Person of the Day: Docent Pekka Jääskeläinen

Pekka on Zugspitze, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany (December 2017).

Pekka is currently spending the last weeks of his research visit in Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany, funded by his Academy of Finland’s (AoF) postdoctoral grant. In  TUT’s Pervasive Computing lab, he is responsible for conducting research related to his AoF project and overseeing the daily activities of the Customized Parallel Computing (CPC) and the Virtual reality and Graphics Architectures (VGA) groups.

His AoF project has an ambitious goal of making FPGAs a feasible opaque acceleration platform in the cloud setting for software developers. The “holy grail” the project is aiming for is to let existing C/C++ programs originally targeting CPUs or GPUs benefit from FPGA acceleration without requiring long synthesis times, source code modifications, nor hardware engineering expertise.

Another CPC group’s topic of his interest is making programmable processors as energy efficient as fixed function accelerators. He believes that in heavily customized processor datapaths it boils down to developing new hardware and software techniques for minimizing the instruction stream energy consumption.

VGA group was initially formed as a means to apply the long term expertise and technologies developed in CPC with a concrete goal to develop a new programmable graphics processor for pervasive mixed reality applications of the future. Pekka is now extremely glad to see the bright VGA team producing world class contributions in real time realistic graphics rendering related hardware and software techniques, and he is learning something new about graphics every day from the group’s experts.

The story of how Pekka ended up working with computers is the typical “geek’s favourite hobby converted to a job”. During his teenage years in the early 1990s he got bored with only playing games with his first own PC (with an Intel 386sx based CPU) and started
to learn programming. He also got strange “kicks” from inspecting his program binaries with a debugger and making small logical changes to them using a hex editor. This somewhat weird hobby of his taught him how his programs interact with the processor, probably forming the ground to his later specialization in topics related to the
hardware-software interface.

While he is claimed by some to be a bit of a workaholic, he does have some spare time which he likes to spend on staying fit by exercising regularly (gym, badminton, jogging, cross country skiing, biking trips…). On nice summer days he also enjoys rounds of disc golf. To relax at home, he likes to watch good movies&TV and read fiction and non-fiction books. Also in the past years he has again picked up another favourite hobby from his teen-years; guitar playing.

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New PYNQ boards arrived

We just got a batch of 300 Xilinx PYNQ-Z1 development boards. This is a follow up of a pilot we started last fall in Introduction to programming that accommodates hundreds of students per year. With PYNQ we offer an easy way to get familiar with embedded systems using Python and the same boards will be deployed to other courses as well. With such a great number of boards, we are now able to lend the boards for home exercises, and populate the lab classroom with the sets of PYNQs, sensors, actuators, cameras and other equipment needed in various courses. We also look forward to student projects of their own!

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New Researcher Arrived in TE213

Hi everyone. My name is Philipp Müller and I started working as a post-doc in Jussi Collin’s group on Monday. My main task will be to work in the CityTrack project, and combining localisation techniques with artificial intelligence. In my doctoral studies at TUT, I have been focusing on Bayesian statistics, filtering and smoothing for positioning and navigation, but during the last year I have been working also with basic machine learning techniques.

I am original from Germany, but trying to integrate myself into Finnish society so I took up cross-country skiing when I moved here in 2010 and I try to learn the native language. So, if you talk slowly and clearly in Finnish I might actually understand you and be able to reply. Besides skiing, I nowadays try to play basketball once per week. Maybe one day I will be even able to be decent in it.

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Person of the Day: University Lecturer Jukka Koskinen

Jukka (A.) Koskinen celebrated his 20th TUT anniversary in August 2017. He graduated as a mathematician from the University of Turku, and became seasoned into information technology at Lappeenranta University of Technology for 12 years, before moving to TUT. From the Lappeenranta years dates his ongoing interest in computer aided teaching: then in maths, now in information security. The former field of education was essentially more straightforward than the latter, but his research interest is directed to an even more challenging target group, the general public. It focuses on the idea of developing a digital assistant for “daily information security”. The students of the biannual TUT course by the same name participate in the research with their opinions and the results from interviews they carry out. Results from these surveys can be found at  the The daily information security research results website. (The page is in Finnish but the articles are in English.) The work is mainly motivated by its educational use for TUT students. This also means that the idea of an assistant is better kept in an open-ended state. Another excuse for slow progress in actually creating an app is the fact that, since 2014, Jukka is working part-time only. He is rarely seen in Hervanta, but more often heard in Turku on the bassoon in the Akademiska Orkestern.

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Person of the Day: Adjunct Professor Jussi Collin

Jussi Collin is a senior research fellow with inertial sensors applications as a research topic. He has been inventing and implementing algorithms for all kinds of gadgets and moving machines, where ever accelerometers and gyroscopes can provide useful information on motion.

He conducts research in Tekes funded projects CityTrack2 and Living Lab Bus, and nowadays more than often in directly funded industry projects. New inertial sensors are amazingly accurate and sensitive, and combining the measurements with modern machine learning techniques brings up interesting opportunities. For that reason, instead of solving sudokus he submits solutions to Kaggle competitions, with varying success. He likes to read about history of science and especially biographies of people such as Leibniz, Euler and Riemann. He takes care of TIE-52206 Inertial Sensors and Their Applications.

 

Figure: Random sample of project figures, more in TUTCRIS

If you need reference trajectory for your research campaigns, contact Jussi. Updated Tietotalo GNSS base station provides a short-baseline for measurements near TUT. Lab equipment includes top-class GNSS receiver and inertial measurement unit for generating cm-level reference trajectory. For example, for tracking moving vehicle or pedestrian he can set up antennas to back-bag or car roof and you are ready to go.

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Päivän henkilö: Yliopisto-opettaja Matti Haavisto

Matti on omistautunut digitaalitekniikan perusopetukseen, tietokonetekniikan kandivaiheen aineopintoihin ja opettajamentorointiin. Ensimmäinen kurssitoteutus oli Mikroprosessorit vuonna 2003. Siitä ura urkeni Digitaalitekniikan perusteisiin ja edelleen digitaali- ja tietokonetekniikan muihin opintoihin.

Vuonna 2013 tiedekunnan opetus laitettiin kunnolla uusiksi ja suuri muutos oli myös tiedekunnan johdantokurssin perustaminen. Sen yksi palanen oli opettajamentoronti, tai tuttavallisemmin opetutorointi. Vasta mentoroinnin alettua tiedekunnassa huomattiin kuinka suuri tilaus sille oli. Tuolloin myös Matti tajusi, että mentorointi on aivan keskeinen osa ensimmäisen ja toisen vuoden opintoja.

Matin vapaa-aika kuluu sähköpyörän, lenkkeilyn, mökkeilyn, retkeilyn ja hyvän ruuan parissa.

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Hyvää joulua! Happy holidays!

Joulun odotus Tietotekniikan labrassa ei ole ollut pelkästään Star Wars -joulukalenterin avaamista… Myös piparkakkuja on ehditty kuorruttaa pikkujouluissa!

Vuoden mittaan on saatu paljon muutakin aikaan, josta paljastamme lisää mm. tulevissa Project of the day -postauksissa. Labran vetäjän TimoD:n mukaan vuosi 2017 oli uudistumisen vuosi ja olemme entistäkin parempia kouluttamaan suuren osan Pirkanmaan IT-osaajista. Toivotamme koko labran puolesta hyvää joulua ja onnellista uutta vuotta kaikille pervasive-blogin seuraajille ja yhteistyökumppaneille!

*****

There’s been more than just assembing Star Wars legos at the lab of Pervasive Computing during the days leading to Christmas… We also frosted some gingerbread cookies in our Xmas party!

The laboratory leader Timo D Hämäläinen concludes year 2017 as a time of renewal and launching significant development in teaching and research for the future needs in industry and Tampere3. We wish Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to our blog and twitter followers and partners in cooperation!

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IHTE arranged a seminar on Social Robotics

IHTE has now had it’s first official action around a brand new research topic – social robotics and human-robot interaction. The seminar day included three lectures that were open for everybody. First, Dr. Mohammad Obaid from Uppsala University introduced us to this new topic with nice research examples that they had done in their research group. Then, researcher Iina Aaltonen from VTT talked about social service robots and about their recent results with Pepper robot. Kimmo Vänni from TAMK talked about social robots in industry and occupational settings. We thank all speakers for their nice and educational lectures 🙂

Researcher Iina Aaltonen giving her speech about recent results with Pepper. Pepper listened to the results very carefully while Nao seemed to be a bit upset.

The afternoon was spent with the students by interacting with our robots Nao and Pepper that were ofcourse present on the course, as well as by doing workshop tasks. First, the students formed five groups and they selected the topics out of what we provided (children’s clinic experience, TAYS hospital new lobby experience, Tampere customer service point experience etc.) The first task was to brainstorm the target experiences for the selected topic and context, and after that, the students carried out some quick concepting for these specific experiences. And everything had to relate to social robotics ofcourse. In the end the results were presented.

The seminar students were very happy about interacting with Pepper.

The seminar was succesful and we will continue and proceed with the topic next year.

The Robot Ladies (Pepper, Nao, Kirsikka & Aino) wishes everybody very happy Christmas and welcomes all volunteers to the robot related user studies next year 🙂

Your most humble servants. When will they replace teachers? 😀

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Portable Computing Language (pocl) 1.0 released

The Customized Parallel Computing (CPC) research group leads the development of an open source OpenCL implementation called Portable Computing Language (pocl). After some time in making, we are proud to announce the 1.0 release which passes all of the OpenCL 1.2 conformance tests! Pocl 1.0 includes also other nice features such as NVIDIA GPU support via its CUDA backend contributed by James Price / University of Bristol, and the usual supported Clang/LLVM version upgrade.

To lay out a bit of pocl’s history, it was originally a research collaboration project between Carlos Sánchez de La Lama (then at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid) and myself (Pekka Jääskeläinen) that started in around 2008.  Initially, Carlos focused on mechanisms to fine-grain parallelize OpenGL shaders for static instruction level parallel machines (such as VLIWs and of course our favorite processor paradigm, TTA) with the aim to generate efficient code for a new heavily software-programmable GPU design we called TTAGPU (which is still in VGA group’s agenda, by the way). Soon after OpenCL 1.0 was published, the shader compiler work was expanded to work on OpenCL C kernels to better support general purpose computing.

During Carlos’ collaboration visits to Finland, and my visits back to Spain in 2008-2010, the research collaboration work evolved quickly with a rough work split of me focusing on utilizing it as a backbone heterogeneous programming API for our Application-Specific Instruction-Set Processor (ASIP) design and programming toolbox TCE, and Carlos more on the compiler technique side. At some point we noticed that the kernel compiler in fact can improve performance portability of running GPU-optimized massively parallel kernels on “CPUs” (in case of pocl this in practice means most “non-GPUs” really) via the generic work-item parallelization in the kernel compiler. The thought led to the initial release of pocl, with the purpose to provide the community with an OpenCL implementation framework that is not only portable, but also performance portable, thanks to the kernel compilation techniques involved.

Now in late 2017, OpenCL and pocl are still being heavily used in CPC. In our ASIP design flow use case we like OpenCL because it has relatively wide vendor support, which means cross-vendor portability, and provides an extensive API with a lot of programmer control. However, this sometimes translates to a lot of work to get the implementations done, and we keep our eyes on ways to add more programmer-productive programming layers in our ASIP flow’s software stack. From this aspect, the C++ standardization efforts related to explicit parallelization, and the shared virtual memory heterogeneous platform specification work led by HSA Foundation look very interesting. As the field is quickly evolving, it sure is interesting to see what the most popular productive programming models for diverse heterogeneous platforms (not limited to the common CPU+GPU setup!) will be in a few years!

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Person of the Day: Lecturer Matti Rintala

Hi!

I’m Matti Rintala, working as a lecturer in our lab. I’m about as “permanent” staff as can be, I’ve been working at TUT for over twenty years now, mainly teaching courses both for our students and the industry, but also participating in the university’s teaching administration, and doing research when time allows.

During my student life I mainly studied software engineering and mathematics, and did my MSc work in Nokia Research Center (where I worked for a couple of years). Then I started my teaching career, during which I’ve taught quite many different courses (I’ve been partly responsible for removing most of my old courses form the current curriculum 😉 ). Many of my courses have been somehow related to the C++ programming language, and I did my PhD thesis on “Concurrent Exception Handling in C++”.

I’ve recently started actively working on C++ standardization, participating in parallelism and exception handling (I’ve been a Finnish expert member of the ISO C++ standardization group JTC 1/SC 22/Wg 21 for some time, but I’ve never had time to really contribute). I’ve just submitted and got feedback from my first C++ standardization proposal, I’ll write another blog post on that soon when I have more time.

On the teaching side, at the moment I’m responsible for two courses, Data structures and algorithms, and Principles of programming languages. I’m also participating on the administrative side of teaching in our university, including curriculum planning, degree program groups, education council (koulutusneuvosto), etc.

On a more personal note, my hobbies are currently mainly photography and taking care of our 4- and 8-year-old kids. Before having kids I also had time for acting and singing, but those have been mainly put on hold for now.

Concept diagram from my PhD thesis

Concept diagram from my PhD thesis, which is also related to the C++ standardization work

 

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