ISSUE 23 | SEPTEMBER 2010
Project gears science ‘Oscar’
up NICTA’s Peter Stuckey has
won the inaugural Google
Australia Eureka Prize for
Innovation in Computer
The prestigious prize was awarded
for Professor Stuckey’s development
of ‘lazy clause generation’.
His ‘lazy’ problem solver is a
software platform that solves
complex tasks - such as timetabling
transportation networks, inventory
management, production scheduling
or electronic circuit design -
significantly faster than existing
Photo courtesy of Australian Museum Eureka Prizes and 247 Studios
“I am genuinely surprised and
delighted with this award,” said
Professor Stuckey. “It’s especially
important as it recognises use-
inspired research, the fundamental
idea that will go on to make a real
difference to the way we solve
difficult problems in our society.”
This research breakthrough ensures
that invisible tasks that are critical
to society run as seamlessly as
Continued on page 2
Springtime in Canberra
not just for flowers
As Floriade, Australia’s biggest flower The September 15 event was opened navigation mapping software from
festival, cast its springtime spell by ACT Deputy Chief Minister Ms Katy AutoMap where all on show. We also
over Canberra, NICTA’s Canberra Gallagher MLA. demonstrated computer vision-
Research Laboratory threw open its based technologies to support the
doors to the local community, media NICTA technology to support development of a retinal prosthesis,
and industry partners to showcase its eGovernment, the latest research and or ‘bionic eye’.
breakthrough IT and Communications news from the Human Performance
research. Improvement (HPI) research Over 150 people attended.
project and award-winning personal
Two gongs for
for new CEO and reviews
competition 3 Embedded Systems research
Fraunhofer logistics. ICT has a crucial and central role to play in
Welcome to the September edition of NICTA News.
Project Group these challenges.
starts its engine 4 Regular readers will have already noted that we have
in this edition introduced a ‘new-look’ NICTA News. This brings me to the second issue: evaluating our
Scalable Vision Apart from anything else, it is way past time I got my performance. To keep our leading position in ICT
photo and thoughts off the front page and put our ICT research, we must constantly and objectively rate
Machines - Bringing
stars in the limelight! We hope you like it. Please let our performance and gauge the quality of our
intelligence to research. To that end, we have started a
us know by answering the reader survey mentioned on
cameras, this page. program of independent reviews of each
everywhere 4 of NICTA’s four Research Themes.
This repositioning of my column also lets me drop the
Back to school precis of ‘what’s in the edition’ and allows me to just Earlier this month, the Embedded
highlight the most important issues of the period for Systems Research Theme was
the company. There are two. reviewed by a panel of internationally
Research recognised experts drawn from
Engineer 5 The first is the search for a new Chief Executive Officer outside NICTA. Thanks must go to
for NICTA, which is now nearing completion. Jean Vuillemin (Panel Chair), Mike
Shake, Rattle Brooks, Richard Uhlig, Neil Weste,
Many of you will already be aware that I will be retiring
and Roll 6 at the end of my current contract with NICTA in March and Gerard Berry, for undertaking
2011. Since 2005 I’ve been honoured to lead the this important task for us. We eagerly
Education the organisation from its ‘startup’ phase to now being an await their report. Our remaining three
winner as NICTA internationally recognised ICT Research Centre. NICTA Research Themes – Networked Systems,
and ACS award researchers have produced some outstanding research Making Sense of Data and Managing
national ICT breakthroughs that are being taken to market through Complexity – will be similarly
intellectual property licences to industry, including reviewed over the next 18 months.
student prize 6
five startup companies created by NICTA researchers.
Lab News 7 By the time I depart, our most successful startup,
Open Kernel Labs, will have its products in over one
Events and billion mobile devices, some 200 students will have
short courses 8 completed their PhD research at NICTA, and we will
have in place new funding and contribution agreements
with our government and university backers, securing
NICTA’s future for the coming 4-5 years.
The Federal Government commitment last year to
fund NICTA for a further four years, through to mid-
2015, was great news for me and also, I believe,
for Australia. An imaginative, bold ICT vision, backed
by this sort of public investment, is vital if we are to
respond to the hard, important societal challenges
in areas such as water, energy, health, transport and
Continued from page 1
Peter Stuckey wins Eureka NICTA News 2010
Professor Stuckey’s work represents a radical
new approach to the task of finding the best
combination of variables to perform these
sorts of tasks efficiently. Mathematicians call
This is your chance to provide us with
this process ‘combinatorial optimisation’. your feedback on the new look and feel
It combines two types of programming -
constraint programming, which provides a NICTA News!
range of possible solutions to a problem The NICTA News Reader Survey has been designed to help identify the
- and satisfabiability programming, which
makes a logical choice between pre-defined
needs of our readers and create a better newsletter for your enjoyment.
possibilities. Professor Stuckey’s ‘lazy’ science To help us achieve this please visit www.nicta.com.au/news/nicta_news
was praised for its ability to achieve the right to complete our short online survey. Results will be revealed in the next
balance between the two.
edition of NICTA News due out in December.
As well as being a NICTA Project Leader, Peter
is a Professor of Computer Science at the Thanks for your support.
University of Melbourne.
for NICTA at iAwards
This year’s prestigious Australian Information Laboratory’s InterfereX team won a Merit Dr Judge. “It is a great way for them to learn
Industry Association (AIIA) iAwards proved a award in the Research and Development important programming skills and have fun at
double celebration, with NICTA receiving two category. the same time.”
John Judge, NICTA Senior Research Engineer, This award-winning five-week course is one
An online programming course for high accepted the e-learning iAward. “We developed of three programming streams offered in the
school students, developed by NICTA and the embedded programming course to annual National Computer Science School
the University of Sydney, won the e-learning encourage students to develop software that (NCSS) Challenge.
category while NICTA’s Canberra Research can make an impact in the real world,” said
The InterfereX team received a Merit award
in the Research and Development category of
Ferne Millen Photography
the iAwards for their wireless femtocell modem
Femtocells are indoor wireless access
points for cellular wireless that connect to
the telephone network via a home or office
broadband connection. Radio interference
from other 3G connections is recognised as
one of the top issues for these networks.
This technology, developed for the WCDMA
standard, addresses this problem.
NICTA InterfereX Project Leader Mark Reed
accepted the award. “Years of research went
into developing the modem and I am confident
that the technology will find a prominent place
in the emerging femtocell market,” said Dr
Stop Press – The NICTA and
University of Sydney team has
also been awarded a Sydney
Branch Engineering Excellence
Award for their work with the
National Computer Science
School. This places them in the
running for a national Engineering
Excellence Australia award,
with winners to be announced
Dr John Judge, NICTA and Dr James Curran, University of Sydney
in November. Not content with
wooing the domestic market,
the team is also up for an
international Asia-Pacific ICT Award
in October. Good luck!
NICTA Embedded Systems Graduate Their entry was the e4Meter, an intelligent The NICTA entry demonstrated how these
Researchers Etienne Le Sueur and Bernard power meter. benefits can be achieved, including examples
Blackham have won this year’s Lantronix Xport such as controlling lights with motion
Pro Design Competition. The e4Meter is designed to raise awareness detectors, turning heaters off after the desired
of power consumption and help consumers level of power consumption has been reached
Announced at the recent 2010 Embedded manage power consumption in their homes in and saving power by turning off devices when
Systems Conference in Boston, the team’s an intelligent and easy way. in standby mode.
entry beat over 50 others to take home the
top prize and US$6,000. Many of our household appliances waste For a more detailed look under the hood, visit
significant amounts of power. With the www.nicta.com.au to view a video about the
The design competition, based on Lantronix’s e4Meter, real benefits are provided to e4Meter that won the competition for Etienne
recently launched XPort Pro embedded consumers, allowing reduced household power and Bernard.
networking module, required entrants to consumption, a smaller carbon footprint and
develop a design prototype which combined most importantly, lower energy bills.
the module with the Linux operating system.
starts its engine
Six months ago, NICTA joined with Fraunhofer to establish the Fraunhofer
Project Group on Transport and Logistics at NICTA’s Australian Technology Park
(ATP) Laboratory in Sydney. We are now working together on research to solve
the hard problems in this critical sector of our economy.
The team is led by NICTA’s Mark Staples The Living Lab will be the first of its kind in
with Christian Webel from Fraunhofer IESE Australia, providing an environment that will
taking the position of Deputy Project Leader. support interaction between industry and
A business development manager and a research. It will evaluate and demonstrate
research engineer will be hired at NICTA new technologies for logistics, ensuring that
this year, and various NICTA and Fraunhofer research results are use-inspired and driven by
researchers will be contributed to the project industry.
group over time.
Fourteen organisations, including DHL and
One of the group’s first active collaborations is Google, are taking part in the Living Lab so
with NICTA’s Scalable Vision Machines project far. These participants have identified needs
(see article this page). Future applications of and opportunities for research and technology
this research could include new systems to collaborations in areas such as sustainability,
automatically measure traffic congestion or standards harmonisation, industry-wide
count container movements. integration, and logistics performance
“Fraunhofer and NICTA have had research
collaborations through individuals before, but “It’s exciting to get thought leaders in the
the Project Group takes the relationship to a logistics industry together to address these
new level,” said Dr Staples. “This is a strategic pain points in a concrete way,” said Dr Staples.
partnership that enhances our ability to benefit “The Living Lab will really bring to life stories
from our combined competencies in Australia of how innovative technology can make a
and in Europe.” difference in the industry.”
A technology demonstration space is planned
Future Logistics Living Lab takes shape
which will give visitors a hands-on experience
In a related endeavour, NICTA and Fraunhofer of future logistics.
are collaborating with SAP to create a ‘Future
Logistics Living Lab’ at NICTA.
Scalable Vision Machines
to cameras, everywhere
Cameras are everywhere: in our smart-phones, These mathematical descriptions would then repeated for each type of camera, as every
consumer products, critical infrastructure, be converted into software to run on the camera has different capabilities.
and even embedded into our cars. So why cameras.
can’t they all be intelligent, with the ability to In order for intelligent cameras to become
‘understand’ and ‘react’ in the same way we This technology will provide huge benefits to pervasive, we need a faster way to convert
do? At NICTA we think they can. society, such as the ability to measure traffic the mathematical algorithms into software.
congestion and adjust signalling accordingly, NICTA’s Scalable Vision Machines research
The cameras we are familiar with today convert verify a person’s identity, alert security of looks to automate this process by developing
light into information that can be stored or intruders, or detect defective products on an a programming language that allows an
transmitted. An intelligent camera would use assembly line. inventor to concisely describe computer vision
a set of mathematical algorithms applied to algorithms, and a tool that will automatically
what the camera sees, to extract information This process, however, typically requires transform this description into software that
required to perform specific tasks. significant engineering effort which must be can run on a range of camera devices.
to research engineer
NICTA’s Senior Research Engineer Ronnie Taib works in the Decision Support
for Incident Management (DSIM) research project. Ronnie is also studying for
his PhD at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) School of Computer
Science and Engineering. He supervises three Honours students and
contributes to the Scientists in Schools educational outreach program.
Ronnie conducts regular workshops Centrale de Lyon, Ronnie’s area of expertise is NICTA team is using the data collected through
at Sydney’s Earlwood Primary School, multimodal and language technologies. In the this collaboration to research and develop
demonstrating scientific concepts ranging from six years since he joined NICTA, Ronnie has core technologies for new human-computer
atom structure in cornflour slime, to petrol put his energy and skills in this field to good interfaces.
engines and electricity generation. There has use in the User Interfaces (UI) element of the
been a very positive response, with many Smart Transport and Roads (STaR) project, Ronnie has filed several international patents
students trying to reproduce the hands-on now known as DSIM, a collaborative project and has developed a broad interest in all
experiments at home, such as the lemon between NICTA and the NSW Roads and Traffic technologies that will allow more friendly
battery, or a cardboard and magnets electricity Authority (RTA). and useful machines and programs. “I am
generator. interested in research that will lead to products
NICTA has been studying traffic controllers and services that are widely accepted by users
”I am really thrilled to be fostering scientific who work in the RTA’s Transport Management and the industry,” he says.
curiosity in these children,” says Ronnie. “I Centre (TMC) to analyse their behaviour
was dreaming of being an inventor when I was under high mental demand. This can arise Scientists in Schools is a free national
their age, so it is very rewarding to see their when dealing with extremely large volumes program managed by CSIRO and funded by the
enthusiasm.” Ronnie started programming of information associated with many Department of Education, Employment and
his Amstrad CPC 464 at the age of eight, and simultaneous incidents, while performing in a Workplace Relations in which scientists partner
invented a number of gadgets throughout complex operational structure. with school teachers to deliver hands-on
his childhood. When his mother refused to science experiences for students.
let him ride his pushbike with a Walkman Some operators deal more effectively with this
plugged into his ears, he designed a T-shirt stress than others and Ronnie and his team
with loudspeakers embedded in the shoulders. have been carefully observing the ‘clues’ that
can indicate when the workers’ responses are Children from Sydney’s Earlwood
suffering, analysing subtle variations in their Primary School, checking on Ronnie’s
A graduate of France’s prestigious Ecole voice, gestures and language in particular. The work.
Photo courtesy Canberra Times 6
Canberra student watches
robot in action
Shake, Rattle No experience was needed. However,
students were encouraged to bring along their
imagination, enthusiasm and a healthy dose of
In August, NICTA took part in the 18th Australian Science
The students learned to program the robots,
giving them the opportunity to see the
interaction between computers with the
physical world, and develop an understanding
of how embedded systems operate in everyday
Festival, which aims to inform, educate and inspire individuals objects such as mobile phones and games
Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with
NICTA ran a workshop that introduced school Open to Year 5 and 6 students from schools
the majority of robots moving around the room
students to the complex and exciting world across the ACT, attendees were challenged to
as smoothly as Fred and Ginger.
of embedded systems. Held at our Canberra write computer programs that would control
Laboratory, the workshop provided an intimate the movement of robots, in particular enabling
learning experience in a unique environment. them to ‘dance’.
NICTA and the Australian Computer Society (ACS) have announced
the winners of their Young Aus-Innovators National ICT Prize, launched
as NICTA and ACS award
national ICT student prize
“The standard of entries was very high, I was encouraged by the variety
of concepts the students presented, from sophisticated animation
last year by the Federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and proposals and online games based on Arduino board programming,
the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy. The winning team comes from to the Bluetooth communications proposal that won first place.” said
Newington College in New South Wales. NICTA’s Director of Education, Dr Tim Hesketh.
Harrison Collin, Brenton Curko, Shannon Kwan and Chao Man, whose
proposal focused on improving household security standards, received
a cash prize of $2,500 and a two-week internship at NICTA during the
Neville Roach Research Laboratory Australian Technology Park Laboratory NICTA VRL and the ICT for Life Sciences
Forum celebrate Professor Graeme Clark’s
Worapan Kusakunniran - Best Biometrics Congratulations to Max Ott and Lavy Libman for
Student Paper Award - 20th International securing Marie Curie IRSES funding
Conference on Pattern Recognition In August NICTA was proud to co-host with the
Max Ott and Lavy Libman were part of a
ICT for Life Sciences Forum the 75th birthday
Congratulations to NICTA Graduate Researcher proposal entitled "CoopLab: A federated
celebrations for Professor Clark, one of
Worapan Kusakunniran on receiving the testbed environment for experimentation on
Australia’s great scientists.
Best Biometrics Student Paper Award at the wireless cooperative networks" which was
20th International Conference on Pattern jointly prepared with ITI Center for Research Australasian Language Technology
Recognition (ICPR) 2010 for "Multi-View Gait and Technology Hellas (CERTH) in Greece, Workshop 2010
Recognition based on Motion Regression using Universite Pierre et Marie Curie in France,
The Australasian Language Technology
Multilayer Perceptron". Polytechnic Institute of New York University,
Workshop (ALTA) is a NICTA-sponsored
the Nile University of Egypt and the Abdelmalek
event which will be held at the University of
Canberra Research Laboratory Essaadi University of Morocco.
Melbourne on 9th and 10th of December
NICTA’s Google Anita Borg Scholarship NICTA takes part in the NSW National 2010. This will be the eighth annual
Sarah Bull has won the 2010 Australia & New Broadband Network (NBN) testbed launch instalment of the ALTA Workshop and will
Zealand Google Anita Borg Scholarship from a be held in conjunction with the the fifteenth
In June NICTA took part in the successful
pool of over 70 entries. The Google-sponsored Australasian Document Computing Symposium,
launch of the NSW NBN technology trial.
scholarship aims to encourage women to excel which focuses on issues ranging from the
As part of the trial, NICTA is utilising the
in computing and technology, to become role fundamentals of document architectures and
capabilities of the NBN with an on-demand
models and leaders. Scholarships are awarded standards for markup, through various aspects
service to residents which delivers online
based on the strength of each candidate’s of document processing.
academic background and demonstrated Rahul Sharma - SAE-A Young Engineer of the
The NICTA trial package includes free-to-air
leadership. Year 2010
television channels and the ABC iView catch-up
Cindy Wang and Priscilla Kan John were also service, along with a new NICTA-developed NICTA Alumnus Rahul Sharma was this week
nominated as finalists and like Sarah are application that personalises television viewing recognised by the Society of Automotive
invited to attend a retreat at Google which and adapts to user preferences. Engineers Australasia as their Young Engineer
includes workshops, speakers, panelists, of the Year, for his work on gaseous engine
The quality of the Internet video content has
breakout sessions and social activities modelling and control systems development.
been upgraded to suit a large-screen television
scheduled over a couple of days. Rahul was one of VRL's earliest students,
set rather than a PC screen. As it becomes
Patrik Haslum Awarded Most Influential Paper available, high-definition content will also be completing his PhD on Reverse Fault Detection
at ICAPS 2010 supported. in 2008.
Congratulations to Patrik Haslum who was Geoff MacIntyre – Best Presentation Award –
awarded the Most Influential Paper Award at Victoria Research Laboratory 6th ISCB Student Council Symposium
the International Conference on Automated Lenin Mehedy & Razibul Islam - Finalists - Best Congratulations to Graduate Researcher Geoff
Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS 2010) for Student Paper Award - MWP 2010 MacIntyre on receiving the Best Presentation
his paper published in 2000, "Admissible Congratulations to Graduate Researchers Lenin Award at the 6th International Society for
Heuristics for Optimal Planning," Patrik Haslum Mehedy and Razibul Islam who have been Computational Biology (ISCB) Student Council
and Hector Geffner. selected as finalists for the Best Student Paper Symposium, recently held in Boston. Geoff’s
Top Cited Article 2005-2010 Award for the IEEE International Conference on presentation was on the latest algorithm he
Microwave Photonics (MWP'2010). has developed for the detection of single base
Antonio Robles-Kelly has been awarded
The winner of the Award will be announced at changes in DNA that disrupt gene regulation
Graphical Models Top Cited Article 2005-2010
the Conference in Montreal in October. called is-rSNP.
for his paper “Estimating the Surface Radiance
Function from Single Images”. Xi Liang - another NICTA Anita Borg Scholarship Liang Chen off to the National Institute of
Finalist Informatics (NII) in Tokyo
Queensland Research Laboratory Liang Chen has recently been accepted as an
Graduate Researcher Xi Liang is NICTA’s fourth
Sandra Mau 2010 WiT Awards Finalist finalist for the 2010 Australia & New Zealand international intern at the National Institute of
Congratulations to Sandra Mau for being Anita Borg Scholarship. She will join our CRL Informatics (NII) in Tokyo, Japan.
nominated as a finalist for the Women in winner and finalists at the Google retreat.
Technology (WiT) Awards. Sandra’s nomination
Funding Grant for Baker IDI-NICTA Diabetes
impressed the judging committee resulting
in them establishing a mentor-mentee
relationship between Sandra and the overall Congratulations to Diagnostic Genomics Project
winner. Leader Adam Kowalczyk and his collaborators
from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute
Best Paper Award at the 11th Pacific on being awarded a US National Institutes of
Rim International Conference on Artificial Health Grant for Metabolomic studies into the
Intelligence pathogenesis and risk assessment of Type 2
Nathan Robinson (Graduate Researcher), diabetes. Adam is bringing vital bioinformatics
Charles Gretton, Duc Nghia Pham and Abdul expertise to the three year, $1M-plus project
Sattar have been awarded the Best Paper which will progress plasma lipid profiling in
Award at the 11th Pacific Rim International diabetes.
Conference on Artificial Intelligence. The title
of the paper is "Partial Weighted MaxSAT for
Big Picture Seminars NICTA Laboratory Research Meet the Founder Series
Dr Chris Nicol - NICTA Chief Technology Officer Showcases Mr Bob Quodling - Founder
NICTA@NSW Parliament – Technology Simmersion Holdings Pty Ltd
Stategic Inflection Points in the Computing and Showcase Tuesday 9 November at 6.00pm
Semiconductor Industries Tuesday 19 October for a 4.30pm start Canberra Research Laboratory
Wednesday 27 October at 4.00pm NSW Parliament House, Sydney, NSW
The Edge, State Library of Queensland, General
Brisbane Queensland Research Laboratory TechNET
Thursday 17 November – times TBA. Australian Academy of Tecnological
Richard Stallman - Founder, Free Software The Edge, State Library of Queensland, Sciences and Engineering (ATSE)
Foundation Brisbane Cloud Report Launch
Education across the Nation - Free Software in Thursday 14 October at 5.00pm
Ethics and in Practice Canberra Research Laboratory
Monday 11 October for a 6.00pm start
University of New South Wales
For more information on all of NICTA’s events please visit
Date Course Title Presenter Location
11-12 Ocober Fundamentals of Kalman Paul Zarchan, MIT Lincoln Mawson Lakes SA
Filtering. A Practical Approach Laboratory, USA
13-15 October Tactical and Strategic Missile Paul Zarchan, MIT Lincoln Mawson Lakes SA
Guidance Laboratory, USA
18-19 October Space Essentials: Asking the Brett Biddington and Roy Sach Canberra ACT
1-4 November JTIDS/MIDS Link 16 Network Tony Castle, SyntheSys UK Canberra ACT
Design and Management
9-11 November Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar: Marco Martorella, University of Mawson Lakes SA
From Concepts to Advanced Pisa, Italy
9-10 November Engineering Aspects of GPS Andrew Dempster, UNSW Mawson Lakes SA
Including Receiver Design
17 November Cognitive Dynamic Systems Simon Haykin, McMaster Mawson Lakes SA
University, Hamilton, Canada
22-24 November Introduction to Combat Systems Robert L Fry, Mawson Lakes SA
Engineering System Engineering Group
NICTA@NSW Parliament 2010 Technology Showcase
See breakthrough NSW research solve global problems
LOCAL Where: Parliament House When: Tuesday, 19 October 2010
IMAGINATION Time: 4.30pm NICTA@NSW Parliament
GLOBAL Stranger’s Dining Room
SMART showcase opens
IMPACT TRANSPORT Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW
LESS TRAFFIC 6.15pm Official launch by the
CONGESTION NSW Treasurer
RSVP by Thursday, 14 October 2010 The Hon. Eric Roozendaal, MLC
at www.nicta.com.au/nicta@nswparliament 7.30pm NICTA@NSW Parliament concludes
Light refreshments will be served during