COMPUTER SCIENCE &
COMPUTER ENGINEERING

Computer Science | Computer Engineering | Software Engineering

Our stellar programs attract oustanding students from around the world who work closely with our faculty to advance state-of-the-art research in computing technologies. We attribute our success to a strong tradition of collaborative research, close working relationships with local industries, state-of-the-art facilities and a dedicated committment to student achievement.

We offer bachelor of science degrees in computer science (CS), computer engineering (CPE), and a master's degree in software engineering (MSE). Our MSE program is unique within the UW system and offers graduates very desiriable employment opportunities. We also offer a very popular dual-degree program that awards students a BS in Computer Science and a Master's in Software Engineering within a condensed time frame of only five years. If you have any questions please contact us at compsci@uwlax.edu.

Announcements

Fall 2021: Lab Schedule
Fall 2021: MFT exam offered on Oct. 22nd and Nov. 5th

Evolutionary Computation Lab: Summer Researchers

Bee hives are marvels of nature. Thousands of individuals relentlessly pursue the goal of ensuring survival of the colony by performing tasks such as caring for the brood, constructing and repairing the hive, foraging for food, and maintaining the hive temperature in a very narrow range of approximately 32 to 35 degrees C. Amazingly, all of this occurs with little centralized control.

This summer, four UWL Computer Science students will use bees as inspiration to solve decentralized, dynamic task allocation problems for artificial swarms. Artificial swarms consist of large numbers of relatively simple computational agents that must achieve a common objective through repeated performance of one or more tasks. The ultimate goal of such research is to enable creation of robotic swarms capable of self-organizing to solve complex problems. Working with Dr. Annie Wu and her research group at the University of Central Florida, Dr. David Mathias' Evolutionary Computation Lab explores ways to ensure that agents in artificial swarms allocate themselves to tasks in appropriate numbers so that all tasks are completed and extra work performed is minimized.

Junior CS major Dan Fedorenko will develop a new, much more general testbed simulation for our swarm work. The current simulator is limited to four tasks. Dan will create a generalized simulator that allows the user to determine the number of tasks and how much work must be performed for each task at any given time.

Undergraduate CS major Zach Gephart, recipient of a College of Science & Health Dean's Distinguished Fellowship, will examine the effects of a changing task set. In other words, how does the swarm cope when new tasks are introduced, requiring that new agents with the capability of performing those tasks replace some existing agents. His work will require making significant changes to our existing simulator, running numerous experiments, and analyzing the results.

Dan Fedorenko (left) and Zach Gephart (right)

MSE candidate John Lanska is undertaking a particularly challenging and fun problem. Combining two of David Mathias' passions, swarm intelligence and soccer, John will attempt to create a simulated robotic soccer team that is competitive with other such teams. John's team will use our principles of decentralized, dynamic task allocation rather than more typical machine learning techniques. This work is based on the well-known RoboCup robotic soccer competition (if you are not familiar with RoboCup, it's worth watching one of the many videos on YouTube).

Having completed just his first year at UWL, Eagle Apprentice Walter Leifeld is using a genetic algorithm to evolve effective behaviors for agents to solve our testbed problem. This work combines swarm systems with evolutionary computation, a method for solving computationally difficult problems. The ultimate goal is to develop a genetic algorithm that will allow us to create behaviors that will work effectively for all problems in the simulator.

John Lanska (left) and Walter Leifeld (right)

All of these projects are on the cutting edge of artificial swarm research. Zach, Dan, Walter, and John join a long list of UWL CS students making significant contributions to advancing science while pursuing their degrees.

Deans Distinguished Fellow: Zach Gephart

Zacharay Gephart has received a Dean's Distinguished Fellowship for research with Dr. David Mathias. The project will explore using swarm intelligence for tasks such as robotic path planning. Here is an abstract of his research.

In the ever-expanding field of robotics, the demand for innovation is constant. One emerging field of innovation that has yet to be fully explored can solve problems by forming behaviors similar to those found in the natural world. This field features swarms of many artificial agents working together to achieve common goals. An important aspect of an intelligent swarm system is that it is entirely decentralized, meaning each individual decides the task it wants to perform and when. This research will introduce a high degree of environmental dynamism, in the form of changing task sets and agent population to examine the swarm’s ability to adapt to these changes. This work is inspired by natural swarms, in particular, those of eusocial insects such as ants and bees. In these societies, individuals are regularly replaced as part of the lifecycle and in response to changing needs. In our system, we will similarly replace agents in response to changing tasks. Because real-world environments are very dynamic, the results of this research may help make use of artificial swarms for realistic problems more attainable.

UWL Faculty Friday with Dr. Foley

Dr. Samantha Foley was recently featured on a livestream interview/presentation sponsored by UWL's International Admissions office. She gives a great overview of the CS department including academic programs, research projects, job opportunities, student groups and the like. The presentation is available on youtube.

SIGCSE 2021 Presentation by Dr. Foley and Adam Yakes

Recent MSE graduate, Adam Yakes, will be demonstrating his MSE project at SIGCSE 2021. He collaborated with Dr. Samantha Foley to develop a software tool meant to aid students learning about concurrency. The tool allows students to adjust a variety of parameters that affect concurrent behavior and to visualize the affect of these parameters on a set of classic concurrency problems that are frequently taught in CS-441, Operating Systems Concepts.

The application specifically seeks to help students understand how concurrency and non-determinism can impact resource utilization, waiting time, and the likelihood of deadlock. The tool runs in the browser allowing students to play with these problems on any system, view an animation of a particular run, and view aggregate results. The work will be presented at SIGCSE 2021, which is being held remotely this year, as a demonstration session on Wednesday, March 17th.

Dipankar Mitra: New CPE Faculty

We are excited to have a new Computer Engineering faculty member join the department. Dipankar Mitra will be completing his Ph.D. this spring at North Dakota State University and will be moving to La Crosse in the fall.

Dipankar Mitra is a PhD candidate in the field of RF VLSI and RF/Microwave Engineering at Electrical and Computer Engineering department, North Dakota State University (NDSU), Fargo, ND. He received his Master’s degree in the same major with emphasis on RF Integrated Circuits (RF VLSI) for wireless smart radar communications also from NDSU in 2016. His research interests span the areas of RF-embedded systems for IoT devices and UAVs/UASs, RF VLSI, RF and microwave engineering, applied electromagnetics, engineered materials for applications in antennas and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, 3D-printed flexible and wearable electronics, microelectronics, and analog/digital integrated circuits. He has co-authored 6 journals, 18 peer-reviewed conferences and given numerous presentations and talks. He was awarded the College of Graduate and Interdisciplinary Studies Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (DDF), 2020-21 for his excellent research achievements and nominated Graduate Teaching Assistant of the year 2020 by ECE dept. at NDSU. Additionally, he is a reviewer for the IEEE Access Journal, IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems I: Regular Papers, The Applied Computational Electromagnetics Society (ACES), and the IEEE-EIT conference. He is a member of IEEE, IEEE Eta Kappa Nu, an electrical engineering honor society, and the International Society of Optics and Photonics (SPIE).

Jacob McAllister: Datatracker App

Jacob McAllister, a student in the departments 5-year BSCS/MSE program, has recently published a mobile app, DataTracker, that gathers COVID-19 related data from a variety of sources and presents it in a visual format that is meant to aid in interpretation. Jacobs story is featured in the UWL Campus Connection. When commenting on this project, Jacob says This has become quite an exciting and meaningful project to work on because the information it makes accessible is so relevant. It’s surreal to be able to contribute in a positive way to a situation like this using skills that I’ve been building over the last four years. I hope that the application can be used by more people and that utility is continued to be found in it..

ICHI Presentation

The ICHI conference is concerned with the application of computer science principles, information science principles, information technology, and communication technology to address problems in healthcare, public health, and everyday wellness. Dr. Kasi Periyasamy will be presenting a talk at this years conference describing the development of a software system meant to better identify and treat chronic kidney disease (CDK). CDK is a significant health risk as evidenced by the fact that in 2017, 14.5% of Medicare patients were diagnosed with CDK. More details are available at the workshop web site.

Advice for New Students

CS faculty have put together a brief video to introduce our program to students who are either considering coming to UWL in the fall or who have already decided to attend. Catch the video entitled UWL Computer Science Department Introduction on Youtube.

Elliott Forbes: IEEE Senior Member

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is the worlds foremost professional organization for electronic and electrical engineering (and numerous associated disciplines). IEEE produces over 30% of the world's literature in this space; publishes over 100 peer-reviewed academic journals and sponsors over 180 conferences and events.

Several categories of membership are available in IEEE. Dr. Elliott Forbes was recently elevated to Senior Member status within the IEEE; an achievement of significant distinction. Applicants for Senior Member must have at least three letters of recommendation from Senior, Fellow, or Honorary members and fulfull other rigorous requirements related to education, achievement, experience, and contribution to the discipline. The Senior Members are a selected group of experts as evidenced by the fact that certain IEEE offices are available only to Senior Members.

USENIX Security Paper

USENIX Security is one of the premiere organizations in the field of security and privacy of computer systems and networks. Dr. Michael Petullo has co-authored a paper for this years conference entitled The Industrial Age of Hacking. When asked to describe his work, Dr. Petullo responded that We are interested in building bug-finding teams out of practitioners of varying skill. We investigated an approach that couples automated tools with apprentice, journeyman, and master hackers. We found evidence that our approach finds more bugs and also provides a better path from apprentice to master. Check out the draft/preprint of the paper for further details.

Dr. Michael Petullo is interested in finding new designs that allow software to remain robust despite attacks by intelligent adversaries. He was involved in the work surrounding the Ethos operating system and MinimaLT network protocol, served as an Assistant Professor at the United States Military Academy, and presently acts as the Lead Developer of US Army Cyber Command's Cyber Solutions Development Detachment. He will be joining our faculty in the fall.