writes copy 17 Nov 2017

University of Washingtons computer science clout on full display at annual student showcase event

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University of Washington computer science Ph.D student Deepali Aneja talks about her project '” Learning Stylized Character Expressions from Humans '” which won the People’s Choice award at the UW’s Poster and Demo Session, part of the Allen School’s 2017 Annual Research Day. (GeekWire photos / Taylor Soper)

The expertise and growth of University of Washington’s computer science department was on full display Wednesday evening on campus in Seattle.

The Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering hosted its  Poster and Demo Session  as part of the 2017 Industry Affiliates Annual Research Day.

The evening showcase event is a science fair on steroids, with UW computer science students showing off their latest research projects to colleagues, friends, and others from the local tech community.

Walking around the Allen School was like taking a step into the future, where robotics, computer vision, machine learning, data science, computer networking, and other innovative technologies were demoed.

Seattle-based venture capital firm  Madrona Venture Group has awarded the  Madrona Prize  for the past 11 years to the research with the greatest commercial potential. This year's top prize ($3,000) went to two groups '” here are descriptions of each project with the students and professors who developed them:

  • Lab in the Wild, a large-scale online experimentation with diverse uncompensated samples (Allen School postdoc Nigini Abilio Oliveira; Allen School Ph.D. student Eunice Jun; and Allen School professor Katharina Reinecke)
  • Augury, a platform that predicts visual appeal of website design (visiting scientist Manuel Nordhoff and Allen School professor Katharina Reinecke)

Lab in the Wild is a marketplace of sorts that collects research from participants around the world on human-computer interaction. The platform has racked up more than four million users, and the resulting data is meant to help compare website preferences of people from different countries, for example, or show developers how to tweak user interfaces for certain age groups with different mouse interaction abilities.

Here’s a bit from the project’s about page:

Our previous experiments on Lab in the Wild have seen several thousands of participants, helping us to shed light on the impact of culture on users’ preferences, motor abilities, perception, and the like. But Lab in the Wild doesn’t just help us answer our questions. It also provides participants with personalized feedback, which lets them compare themselves and their performance to people of other countries.

Augury builds off a similar idea and lets developers do massively scalable A/B testing for website design.

Madrona Venture Group Managing Director Tim Porter noted how both projects were tightly related.

“The problem that Augury and Lab in the Wild are broadly solving around personalization and website optimization for different demographics '” and not just the U.S. audience '” is super applicable,” he told GeekWire. “The commercial applications of this network of people is also super exciting.”

The Madrona Prize winners with folks from Madrona Venture Group.

Porter said the event is one of Madrona’s favorite nights of the year. The firm has invested in 17 startups that have spun out of the UW’s highly-regarded computer science school. Porter noted how important the school is to Seattle’s tech ecosystem and vice versa; many companies like Microsoft, Tableau, Adobe, and Nutanix worked with students on the projects on display Wednesday.

Katharina Reinecke is one of many top researchers drawn to the UW’s top computer science program. (Photo via University of Washington)

“It’s a total virtuous cycle,” he added. “One reason the ecosystem has grown is because of UW CSE '” and as the ecosystem grows, UW CSE benefits. They both drive each other and that’s exciting.”

The showcase event was also a good example of how the department continues to attract not only top students, but professors and researchers. For example, Reinecke, involved with both of the winning projects, Read the Original Article