News at the IDeA Labs

Vasu Chetty Defends Ph.D. Dissertation

March 9, 2017

Vasu Chetty became IDeA Labs’ first Ph.D. graduate on Thusday when he successfully defended his dissertation, entitled “Theory and Applications of Network Structure of Complex Dynamical Systems.” Vasu’s accomplishments included generalizing the definition of the Dynamical Structure Function to arbitrary causal linear time-invariant systems, identifying necessary and suffecient conditions for network reconstruction–highlighting the fact that target specificity is not necessary (as previously thought), and developing a new technique for determining the meaning, or semantics, of partial structure representations of network systems.


Visitor from France Talks about Granger Causality in Networks

February 27, 2017

Mónika Józsa, a Ph.D. candidate at the École des Mines de Douai in France, visited IDeA Labs and spoke about the relationship between Granger causality of a stochastic process and the graph structure of its realizations. “We will show that Granger non-causalities between processes corresponds to zero-blocks of the system matrices in a linear time-invariant state-space representation of these processes. One of the applications is to model the causal structure of brain activity which will be illustrated with an example,” she said.


Emily Prigmore Awarded ORCA Scholarship to Model Ecological Phenomenon of Yellowstone National Park

February 9, 2017

Emily Prigmore has received and ORCA grant of $1500 for her research in modeling the ecological phenomenon of Yellowstone National Park. Since wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone twenty years ago, there have been many ecological changes regarding other animals and plants in the area. Emily’s research is using Lotka-Volterra equations and pursuit-evasion games to model the population and behavior dynamics of various animals and plants in Yellowstone since wolf reintroduction. The purpose of this research is to better understand the consequences of species elimination and introduction.


Charles Johnson Awarded ORCA Scholarship to Research Connection between Cascading Failures and Network Instability.

February 9, 2017

Undergraduate lab member Charles Johnson received a 2017 ORCA research grant to study failure modes of dynamical systems. This research will help bridge gaps in cyber-physical security research, designed to analyze systems for inherit vulnerabilities to attacks. It aims to shed light on the question of how much system failure a cyber attacker with limited access can cause in the real world.


Alumnus Enoch Yeung Speaks in CS Department Colloquium

January 26, 2017

Thursday, IDeA Labs Alumus Enoch Yeung will be the speaker in the CS Department Colloquium. Yeung authored 8 papers and produced an Honors Thesis on the representation of structured systems while at IDeA Labs before pursuing a Ph.D. in Control and Dynamical Systems at Caltech. Currently he is a Research Scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratories in the Data Science and Analytics Group of the Computational Statistics and Analytics Division. His talk, entitled “Understanding and Engineering Biologically Inspired Computing Architectures” will explore many of the themes that permeate his undergraduate, graduate, and current research.


Alumnus Anurag Rai visits from MIT

January 11, 2017

Former IDeA Labs student Anurag Rai visited lab meeting and spoke about his current research at MIT in the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems. His Ph.D. research focuses on backpressure routing algorithms yielding maximum throughput in networks. While at BYU, Anurag authored 6 papers and produced a masters thesis addressing the theory of structure in network systems.


IDeA Labs Students Attend Conference on Decision and Control in Las Vegas

December 12, 2016

Eight IDeA Labs graduate and undergraduate students, and their resident postdoctoral associate Alma Wilson, made the trek with their advisor, Professor Warnick, to Las Vegas to attend the 2016 Conference on Decision and Control, December 12th - 14th. This premier meeting, sponsored by IEEE, SIAM, and INFORMS, brings leading researchers from around the world together to present the latest results in systems and control theory and its applications. Three former lab members welcomed their lab-mates at the conference.


Professor Beck Visits from UIUC

December 8, 2016

Carolyn Beck, Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, visited IDeA Labs and spoke in the Computer Science Colloquium. Carolyn, who received her Ph.D. from Caltech, her M.S. from Carnegie Mellon, and her B.S. from California State Polytechnic University, all in Electrical Engineering, also is the recipient of national research awards (NSF CAREER and ONR Young Investigator) and local teaching awards.


Professor Warnick Invited to Speak at Oak Ridge National Labs and the INFORMS Annual Meeting

November 11, 2016

While on a whirlwind visit to Tennessee and Washington DC, Professor Warnick made his first visit to Oak Ridge National Laboratories, where he spoke on the mathematical representations of networks and subtle distinctions in their interpretations. Spending the day in the area, he toured the facilities at ONRL and met with researchers at UT Knoxville. The trip was nestled between visits to Vanderbilt and Washington DC, and the annual INFORMS meeting in Nashville.


Emily Prigmore and Charles Johnson Named IDeA Labs Scholars

August 29, 2016

With the begining of a new semester, a new set of IDeA Labs Scholars were named. This semester, Emily Prigmore (Computer Science ‘18) and Charles Johnson (Math ‘18) both received the award. The IDeA Labs scholarship is a full tuition scholarship given to undergraduates who have demonstrated an exceptional propensity for research and are role models to their peers. Emily has interests in marine biology and ecology, and, as a computer scientist, she is exploring ways to model population dynamics for different ecosystems.


Students Graduate with Honors

August 12, 2016

Three IDeA Labs undergraduate researchers graduated this summer, two of which graduated with honors. Jacob Brewer double majored in Computer Science and Arabic, and his honors thesis was titled “A Machine Learning Approach To Intra-Market Price Impact Modelling Using NASDAQ Level-2 ITCH Data." His thesis explores how informative the shape of the limit order book is for predicting the evolution of a stock’s price. Joel Eliason majored in Mathematics and is a co-author on the paper “Passive Reconstruction of Non-Target-Specific Discrete-Time LTI Systems," which was presented at the American Control Conference in Boston last July.


Vasu Chetty Accepts Faculty Position

August 1, 2016

Vasu Chetty, an IDeA Labs Ph.D. researcher, accepted a faculty position in the Computer Science Department at BYU Hawaii. As an alumnus from BYUH, Chetty was excited to return to his home turf, roll up his sleves, and help launch a new generation of distinguished Computer Scientists.


Students Present Research at the American Control Conference

July 8, 2016

Three senior graduate students at IDeA Labs presented their recent results at one of the top meetings for the IEEE Control Systems Society, the American Control Conference, held in Boston this year. First, Vasu Chetty (Ph.D) presented his paper entitled “Passive Reconstruction of Non-Target-Specific Discrete-Time LTI Systems”(his presentation can be found here). The research, conducted with the undergraduate IDeA Labs mathematician, Joel Eliason, explained a novel methodology for discovering the network structure of a system using only passive measurement and without actively probing it.


Grimsman Defends Thesis

July 1, 2016

David Grimsman defended his Masters Thesis Friday. The research, entitled “The Asynchronous t-Step Approximation for Scheduling Batch Flow Systems” offers a high-performance method for approximately solving provably hard scheduling problems–problems that can’t be solved using the largest computers working for years at a time. These problems arise naturally in chemical manufacturing, such as oil refining and polymer production, explosive and propellant manufacturing, and pharmaceutical production. His presentation can be found here.


Warnick Interviewed on Thinking Aloud

June 2, 2016

BYU’s IDeA Labs engages in a field called Systems Theory or Control Theory or Algorithmic Decision Processes. In a nutshell, they study and attempt to improve the decision-making processes in a wide variety fields such as biology, finance, or national security. Dr. Sean Warnick runs the lab and is here to discuss with guest host Mark Burns the sophisticated and important work it does. Listen to the interview here.


Jacob Brewer wins the Brigham Award

April 12, 2016

Lab Member, Jacob Brewer, received the Brigham Award, a nomination-only award given to 3 students across campus for exceptional service and genuine good hearted nature. Jacob is a co-founder and the VP of Strategy of the Ezidi Relief Fund. ERF’s mission is to aid to the victims of the 73rd Ezidi genocide and preserve historical and cultural identity of the Ezidi people as a whole. Jacob is also consistently involved in other local and international service projects, and he is a loving husband and father of his two children.


Former Student, Kara Yang, Starts Program at Berkeley

March 29, 2016

Kara Yang was an undergraduate researcher in the Computational Economics and Financial Systems Lab from 2007 to 2009. During that time, she worked with two industrial partners, the BYU Bookstore and Sungard Inc, on problems related to data science and anlaysis. In particular, she focused on a problem many financial firms face, involving how to ensure that brokers comply with miriad regulations and industry rules. After graduation, Kara followed her husband, Jack Dong, to MIT where he pursued his graduate work.


Brewer Wins ORCA Grant for Stock Market Machine Learning Research

February 29, 2016

Lab member Jacob Brewer received a 2016 ORCA grant for his research using control theory and machine learning to better predict stock prices using the NASDAQ order book data. As investment institutions are increasingly using such data for high frequency trading, regulatory institutions such as DHS have identified potential opportunities for price manipulation. The outcomes of this research will help determine whether or not stock prices can be manipulated by 3rd parties.


Professor Lonsdale Inspires IDeA Labs with Computational Linguistics

February 12, 2016

IDeA Labs holds regular lab meetings every Friday morning at 8am this semester, but in last Friday’s meeting Professor Lonsdale from the Linguistics Department inspired the group by talking about open probelms in computational linguistics. One project in the Policy Sciences and Human Systems Lab is focused on the structure of narrative and sotries for automated reading software, so Profesor Lonsdale’s discussion was very relevant and helpful for the people thinking about those topics.


Grimsman Wins Three Minute Thesis Competition for Computer Science

February 11, 2016

During the Computer Science Department’s Three-Minute Thesis Comeptition last Thursday, IDeA Labs’ David Grimsman did an excellent job describing how his work using the max-plus algebra to describe the dynamics of scheduling systems can have a real impact for chemcical manufacturing. Using the propular video game “Tetris” to visually describe how the recipees for one product can tie up a factory differently than another, Grimsman won the audience over and was voted best presentation by the group.


Enoch Yeung Defends Ph.D. Dissertation at Caltech

January 19, 2016

Enoch Yeung, a former member of the IDeA Labs, defended his Ph.D. dissertation at Caltech today. Titled, “Reverse Engineering and Quantifying Context Effects in Synthetic Gene Networks,” his work was supervised by Professor Richard M. Murray and reviewed by Professors Lea Goentoro, John Doyle, and James L. Beck. Concerning his dissertaion, Enoch comments, “In the past two decades, our ability to design and implement novel synthetic gene networks has increased dramatically.


Mackey Wilson, Sean Lane, and Jacob Brewer Named IDeA Labs Scholars

January 4, 2016

With the begining of a new semester, a new set of IDeA Labs Scholars were named. This semester, Mackenzie Wilson (Math ‘18), Sean Lane (Computer Science ‘16), and Jacob Brewer (Computer Science ‘16) all received the award. The IDeA Labs scholarship is a full tuition scholarship given to undergraduates who have demonstrated an exceptional propensity for research and who are role models to their peers. Mackey has interests in politics and great stories; her research explores the structure of narrative and computational tools to identify event streams from text.


Chetty's Work Featured at 2016 CDC in Osaka, Japan

December 15, 2015

This year’s Conference on Decision and Control in Osaka Japan featured a special sequence of two sessions on “Network Representations, Semantics, Identification, and Control” organized by Professors Warnick (BYU) and Materassi (University of Tennessee). Vasu Chetty, a Ph.D. student in IDeA Labs, contributed the principle work on network semantics for the sessions. His paper, entitled “Network Semantics of Dynamical Systems,” was one of twelve invited contributions to the sessions. Former IDeA Labber Philip Pare, currently in a Ph.


Woodbury's Research Invited to INFORMS

November 3, 2015

When Dr. Warnick was invited to participate in a special session at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) in Philadelphia, it was Nathan Woodbury’s work he wanted to showcase. Woodbury, a Ph.D. student in the IDeA Labs at BYU, is conducting research related to the modeling and analysis of financial markets. The presentation, entitled, “Backtesting Simultaneous Long-Short and Proportional-Integral Investment Schemes,” empirically tested the efficacy of a trading scheme developed by Professors Bob Barmish (University of Wisconsin) and Jim Primbs (CalState Fullerton).


Warnick Speaks at Allerton

September 30, 2015

Profesor Warnick was one of a number of speakers invited to present their work at the 53rd Annual Allerton Conference on Communications, Control, and Computing this year. Continuing his focus on network representations and thier meanings, his talk described the kinds of network stuctures that emerge when one interconnects different subsystems together to form a single composite system. In particular, he demonstrated that the type of network realized by Directed Information Graphs, Linear Dynamical Graphs, Dynamical Structure Functions, and Minimal Generative Model Graphs are signal structures, which can be very different from a system’s interconnection structure of its subsytems.


IDeA Labs Members Attend Timpanogos Storytelling Festival

September 5, 2015

IDeA Labs kicked off the new semester by attending Laughin’ Night at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. The festival provided lab members with an opportunity to observe the nuances and techniques specific to storytelling. There is currently a strong research direction in the lab focused on studying the technical structures and decomposition of stories.


Warnick and Roy win $550k to Protect Cyber-Enabled Critical Infrastructures

August 27, 2015

BYU’s IDeA Labs and Sandip Roy’s group at Washington State University team up once again to tackle difficult security problems for cyber physical systems. The project, entiteld, “Mission Impact Situational Awareness Tool for Distributed Operations Management of Cyber-Physical-Human Critical Infrastructures,”” is a two-year effort that deploys the vulnerability analysis framework developed by the team in previous work. The key idea behind this framework is that new network-focused systems robustness results can be exploited to anayze the vulnerabilities of cyber-physical-human systems.


Interdisciplinary Team wins $450k for Financial Sector Situational Awareness

August 20, 2015

Professors Scott Condie (BYU Economics), Sean Warnick (BYU IDeA Labs, Computer Science), Bob Barmish (Wisconsin ECE), and Jim Primbs (CalState Fullerton, Finance) just won $450k from the Department of Homeland Security to study the systemic vulnerabilities in our finanical system. The project, entitled, “Finanical Sector Situational Awareness Part I: Stock Markets,” is a two year effort that will explore the impact of order book dynamics on the evolution of stock prices.


Warnick speaks at University of Tennessee

August 13, 2015

Continuing an ongoing dialog with Professor Donatello Materassi on representations of network systems, Professor Warnick accepted an invitation to speak in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Tennessee on August 13, 2015. Warnick and Materassi independently developed similar representations for network systems characterized by the relationships among a system’s observed signals, and this visit gave the two researchers a chance to compare and contrast their models.


NSF Awards $250k to BYU

July 24, 2015

Professors John Hedengren (BYU PRISM Group, Chemical Engineering) and Sean Warnick (BYU IDeA Labs, Computer Science) received $235,869 from the National Science Foundation for an Early Concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) entitled “Cyber Manufacturing with Multi-echelon Control and Scheduling.” The project is a two year effort aimed at improving the performance of complex manufacturing systems by integrating new intelligent cyber tools into core automation systems.


IDeA Labs Members Participate in the Conference on Decision and Control

December 15, 2014

IDeA Labs members Vasu Chetty, Nathan Woodbury, and David Grimsman attended the Conference on Decision and Control 2014 held in Los Angeles. This international conference is the flagship gathering for the IEEE Control Systems Society, and includes top experts from around the world. This year’s Bode Lecture speaker was Bruce Francis, a well-decorated emeritus professor from the University of Toronto, who spoke about distributed control among groups of robots. The other plenary lectures were from Claire Tomlin of UC Berkeley and Miroslav Krstic of UC San Diego.


IDeA Labs and Internet Research Lab Co-Host the 2013 Network Mapping and Measurement Conference (NMMC) at Sundance

March 20, 2013

On May 20th and 21st, the 2013 NMMC was held up at Sundance, Utah. The program included a great line up of contributors from many different fields such as computer science, control theory, engineering, and mathematics. There were speakers from academia, government, and industry. The keynote speakers were Ali Jadbabaie from University of Pennsylvania and KC Claffy from University of California at San Diego. The conference was a great success; wonderful speakers, inspiring scenery, and delicious food.


IDeA Labs Members Participate in the 27th Annual Student Research Conference

March 9, 2013

IDeA Labs Members Vasu Chetty, Philip Pare, Nicholai Christensen, Daniel Fullmer, Gustavo Rodriguez, and Nathan Woodbury presented their research at the 27th Annual Student Research Conference hosted by the Brigham Young University College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences on March 9, 2013. Copies of their presentations are included below.


CS Professors Team Up to Develop Wireless Web

June 10, 2010

Sean Warnick and Daniel Zappala have combined the efforts of their respective research groups to make wireless networks more efficient and fair funded by an $80,000 grant from the United States Air Force (USAF).


Top Programs Compete for 2010 IDeA Labs' Students

May 27, 2010

The 2010 IDeA Labs’ graduates were pursued by top programs because they prepared themselves through rigorous fundamental coursework in feedback systems, control and optimization and they all completed substantial research projects in their area of interest.


Dr. Warnick Named "Distinguished Visiting Professor" by NSA

May 19, 2008

Dr. Sean Warnick was named as the 2008 Distinguished Visiting Professor (DVP) for the National Security Agency (NSA) Summer Program for Operations Research Technology (SPORT) Program.


IDeA Labs Sends Two Students to the 46th Annual IEEE Conference

February 14, 2008

IDeA Labs continued its tradition of sending students to present at conferences by sending Sam Weyerman and Russell howes to the 46th Annual IEEE Conference in New Orleans last December, 2007.


IDeA Labs Begins Another New Semester

January 29, 2008

IDeA Labs continues to succeed and is ready for another year of excitement.


IDeA Labs Undergraduate Initiates Exchange with Control Group at Cambridge University

October 31, 2007

This past summer, Russell Howes, an IDeA Labs student spent 5 weeks working with the Control Group at Cambridge University.


BYU & ATK Thiokol Team-up in Research

December 31, 2006

Research with industrial partner company ATK was highlighted in the Computer Science news-eletter, CS Connections: Dr. Sean Wamick and two undergraduate students recently completed a project with ATK Thiokol, the world’s leading supplier of rocket motors for space launch vehicles, strategic missiles, and missile defense interceptors. ATK Thiokol is headquartered in Brigham City, Utah and is part of ATK with headquarters in Minnesota. This branch of ATK has annual sales of $845 million dollars.


BYU IDeA Labs Recieve Major National Science Foundation Grant

October 10, 2006

The NSF Grant was also announced in BYU’s Y-News on October 10, 2006.


Getting Good IDeAs: National Science Foundation Backs BYU Laboratories

September 19, 2006

On Tuesday, 19 September 2006, the Daily Universe featured a frong-page story announcing the $700,000 grant awarded by the National Science Foundation.


Dr. Sean Warnick to Research at Cambridge University

May 1, 2006

This summer Dr. Sean Warnick will accept an appointment to conduct research as a Visiting Professor at Cambridge University. Warnick’s research focuses on the role of simplified models for complex systems, including retail, financial markets, manufacturing processes, ecological systems, and various networks. “Since computing the consequences of possible decisions can be intractable for such systems, simplified models are needed to understand consequences well enough to make good decisions,” explains Warnick. This interdisciplinary approach motivated Cambridge professor Jorge Goncalves to invite Warnick to exchange ideas on fundamental methods.


Nghia Tran, Wanted in Vietnam

April 30, 2006

By utilizing the intimate professor-student relations in IDeA Labs, Nghia Tran was able to receive an ORCA Mentoring Grant to help fund his on-going research in data mining and market power. As an undergraduate, Nghia was recruited to IDeA Labs in 2004. The intimate professor-student working relationship provided by the research laboratories, fosters an ideal setting for mentoring opportunities. Utilizing such resources, Nghia has been able to receive funding for his research in data mining in analysis of market power.


A Data Mining Approach to Market Power Analysis

March 30, 2005

Research conducted by Nghia Tran under advisement by Dr. Sean Warnick, BYU Computer Science Department. The question about market power is interesting both for business managers and market regulators. Market regulators are interested in maximizing total social welfare in a market by protecting market competition. Business managers want to know the power of different firms or parts of a firm to know their true value in acquisition. The measurement of market power turns out to computation-intensive and requires a very large amount of market data.