Virtual Traffic for Real-World Challenges

Ming C. Lin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Tsinghua University
Wednesday, November 6


Abstract: Traffic congestion management is a global challenge that transportation engineers and planners, policy makers, and the public at large are likely to contend with for decades. Besides the obvious energy, health, and environmental impacts, traffic congestion imposes tangible economic costs on society. In the highly populated countries in the world, from Asia, Europe to Americas, traffic management is clearly becoming one of the grand challenges of the 21st century. Innovative paradigms are urgently needed to achieve breakthroughs in intelligent transportation systems and urban planning that take advantages of real-time sensing, computational reasoning, and communications to transform existing approaches to vehicle congestion control. Real-time visualization and traffic simulation that model and simulate vehicle flows in vibrant, dynamic scenes of real-world complexity can provide enabling technologies to such an important problem of significant societal interests.

In this talk, I will present a few highlights of our recent efforts on the design of scalable algorithms for real-time traffic simulations and visualization that also exploits parallelism available on emerging commodity hardware (e.g. GPUs and many-core processors) to help address this challenge. In particular, I will present several complementary efforts: (1) geometrically and topologically consistent methods for transforming GIS data into functional road models for virtual traffic simulation on real-world road networks, (2) hybrid simulation technique that enables interactive visualization of metropolitan-scale traffic flows by seamlessly coupling together novel continuum and discrete methods, and (3) data-driven traffic reconstruction of temporal-spatial data from urban scenes and city highways. I will demonstrate and discuss the results on several interactive applications, including adaptive vehicle rerouting to avoid congestion, interactive computer gaming with vehicles simulation, and urban planning using large-scale traffic simulation. I will conclude by discussing our experiences and some future research directions.

Biography: Ming C. Lin is currently John R. & Louise S. Parker Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill and an honorary Chair Professor (Yangtze Scholar) at Tsinghua University in China. She obtained her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley. She received several honors and awards, including the NSF Young Faculty Career Award in 1995, Honda Research Initiation Award in 1997, UNC/IBM Junior Faculty Development Award in 1999, UNC Hettleman Award for Scholarly Achievements in 2003, Beverly W. Long Distinguished Professorship 2007-2010, Carolina Women's Center Faculty Scholar in 2008, UNC WOWS Scholar 2009-2011, IEEE VGTC Virtual Reality Technical Achievement Award in 2010, and nine best paper awards at international conferences. She is a Fellow of ACM and IEEE. Her research interests include physically-based modeling, virtual environments, sound rendering, haptics, robotics, and geometric computing. She has (co-)authored more than 240 refereed publications in these areas and co-edited/authored four books. She has served on over 120 program committees of leading conferences and co-chaired dozens of international conferences and workshops. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, a member of 6 editorial boards, and a guest editor for over a dozen of scientific journals and technical magazines. She also has served on several steering committees and advisory boards of international conferences, as well as government and industrial technical advisory committees.


Blaise Agüera y Arcas, Distinguished Engineer, Applications and Services Group, Microsoft Corp.
Thursday, November 7


Abstract: In 2007, we introduced Photosynth, the first broad consumer application for computer vision. Our idea at the time was to enable people to create immersive three-dimensional experiences from ordinary photos, but there were many obstacles to the realization of this vision at the time. Beyond the technical challenges of efficiently computing structure from motion and global geometry from unstructured input, we faced a major interaction design challenge. Given that photos are sparsely and often arbitrarily sampled points from a seven-dimensional pose space (position, angle, and time), how could we make these immersive environments feel truly natural and navigable? In our work since, we've wrestled with this problem, and believe with the soon to be released Photosynth2 we've understood how to solve it.

Biography: Blaise Agüera y Arcas is a Distinguished Engineer in the Applications and Services Group at Microsoft. He works in a variety of roles, from designer and inventor to strategist and technical leader. His team of scientists and engineers focuses on augmented reality, mapping, wearable computing and natural user interfaces. Blaise has a broad background in computer science, applied math and the humanities, and has worked in a range of fields including computational neuroscience and computational history. In 2001 he received acclaim for his discovery, using computational methods, of the printing technology used by Johann Gutenberg. He joined Microsoft when the company he founded, Seadragon, was acquired by Live Labs in 2006. Shortly after the acquisition, Blaise directed his team in collaboration with MSR and the University of Washington, leading to the first public launch of Photosynth several months later. At Live Labs, before joining OSD, Blaise led a number of incubation efforts. In 2008 and 2009 he was the recipient of MIT Technology Review's TR35 award (35 top innovators under 35) and Fast Company's MCP100 ("100 most creative people in business"). In 2010, he was named to Advertising Age's Creativity 50 ("annual list of the most influential and inspiring creative personalities of the last year"). He has given two TEDtalks, one of which is still rated the "most jaw-dropping" on