Faculty Candidate Seminar

Optimizing Sensing from Water to the Web

Andreas KrauseCarnegie Mellon University

Where should we place sensors to quickly detect contaminations in drinking water distribution networks? Which blogs should we read to learn about the biggest stories on the web? These problems share a fundamental challenge: How can we obtain the most useful information about the state of the world, at minimum cost?

Such sensing, or active learning, problems are typically NP-hard, and were commonly addressed using heuristics without theoretical guarantees about the solution quality. In this talk, I will present algorithms which efficiently find provably near-optimal solutions to large, complex sensing problems. Our algorithms exploit submodularity, an intuitive notion of diminishing returns, common to many sensing problems; the more sensors we have already deployed, the less we learn by placing another sensor. To quantify the uncertainty in our predictions, we use probabilistic models, such as Gaussian Processes. In addition to identifying the most informative sensing locations, our algorithms can handle more challenging settings, where sensors need to be able to reliably communicate over lossy links, where mobile robots are used for collecting data or where solutions need to be robust against adversaries and sensor failures.

I will also present results applying our algorithms to several real-world sensing tasks, including environmental monitoring using robotic sensors, activity recognition using a built sensing chair, deciding which blogs to read on the web, and a sensor placement competition.
Andreas Krause is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Computer Science Department of Carnegie Mellon University. He is a recipient of a Microsoft Research Graduate Fellowship, and his research on sensor placement and information acquisition received awards at several conferences (KDD ’07, IPSN ’06, ICML ’05 and UAI ’05). He obtained his diploma in Computer Science and Mathematics from the Technische University München, where his research received the NRW Undergraduate Science Award.

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