A Magazine for the George Mason University Community


By Tara Laskowski When Disneyland was first constructed, Walt Disney told the builders not to pave the sidewalks. Let’s first see where the people walk, he said. This logic is behind the concept of data science—looking for the hidden, unexpected patterns in the information first instead of trying to guess what the outcome might be.

Continue Reading Researcher Unlocks the Big Potential of Big Data

The next time you are enlarging a Google map or clicking on some other global positioning system technology, know that you have researchers such as Mason’s Chaowei (Phil) Yang to thank for such a convenience. Yang is an architect of sorts, but instead of designing buildings, he is designing systems and creating algorithms that help computers organize and interpret big data in such a way that it is usable by others, especially the general public. In fact, one of his four patents involves the algorithm used to refresh and reposition online maps quickly as the user enlarges or shrinks it.

Continue Reading Researcher Makes Complicated Big Data Simple to Use

As a computer scientist, Mason’s Huzefa Rangwala is hungry for data on which to test his algorithms. And metagenomics—the collective genome of communities of microbes—provides lots of data. “If you ask a computer scientist what a genome is, he’ll say it’s a long, long string of characters—it’s a big sequence. Computer scientists get very excited about these kinds of structures,” he explains.

Continue Reading Using Algorithms to Conduct Large-Scale Metagenome Analysis

Numerical modeling—using mathematical models of the atmosphere and oceans to predict weather—has come a long way from efforts that started nearly five decades ago with 1-D and 2-D simulations. Mason researcher Zafer Boybeyi says today’s prediction models, particularly those based on the weather scales of a few days, are exceedingly reliable, mainly because of advanced computers and denser observational networks.

Continue Reading The Forecast Is…Murky: The Uncertainties of Weather Prediction

Juan Cebral’s complex computer model does more than simply show blood swirling in a brain aneurysm’s labyrinthian pattern; it helps doctors determine whether the aneurysm is about to rupture and needs surgery. A professor at Mason’s Center for Computational Fluid Dynamics, Cebral studies fluids and how they move. He works with surgeons and other researchers to map out how blood flows in the brain, specifically in aneurysms.

Continue Reading Mason Professor Uses Colorized Computer Models to Evaluate Aneurysms

By analyzing huge swaths of patient data, computers are learning not only how to help doctors choose the best medical treatment for each patient, but also how to efficiently prepare medical bills and predict patients’ disabilities. Dubbed “machine learning,” complex computer algorithms delve into data to boost individualized medicine, says Mason computer scientist Janusz Wojtusiak, director of the Machine Learning and Inference Laboratory and the Center for Discovery Science and Health Informatics at Mason’s College of Health and Human Services.

Continue Reading Machine Learning Addresses Medical Needs

The success of last year’s release of Mason’s first mobile games to effect social change—designed to prevent gang activity among teenagers—caught the eye of the folks at the Century Council.

Based in Arlington, Virginia, the Century Council is a nonprofit devoted to combating drunk driving and underage drinking, which is funded by seven of the country’s distillers. Executives there thought a similar game for their mission might be effective.

Continue Reading Mason Students Develop Mobile Apps to Discourage Underage Alcohol Use

“Congress is fascinating from a knowledge management perspective,” says Mason researcher Anne L. Washington. “One of the key phrases in knowledge management is, ‘If we only knew what we knew.’ In other words, the knowledge is in here, everyone knows this, but we can’t find it.”

Continue Reading Bringing Big Data to Social Science

Researchers from Mason’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy (CEBCP) led by principal investigators David L. Weisburd and Cynthia Lum, were tasked with examining a major aspect of TSA’s security plan. Not only does the $1 million, two-year, four-phase study examine how TSA’s procedures align with research about the effectiveness of security, it also assesses TSA’s relationships with other entities—businesses, law enforcement, airport employees, and passengers, for example—in an effort to prevent crimes large and small and keep air traffic moving safely.

Continue Reading Mason’s TSA Study Examines Where Security Meets Society

From a small room inside Mason’s Center for Secure Information Systems (CSIS), an ever-present buzzing noise emanates throughout the building. On closer inspection, one realizes that this sound is being generated by nearly 30 Android smartphones that are connected to a gigantic server. These smartphones are working overtime running mobile phone applications through countless rigorous tests. These tests determine everything from how much energy an app consumes to information about the user to whether the app is safe to install.

Continue Reading Securing Cyberspace One Device at a Time

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