The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 2, Number 13

July 4, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Money: Technology-Based Art and the Dynamics of Sustainability [pdf]
Published in May 2003, this 39-page report was written for inclusion in the well-known Leonardo Journal, which serves as a connection between art and technology. The report discusses the foundations of tech-based art and its place in modern society. Several major organizations and events are mentioned, including the Association for Computing Machinery annual SIGGRAPH conference and the MIT Media Lab. After providing a general background of the topic, the author outlines the purpose and benefits of establishing an Arts Lab, "a unique hybrid art center and research lab." [CL]
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Sample Images Can Be Independently Restored from Face Recognition Templates [pdf]
A professor at the University of Ottawa has discovered a potential security flaw in current biometric system practices, and he presents his findings in this research paper. The particular kind of biometric system discussed is automatic face recognition, which compares a current image of a person with an existing database of digital templates and searches for a match. These templates, which are unique to each individual, have historically been regarded as "non-identifiable data," and hence have been publicly available. The author shows that an approximation of the original image can be reconstructed from the template. This could have privacy and security repercussions, and the author offers suggestions about how to correct the problem. [CL]
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Netbait: A Distributed Worm Detection Service [pdf]
The threat of Internet worms has necessitated the development of three kinds of countermeasures to minimize damage, namely "prevention, containment, and cleanup." The latter two require successful identification of infected hosts before any action can be taken. Researchers from Intel and the University of California at Berkeley address this problem in an unpublished manuscript written in February 2003. Their system, called Netbait, allows for remote detection of compromised computers through the use of a distributed query architecture. The authors outline the design and operation of Netbait and discuss results of a prototype implementation. [CL]
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JavaOne: Webcasts [RealOne Player]
The JavaOne Conference concluded on June 13, 2003, and this site has downloadable video of thirteen presentations given at the event. The speakers address topics ranging from the general Java platform to mobile and advanced networking applications. The first presenter sets the tone for the conference by referring to the billions of embedded systems and devices worldwide. He states that Java is "creating an overlaythat's allowing the components that make up the elements of today's industrial world to speak to each other." The following presentations consider current trends and look at what direction Java may take in the future. [CL]
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SPEC: Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation [exe, tar, zip, pdf, postscript]
The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) is a highly recognized organization in the computer industry for its development of standardized benchmarks used to measure and compare different computer systems. Researchers and developers can download many of these benchmarks for free from the SPEC Web site, or read about new benchmarks that are soon to be released. A very large database of results is also available to the public, showing how both home and high performance scientific computer systems perform for various benchmarks. For the average user, a glossary of terms is provided. [CL]
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Welcome to [tar, zip, mpg, anx, ogg]
Annodex technology attempts to enable surfing and searching digital audio and video online in the same way as traditional hyperlinks let users traverse Web pages. It is being developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and is based on established technologies such as the Extensible Markup Language (XML). Specifications and other documentation are available on the Annodex Web site, as well as several media files that demonstrate the functionality of the Continuous Media Web and the analogous relationship with text Web pages. The core libraries used to view Continuous Media Web files can be downloaded as source code. [CL]
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Solid State Electronics Laboratory [pdf, Windows Media Player, DivX Player]
The Solid State Electronics Laboratory at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden is active in many areas of research, but perhaps one of its most original projects is the "world's smallest pinball game." Built with microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), the microscopic device is shown in action in a video clip, which can be downloaded in various resolutions. Other work in which the group is involved includes transistor modeling and silicon device properties. Selected research papers, as well as several PhD and Master's theses, are also available on the laboratory's Web site. [CL]
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Comics on the Internet: A Business Primer
An Internet and technology consultant wrote this interesting white paper that suggests an online strategy for comics publishing. Citing a decreasing trend in the market, the author proposes using the Internet to improve current "problems of distribution and exposure." Although some technical details are discussed, such as potential file formats to use for publishing comics online, the report mainly deals with issues related to implementation of an Internet marketing system. While identifying several areas of untapped resources specific to comics, many of the issues he mentions could be applied to other forms of publishing as well. [CL]
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Civil & Structural Online @ BCIT
The British Columbia Institute of Technology maintains this Web site, which contains "a combination of text and graphics to introduce the field of civil and structural engineering." Several examples of important modern and historical developments in these fields are cited. The latter category includes discussions about the Roman aqueducts and Galileo's insights into engineering mechanics, while more recent topics such as highway line painting and the Golden Gate Bridge are also outlined. Two additional modules about dams and road design are in progress, but no completion date is given. [CL]
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AMS: Mathematical Moments [pdf]
Mathematical Moments is a program that encourages "appreciation and understanding of the role mathematics plays in science, nature, technology, and human culture." Created by the American Mathematical Society, it does not have a specific target audience, but rather is intended for anyone wanting to learn about the importance of math in practical applications. The program's Web site contains nearly 30 one-page brochures that demonstrate how math is used in areas such as aircraft design, Internet security, and iris recognition. [CL]
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West Point Bridge Design Contest [exe, pdf]
The second annual West Point Bridge Design Contest concluded in May 2003. Although it is uncertain whether the contest will receive funding for future competitions, its Web site has a number of educational resources for middle and high school students. The main feature is the bridge design software, which allows the user to "model, test, and optimize a steel highway bridge, based on realistic specifications, constraints, and performance criteria." Completed designs can be submitted online for unofficial judging. The book, Designing and Building File-Folder Bridges, can also be freely downloaded. [CL]
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Construct My Future is designed to help people "explore and learn about the interesting and varied careers in the construction industry." With resources for students, teachers, and parents, the site has significant depth in its content and serves as an excellent starting point for learning about this dynamic field. A couple informative videos can be viewed online, as well as several articles about industry news and trends. Profiles of many different job positions in construction are given for students to get an impression of the options available to them. A very interesting section highlights ten of the most important construction projects of the past century. [CL]
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Transportation Engineering: Online Lab Manual
The University of Idaho hosts this outstanding collection of educational materials and laboratories related to transportation engineering. The topics introduced on the site are intended to supplement a junior-level course on the subject and are commonly viewed as "the most important ones that civil engineering graduates need to understand." Each chapter of the lab manual contains detailed theory and example problems. The lab exercises, however, will probably only serve to emphasize the most important concepts for students whose teachers are not directly incorporating them into the curricula. [CL]
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The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX 2e [pdf]
Anyone working in a mathematical or related scientific fields will probably encounter the LaTeX file format at some point, or be required to publish a paper with the LaTeX typesetting system. For these people, The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX 2e is a great reference. Updated in March 2003, the 143-page document provides a thorough overview of the process of creating a document in this format. It is suitable for people completely unfamiliar with LaTeX and is very well organized. Numerous examples are given that show how to produce and format text and graphics. [CL]
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IEEE: Reference Guide for Instructional Design and Development [pdf]
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers provides this guide to instructional design, which educators can use to gauge their target audience and tailor their teaching methods appropriately. By applying the principles of design to the creation of a course, a better level of understanding between the instructor and students can be achieved. For each of the six design phases a concise concept outline is given, followed by a few tools to help users implement the suggested strategies. A number of external links to relevant articles and other materials are also included. [CL]
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Mathsoft Constants
Mathematical constants are generally given very little attention when introduced in classes. Students learn the value of many constants, but they often are not taught the meaning behind the fixed numbers. This site attempts to provide greater insight into several well-known constants, as well as those related to number theory, geometry, function approximation, and more. Most of the discussions include a basic derivation along with illustrations that show properties of the constant where appropriate. [CL]
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General [pdf]
Network Troubleshooting has a variety of resources to help network administrators diagnose problems with their systems. Some general information about the troubleshooting process and basic network practices is given; however, most of the material addresses specific network components. The site has different levels of access: 30 percent of the content is initially available; expanding to 70 percent after a brief, free registration. The remainder of the site is only accessible to paying users. However, a significant amount of material is available even to unregistered users. [CL]
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NASA Technology Portal [Windows Media Player, Macromedia Flash Reader, QuickTime, mp3]
This is the newly redesigned Technology Portal Web site from NASA, which serves as a hub for virtually all technology related developments in which NASA is involved. The portal is continually updated with news and event information, and a Streaming Media Center plays both live and archived video from NASA TV. Visitors can browse technology features for commercial and educational applications. A "Just for Kids" section has many resources for children, such as multimedia activities and basic space concepts. [CL]
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Go Digital: Your Digital World [RealOne Player]
Go Digital is a "weekly BBC World Service programme that looks at how technology is changing our lives." Broadband users can watch video Webcasts of nearly two years worth of past programs, while audio is available to dialup users. Each episode lasts approximately 25 minutes, and features two or three key technology stories. Previous topics discussed on Go Digital include virtual reality applications for disabled children, journalistic Web logging, and computer security. [CL]
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The Air Museum: Planes of Fame
The Air Museum, headquartered in Chino, California, houses a large collection of famous aircraft from many different countries. One of the most interesting features on the museum's Web site is the virtual tour, which allows users to view a 360-degree panorama of many hangars and displays. The Special Features section highlights nine remarkable aircrafts, providing a brief historical background and a discussion of the significance of each one. The section of photographs is somewhat small but still has several impressive shots. [CL]
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Dynamic Drive: DHTML Scripts for the Real World [zip]
Dynamic Drive is a great place for Web authors to find Dynamic Hypertext Markup Language (DHTML) scripts and avoid reinventing the wheel with intricate Web site features. The scripts are available free of charge, and each comes with clear instructions about how to properly integrate them into existing code. From pop up menus and flashy animations to custom window displays, the resources available from Dynamic Drive can help bring life to barren Web pages. Many of the scripts that are offered were created by Dynamic Drive staff, but other original submissions are accepted and encouraged. [CL]
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Web-Enabled Scientific Services & Applications
Anyone without access to a statistical software package may find this Web site to be a valuable tool. A wide variety of free online utilities are offered, including data and equation plotting, regression analysis, and scientific forecasting. The applications' interfaces are very straightforward, and many options are available for users to input their data and customize the desired output. No explanation of the applications' functions and settings is included. This is not necessarily a problem, however, since it is expected that users will know what kind of statistical analyses they want to perform on their data beforehand. [CL]
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Intel C++ Compiler 7.1 for Linux [pdf]
Software developers in academia and not-for-profit research institutions may find this tool to be helpful for creating applications in the C++ programming language. Intel offers a free C++ compiler for the Linux operating system for non-commercial uses. After completing a brief registration process, qualifying users can download the compiler directly from the Intel Web site. A "Getting Started Guide" and a product tutorial are also provided, which instruct users about the basics of using the C++ and other Intel compilers. [CL]
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Two on Open Source Software
Munich Chooses SuSE Linux over Microsoft,10801,81588,00.html
Open Source Development Lab
The open source software movement has been gaining momentum over the past few years, as was affirmed by a fairly major announcement from the local government of Munich, Germany in May 2003. The city's decision to switch all of its 14,000 computers to run open source applications and operating systems is described in a news article from Computer World. More news about open source projects can be found at the homepage of the Open Source Development Lab. The Web site is especially useful for people involved in such projects. Developer resources, technical information, and presentations can be found online. [CL]
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Topic In Depth

Biologically-Inspired Technology
1. WWW Resources on Biologically Inspired Research
2. Ant Colony Optimization [pdf, postscript, zip]
3. CS851: Biologically-Inspired Computing [pdf, postscript, Microsoft PowerPoint]
4. Biomimetics: Biologically-Inspired Technologies [pdf, RealOne Player]
5. Welcome to the DNA and Natural Algorithms Group!
6. Biologically-Inspired Computing Approaches To Cognitive Systems: A Partial Tour of the Literature [pdf]
7. Biomimetics Researchers Inspired by the Animal World
8. Bio-Inspired Engineering of Exploration Systems
Most people do not associate microprocessors with DNA, or aircraft design with butterflies. But scientists and researchers are increasingly looking to biological systems as models for new technologies. This trend has implications for computing, materials science and engineering, robotics, and much more.
A Web site from Michigan State University (1) is a useful starting point for learning about biologically inspired technologies. In addition to briefly discussing the natural processes that are most commonly studied in the development of such technologies, there is a large collection of links to other research efforts and related material. The Ant Colony Optimization project (2) uses the behavior of ants as a model to solve optimization problems, such as how to minimize Internet traffic congestion. Several downloadable research papers are included on the project's homepage, as well as links to news stories, radio broadcasts, and conference proceedings about ant algorithms. A seminar course at the University of Virginia (3) in spring 2003 considered aspects of biologically-inspired computing. The course homepage has links to journal articles and research papers that range in topic from evolutionary programming to spacecraft designs based on living cells. Biomimetics is the focus of work being done at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (4). One of the selected publications available on the Web site will be presented at an international conference in July 2003. The paper discusses the use of artificial muscles in intelligent robots. A research group at the California Institute of Technology (5) is studying the capability of DNA and other biomolecules to process information and implement algorithms. A general overview of the group's purpose and motivation is provided, as well as a number of publications. An excellent background of some of the most significant developments in artificial life and intelligence is given in a 56-page paper from Hewlett-Packard Laboratories (6). The author discusses many different issues, including neural networks and software agents, and concludes by alluding to future application areas. Cutting edge, biologically-inspired robots are the topic of a June 2003 news article from The Boston Globe (7). These robots include RoboLobster and BigDog, the latter of which is said will be able to run at fifteen miles per hour when it is finished around the beginning of 2005. Finally, a NASA technology brief from May 2003 (8) discusses efforts to combine characteristics of several different species into one artificial creation to optimally serve the purposes of a mission. [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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