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Computational Sustainability Seminars

2013: Spring
2012: Spring Fall
2011: Spring Fall
2010: Spring Fall
2009: Spring

Spring 2013

Yohan Lee, Oregon State University

Friday, March 8, 2013 at 2:00pm EST
In 5160 Upson Hall (and online via WebEx, additional directions will be available soon, or contact Megan McDonald at mm423@cornell.edu or Rich Bernstein at rab38@cornell.edu for further details)

Title: Deploying Initial Attack Resources for Wildfire Suppression: Spatial Coordination, Budget Constraints, and Capacity Constraints

Abstract:
We combine a scenario-based, standard-response optimization model with stochastic simulation to improve the efficiency of resource deployment for initial attack on wildland fires in three planning units in California. The optimization model minimizes the expected number of fires that do not receive a standard response´┐Żdefined as the number of resources by type that must arrive at the fire within a specified time limit´┐Żsubject to budget and station capacity constraints and uncertainty about the daily number and location of fires. We use the California Fire Economics Simulator to predict the number of fires not contained within initial attack modeling limits. Compared with the current deployment, the deployment obtained with optimization shifts resources from the planning unit with highest fire load to the planning unit with the highest standard response requirements leaving simulated containment success unchanged. This result suggests that, under the current budget and capacity constraints, a range of deployments may perform equally well in terms of fire containment. When constraints on firefighting budget and station capacity are relaxed, the optimization produces deployments with greater containment success, suggesting that fire suppression effectiveness will be negatively impacted by declining budgets and improved by consolidating existing resources into fewer stations.

Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez, Oregon State University

Friday, February 1, 2013 at 2:00pm EST
In 5160 Upson Hall (and online via WebEx, additional directions will be available soon, or contact Megan McDonald at mm423@cornell.edu or Rich Bernstein at rab38@cornell.edu for further details)

Title: Multi-objective Partitioning of Electrical Power Networks

Abstract:
Identifying coherent sub-graphs in networks is important in many applications. In power systems, large systems are divided into areas and zones to aid in planning and control applications. But not every partitioning is equally good for all applications. In this talk we will discuss a hybrid method that combines a conventional graph partitioning algorithm with a genetic algorithm to partition a power network based on electrical distances, cluster sizes, the number of clusters, and cluster connectedness. Clusters produced by this method can be used to identify buses with dynamically coherent voltage angles, without the need for dynamic simulation. This also results in intra-zone transactions that have less impact on power flows outside of the zone, a property particularly useful for power system applications where ensuring deliverability is important, such as transmission planning or determination of synchronous reserve zones.

Fall 2012

Forrest Briggs, Oregon State University

Friday, November 30, 2012 at 2:00pm EST
In 5160 Upson Hall (and online via WebEx, additional directions will be available soon, or contact Megan McDonald at mm423@cornell.edu or Rich Bernstein at rab38@cornell.edu for further details)

Title: Instance annotation for multi-instance multi-label learning, with applications to object recognition in images and bird song

Abstract:
In supervised learning problems concerning images and sounds, it is often natural to decompose a document (bag) into a collection of parts (instances), and to associate each instance with a feature vector. It is also natural to associate documents with multiple labels, for example describing all objects in an image, or all species in an audio recording of bird song. This structure motivates the multi-instance multi-label (MIML) framework, where the goal is to learn a classifier from a dataset consisting of bags of instances paired with sets of labels. In a MIML dataset, instances are not labeled directly; only bags are labeled. Labeling at this course scale usually requires less human effort than labeling instances. Prior work on MIML has focused on predicting the label set for a previously unseen bag. We instead consider the problem of predicting instance labels, while learning only from data labeled at the bag level. This problem is called instance annotation for MIML.

We propose a regularized rank-loss objective designed for instance annotation, which can be instantiated with different aggregation models that link bag-level loss with instance-level predictions. We consider aggregation models that can be factored as a linear function of one "support instance" per class, which are feature vectors summarizing a bag. Hence we name our proposed method rank-loss Support Instance Machines. We propose two optimization methods for the rank-loss objective, which is non-convex. One is a heuristic that alternates between updating support instances and solving a convex problem in which the support instances are treated as constant. The other is to apply the constrained concave-convex procedure (CCCP), which solves a similar convex problem in each step. We solve the convex problems using the Pegasos framework for primal sub-gradient descent, and prove that it finds an epsilon-suboptimal solution in runtime that is linear in the size of the dataset and O(1/epsilon). Additionally, we suggest a method of extending the linear learning algorithm to non-linear classification without increasing asymptotic runtime.

Experiments show that the proposed methods achieve better accuracy than recent methods based on other loss functions. The datasets in these experiments include field-collected recordings of bird song with multiple simultaneously vocalizing birds, and the Microsoft Research Cambridge and PASCAL VOC 2012 machine vision datasets.

Shady Atallah, Cornell University

Friday, November 2, 2012 at 2:00pm EDT
In 5160 Upson Hall ((and online via WebEx, additional directions may be found here, or contact Megan McDonald at mm423@cornell.edu or Rich Bernstein at rab38@cornell.edu for further details)

Title: An Agent-Based Model of Plant Disease Diffusion and Control: Grapevine Leafroll Disease

Shady S. Atallah, Miguel I. Gómez, Jon M. Conrad, and Jan P. Nyrop

Abstract:
The grapevine leafroll disease (GLRD) threatens grape harvests in the United States and the world. This viral disease reduces yield, delays fruit ripening, and affects wine quality. The disease ecology is still under study and the spatial-dynamics of the spread process remains poorly understood. Moreover, little is known about cost-efficient strategies to control the disease. In an effort to address this gap in the literature, we model GLRD diffusion in a vineyard and evaluate bioeconomic outcomes under alternative disease control strategies. We employ agent- based modeling (ABM) tools and contribute to bioeconomic literature on agricultural disease control in several ways. First, our model relaxes the assumption of agent homogeneity and allows instead agents to be heterogeneous in age and infection states, thus in their economic values. Second, we make the model inherently spatial-dynamic by combining the ABM with a cellular automaton system. Third, we incorporate realism when modeling the spread process by making the disease onset and its transmission stochastic. That is, initial infections follow a random spatial distribution and stochastic agent interaction gives rise to Markov process- type disease diffusion. Finally, we formulate novel control strategies consisting of roguing and replacing infected grapevines based on their age and infection states. We evaluate these strategies and identify those that perform best at extending the expected vineyard half-life and at maximizing the vineyard expected net present values relative to the baseline of no control. The model results underscore the ecological and economic tradeoffs implied by disease control strategies based on age and infection states.

Marcelo Finger, University of Sao Paulo and visiting academic, Cornell University

Friday, October 26, 2012 at 2:30pm EDT
In 5160 Upson Hall (this seminar will be local only)

Title: Probabilistic Satisfiability: Algorithms and Phase transition

Abstract:
In this talk, we motivate the problem and present algorithms for probabilistic satisfiability (PSAT), an NP-complete problem, focusing on the presence and absence of a phase transition phenomenon for each algorithm. Our study starts by defining a PSAT normal form, on which all algorithms are based. Several forms of reductions of PSAT to classical propositional satisfiability (SAT) are proposed. Theoretical and practical limitations of each algorithm are discussed. Some algorithms are shown to present a phase transition behavior. We show that variations of these algorithms may lead to the partial occlusion of the phase transition phenomenon and discuss the reasons for this change of practical behavior.

Stefano Ermon, Cornell University

Friday, September 21, 2012 at 2:00pm EDT
In 5160 Upson Hall (and online via WebEx, additional directions may be found here, or contact Megan McDonald at mm423@cornell.edu or Rich Bernstein at rab38@cornell.edu for further details)

Title: Learning Policies For Battery Usage Optimization in Electric Vehicles

Abstract:
The high cost, limited capacity, and long recharge time of batteries pose a number of obstacles for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Multi-battery systems that combine a standard battery with supercapacitors are currently one of the most promising ways to increase battery lifespan and reduce operating costs. However, their performance crucially depends on how they are designed and operated. In this paper, we formalize the problem of optimizing real-time energy management of multi-battery systems as a stochastic planning problem, and we propose a novel solution based on a combination of optimization, machine learning and data-mining techniques. We evaluate the performance of our intelligent energy management system on various large datasets of commuter trips crowdsourced in the United States. We show that our policy significantly outperforms the leading algorithms that were previously proposed as part of an open algorithmic challenge.

Spring 2012

Claudio T. Silva, Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Friday, April 27, 2012 at **12:00PM EDT** (note change in time)
In 5130 Upson Hall (and online via AdobeConnect and phone, please contact Megan McDonald at mm423@cornell.edu for further details)

Title: Exploratory Visualization

Abstract:
We take the view that future advances in science, engineering, and medicine depend on the ability to comprehend the vast amounts of data being produced and acquired. Visualization is a key enabling technology in this endeavor: it helps people explore and explain data through software systems that provide a static or interactive visual representation.

Despite the promise that visualization can serve as an effective enabler of advances in other disciplines, the application of visualization technology is non-trivial. The design of effective visualizations is a complex process that requires understanding of existing techniques and how they relate to human cognition. For a visualization to be insightful, it needs to be both effective and efficient. This requires a combination of design and science to reveal information that is otherwise obscured.

In this talk, we will discuss recent work on the development of interactive visualization techniques and tools for a variety of needs.

Speaker Bio:
Claudio T. Silva is Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of NYU. From 2003 to 2011, he was with the School of Computing and the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute at the University of Utah. He coauthored more than 175 technical papers and eight U.S. patents, primarily in visualization, geometric processing, scientific data management, and related areas. He received IBM Faculty Awards in 2005, 2006, and 2007, and best paper awards at IEEE Visualization 2007, IEEE Shape Modeling International 2008, the 2010 Eurographics Educator Program, the ACM Eurographics Symposium on Parallel Graphics and Visualization 2011, and EuroVis 2011. His work is (or has been) funded by grants from the NSF, NIH, DOE, IBM, and ExxonMobil.

Claire Montgomery and Mark Crowley, Oregon State University

Friday, April 20, 2012 at 2:00PM EDT
In 5160 Upson Hall (and online via AdobeConnect and phone, please contact Megan McDonald at mm423@cornell.edu for further details)

Title: Reintroducing Wildfire into Fire-Adapted Forests: Progress on Modeling the Let-Burn Decision

Abstract:
The U.S. Forest Service has pursued a policy of aggressive fire suppression for the last century. In the fire-adapted forests of the western U.S., this has led to a change in forest conditions such that wildfire, when it does occur, is more likely to be stand-destroying and costly, if not impossible, to contain. In this ICS project, we are bringing together existing models of forest vegetation development, fire behavior, fire suppression costs, and timber harvest to develop a policy rule to guide fire management planning in these forests. So far, we have generated estimates of potential suppression cost savings arising from a let-burn decision. In this seminar, we report progress on developing a valuation function that combines suppression cost savings, timber harvest value at risk, and a reward function for restoration of pre-suppression-era forest conditions. We will also report developments on how we plan to address the problem of optimal placement of fuel reducing treatments on the landscape.

Gwen Spencer, Cornell University

Friday, April 6, 2012 at 2:00PM EDT
In 5160 Upson Hall (and online via AdobeConnect and phone, please contact Megan McDonald at mm423@cornell.edu for further details)

Title: Fragmenting and Vaccinating Graphs Over Time and Subject to Uncertainty: Developing Techniques for Wildfire and Invasive Species Containment

Abstract:
Decisions about the containment of harmful processes that spread across landscapes (for example, wildfire and invasive species) often must be made under uncertainty and as the system evolves in time. Not all resources are available immediately and containment efforts may fail to prevent spread. The valuable probabilistic predictions produced by ecologists and foresters have been under-utilized because of the difficulty of optimizing when stochastic features and spatial connectedness interact.

I will introduce several simple models that generalize work in the CS theory literature and explain provably-good algorithmic results for some settings. These models capture qualitative tradeoffs with important implications for sustainable management. How should resources for wildfire containment be divided across preventive fuel removals and real-time fire suppression efforts, and how can these deployments be coordinated to maximum advantage? If attempts to block invasive species spread are not perfectly reliable, but redundancy is costly, where should managers concentrate their resources?

Mark Crowley, Postdoctoral Researcher, Oregon State University

Friday, March 16, 2012 at 2:00PM EDT
In 5160 Upson Hall (and online via AdobeConnect and phone, please contact Megan McDonald at mm423@cornell.edu for further details)
Host:Carla Gomes

Title: Equilibrium Policy Gradients for Spatiotemporal Planning in Forestry

Abstract:
In environmental and natural resource planning, correlated management actions often need to be taken at a large number of locations over an extended period of time. These problems present a variety of computational challenges for automated planning due to : enormous state and action spaces; spatial correlations between states and actions; uncertainty about the current state and utility models defined at multiple scales. In this talk I will present work from my Ph.D. thesis on an approximate planning approach for spatial planning problems called Equilibrium Policy Gradients (EPG). I will also give an overview of how this approach fits in with other solution methods that are commonly used when trying to solve these planning problems.

In EPG the planning problem is modeled as a factored Markov decision process. A management policy is defined as a parameterized distribution over actions at an individual, generic location. The actual landscape policy is then the equilibrium distribution of a Markov chain built from these local policies. In this framework the value model can contain local or global components as well as spatial constraints on actions taken at different locations. Also, the transition dynamics can be provided by existing simulators developed by domain experts. EPG planning involves sampling from this equilibrium policy and iteratively adjusting the policy parameters using a policy gradient algorithm. Experiments using a BC Forest Service simulator demonstrate the algorithm's ability to devise policies for sustainable harvest planning of a forest with many locations.

Speaker Bio:
Mark Crowley completed his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada in 2011. His research focuses on planning in large scale spatial domains such as forestry planning under the existence of uncertainty and spatial constraints.

A related research topic he looked at was how to compactly represent spatial policies as the equilibria of cyclic causal models and perform inference on those models. He also carried out research on shielding the unwanted effects of interventions used to model constraints in Bayesian networks. He received his B.A. in Computer Science from York University in Toronto, Canada.

Jon Conrad, Professor, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University

Friday, February 24, 2012 at 2:00PM
5160 Upson Hall (and online via AdobeConnect, please contact Megan McDonald at mm423@cornell.edu for further details)
Host:Carla Gomes

Title: Nonspatial and Spatial Models in Bioeconomics

Abstract:
Beginning in the 1960s, ecologists, mathematicians, and economists started developing a class of models, which today are referred to as bioeconomic models. These early models started with a difference or differential equation describing the dynamics of a biological resource. To this equation one might add a second difference or differential equation describing the dynamics of "harvesting effort." Alternatively, one could formulate a dynamic optimization problem seeking to maximize discounted net benefit. These models provided important insights into the tragedy of the commons and policies that might promote optimal management. By the 1970s, more complex models were developed incorporating multispecies interactions, age-structured populations, and models with stochastic growth. In the late 1990s, spatial bioeconomic models were developed in recognition of the importance of location when managing biological resources. The objectives of this survey are to: (i) review some of the early models in bioeconomics, (ii) present some of the key spatial models in bioeconomics that have been used to assess the value of marine (no-take) reserves, and (iii) speculate on the direction of future research in spatial bioeconomics.

Speaker Bio:
Jon M. Conrad is Professor of Resource Economics in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1973. From 1973 through 1977 he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He joined the faculty at Cornell University in 1978. He has had visiting appointments at the University of British Columbia and the University of California, Berkeley. He is co-author, with Colin Clark, of Natural Resource Economics: Notes and Problems, (Cambridge University Press, 1987), and sole author of Resource Economics, Second Edition (Cambridge University Press, 2010). He has published articles in the Journal of Political Economy, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Resource and Energy Economics, Ecological Economics, Land Economics, and the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. His research focuses on the application of methods for dynamic optimization to the management of natural resources.

Fall 2011

Daniel Sheldon, Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Oregon State University

Friday, November 18, 2011 at 2:00PM
5130 Upson Hall (and online via AdobeConnect, please contact Megan McDonald at mm423@cornell.edu for further details)
Host:Theo Damoulas

Title: Collective Graphical Models

Abstract:
There are many settings in which we wish to fit a model of the behavior of individuals but where our data consist only of aggregate information (counts or low-dimensional contingency tables). In this talk, I will introduce Collective Graphical Models (CGMs), a framework for modeling and probabilistic inference that operates directly on the sufficient statistics of the individual model. CGMs are motivated by the goal of modeling bird migration where we want to fit models for the migratory behavior of individual birds, but we observe only population-level surveys conducted over time. I will focus primarily on this special case, where the main concepts of CGMs can be understood intuitively in terms of network flows. I will show how to derive a highly efficient Gibbs sampling algorithm for inference in CGMs and present experiments that demonstrate its effectiveness. In particular, I will give empirical evidence that the running time to solve an important inference task using our method does not depend on the population size; prior to this work, the only existing algorithm for the same task took time exponential in the population size.
Joint work with Tom Dietterich, to appear at NIPS 2011. 

Tom Dietterich, Professor and Director of Intelligent Systems, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Oregon State University

Friday, November 4, 2011 at 2:00PM
5160 Upson Hall (and online via AdobeConnect, please contact Megan McDonald at mm423@cornell.edu for further details)
Host: Rebecca Hutchinson
Slides available here

Title: Towards A Conceptual Model of Computational Sustainability and How Wildlife Survey Methods Can Help Natural Language Understanding

Abstract:
How do we cool a data center? Is an e-book reader more environmentally friendly than a paper book? We present two joint projects between Virginia Tech and HP Labs that use data mining techniques to answer questions such as the above. In the area of data centers, we show how temporal data mining techniques can analyze process dynamics in a data center's cooling infrastructure and help identify inefficiencies in operation. In the area of lifecycle assessment, we show how we can reconstruct inventory trees from impact factor databases. This aids in understanding product compositions and in designing environmentally sustainable alternatives. We will also provide some broader perspectives on data mining problems in sustainability.

Spring 2011

Naren Ramakrishnan, Professor and Associate Head for Graduate Studies, Department of Computer Science, Virginia Tech

Friday, April 1, 2011 at **2:30PM** (please note change in time)
5130 Upson Hall
Host: Carla Gomes

Title: Data Mining Techniques for Chiller Management and Lifecycle Assessment

Abstract:
How do we cool a data center? Is an e-book reader more environmentally friendly than a paper book? We present two joint projects between Virginia Tech and HP Labs that use data mining techniques to answer questions such as the above. In the area of data centers, we show how temporal data mining techniques can analyze process dynamics in a data center's cooling infrastructure and help identify inefficiencies in operation. In the area of lifecycle assessment, we show how we can reconstruct inventory trees from impact factor databases. This aids in understanding product compositions and in designing environmentally sustainable alternatives. We will also provide some broader perspectives on data mining problems in sustainability.

Speaker Bio:
Naren Ramakrishnan is a professor and the associate head for graduate studies in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech. He is also an adjunct professor at the Institute for Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology (IBAB) in Bangalore, India. His research interests span data mining in multiple scientific and engineering domains. His work has been featured in the NIH outreach publication Biomedical Computation Review, the National Science Foundation's Discoveries series, and ACM TechNews. Ramakrishnan serves on the editorial boards of many journals including IEEE Computer and Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery.

Matthew Ginsberg, CEO, On Time Systems and Green Driver

Friday, March 4, 2011 at 12:00 PM
5130 Upson Hall
Host: Carla Gomes

Title: Green Driver: AI in a Microcosm

Abstract:
The Green Driver app is a dynamic routing application for GPS-enabled smartphones. Green Driver combines client GPS data with real-time traffic light information provided by cities to determine optimal routes in response to driver route requests. Routes are optimized with respect to travel time, with the intention of saving the driver both time and fuel, and rerouting can occur if warranted. During a routing session, client phones communicate with a centralized server that both collects GPS data and processes route requests. All relevant data are anonymized and saved to databases for analysis; statistics are calculated from the aggregate data and fed back to the routing engine to improve future routing. Analyses can also be performed to discern driver trends: where do drivers tend to go, how long do they stay, when and where does traffic congestion occur, and so on. The system uses a number of techniques from the field of artificial intelligence. We apply a variant of A* search for solving the stochastic shortest path problem in order to find optimal driving routes through a network of roads given light-status information. We also use dynamic programming and hidden Markov models to determine the progress of a driver through a network of roads from GPS data and light-status data. The Green Driver system is currently deployed for testing in Eugene, Oregon, and is scheduled for large-scale deployment in Portland, Oregon, in Spring 2011.

Speaker Bio:
Matthew L. Ginsberg received his doctorate in mathematics from Oxford in 1980 at the age of 24. He remained on the faculty in Oxford until 1983, doing research in mathematical physics and computer science; during this period, he wrote a program that was used successfully to trade stock and stock options on Wall Street. Ginsberg's continuing interest in artificial intelligence brought him to Stanford in late 1983, where he remained for nine years. In 1992, he founded CIRL, the computational intelligence research laboratory at the University of Oregon. In 1998, he went on to co-found On Time Systems, CIRL's commercial spinoff working in the areas of route and schedule optimization. He is currently the CEO of both On Time Systems and its partner Green Driver. Ginsberg's present research interests include optimization and satisfiability. He is the author of GIB, the world's strongest computer bridge player, and numerous publications in these and other areas. He is also the editor of Readings in Nonmonotonic Reasoning and the author of Essentials of Artificial Intelligence, both published by Morgan Kaufmann.

Neo Martinez, Director, Pacific Ecoinformatics and Computational Ecology Lab

Friday, February 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM
5130 Upson Hall
Host: Carla Gomes

Title: Sustaining Ecological Networks and their Services

Abstract:
Ecosystems have long been recognized as networks. Over 150 years ago, Darwin concluded his "Origin of Species" by describing a "tangled bank" of diverse interacting species that "have all been produced by laws acting around us." Global change such as climate disruption, biodiversity loss, and over exploitation is threatening the ability of these networks to sustain the human health and welfare critically dependent on their continued functioning. Research on the structure and dynamics of ecological networks have uncovered law-like regularities underlying their dynamic stability and complexity. Such insights also allow scientists to predict the consequences of global change and help mitigate the damage this change does to the services provided by ecosystems such as food provision and carbon sequestration. Mitigating ecosystem damage and yielding sustainable ecosystem services requires the integration of natural and social sciences such as ecology and economics. My talk will describe how network and computational sciences have been applied to these and other fundamental interdisciplinary challenges. The talk will conclude by briefly sketching out a promising future of this research agenda.

Speaker Bio:
Neo Martinez founded and currently directs the Pacific Ecoinformatics and Computational Ecology Lab in Berkeley, California. He is a computational ecologist that studies the structure and function of whole ecosystems by developing and empirically testing basic and applied theory about complex networks in general and ecological networks in specific. Director Martinez is an internationally recognized leader in network, computational, ecological, and interdisciplinary science. His lab's research integrates biology, math, computer science, economics, and anthropology and his lab's network visualizations have become widely recognized icons of ecological complexity. Director Martinez' many papers published Science, Nature, PNAS, and PLoS Biology among other top journals and books established widely accepted theory explaining the complexity, robustness, and nonlinear dynamics of large ecosystems including a stunning range of biological diversity. The theory has been corroborated by data from terrestrial and aquatic habitats from throughout the world including paleo-ecosystems over a half billion years old. The theory has been applied to ecosystems experiencing biodiversity loss and invasion as well as both subsistence and economic exploitation by humans.
Neo received his B.S. in Biology from Cornell, his M.S. in Limnology and Oceanography from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and his interdisciplinary M.S. and Ph.D. in Energy and Resources from the University of California at Berkeley where he is an Affiliated Faculty and taught graduate coursework on ecological economics.

Fall 2010

William Clark, Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development, John F. Kennedy Schoolf of Government at Harvard University

Monday, December 6, 2010 at 4:00 PM
Webcast in 5126 Upson Hall
Presented as part of the Sustainability Science Distributed Graduate Seminar/INFO 7990

Title: Grand challenges and core questions of sustainability science

Abstract:
This session will focus on identifying and discussing candidate "core questions" of sustainability science. Our goal with "core questions" is to highlight topics ripe for research that would promote fundamental, generalizable understanding of social-environmental systems with special attention to the subset of that understanding relevant to sustainability. We distinguish such "core questions" from the "grand challenges" (such as those identified by the Gates Foundation for global health) for which we seek to mobilize knowledge in ways that directly improve technologies or policies and ultimately outcomes that directly advance sustainability in particular contexts the world.

Speaker Bio:
William C. Clark is the Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Trained as an ecologist, his research focuses on the interactions of environment, development and security concerns in international affairs, with a special emphasis on the role of science and technology in shaping those interactions. At Harvard, he co-directs the Sustainability Science Program at the University's Center for International Development. Clark is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, recipient of the MacArthur Prize, the Humboldt Prize, and the Kennedy School's Carballo Award for excellence in teaching.

Stephan Polasky, Fesler-Lampert Professor of Ecological/Environmental Economics, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Minnesota

Monday, November 29, 2010 at 4:00 PM
Webcast in 5126 Upson Hall
Moderators: Luis Garcia Barrios and Omar Masera, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
Presented as part of the Sustainability Science Distributed Graduate Seminar/INFO 7990

Title: Metrics for sustainable development

Abstract:
In this session we will discuss the issue of measuring whether society is on a sustainable development path. The notion of inclusive wealth as laid out by Dasgupta in various chapters and Arrow et al. (2004, 2010) provides an elegant and succinct definition of what it means to be sustainable. But can inclusive wealth be measured? We will discuss how to measure inclusive wealth and the problems with actually trying to do so. We will also discuss whether there are other useful approaches to measuring sustainability. Important topics that come up with measurement are issues of how to measure welfare changes, aggregation (can multiple of different aspects of sustainability be combined into a single measure), uncertainty (how do we measure the present value of the flow of future services given an uncertain future), and equity (does sustainable development mean that aggregate welfare is non-declining. or that everyone has non-declining welfare, or that all people achieve a certain standard or living?).

Speaker Bio:
Stephen Polasky is Fesler-Lampert Professor of Ecological/Environmental Economics in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Minnesota. He received a PhD in Economics from the University of Michigan in 1986. He previously held faculty positions in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Oregon State University (1993-1999) and the Department of Economics at Boston College (1986-1993). Dr. Polasky was the senior staff economist for environment and resources for the President's Council of Economic Advisers 1998-1999. He is currently serving as co-leader for mapping and valuing ecosystem services for the Natural Capital Project and co-leader of the BioSustainability core project for DIVERSITAS as well as on US EPA's Science Advisory Board, the Board of Directors for the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, and the Board of Directors and the Science Council of The Nature Conservancy. He is a University Fellow at Resources for the Future, a Research Fellow at the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, a Research Associate in the Environmental & Energy Economics Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a Resident Fellow at the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009 and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2007. His research interests include ecosystem services, natural capital, biodiversity conservation, endangered species policy, integrating ecological and economic analysis, renewable energy, environmental regulation, and common property resources. His papers have been published in Biological Conservation, Ecological Applications, Journal of Economics Perspectives, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, International Economic Review, Land Economics, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Science and other journals. He has served as co-editor and associate editor for the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, as associate editor for International Journal of Business and Economics, and is currently serving as an associate editor for Conservation Letters and Ecology and Society.

William Clark, Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development, John F. Kennedy Schoolf of Government at Harvard University

Monday, November 22, 2010 at 4:00 PM
Webcast in 5126 Upson Hall
Moderator: B.L. Turner II, Arizona State University
Presented as part of the Sustainability Science Distributed Graduate Seminar/INFO 7990

Title: Linking Knowledge with Action for Sustainability

Abstract:
The need for action agendas promoting sustainable development to mobilize appropriate science and technology has long been recognized. With few exceptions, however, the world still lacks dedicated, problem-driven R&D systems for sustainability comparable to those that exist for defense, energy, or health. The substantial 'local' knowledge so often relevant to sustainability is even less well mobilized. And too often the real needs of decision makers are not the needs that researchers assume them to have. Altogether, the potential contribution of knowledge to action in pursuit of sustainability is seldom realized. Fortunately, there are exceptions. This section will explore what has been learned about the nature of systems that are relatively effective in linking knowledge with action for sustainability.

Speaker Bio:
William C. Clark is the Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Trained as an ecologist, his research focuses on the interactions of environment, development and security concerns in international affairs, with a special emphasis on the role of science and technology in shaping those interactions. At Harvard, he co-directs the Sustainability Science Program at the University's Center for International Development. Clark is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, recipient of the MacArthur Prize, the Humboldt Prize, and the Kennedy School's Carballo Award for excellence in teaching.

Billie Turner, Gilbert F. White Professor of Environment and Society, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University

Monday, November 15, 2010 at 4:00 PM
Webcast in 5126 Upson Hall
Moderator: Jim Heffernan, Florida International University
Presented as part of the Sustainability Science Distributed Graduate Seminar/INFO 7990

Title: Worked examples of concepts in human-environment systems

Abstract:
CI will present worked examples of coupled human-environment systems (CHES) from traditional pastoralist systems in East Africa. The cases illustrate how different ways of characterizing CHESs can guide the development of appropriate research approaches, and can also have significant consequences for evaluations of sustainability. I focus on two characteristics that were identified as "deal-makers and breakers" for sustainability by a trans-disciplinary workshop of scholars and pastoralists from East Africa and Mongolia, which was held earlier this year. First, CHESs that are undergoing broad transformations, involving multiple components and novel interactions, are nearly impossible to study using typical predictive and modeling methodologies. In systems governed by 'noncomputable' dynamics, the system's adaptive capacity and the feasibility of novel configurations arise as critical research themes and targets for promoting sustainability. Secondly, studying the nature of networks and connectivity among social and environmental components of a CHES provides a critical lens for understanding how individual versus collective risk, equity, and social capital shape our approaches to sustainability. In traditional pastoralism, the livelihood mode generates particularly immediate connections between human and environmental dynamics, with few degrees of separation. These place-based, proximal examples will be followed by another set of worked examples, presented by the Florida International University student group. Their examples echo the same themes, but in broader contexts and revolving around cases of population displacements.

Speaker Bio:
B. L. Turner II (Ph.D., 1974, University of Wisconsin, Madison; BA 1968 and MA 1969, University of Texas at Austin) examines human-environment relationships, ranging from ancient Maya agriculture and environment in Mexico and Central America to contemporary global land-use change and sustainability science. His current research projects have helped to develop and advance land change science—integrating environmental, socioeconomic and remote sensing sciences—primarily through the exploration of tropical deforestation in the southern Yucatán.

Elinor Ostrom, Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science, Senior Research Director, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University-Bloomington

Monday, November 8, 2010 at 4:00 PM
Webcast in 5126 Upson Hall
Moderator: Bill Clark, Harvard University
Presented as part of the Sustainability Science Distributed Graduate Seminar/INFO 7990

Title: Institutions for managing human-environment systems

Abstract:
This session provides an opportunity to explore the institutions -- the rules, norms, incentive structures, expectations, etc. -- by which people seek to govern or manage human-environment systems for sustainability. The authors of the book are grappling with several tensions here, as will be apparent in the readings. One of these concerns assumptions about the goals of human actors (hedonistic, communitarian, idealistic, etc.). Another concerns the place of rationality -- however broadly defined -- in individual and social decision making. Still another concerns the role of the state and its relation to other actors in the governance of human-environment systems. Finally, we are struggling to integrate our views on management problems that arise in the context of highly asymmetric externalities (eg. I release pollutants that hurt you much more than me) and those those that arise in the context of more symmetrical resource commons (we are both grazing the same pasture).

Speaker Bio:
Elinor Ostrom is an American political scientist. She was awarded the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, which she shared with Oliver E. Williamson, for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons. She is the first woman to win the prize in this category. Ostrom is Distinguished Professor at Indiana University and the Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University in Bloomington, as well as Research Professor and the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University in Tempe. She has studied how self-organization and local-level management works to keep common resources, whether natural (e.g., forests) or man-made (e.g., police forces), viable. Combining data from diverse sources ranging from classical techniques such as surveys to modern advances such as satellite imagery, Ostrom has uncovered numerous principles that govern successful sustainability and that defy conventional beliefs. She received a received a B.A. (with honors) in political science at UCLA in 1954. She was awarded an M.A. in 1962 and a Ph.D. in 1965, both from UCLA Department of Political Science. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2001.

B.L. Turner, Gilbert F. White Professor of Environment and Society, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University

Monday, November 1, 2010 at 4:00 PM
Webcast in 5126 Upson Hall
Moderator: Jim Heffernan, Florida International University
Presented as part of the Sustainability Science Distributed Graduate Seminar/INFO 7990

Title: Emergent properties of coupled human-environment systems

Speaker Bio:
Lizzie King is a Lecturer & Research Associate in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. (Ph.D. 2004, Population Biology, University of California, Davis) Working primarily in Kenyan rangelands, her research investigates both ecological and social dynamics that relate to restoration ecology, resilience, and sustainability in traditional pastoralist systems. Two main current projects: 1) Dryland ecosystem dynamics: spatial organization of landscapes, ecohydrological feedbacks, regime shifts, and restoration. 2) Comparative study of social-ecological transformations, property rights, and sustainability in East African and Mongolian pastoralist systems. She teaches an undergraduate course on resilience and sustainability in African pastoralist systems.

Partha Dasgupta, Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics, Fellow of St John's College, University of Cambridge

Monday, October 25, 2010 at 4:00 PM
Webcast in 5126 Upson Hall
Moderator: Steve Polasky, University of Minnesota
Presented as part of the Sustainability Science Distributed Graduate Seminar/INFO 7990

Title: Human well-being, natural capital and sustainable development (conceptual foundations of sustainability science)

Speaker Bio:
Sir Partha Dasgupta is the Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics and past chairman of the faculty of economics and politics at the University of Cambridge. From 1991 to 1997, Dasgupta was chairman of the scientific board of the Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and, from 1989 to 1992, professor of economics and philosophy, and director of the Program in Ethics in Society at Stanford University. His research interests have covered welfare and development economics; the economics of technological change; population, environmental, and resource economics; the theory of games; and the economics of under nutrition. Dasgupta is a fellow of St. John's College, a fellow of the Econometric Society, a fellow of the British Academy, foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, honorary fellow of the London School of Economics, honorary member of the American Economic Association, member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and fellow of the Third World Academy of Sciences. He is a past president of the Royal Economic Society (1998-2001) and the European Economic Association (1999). Dasgupta was named Knight Bachelor by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2002 in her Birthday Honours List for services to economics and was co-recipient (with Karl Goran Maler) of the 2002 Volvo Environment Prize. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and a foreign member of the American Philosophical Society .

 

Ivette Perfecto, Professor, Department of Ecology and Natural Resources, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan

Monday, October 18, 2010 at 4:00 PM
Webcast in 5126 Upson Hall
Moderator: Jeannine Cavender-Bares, University of Minnesota
Presented as part of the Sustainability Science Distributed Graduate Seminar/INFO 7990

Title: Divergent vs. convergent development models (conceptual foundations of sustainability science)

Abstract:
This session explores alternative models for agricultural production and biodiversity conservation, harnessing ecological principles of patch dynamics and metacommunity theory. The DIVERGENT MODEL is characterized by intensive agriculture in some areas and conservation in others. This is presented by Perfecto and Vandermeer as LANDSPARING/AGRICULTURAL INTENSIFICATION model. The CONVERGENT MODEL is characterized by spatial coincidence of agriculture and conservation. This is presented by Perfecto and Vandermeer as the AGROECOLOGICAL MATRIX MODEL.

Speaker Bio:
Ivette Perfecto is professor of Ecology and Natural Resources. Her research focuses on biodiversity in agricultural landscapes, primarily in the tropics. She also works on spatial ecology of the coffee agroecosystem and is interested more broadly on the links between small-scale sustainable agriculture, biodiversity and food sovereignty. She teaches General Ecology, Our Common Future (a course on globalization), Food Land and Society and Field Ecology. Her most recent book is Nature's Matrix: The Link between Agriculture, Conservation and Food Sovereignty.

Stephen Carpenter, Director of the Center for Limnology and Stephen Alfred Forbes Professor of Zoology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Monday, October 11, 2010 at 4:00 PM
Webcast in 5126 Upson Hall
Moderator: Patty Balvanera, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
Presented as part of the Sustainability Science Distributed Graduate Seminar/INFO 7990

Title: The environmental services that flow from natural capital

Abstract:
This session addresses the variety and inter-relationships of services derived from natural capital, and examines the structure, processes, and dynamics that control the provision of these services.

Speaker Bio:
Stephen R. Carpenter is an ecosystem ecologist known for his leadership of large-scale experiments and adaptive ecosystem management. His work has addressed trophic cascades and their effects on production and nutrient cycling, contaminant cycles, freshwater fisheries, eutrophication, nonpoint pollution, ecological economics of freshwater, and resilience of social-ecological systems. Carpenter serves as the Director of the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is the Stephen Alfred Forbes Professor of Zoology. He is co-Editor in Chief of Ecosystems, and a member of governing boards for the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Resilience Alliance, and South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability Studies. Carpenter is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

B.L. Turner, Gilbert F. White Professor of Environment and Society, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University

Monday, October 4, 2010 at 4:00 PM
Webcast in 5126 Upson Hall
Moderator: Elizabeth King, Princeton University
Presented as part of the Sustainability Science Distributed Graduate Seminar/INFO 7990

Title: Long-term trends and transitions in nature and society

Abstract:
The concept of coupled human-environment systems (also termed social-ecological systems, coupled human and natural systems, and coupled human-biophysical systems) recognizes that the social, economic, and cultural well-being of people depends not only on their relations with other people, but with the physical and biological environment as well.

Speaker Bio:
B. L. Turner II (Ph.D., 1974, University of Wisconsin, Madison; BA 1968 and MA 1969, University of Texas at Austin) examines human-environment relationships, ranging from ancient Maya agriculture and environment in Mexico and Central America to contemporary global land-use change and sustainability science. His current research projects have helped to develop and advance land change science—integrating environmental, socioeconomic and remote sensing sciences—primarily through the exploration of tropical deforestation in the southern Yucatán.

Robert Kates, Independent Scholar, Presidential Professor of Sustainability Science at the University of Maine

Monday, September 27, 2010 at 4:00 PM
Webcast in 5126 Upson Hall
Moderator: Ann Kinzig, Florida International University
Presented as part of the Sustainability Science Distributed Graduate Seminar/INFO 7990

Title: Long-term trends and transitions in nature and society

Abstract:
Population size has increased globally throughout most of human history, stimulating rising demand for environmental resources. This relationship has proven to be so strong that virtually all assessments of sustainability begin with it. Over the last two centuries, however, this driver of environmental change has been joined by that of increasingly high levels of individual consumption. This combination of forces has escalated demands on the environment to unprecedented levels and raises important questions about sustainability. What do current trends in population and human well being imply for those of the environment, informed by insights from past human-environment relationships? Can we bring about a future transition to sustainability, meeting the needs of a much larger but stabilizing human population while sustaining the life support systems of the planet? This session addresses these and related questions.

Speaker Bio:
Robert Kates trained as a geographer and taught geography for many years at Clark University in Worcester, MA, USA. He also participated in interdisciplinary programs addressing both environment and development at the University of Dar as Salaam in Tanzania, Clark University, and at the World Hunger Program at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Kates now serves as a Research Associate at Harvard and co-convener of the Steering Group for the Initiative on Science and Technology for Sustainability. Kates served as chair of the Coordinating Committee on a Transition toward Sustainability following the National Academy of Sciences' report, Our Common Journey: A Transition Toward Sustainability. His current research is on long-term trends and values, attitudes and beliefs affecting a sustainability transition.

William Clark, Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development, John F. Kennedy Schoolf of Government at Harvard University

Monday, September 20, 2010 at 4:00 PM
Webcast in 5126 Upson Hall
Moderator: Jim Heffernan, Florida International University
Presented as part of the Sustainability Science Distributed Graduate Seminar/INFO 7990

Title: Sustainability Science and Sustanable Development

Abstract:
This session provides the context and purpose of the rest of the seminar. We begin with a discussion of the origins and present status of the idea of sustainable development. Next, we illustrate the range of contemporary challenges facing those who would promote a transition toward sustainability. We then trace emerging efforts to better harness science and technology to advance the sustainability agenda and characterize the emerging field of sustainability science.

Speaker Bio:
William C. Clark is the Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Trained as an ecologist, his research focuses on the interactions of environment, development and security concerns in international affairs, with a special emphasis on the role of science and technology in shaping those interactions. At Harvard, he co-directs the Sustainability Science Program at the University's Center for International Development. Clark is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, recipient of the MacArthur Prize, the Humboldt Prize, and the Kennedy School's Carballo Award for excellence in teaching.

Spring 2010

Steven Phillips, AT&T Labs Research

Friday, April 9, 2010 at 12:00 PM
117 Upson Hall
Host: Carla Gomes

Title: Voting power and site prioritizationg

Abstract:
Indices for site prioritization are widely used to address the question: which sites are most important for conservation of biodiversity? We investigate the theoretical underpinnings of target-based prioritization, which measures sites' contribution to achieving predetermined conservation targets. We show a strong connection between site prioritization and the mathematical theory of voting power. Well-known paradoxes of voting power afflict current site prioritization indices; by negating such paradoxes, we develop a set of intuitive axioms that an index should obey. We introduce a simple new index, "fraction-of-spare," that satisfies all the axioms. In an evaluation involving multi-year scheduling of site acquisitions for conservation of forest types in New South Wales under specified clearing rates, fraction-of-spare outperforms 52 existing prioritization indices. We also compute the optimal schedule of acquisitions (under the assumed clearing rates) using mathematical programming, which indicates that there is still potential for improvement in site prioritization for conservation scheduling. Joint work with Aaron Archer, Robert L. Pressey, Desmond Torkornoo, David Applegate, David Johnson, Matthew E. Watts.

Speaker Bio:
Steven Phillips received his PhD in Computer Science at Stanford University under Rajeev Motwani, and has been at AT&T Research for the past 16 years. His research has been focused on computation aspects of conservation biology since 2002.

Andreas Krause, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, California Institute of Technology

Friday, March 19, 2010 at 12:00 PM
253 Rhodes Hall (note room change)
Host: Carla Gomes

Title: Optimizing Sensing from Water to the Web

Abstract:
Where should we place sensors to quickly detect contamination in drinking water distribution networks? Which blogs should we read to learn about the biggest stories on the web? These problems share a fundamental challenge: How can we obtain the most useful information about the state of the world, at minimum cost?

Such sensing problems are typically NP-hard, and were commonly addressed using heuristics without theoretical guarantees about the solution quality. In this talk, I will present algorithms which efficiently find provably near-optimal solutions to large, complex sensing problems. Our algorithms exploit submodularity, an intuitive notion of diminishing returns, common to many sensing problems; the more sensors we have already deployed, the less we learn by placing another sensor. To quantify the uncertainty in our predictions, we use probabilistic models, such as Gaussian Processes. In addition to identifying the most informative sensing locations, our algorithms can handle more challenging settings, where sensors need to be able to reliably communicate over lossy links, where mobile robots are used for collecting data or where solutions need to be robust against adversaries, sensor failures and dynamic environments.

I will also present results applying our algorithms to several real-world sensing tasks, including environmental monitoring using robotic sensors, activity recognition using a built sensing chair, deciding which blogs to read on the web, and a sensor placement competition.

Speaker Bio:
Andreas Krause is an assistant professor of Computer Science at the California Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in 2008. Krause is a recipient of the NSF CAREER award and the Okawa Foundation Research Grant recognizing top young researchers in telecommunications. His research on sensor placement and optimized information gathering received awards at several premier conferences, as well as the best research paper award of the ASCE Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management.

Warren Powell, Director, CASTLE Laboratory, Princeton University

Friday, March 5, 2010 at 12:00 PM
117 Upson Hall
Host: Carla Gomes

Title: Opportunities for Machine Learning in Stochastic Optimization, with Applications in Energy Resource Planning

Abstract:
Energy resource planning spans problems such as optimization of technology R&D portfolios, optimizing the control of storage in the presence of intermittent energy supply, encouraging market adoption using tax policies, and planning energy investments over long-range horizons. Each of these produces complex, multistage stochastic optimization problems which challenge existing algorithmic tools. Approximate dynamic programming offers a modeling and algorithmic framework that scales to these complex problems, but robust, provably convergent algorithms are not available. In this talk, I will describe how ADP can be used to solve problems with high-dimensional state, action and outcome spaces, while highlight three technical challenges. First is the need for general purpose machine learning tools, which may be solved using recent advances in Dirichlet-process mixture models. Second is the need for efficient recursive updating strategies in the learning process, where I will describe a new optimal stepsize formula for approximate value iteration. Finally, I will describe our new line of research in optimal learning which can be used for policy optimization and, we hope, solving the exploration vs. exploitation problem.

Speaker Bio:
A faculty member at Princeton University since 1981, Professor Powell specializes in stochastic optimization problems arising in a variety of resource allocation problems, with applications encompassing energy resource modeling, transportation, military operations, health and finance. He is the director of CASTLE Laboratory, which has developed planning systems for a wide range of operational problems. He has authored or coauthored over 140 refereed publications, and he is the author of Approximate Dynamic Programming: Solving the curses of dimensionality, published by John Wiley and Sons. His research spans stochastic optimization and the closely related area of optimal learning, which addresses the problem of efficiently collecting information. A recipient of the Informs Fellows Award, Professor Powell has served in a variety of editorial and administrative positions for Informs, including Informs Board of Directors, Area Editor for Operations Research, President of the Transportation Science Section, and numerous prize and administrative committees.

Andrew Farnsworth, Research Associate, and Ken Rosenberg, Director of Conservation Science, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Friday, February 19, 2010 at 1:25 PM
1120 Snee Hall
Presented in conjunction with Cornell University's CS/INFO 6702 Topics in Computational Sustainability course.
Host: Carla Gomes

Title: Wind Energy and Bird Conservation: Assessing risks and establishing guidelines for location and operation of turbines

Mary Lou Zeeman, R. Wells Johnson Professor of Mathematics, Bowdoin College

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 1:25 PM
1120 Snee Hall
Presented in conjunction with Cornell University's CS/INFO 6702 Topics in Computational Sustainability course.
Host: Carla Gomes

Title: Intro to Dynamical Systems

Ole Amundsen, Strategic Conservation Program Manager, The Conservation Fund

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 1:25 PM
1120 Snee Hall
Presented in conjunction with Cornell University's CS/INFO 6702 Topics in Computational Sustainability course.
Host: Carla Gomes

Title: Real-world conservation planning problems

Jon Conrad, Professor of Applied Economics & Management, Cornell University

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 1:25 PM
1120 Snee Hall
Presented in conjunction with Cornell University's CS/INFO 6702 Topics in Computational Sustainability course.
Host: Carla Gomes

Title: Intro to Resource Economics

Spring 2009

Climate Controversies: Leading Figures Address Leading Issues about Global Climate Change

The Institute for Computational Sustainability is pleased to join the Cornell Climate Change Forum, the Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future, the College of Engineering, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in presenting this series.

Where: Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall

When: 4:30 PM, upcoming speakers on April 6 and April 29

Please visit the Cornell Climate Change Forum home page page for additional information and abstracts

Chris Danforth, Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, University of Vermont

1st appearance:
Wednesday, April 8
3:00 PM in the Morrison Room, Ground floor Atrium, Corson-Mudd Hall
Host: Mary Lou Zeeman

Title: Measuring Happiness in Written Expression: Songs, Blogs, and Presidents

Abstract: The importance of quantifying the nature and intensity of emotional states at the level of populations is evident: we would like to know how individuals feel, so that we may improve public policy, build more successful organizations, and more fully understand economic and social phenomena. By incorporating direct human assessment of words, we measure and analyze the psychological valence(or pleasantness) of a diverse set of texts which reflect human experience. We discuss several striking observations regarding the relationship between author demographics (e.g. age, location) and the emotional impact of millions of weblogs. This project is in collaboration with Peter Sheridan Dodds at UVM.

2nd appearance:
Wednesday, April 8
5:00 PM at 228 Malott Hall (Bache Auditorium)
Mathematics Awareness Month Event: Mathematics and Climate Change

Title: Mathematics and Climate Change, a panel discussion in celebration of Math Awareness Month (Please click here to view streaming video of the event.)

Speakers:

  • Chris Danforth, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Vermont
  • Tom Pfaff, Department of Mathematics, Ithaca College
  • Zellman Warhaft, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University
  • Mary Lou Zeeman, Department of Mathematics, Bowdoin College and Visiting Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behaviour, Cornell University

Margaret Wertheim, Science Writer and Exhibition Curator

(Please click here for special undergraduate student luncheon opportunity on Tuesday, March 24)

Monday, March 23
7:30 PM at Bache Auditorium, Malott Hall
Co-sponsored with the Cornell Center for Applied Mathematics, IGERT, and Cornell Plantations

Title: Reefer Mathness: Confronting Coral Reef Destruction and Global Warming through Mathematics, Collective Art Practice, and Crochet

Lecture is followed by a reception.

Tom Dietterich, Professor and Director of Intelligent Systems, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Oregon State University

Friday, March 6
Lunch available at 12:00 noon, talk starting at 12:15pm
Where: 5130 Upson Hall
Host: Carla Gomes

Title: "Computer Vision and Machine Learning for Automated Arthropod Biodiversity Studies

Abstract:
Population counts of arthropod species provide important data for understanding and monitoring the health of ecosystems. Arthropod samples are easily collected from lakes, streams, soils, and the ocean. However, analysis of these samples to count the number of specimens of each species is currently a time-consuming manual task that requires a high degree of expertise. This talk will describe the BugID project at Oregon State, which is developing robotic devices and computer vision methods to automate the processing of arthropod samples. We will describe the computer vision and machine learning techniques that we have developed for this problem. We have developed a novel ensemble learning technique and developed a mathematical model that shows why this technique performs better than existing methods.

We will also present data that suggest that these methods are applicable to the more general problem of generic object recognition.

Chris Jones, Bill Guthridge Distinguished Professor, Department of Mathematics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Warwick Mathematics Institute, University of Warwick

1st appearance: IGERT Seminar
Monday, February 16
12:15 -1:14, 204 Thurston Hall

Title: "Data and models: a match made in mathematics"

2nd appearance:
3:30 PM at TBD
Hosted by M. Zeeman
Joint Center for Applied Mathematics and Institute for Computational Sustainability

Title: Climate change: can mathematics help clear the air?

Hans Kaper, Mathematics and Computer Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Ill. and Department of Mathematics, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Friday, February 13
3:30 PM at 655 Rhodes
Hosted by M. Zeeman

Title: Reduction Methods for Systems of Differential Equations

Abstract:
We consider systems of nonlinear ordinary differential equations that involve two time scales: a fast time scale, where the dynamics take the orbits close to an invariant low-dimensional manifold, and a slow time scale, where the dynamics evolve in the neighborhood of the invariant (slow) manifold. Reduction methods offer a systematic way to identify the slow manifold and reduce the original equation to an autonomous equation on the slow manifold. In this talk I will focus on two particular reduction methods: the computational singular perturbation method proposed by Lam and Goussis (1988) and the zero-derivative principle proposed by Gear and Kevrekidis (2007).


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NSF

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