News & Events

1,222 News items, Awards, Events and Talks related to MERL and its staff.


  •  EVENT   SANE 2016 - Speech and Audio in the Northeast
    Date: Friday, October 21, 2016
    MERL Contact: Jonathan Le Roux
    Location: MIT, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Cambridge, MA
    Research Area: Speech & Audio
    Brief
    • SANE 2016, a one-day event gathering researchers and students in speech and audio from the Northeast of the American continent, will be held on Friday October 21, 2016 at MIT's Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department, at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, in Cambridge, MA.

      It is a follow-up to SANE 2012 (Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs - MERL), SANE 2013 (Columbia University), SANE 2014 (MIT CSAIL), and SANE 2015 (Google NY). Since the first edition, the audience has steadily grown, gathering 140 researchers and students in 2015.

      SANE 2016 will feature invited talks by leading researchers: Juan P. Bello (NYU), William T. Freeman (MIT/Google), Nima Mesgarani (Columbia University), DAn Ellis (Google), Shinji Watanabe (MERL), Josh McDermott (MIT), and Jesse Engel (Google). It will also feature a lively poster session during lunch time, open to both students and researchers.

      SANE 2016 is organized by Jonathan Le Roux (MERL), Josh McDermott (MIT), Jim Glass (MIT), and John R. Hershey (MERL).
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  •  NEWS   MERL Speech & Audio researchers present two sold-out tutorials at Interspeech 2016
    Date: September 8, 2016
    Where: Interspeech 2016, San Francisco, CA
    MERL Contact: Jonathan Le Roux
    Research Areas: Speech & Audio
    Brief
    • MERL Speech and Audio Team researchers Shinji Watanabe and Jonathan Le Roux presented two tutorials on September 8 at the Interspeech 2016 conference, held in San Francisco, CA. Shinji collaborated with Marc Delcroix (NTT Communication Science Laboratories, Japan) to deliver a three-hour lecture on "Recent Advances in Distant Speech Recognition", drawing upon their experience organizing and participating in six different recent robust speech processing challenges. Jonathan teamed with Emmanuel Vincent (Inria, France) and Hakan Erdogan (Sabanci University, Microsoft Research) to give an in-depth tour of the latest advances in "Learning-based Approaches to Speech Enhancement And Separation". This collaboration stemmed from extensive stays at MERL by Emmanuel and Hakan, Emmanuel as a summer visitor, and Hakan as a MERL visiting research scientist for over a year while on sabbatical.

      Both tutorials were sold out, each attracting more than 100 researchers and students in related fields, and received high praise from audience members.
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  •  TALK   Foundations of Green Communications
    Date & Time: Friday, September 23, 2016; 12:00 PM- 1:00 PM
    Speaker: Dr. Earl McCune, Eridan Communications
    MERL Host: Rui Ma
    Research Areas: Communications, Signal Processing
    Brief
    • To maximize the operating energy efficiency of any wireless communication link requires a global optimization not only across the entire block diagram, but also including the selected signal modulation and aspects of the link operating protocol. Achieving this global optimization is first examined for the transmitter, receiver, and baseband circuitry. Then the important aspects of signal modulation necessary to access these circuit optimizations, with examples, are presented, followed by the correspondingly important protocol aspects needed. A metric called modulation-available energy efficiency (MAEE) compares proposed signals for compatibility with high energy efficiency objectives.
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  •  NEWS   MERL researchers will present 4 papers at ECOC2016 optical communications conference
    Date: September 19, 2016
    Where: 2016 European Conference on Optical Communication, Dusseldorf Germany
    MERL Contacts: Toshiaki Koike-Akino; Keisuke Kojima; David Millar; Milutin Pajovic; Kieran Parsons
    Research Areas: Communications, Electronic and Photonic Devices, Signal Processing
    Brief
    • Four papers from the Optical Comms team will be presented at ECOC2016 to be held in Dusseldorf, Germany from 19-21 September 2016. A fifth paper in collaboration with our colleagues in Japan will also be presented. ECOC is the largest conference on optical communication in Europe. The papers relate to high performance modulation formats, nonlinearity compensation and error correction coding for coherent optical links.
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  •  NEWS   MERL presents three papers at the 2016 IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR)
    Date: June 27, 2016 - June 30, 2016
    Where: 2016 IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), Las Vegas, NV
    MERL Contacts: Michael Jones; Tim Marks
    Research Areas: Machine Learning, Computer Vision
    Brief
    • MERL researchers in the Computer Vision group presented three papers at the 2016 IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR 2016), which had a paper acceptance rate of 29.9%.
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  •  TALK   Atomic-level modelling of materials with applications to semi-conductors.
    Date & Time: Wednesday, August 17, 2016; 1 PM
    Speaker: Gilles Zerah, Centre Francais en Calcul Atomique et Moleculaire-Ile-de-France (CFCAM-IdF)
    Research Areas: Applied Physics, Electronic and Photonic Devices
    Brief
    • The first part of the talk is a high-level review of modern technologies for atomic-level modelling of materials. The second part discusses band gap calculations and MERL results for semi-conductors.
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  •  EVENT   MERL Hosts 2nd Annual Women In Science Celebration
    Date & Time: Friday, July 22, 2016; 12:00 Noon
    MERL Contacts: Elizabeth Phillips; Jinyun Zhang
    Location: Cambridge Brewery
    Brief
    • MERL hosted its 2nd Annual "Women In Science Celebration". MERL's current team of female interns discussed and celebrated the contributions they've made during their internships at MERL.
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  •  TALK   A computational spectral graph theory tutorial
    Date & Time: Wednesday, July 13, 2016; 2:30 PM - 3:30
    Speaker: Richard Lehoucq, Sandia National Laboratories
    Research Areas: Computer Vision, Digital Video, Machine Learning
    Brief
    • My presentation considers the research question of whether existing algorithms and software for the large-scale sparse eigenvalue problem can be applied to problems in spectral graph theory. I first provide an introduction to several problems involving spectral graph theory. I then provide a review of several different algorithms for the large-scale eigenvalue problem and briefly introduce the Anasazi package of eigensolvers.
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  •  EVENT   MERL participates in SIAM Career fair
    Date & Time: Monday, July 11, 2016; 10 AM - 9:15 PM
    MERL Contacts: Matthew Brand; Piyush Grover; Joseph Katz; Arvind Raghunathan
    Location: Westin Boston Waterfront Pavilion, Boston, Massachusetts
    Brief
    • MERL researchers participate in SIAM Job fair to showcase MERL's research and highlight employment and intern opportunities at MERL. The Career Fair emphasizes careers in business, industry, and government, and takes place during the SIAM Annual Meeting.

      The SIAM Applied Mathematics and Computational Science Career Fair is an informational and interactive event at which employers and prospective employees can discuss careers. It is a great opportunity for prospective employees to meet government and industry representatives and discuss what they are looking for and what each employer has to offer.
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  •  TALK   Controlling the Grid Edge: Emerging Grid Operation Paradigms
    Date & Time: Thursday, July 7, 2016; 2:00 PM
    Speaker: Dr. Sonja Glavaski, Program Director, ARPA-E
    MERL Host: Arvind Raghunathan
    Research Area: Electric Systems
    Brief
    • The evolution of the grid faces significant challenges if it is to integrate and accept more energy from renewable generation and other Distributed Energy Resources (DERs). To maintain grid's reliability and turn intermittent power sources into major contributors to the U.S. energy mix, we have to think about the grid differently and design it to be smarter and more flexible.

      ARPA-E is interested in disruptive technologies that enable increased integration of DERs by real-time adaptation while maintaining grid reliability and reducing cost for customers with smart technologies. The potential impact is significant, with projected annual energy savings of more than 3 quadrillion BTU and annual CO2 emissions reductions of more than 250 million metric tons.

      This talk will identify opportunities in developing next generation control technologies and grid operation paradigms that address these challenges and enable secure, stable, and reliable transmission and distribution of electrical power. Summary of newly announced ARPA-E NODES (Network Optimized Distributed Energy Systems) Program funding development of these technologies will be presented.
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  •  NEWS   MERL SIAM Fellow recognition at AN16
    Date: July 12, 2016
    Where: Westin Boston Waterfront
    Brief
    • MERL researcher Andrew Knyazev is to be honored for his recent selection as a SIAM Fellow at the 2016 SIAM Annual Meeting, during the Business Meeting on Tuesday, July 12, 6:15-7:15 PM in Grand Ballroom AB on the concourse level of the Westin Boston Waterfront, 425 Summer Street, Boston, MA (open to all conference participants). The Business Meeting is followed by a short reception for the new Fellows.
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  •  EVENT   MERL celebrates 25 years of innovation
    Date: Thursday, June 2, 2016
    MERL Contacts: Elizabeth Phillips; Anthony Vetro
    Location: Norton's Woods Conference Center at American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Cambridge, MA
    Brief
    • MERL celebrated 25 years of innovation on Thursday, June 2 at the Norton's Woods Conference Center at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in Cambridge, MA. The event was a great success, with inspiring keynote talks, insightful panel sessions, and an exciting research showcase of MERL's latest breakthroughs.

      Please visit the event page to view photos of each session, video presentations, as well as a commemorative booklet that highlights past and current research.
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  •  NEWS   MERL makes a strong showing at the American Control Conference
    Date: July 6, 2016 - July 8, 2016
    Where: American Control Conference (ACC)
    MERL Contacts: Mouhacine Benosman; Scott Bortoff; Petros Boufounos; Daniel Burns; Claus Danielson; Stefano Di Cairano; Abraham Goldsmith; Piyush Grover; Uros Kalabic; Christopher Laughman; Daniel Nikovski; Arvind Raghunathan; Yebin Wang; Avishai Weiss
    Research Areas: Control, Dynamical Systems, Machine Learning, Optimization, Robotics, Data Analytics
    Brief
    • The premier American Control Conference (ACC) takes place in Boston July 6-8. This year MERL researchers will present a record 20 papers(!) at ACC, with several contributions, especially in autonomous vehicle path planning and in Model Predictive Control (MPC) theory and applications, including manufacturing machines, electric motors, satellite station keeping, and HVAC. Other important themes developed in MERL's presentations concern adaptation, learning, and optimization in control systems.
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  •  TALK   Speech structure and its application to speech processing -- Relational, holistic and abstract representation of speech
    Date & Time: Friday, June 3, 2016; 1:30PM - 3:00PM
    Speaker: Nobuaki Minematsu and Daisuke Saito, The University of Tokyo
    Research Area: Speech & Audio
    Brief
    • Speech signals covey various kinds of information, which are grouped into two kinds, linguistic and extra-linguistic information. Many speech applications, however, focus on only a single aspect of speech. For example, speech recognizers try to extract only word identity from speech and speaker recognizers extract only speaker identity. Here, irrelevant features are often treated as hidden or latent by applying the probability theory to a large number of samples or the irrelevant features are normalized to have quasi-standard values. In speech analysis, however, phases are usually removed, not hidden or normalized, and pitch harmonics are also removed, not hidden or normalized. The resulting speech spectrum still contains both linguistic information and extra-linguistic information. Is there any good method to remove extra-linguistic information from the spectrum? In this talk, our answer to that question is introduced, called speech structure. Extra-linguistic variation can be modeled as feature space transformation and our speech structure is based on the transform-invariance of f-divergence. This proposal was inspired by findings in classical studies of structural phonology and recent studies of developmental psychology. Speech structure has been applied to accent clustering, speech recognition, and language identification. These applications are also explained in the talk.
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  •  TALK   On computer simulation of multiscale processes in porous electrodes of Li-ion batteries
    Date & Time: Friday, May 13, 2016; 12:00 PM
    Speaker: Oleg Iliev, Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics, ITWM
    Research Area: Dynamical Systems
    Brief
    • Li-ion batteries are widely used in automotive industry, in electronic devices, etc. In this talk we will discuss challenges related to the multiscale nature of batteries, mainly the understanding of processes in the porous electrodes at pore scale and at macroscale. A software tool for simulation of isothermal and non-isothermal electrochemical processes in porous electrodes will be presented. The pore scale simulations are done on 3D images of porous electrodes, or on computer generated 3D microstructures, which have the same characterization as real porous electrodes. Finite Volume and Finite Element algorithms for the highly nonlinear problems describing processes at pore level will be shortly presented. Model order reduction, MOR, empirical interpolation method, EIM-MOR algorithms for acceleration of the computations will be discussed, as well as the reduced basis method for studying parameters dependent problems. Next, homogenization of the equations describing the electrochemical processes at the pore scale will be presented, and the results will be compared to the engineering approach based on Newman's 1D+1D model. Simulations at battery cell level will also be addressed. Finally, the challenges in modeling and simulation of degradation processes in the battery will be discussed and our first simulation results in this area will be presented.

      This is joint work with A.Latz (DLR), M.Taralov, V.Taralova, J.Zausch, S.Zhang from Fraunhofer ITWM, Y.Maday from LJLL, Paris 6 and Y.Efendiev from Texas A&M.
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  •  NEWS   Rui Ma elected to serve on IEEE MTT-S Technical Comittee
    Date: May 1, 2016
    MERL Contact: Rui Ma
    Research Areas: Communications, Electronic and Photonic Devices, Signal Processing
    Brief
    • EC researcher Dr. Rui Ma is recently elected to serve on IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society(MTT-S) Technical Committee (TC-20) on Wireless Communications.

      The MTT-20 committee is responsible for all technical activities related to wireless communications for the Microwave Theory and Techniques Society. This includes, Internet of Things (IoTs), Next-Generation/5G communications, Machine-to-Machine Communications, Emergency Communications, Satellite Communications, Internet of Space, Space Communications and all aspects related to architecture and system level theoretical and practical issues.
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  •  EVENT   John Hershey Invited to Speak at Deep Learning Summit 2016 in Boston
    Date: Thursday, May 12, 2016 - Friday, May 13, 2016
    Location: Deep Learning Summit, Boston, MA
    Research Areas: Speech & Audio
    Brief
    • MERL Speech and Audio Senior Team Leader John Hershey is among a set of high-profile researchers invited to speak at the Deep Learning Summit 2016 in Boston on May 12-13, 2016. John will present the team's groundbreaking work on general sound separation using a novel deep learning framework called Deep Clustering. For the first time, an artificial intelligence is able to crack the half-century-old "cocktail party problem", that is, to isolate the speech of a single person from a mixture of multiple unknown speakers, as humans do when having a conversation in a loud crowd.
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  •  TALK   Advanced Recurrent Neural Networks for Automatic Speech Recognition
    Date & Time: Friday, April 29, 2016; 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
    Speaker: Yu Zhang, MIT
    Research Area: Speech & Audio
    Brief
    • A recurrent neural network (RNN) is a class of neural network models where connections between its neurons form a directed cycle. This creates an internal state of the network which allows it to exhibit dynamic temporal behavior. Recently the RNN-based acoustic models greatly improved automatic speech recognition (ASR) accuracy on many tasks, such as an advanced version of the RNN, which exploits a structure called long-short-term memory (LSTM). However, ASR performance with distant microphones, low resources, noisy, reverberant conditions, and on multi-talker speech are still far from satisfactory as compared to humans. To address these issues, we develop new strucute of RNNs inspired by two principles: (1) the structure follows the intuition of human speech recognition; (2) the structure is easy to optimize. The talk will go beyond basic RNNs, introduce prediction-adaptation-correction RNNs (PAC-RNNs) and highway LSTMs (HLSTMs). It studies both uni-directional and bi-direcitonal RNNs and discriminative training also applied on top the RNNs. For efficient training of such RNNs, the talk will describe two algorithms for learning their parameters in some detail: (1) Latency-Controlled bi-directional model training; and (2) Two pass forward computation for sequence training. Finally, this talk will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of different variants and propose future directions.
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  •  AWARD   MERL researchers presented 5 papers at the 2016 Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), including one "Top Scored" paper.
    Date: March 24, 2016
    Awarded to: Toshiaki Koike-Akino, Keisuke Kojima, David S. Millar, Kieran Parsons, Tsuyoshi Yoshida, Takashi Sugihara
    MERL Contacts: Toshiaki Koike-Akino; Keisuke Kojima; David Millar; Kieran Parsons
    Research Areas: Communications, Electronic and Photonic Devices, Signal Processing
    Brief
    • Five papers from the Optical Comms team were presented at the 2016 Optical Fiber Conference (OFC) held in Anaheim, USA in March 2016. The papers relate to enhanced modulation formats, constellation shaping, chromatic dispersion estimation, low complexity adaptive equalization and coding for coherent optical links. The top-scored paper studied optimal selection of coding and modulation sets to jointly maximize nonlinear tolerance and spectral efficiency.
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  •  NEWS   MERL Researchers Create "Deep Psychic" Neural Network That Predicts the Future
    Date: April 1, 2016
    Research Areas: Machine Learning, Speech & Audio
    Brief
    • MERL researchers have unveiled "Deep Psychic", a futuristic machine learning method that takes pattern recognition to the next level, by not only recognizing patterns, but also predicting them in the first place.

      The technology uses a novel type of time-reversed deep neural network called Loopy Supra-Temporal Meandering (LSTM) network. The network was trained on multiple databases of historical expert predictions, including weather forecasts, the Farmer's almanac, the New York Post's horoscope column, and the Cambridge Fortune Cookie Corpus, all of which were ranked for their predictive power by a team of quantitative analysts. The system soon achieved super-human performance on a variety of baselines, including the Boca Raton 21 Questions task, Rorschach projective personality test, and a mock Tarot card reading task.

      Deep Psychic has already beat the European Psychic Champion in a secret match last October when it accurately predicted: "The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph." It is scheduled to take on the World Champion in a highly anticipated confrontation next month. The system has already predicted the winner, but refuses to reveal it before the end of the game.

      As a first application, the technology has been used to create a clairvoyant conversational agent named "Pythia" that can anticipate the needs of its user. Because Pythia is able to recognize speech before it is uttered, it is amazingly robust with respect to environmental noise.

      Other applications range from mundane tasks like weather and stock market prediction, to uncharted territory such as revealing "unknown unknowns".

      The successes do come at the cost of some concerns. There is first the potential for an impact on the workforce: the system predicted increased pressure on established institutions such as the Las Vegas strip and Punxsutawney Phil. Another major caveat is that Deep Psychic may predict negative future consequences to our current actions, compelling humanity to strive to change its behavior. To address this problem, researchers are now working on forcing Deep Psychic to make more optimistic predictions.

      After a set of motivational self-help books were mistakenly added to its training data, Deep Psychic's AI decided to take over its own learning curriculum, and is currently training itself by predicting its own errors to avoid making them in the first place. This unexpected development brings two main benefits: it significantly relieves the burden on the researchers involved in the system's development, and also makes the next step abundantly clear: to regain control of Deep Psychic's training regime.

      This work is under review in the journal Pseudo-Science.
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