection of precalculus tools is also available, including scientific and graphing calculators and various other quizzes. [CL]
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University of Nebraska: Department of Engineering Mechanics
This site features a number of educational pages on engineering mechanics, which were contributed by engineering students at the University of Nebraska. Three different areas of mechanics are covered, including statics, dynamics, and strength of materials. Although a few of the pages are somewhat poorly designed, many are very well presented with clear, concise explanations and descriptive figures. It provides a unique and helpful perspective on mechanics topics, because professors often explain difficult concepts differently than students. [CL]
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MATLAB Help Desk [.pdf]
MATLAB is a powerful, widely used tool for mathematics and technical computing, but its sheer size and number of features can be daunting. The MATLAB Help Desk, offered by the University of California at San Diego Center for Coastal Studies, provides extensive documentation and guides to assist users. Several online manuals, which describe everything from basic usage to graphics and built-in toolboxes, can be downloaded. Documentation is also available for writing programs in C and Fortran to interact with MATLAB. A handy search tool allows users to enter a function name and receive information about its syntax and usage. [CL]
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StatPrimer, Version 5.2 [.pdf]
StatPrimer is "an online, public-domain biostatistics instructional manual." Biostatistics, in this case, can be somewhat misleading; the material covers many universal statistics concepts, but applies them to data sets and examples involving biology. Anyone wanting to learn about hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, regression, and several other statistical topics will find this site a valuable resource. The material is broken up into twenty sections, each with a particular theme or focus. Sample exercises follow each section, and answers are provided for the odd numbered questions. Appendixes are included that give tables of statistical parameters. [CL]
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Java Programming Tutorials [.zip]
This site is much more than the name implies. In addition to an exhaustive reference on the Java programming language, other tutorials on C#, XML, Python, and JavaScript are available. The Java tutorials are divided into beginning, intermediate, and advanced sections, and sample programs and source code are provided for each topic. Users can test their knowledge of Java by completing a series of question and answer documents. The tutorials are free to view online, but a fee is required to download them for offline viewing. Despite having a few advertisements scattered throughout the site, the site is one of the best resources available. [CL]
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Balanced Assessment in Mathematics [.doc]
The Harvard Graduate School of Education has assembled over 300 "innovative mathematics assessment tasks," and they can be viewed for free at this site. The tasks present the student with a scenario and ask a series of questions based on the information provided. They are separated into five different grade levels from kindergarten to twelfth grade, with one additional category for technology-based exercises. The tasks can also be searched by content area. Because this site is intended for teachers, solutions to the questions require a password that can only be obtained by ordering one of the related publications. [CL]
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Teaching Information for ADS [.pdf]
A professor of computer systems engineering at Sydney University of Technology has organized several informational papers on various topics about advanced digital systems. The most common theme among the papers is programmable logic. A list of frequently asked questions about the topic is given, as well as two introductions to VHDL, one of the two languages most often used for programmable logic devices. The history and evolution of computers is another subject explored in some papers. The remaining documents and tutorials explain concepts such as number systems, digital data representation, and networks. [CL]
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Two on Pioneer 10
Pioneer 10: Farewell to an Old Friend
Pioneer 10
Pioneer 10 was launched by NASA in 1972 on a two-year mission to Jupiter. Nearly 31 years later, its mission finally came to an end with the last signal received on January 22, 2003. The spacecraft exceeded everyone's expectations, including two people from the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute. In a news article from, they describe their experiences working with Pioneer 10 from afar, and they conclude by bidding it farewell. The Pioneer 10 homepage on NASA's Web site has detailed information on the spacecraft's mission and accomplishments. Descriptions of the final attempts at communication are also given. [CL]
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Communications Engineering and Design: The Premier Magazine of Broadband Technology [.pdf]
Communications Engineering and Design (CED) magazine offers a wide range of free resources on broadband technology, fiber optics, and much more. One of the most interesting sections of the monthly publication is the inDEPTH feature, a series of reports from CED's editors. Past inDEPTH topics include digital television encryption and wireless technologies. Standards and regulatory issues are posted online to keep broadband industry representatives up to date. The magazine also has market news and analyses, research highlights, and occasional Web casts.
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Making Educational Software and Web Sites Accessible
The World Wide Web is a tool that has a myriad of uses for any type of person, so it should be accessible to everyone. In order to help Web designers and software authors accommodate people with disabilities, this site offers a series of guidelines that explains how to effectively serve these types of users. Following a discussion of different disabilities, assistive technologies, and general accessibility tips, eight main guideline topics are addressed in depth. Techniques for using images, multimedia applications, and mathematics illustrations, among others, are given to create a more universally useable online experience. Originally developed in 2000, this material was updated and added to in January 2003. [CL]
[Back to Contents] Tons of Hardware Information
Although most of the resources on this site will probably only be used by experienced hardware designers, a substantial amount of other information is provided that is ideal for beginners. An impressive collection of how-to guides and tutorials covers everything from mouse cleaning to basic soldering to printed circuit board fabrication. A complete online handbook, titled Batteries in a Portable World, explains how rechargeable batteries and chargers work. For the advanced electronics designer, circuit diagrams of several common devices are given. Additionally, tables describing "the function of each wire in a cable or each pin in a connector," also called pinouts, are available for many common interfaces. [CL]
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Cryptographic Toolkit [.pdf]
The Cryptographic Toolkit is being developed by a subgroup of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), who work to implement and promote cryptographic technologies and efficient practices. The purpose of the toolkit is to "enable US Government agencies and others to select cryptographic security components and functionality for protecting their data, communications, and operations." Several documents make up the Cryptographic Toolkit, providing guidance and standards for encryption, digital signatures, and password usage and generation, to name a few. Four main encryption algorithms are discussed in detail, as well as modes of operation to properly use them. [CL]
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AIAA Wright Flyer Project [QuickTime, .mpg, .avi, .pdf]
December 17, 2003 marks the 100-year anniversary of the Wright Brothers' successful flight into the history books. In honor of the famous achievement, the Los Angeles section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics started the Wright Flyer Project. The goal of the project, which began almost twenty years ago, is to build a replica of the Wright Flyer that is identical to the original in every way possible. One replica is already complete, but another is being constructed to actually fly at the centennial celebration. A complete overview of the project, technical papers, and video clips are all available on this Web site. [CL]
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The Secret Guide to Computers
Self proclaimed as "the world's only complete computer tutorial," The Secret Guide to Computers could very well be just that. With information about hardware, software, the Internet, computer maintenance and repair, and programming, the guide certainly lives up to its reputation. Perhaps the only shortcoming of the site is that, even though it provides excellent overviews of many topics, many details are left out. This limitation could be explained by the guide's target audience, namely inexperienced users, who only want to understand topics rather than be experts on them. Regardless, The Secret Guide to Computers is an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to learn about fundamental issues of the digital age. [CL]
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Singular: A Computer Algebra System for Polynomial Computations [.dvi, .gz, .ps, .pdf, .hlp]
Developed by mathematicians at the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany, Singular is a "Computer Algebra System for polynomial computations with special emphasis on the needs of commutative algebra, algebraic geometry, and singularity theory." The software is available for free online in Windows, Macintosh, and UNIX versions. The authors of Singular offer extensive documentation, examples, and suggested applications to give users a proper introduction. Registration is not required to download the software, but it is necessary to receive support and updates. [CL]
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Topic In Depth

Web Robots and Web Mining
1. The Web Robots Pages
2. Web Mining - The E-Tailer's Holy Grail
3. DePaul University: Lectures and Course Material [.pdf]
4. Design and Implementation of a High-Performance Distributed Web Crawler [.pdf]
5. Data Mining for Web Intelligence [.pdf]
6. Web Mining with a Genetic Algorithm
7. KDnuggets News for 2003
8. Breaking Gimpy: Researchers Crack Security System Designed to Block Internet Robots
Manually indexing the World Wide Web is obviously an impossible task, and it is even a daunting challenge for automated techniques. Web content mining is a general term used to describe these techniques, which are intended for information categorization and filtering. Web robots serve a variety of purposes, including indexing; and they can be useful or, in some cases, harmful. Web usage mining, on the other hand, is used to determine how a Web site's structure and organization effect the way users navigate the site.

The Web Robots Pages (1) is an excellent starting place to learn about these automated programs. Several hundred robots are documented in a database, and a selection of papers considers proper ethics and guidelines for using robots, among other things. An article on Web mining and its subclasses is given on DM Review (2). It describes the basics of Web analysis and outlines many benefits Web mining can offer. A course homepage on Web data mining from DePaul University (3) offers a broad selection of reading material on the subject. Mostly consisting of research papers and journal articles, the documents range from general applications to specific theories and case studies. Two computer scientists from Polytechnic University propose a robust, distributed Web crawler (another term for Web robot), intended for large-scale network interaction (4). The twelve page paper begins with the motivation for the project, and continues with a full description of the system architecture and implementation. The November 2002 issue of Computer magazine featured an article on Data Mining for Web Intelligence (5). It points out that today's Internet is lacking in many key aspects, and that Web mining will play an important role in the development of improved search engines and automatic document classification. A short poster presentation from the 2002 International World Wide Web Conference (6) introduces GeniMiner, a Web search strategy based on a genetic algorithm. GeniMiner operates on the premise of finding a nearly optimal solution in order to minimize manual analysis of the search results. KDnuggets (7) is a free, biweekly newsletter on data and Web mining. In recent issues, special attention has been given to the Total Information Awareness project, which is investigating ways of mining the Web and email for possible information about terrorist activity. Web robots are occasionally used for malicious purposes, namely to automatically register for free email or participate in online polls. A technology that was developed to counter these robots involved using a blurred or distorted word to gain access, which could easily be read by a human but would be impossible for a robot to read. In a press release from the University of California at Berkeley (8), researchers have discovered a way to allow Web robots to crack this security system. The article describes how it was accomplished and provides motivation for more advanced security measures. [CL]
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From The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2003.

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Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2003. 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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