The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 2, Number 12

June 20, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


A Virtual Internet Architecture [pdf]
Researchers from the University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute discuss the implementation details of a virtual Internet (VI) architecture in this March 2003 technical paper. Similar in concept to virtual memory, "VI's manage concurrent sharing of resources, provide protection, and present an abstraction of the underlying service." Networking specialists could benefit from such a system, since dealing with low-level operations would be much more transparent. The paper outlines the motivation for VI research and presents technical details necessary to implement a VI. [CL]
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Federal Communications Commission Release of Data on High-Speed Internet Access [pdf]
Released in June 2003, this report from the FCC outlines several statistics about the growth of high-speed Internet subscribers as of December 31, 2002. The report breaks down the data by technology (i.e. DSL, cable modem, etc.), by type of user, by state, and several other factors. Nationwide, it is shown that "subscribership to high-speed services increased by 23% during the second half of 2002, to a total of 19.9 million lines." [CL]
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Theory and Application of Categories [pdf, postscript, dvi]
This is the homepage of an online journal that disseminates "articles that significantly advance the study of categorical algebra or methods, or that make significant new contributions to mathematical science using categorical methods." A new volume is published each year, consisting of between ten and twenty research papers. The journal commonly focuses on the applications of category theory to computer science, algebra, topology, and other scientific areas. Papers are contributed by researchers and mathematicians from around the world, and they are available for download dating back to 1995. [CL]
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Is Software Engineering Training Enough for Software Engineers? [pdf]
This research paper, presented at the International Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training in March 2003, examines potential inadequacies in current educational curricula for the discipline. The authors suggest that computer science students require a broader background, so that they can handle problems that incorporate aspects outside of software development. The paper "presents a case study of a software engineering course and discusses the difficulty for computer science students to understand and to develop a system which also requires skills in engineering of a non-software nature." Many other research papers can be found on the Swedish university's computer science homepage. [CL]
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WWW2003: The Twelfth International World Wide Web Conference
The proceedings of the Twelfth International World Wide Web Conference (May 2003) are posted at this site. Nearly 70 refereed papers, coming from industry and academia, were presented at the conference. One study considers the rate of change involved in the evolution of the Web, while others address Web searching, peer-to-peer techniques, and much more. Several of the papers are not yet posted (an error is returned when attempting to access them), but many others are already available for viewing. [CL]
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Optimizing Visible Objects Embedding Towards Realtime Interactive Internet TV [pdf, postscript]
This May 2002 publication of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign proposes a method for merging television and Internet capabilities to create a more interactive digital video viewing experience. The authors devise a system that uses multiple video streams over a broadband connection and a widely-used video compression standard to incorporate customizable content elements such as Web browsing, video conferencing, and "Internet Video-On-Demand." With all of the video processing being done internally rather than via the content provider, this approach would enable more options for third party services. [CL]
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Technology Today
Technology Today is a free publication of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and is released three times a year. Each issue "discusses some of the more than 1,000 research and development projects" that SwRI is involved in, including engine and vehicle research, space engineering, and information technology. The Spring 2003 issue contains four in-depth feature articles, as well as several shorter summaries of news and research. The reading is fairly non-technical and is intended to highlight some important projects to a general audience. Visitors to the Technology Today site can browse every issue since 1995. [CL]
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Design Flow for HW / SW Acceleration Transparency in the ThumbPod Secure Embedded System [pdf]
ThumbPod is an embedded system being designed at the University of California at Los Angeles to process fingerprint information. It will be biometrically secure, and hence will have applications in credit card transactions, secure data storage, and any area that requires identity verification. This research paper, presented at the Design Automation Conference in June 2003, describes the design process for ThumbPod. The hardware and software used to implement the system is discussed, specifically in regard to processing acceleration. [CL]
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Linux Assembly HOWTO
This tutorial "describes how to program in assembly language using free programming tools, focusing on development for or from the Linux Operating System." For applications that are closely related to the underlying computer architecture, assembly language programming can be very important. The instructive material is aimed at people who have at least a basic understanding of conventional, high-level programming styles but have little to no experience with assembly. Hence, it serves as a general introduction to the topic, mainly useful for understanding what situations lend themselves to assembly programming. [CL]
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Count On [Macromedia Flash Reader, Macromedia Shockwave Player]
Count On is an educational mathematics Web site based in the United Kingdom. Mainly intended for elementary school students, Count On offers a variety of online multimedia games and modules that serve as a fun way to practice math concepts or learn new ones. The Explorer section is a good place to start when first visiting the site; it has everything from basic numbers to fractions to mathematical art. The Matrix is a virtual museum of mathematics, where users can learn about historical figures and innovations by exploring each room. The games section has many instructive resources, but it is difficult to see the connection to mathematics for a couple of them. [CL]
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Guided Tour on Wind Energy
The Danish Wind Industry Association provides this site of informative guides that "are written for people who want to know a lot about wind energy, short of becoming wind engineers." While there is some background information about the source of wind from an atmospheric standpoint, most of the material addresses turbine characteristics and design, electricity generators, manufacturing, and generally how the whole process works. Despite the good content of the site, it has a bad habit of changing the window size of the user's Web browser. [CL]
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Graphing Tutorial [pdf]
One of the most confusing aspects of beginning calculus for high school and college students is not evaluating derivatives or integrals, but visualizing and graphing different kinds of equations. This Web site is a good place to learn some general rules for graphing polynomials, piecewise functions, and more. The organization of the material lets users try their hand at graphing several example equations, and hints are given to help users interpret the equations, find intercepts, and so on. In addition to standard Cartesian coordinate, examples of polar coordinates are also covered. [CL]
[Back to Contents] New to Java Programming Center [pdf]
As part of Sun Microsystems' extensive online training, this Web site offers a large collection of articles and tutorials on the Java programming language. The material is presented in a series of four basic steps, beginning with an overview of the Java platform and common terminology. Several lessons comprise the following section, leading the user through the necessary system setup and some introductory application development issues. The third section marks the transition to more in-depth programming techniques, and the series concludes with a few interactive quizzes as a review. A particularly useful tool built into this site allows users to create a customized list of articles that match their needs. [CL]
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Course Tutorial: STATICS [CosmoPlayer]
This tutorial from Ohio University "is designed to help students understand the fundamental concepts and principles of statics." It is essentially a collection of lecture notes in slide format that progressively teaches the user about different kinds of forces, analysis of rigid bodies in equilibrium, and more. The design of the site is somewhat crude, but it is generally easy to navigate and has a reasonable amount of material. The use of illustrations, animations, and the occasional three-dimensional representation of objects clearly explains the underlying theory. [CL]
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Welcome and Guide to Web Site [pdf]
This Web site of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Civil Engineering Department provides a number of educational modules on the strut-and-tie method (STM) of modeling compression and tension forces in concrete. Some historical background on the method is given, followed by an explanation of the model elements and design process. Five examples that demonstrate different scenarios incorporating STM are shown. A graphical design tool software package developed at Illinois, called Computer Aided Strut-and-Tie, can be downloaded for free. [CL]
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Practical Algebra Lessons
Purple Math has about 100 lessons covering virtually every topic in standard high school and college algebra classes. The site is divided into beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels, and a separate section is included for word problems. Purple Math excels in its use of examples; for each topic there are plenty of illustrative problems with clearly defined solutions. In addition to being an excellent resource for students, it can also be very helpful for those of us that occasionally forget some of the less often-used concepts. Everyone remember all the rules of logarithms? [CL]
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Two on Voice-Enabled Applications
VoiceXML [zip, pdf]
SALTforum: Speech Application Language Tags [pdf]
The market for voice-operated applications has steadily grown for several years, and wireless and mobile devices are an added incentive to develop a standard for voice processing. An established standard is VoiceXML, which dates back to 1999. The VoiceXML Forum has introductory tutorials about the standard, and the full specifications can be downloaded (including a draft of version 2.0, published in early 2003). A more recent initiative is the Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) specification. Similar documents and resources can be found at the SALT Forum homepage, as well as links to Webcasts and other items for developers. [CL]
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NEAH Power Systems: How a Fuel Cell Works [Macromedia Flash Reader, RealOne Player]
The most publicized application for fuel cells is the environment-friendly vehicle, but NEAH Power Systems recognizes the potential for powering mobile electronics, too. The company's homepage contains an interesting overview of fuel cell technology. After briefly describing the basic operation of a fuel cell, another section notes the historical challenges and limitations that continue to face fuel cell designers. A short video on this subject can be viewed online. The different approach to fuel cell design for mobile purposes as opposed to more power-hungry applications is outlined in subsequent sections. As it is not immediately apparent, it should be noted that the informational materials can be accessed from the drop-down menu titled "Technology" at the top of the site. [CL]
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Two on Java Technology in Cellular Phones Unleash the Beast inside Your Cell Phone
JSR 185: Java Technology for the Wireless Industry
In a June 13, 2003 news article, a writer from Popular Science magazine discusses the "untapped potential of the cell phone computer." The article focuses on the processing power of Java-enabled cell phones, which are quickly entering the market with, most notably, gaming applications. Cell phones have many more possible uses than just gaming, and the article gives a number of examples as well as noting the related security issues. The second Web site is the homepage of an initiative to create a new Java specification for wireless devices. Several documents are available for public viewing, including the Proposed Final Draft of the specification, which was released on June 4, 2003. [CL]
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NOVA: Spies that Fly
Spies that Fly is a NOVA episode that originally aired in January 2003. This page of the television broadcast's online companion provides a fascinating historical account of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's). It will probably come as a surprise that the earliest UAV listed on this site was flown over four decades before the first manned airplane took off. From their modest beginnings, UAV's have evolved into extremely high tech instruments; the six-inch Black Widow UAV is one of the most extraordinary items described online. The Web site also shows some of the records for UAV technology. [CL]
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CME 2003: The Centennial of the Canadian Military Engineers [pdf]
2003 marks the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Military Engineers. As part of the Web site honoring their century of service, the Heritage Archive contains over 50 stories documenting some of the remarkable achievements made over the years. For example, one story tells of the transformation of the Alaska Highway from a road suitable for only military vehicles into a "first-class gravel road." During the process, engineering crews had to deal with extremely harsh conditions that made the project an even more noteworthy success. Other stories describe the Canadian Military Engineers' presence in World War II and Haiti, among others, and at home. [CL]
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Distributed Energy Resources
Distributed Energy Resources (DER) is a term used to describe a general class of "small, modular power-generating technologies" that can be used in conjunction with a power grid or as a standalone method of electricity generation. This Web site of the U.S. Department of Energy provides an overview of DER systems and their applications, but it also has a very informative description of the nation's electricity grid. The structure of the grid is illustrated, and the basics of how it is controlled are explained. Understanding the nature of the power grid can be helpful when reading about DER potential to improve its functionality. Several DER technologies are outlined, including fuel cells, microturbines, and others. [CL]
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THE BOOK: An Engineer's Guide to the Digital Transition [pdf]
This online guide was written to help engineers make the transition from analog to digital designs and implementations, with a specific focus on audio and video systems. The material is quite extensive and includes a wealth of application notes and "information on video formats, standards and interconnection considerations." Everything from high-level system design to proper routing techniques for different kinds of cables and signals is covered. The success of this guide prompted the creation of a second volume, which is also available on this site. [CL]
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Computer History Museum: Timeline of Computer History
The Computer History Museum offers this outstanding online timeline, which ranges from the first proposal of electronic data storage in 1945 to the birth of the World Wide Web in 1990. "Each year features illustrated descriptions of significant innovations in hardware and software technology, as well as milestones in areas such as commercial applications and artificial intelligence." There is also a focus on the portrayal of computers in pop culture. With nearly 120 entries, the timeline serves as a vivid reminder of how far computer technology has come in such a short period. [CL]
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Topic In Depth

Friction Stir Welding
1. Friction Stir Welding at TWI
2. Friction Stir Welding: University of Cambridge [Windows Media Player, Microsoft Power Point]
3. Joining Technologies Reference Center
4. Friction Stir Welding Studies on Mild Steel [pdf]
5. Friction Stir Processing of Advanced Materials [pdf]
6. Improved Fatigue Performance of Friction Stir Welds with Low Plasticity Burnishing: Residual Stress Design and Fatigue Performance Assessment [pdf]
7. Thermal Stir Welding [pdf]
8. Eclipse Aviation Breaks Ground for Stir Welding Center
Welding is not the first thing that enters most peoples' minds when they think of high tech. However, new welding techniques have emerged over the past few years that enable much more advanced manufacturing. Friction stir welding is one of these methods, and its innovative approach of joining two materials together without first melting them has allowed for much stronger welds that are less likely to break.
Probably the best resource to learn about friction stir welding (FSW) comes from the entity that developed the technology. The Welding Institute (1) offers a thorough overview of FSW and its advantages over other types of welding. The University of Cambridge (2) maintains another informative Web site about FSW. This is a more visual resource, allowing the visitor to view images and video clips that show FSW equipment and how the process works. Three introductory slide presentations are also available. For those who are unfamiliar with other types of welding, the Joining Technologies company (3) has an online welding reference center. Of particular interest is the Weld Defects section, which describes many of the problems of conventional welding that FSW solves. The American Welding Society published this research paper (4) in the January 2003 issue of the Welding Journal. The nine-page document presents experimental results of FSW tests, showing that defect-free welds can be achieved with a material such as mild steel. Automobile design is a prime application area for FSW, as is noted in a fact sheet from the National Transportation Research Center (5). It states that while other welding methods are suitable for standard metals in automobiles, new lightweight materials cannot be effectively joined unless a technique like FSW is used. A research paper that will be presented at an international conference in July 2003 (6) discusses the residual stresses resulting from a weld created with the FSW process. While welds of this type are typically much stronger than others, it is important to note how the performance of a weld is degraded by such residual stresses. NASA has devised a new technique, called thermal stir welding, that improves upon FSW. This breakthrough is presented in a two-page summary (7) that briefly explains the differences between thermal stir welding and other advanced methods. A new friction stir welding center was announced in November 2002, and it will be used in the construction of a new jet airplane. FSW will replace over half of the rivets traditionally used to hold planes together. This development, and its importance for jet manufacturing, are outlined in a press release from Eclipse Aviation (8). [CL]
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