Dr. Umar Saif – we are so proud of you
Well, he has started the ball rolling on the path to making research look pretty sexy. What am I talking about?
A paper that Dr. Umar Saif co-authored with students and colleagues at MIT has been awarded the Mark Weiser best paper award at IEEE Percom’08! The Mark Weiser Award is the highest award of recognition for a researcher in the field of Pervasive Computing.
This is the first time it has been awarded to a paper with a byline of a Pakistani university. Percom is ranked in the A+ category in the CORE list (widely used for ranking conferences in CS); as the premier conference in pervasive computing, percom had an acceptance rate of ~11% this year. An extended version of the paper will appear as an invited paper in the Pervasive and Mobile Computing Journal later this year (PMC).
A copy of the paper is posted at:
The system was featured in several technology magazines, newspapers
and blogs. BBC published the most “sensational” story (and Umar believes it is the best picture in popular media): I think the one taken by Jawwad at SI#6 was much nicer (the one above): http://www.pervasive-cmi.csail.mit.edu/news/3583479.stm.html
Umar and his team started this work over 4 years ago, when they wrote the first position paper on what we dubbed goal-oriented programming. This paper laid out the early vision of a system that may be programmed with human intent, rather than complicated computer jargon. The system
became the center piece of Project Oxygen at MIT ($45Million project) and became a progenitor of several follow on systems in this area.
The vision paper: http://cag.csail.mit.edu/~umar/publications/ubisys.pdf
You may download the following video to see the system (and Umar Saif) in action: http://cag.csail.mit.edu/~umar/tmpmovies/mov1.mpg
Other noteworthy work done by Umar and his team in the area of research in the last 6 months include
1. A project that got funding from Microsoft Research (Poor Man’s
broadband) was featured in New Scientist (a first for Pakistan).
http://www.cag.csail.mit.edu/~umar/NS-PMB.pdf. This was also the first
time a research project in Pakistan was funded by Microsoft Research
(LUMS press release:
2. They just got a large collaborative research program funded in
collaboration with UC Berkeley (by USAID/HEC). This research program
is focused on Developing-world technologies and the work will be
jointly carried out with Eric Brewer’s TIER group at Berkeley
(http://tier.cs.berkeley.edu). Our side will be led by my team at
http://www.dritte.org and http://newt.lums.edu.pk — with
participation by PTCL, VU, NADRA, PITB and DSD.
3. They will be running a course with Univ. of Washington (Seattle, UW)
on developing-world technologies in a week’s time. The lectures will
broadcast live on LUMS campus and Umar Saif will be guest lecturing in a
couple of sessions via a video link. There will be other guest lecturers
from MIT, CMU, Berkeley and Microsoft. Course website (still
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