The UW’s computer science and engineering department shows off some of its work while also pushing to fund a new building.
Ricardo Martin-Brualla has created a time-lapse video that shows a massive glacier in Norway receding over the course of 10 years from a giant block of ice to a smaller frozen patch.
But Martin-Brualla didn’t set up a camera to take photos for a decade. Instead, the University of Washington computer science Ph.D. student used computer-vision technology to find photos online of the popular landmark, warp them so they all appear to be taken from the same angle and stitch them together so it looked as if time flowed continuously.
Martin-Brualla presented his project to a packed room Tuesday at the University of Washington Department of Computer Science & Engineering’s Industry Affiliates Meeting, part of a three-day event to showcase the department’s work. Tuesday was all about showing off student research for local companies who support the department. On Monday, more than 40 startups packed the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering on UW’s campus to meet with students.
A second recruiting event will take place Wednesday, this time with more than 60 larger companies showing off their swag to recruit new workers.
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The startup event was added three years ago to give smaller companies a chance to compete on a more level playing field.
Not every small company can have a recruiting booth quite as dressed up as Google’s, for example.
Every bit of attention from students about to graduate is valuable for the region’s companies. Nearly all tech companies are looking to recruit developers, and some of the best come from the UW.
The school is working to increase the number of students who graduate from the undergraduate program each year, but department staff members say there are significant challenges.
About 230 students graduated from the undergrad program earlier this year, an increase from 160 four years ago. The goal is to get that number to 320 students per year in the short-term, said Ed Lazowska, the UW’s Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science.
The state allocated funding this year to help the department achieve that goal. But the department says it needs more space.
“When we first moved in (to the Paul Allen Center) 12 years ago, we had no idea how we were going to use all of this space,” department Chairman Hank Levy said in opening remarks Tuesday. “But now we’re out of it.”
The computer science program each year is able to admit only one-third of the students who meet the prerequisites and apply, Lazowska said. That means two-thirds of the qualified students likely end up majoring in different fields.
The UW plans to construct a second computer science building to increase capacity at a cost of about $110 million. Microsoft has donated $10 million, UW will give $5 million and the state allocated $32.5 million earlier this year.
The computer science department staff has hit funding snags along the way but is pushing ahead with an effort to raise $70 million from other donors.
“We will squeeze and squeeze to continue to grow and accommodate more students until we get into the new building,” Lazowska said. “But we are already funded for a level of enrollment that’s not possible on a permanent basis in our current space.”
The goal is to start construction of the 130,000-square-foot building in fall of 2016 and move in during fall of 2018.
In the meantime, dozens of students showed off their research Tuesday in natural-language processing, mobile systems and computer vision, among other fields.
Martin-Brualla has been working on his time-lapse project for about a year, along with David Gallup from Google and Steve Seitz, who splits his time at Google and as a UW professor.
In doing his work, Martin-Brualla first looks through such sites as Flickr and Instagram to find similar photos of a popular landmark. He gathers hundreds, sometimes thousands, of images taken over a long period of time.
Then the 28-year-old student uses algorithms developed at the UW over the past decade, as well as new algorithms he has written, to tilt each photo slightly to make it seem as if every picture were taken from the same angle.
Then, he uses technology he and his co-authors have developed to make sure the coloring is the same in each photo. That gives final video a seamless look at a landmark over time.
“When you show the time-lapse, you can see how places have changed over time and gain some insight into how the world is changing,” Martin-Brualla said.
He is hoping a big company will acquire the technology and continue to develop it so people everywhere will be able to see the technology.time-lapses and create their own videos.