Filtered by: Department of Computer Science

Find your 'element' to pick the right course and university

22 February 2021 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , Student , News Media

 

In this second of the AskST series on university education, The Straits Times looks at how to pick the right institution and course of study.

Q: It is good to have a choice of six local universities, but what should my son look out for in making the choice, other than ensuring that the university offers the computing degree course he wants to pursue?

A: Computing is a good course to study, given the rise of Industry 4.0, which refers to a new phase in industrial revolution that focuses heavily on interconnectivity, automation, machine learning and real-time data.

Several public universities offer degree courses in computing. So, how do you pick the right one?

First, look at whether your son is able to meet the cut-off score for computing, as it is highly competitive. 

For the National University of Singapore (NUS), which has Singapore's largest intake of students for computing - with more than 1,400 last year - students generally need four As to enter the course.

Having said that, many students, including those at NUS, are admitted into computing despite falling short of the cut-off score.

Often, they demonstrate their aptitude for and interest in the field through other means, be it in the interview process or through some software they may have created.

NUS provost Ho Teck Hua feels it is important to recognise that developments in computing are rapid. Therefore, his advice is to pick a university where teaching and research in the field are at the cutting edge.

How do you ascertain that? One way is to look at the international rankings according to disciplines.

NUS, for example, was ranked ninth in the world last year for computer science and information systems by Times Higher Education and Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), where significant weightage is given to research output.

Your son should study the job and salary prospects for computing graduates in the yearly survey results, which were released on Friday last week. 

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Disney+ won't allow VPN users to access overseas version of video streaming service

16 February 2021 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Systems & Networking , Security

 

It may not be possible for some Singaporeans to get their fix of The Mandalorian Star Wars TV series by using technological tricks to watch an overseas version of Disney+, such as before the video streaming service launches here officially on Feb 23. The Walt Disney Company told The Straits Times that in line with the Disney+ subscriber agreement, it does not allow users to access Disney+ using a virtual private network - to bypass geographical restrictions - in a territory where the service is not yet live.

 Associate Professor Liang Zhenkai from the National University of Singapore (NUS) said that when a person uses a VPN, Disney cannot directly detect the overseas clients at the network level.

"These undetected IP addresses used by the VPN service are not easily blocked. If Disney gradually recognises the VPN provider's network, they can block it later," said Prof Liang, who is from NUS' Department of Computer Science.

This could happen if, for example, Disney detects a large number of unrelated users sending in requests from the same IP address, which suggests a delegation service like a VPN service is being used. But Prof Liang said that if the Disney+ app is used for streaming, there are other methods to recognise whether the client is from a different country, such as using the app store's region or global positioning system information of a mobile device.

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More than Assignments: Developing Software for the Real World

15 February 2021 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , Teaching , Feature , Programming Languages & Software Engineering

 

In 2011, Damith Rajapakse was teaching a few modules at NUS Computing when he ran into a problem. Part of his modules comprised an aspect of project work, and he needed a way to evaluate each student’s contribution to their respective projects, so that he could assign grades in a fair manner. But the tools available to Rajapakse weren’t very helpful.

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Research by NUS Computing faculty and students featured in AAAI 2021

05 February 2021 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , Artificial Intelligence

5 February 2021 – Twenty-two research papers by NUS Computing faculty and students are featured in the 35th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, which is currently ongoing and will end on February 9.

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Greening The Net

20 January 2021 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Systems & Networking

 

Life has gotten more digital than ever before. And the plusses of that for the environment has been clear…as in clear skies and clean air. What is not so clear however is this: when it comes to greenhouse gases, the Internet is responsible for 2% of global emissions. If the Internet were a country, it would be ranked as the sixth largest polluter in the world.

But the Internet is here to stay, so what can be done to make it greener? From individuals not hitting Reply All on emails or turning off Auto Play for videos, to data centres running on green energy and search engines giving back to the environment, host Prerna Pant looks at all the various ways we are Greening The ‘Net.

Pant also interviews Assistant Professor Trevor E. Carlson on how Internet usage is contributing to our carbon footprint.

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Sung Kah Kay Assistant Professor Kuldeep Meel makes IEEE’s ‘AI’s 10 to Watch’ list

12 January 2021 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , Artificial Intelligence

12 January 2021 – Dr Kuldeep S. Meel has been named one of ‘AI’s 10 to Watch’ by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Intelligent Systems journal.

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NUS Computing students dominate at ICPC Jakarta Regional Contest

07 January 2021 Department of Computer Science , Student

7 January 2021 – NUS Computing teams excelled at the recent International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) Jakarta regional contest, held online from 18 to 20 December 2020. NUS teams swept the top three positions at the competition, with Teams MLG, (((i^c)>>2)/p)|c), and 3Sophonomore winning first, second, and third place respectively.

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NUS scientists develop computational tool to help design safer devices

29 December 2020 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Security

 

As the world embraces the Internet of Things (IoT), more and more everyday appliances are being connected to the Internet so that people can monitor those appliances remotely. While this makes our lives more convenient, there is a looming threat of cybercriminals using these devices to gain access to sensitive data.

Now, scientists from the National University of Singapore’s School of Computing (NUS Computing) have made it easier to guard against that. They have developed a software tool that can simulate hacker attacks, and which provide an automated way to protect the design. This helps designers create more secure computer chips.

The software works by simulating a physical hardware attack known as laser fault injection. To accomplish this on a real device, the cyber-criminal would first partially disassemble the hardware to gain access to its silicon chip without interrupting its operation. Then, they use a laser to generate a processor error. This throws the gates open, allowing them to extract data and security information.

Previously, it was expensive to protect chips against this kind of attack because they had to be tested manually. If the chip fails the test, the design must start over. The NUS software, called the Laser fault Attack Benchmark Suite or LABS, can now simulate attacks in a wide variety of situations and demonstrate how the chip reacts. All this can be done without having to manufacture a single chip. This helps chip designers figure out how to repel the attack, and even trick the attackers into thinking they have succeeded. With this software, chip manufacturers will be able to simulate any device, and results are available within minutes.

The NUS scientists, led by Assistant Professor Trevor E. Carlson and Professor Peh Li Shiuan, have made the software open source so researchers and the chip design community can use it, or help make it better.

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Protecting IoT devices from attack

28 December 2020 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , Feature , Systems & Networking , Security

 

In 2017, a casino in North America reported that their database had been hacked. The news in itself wasn’t surprising — more than 5,000 such breaches took place last year — but the cause of the leak was: a fish tank.

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Generation Grit: NUS undergrad with cerebral palsy plans on helping others like him

24 December 2020 Department of Computer Science , Student , News Media , Feature

 

The road to university can be difficult for any student, but Mr Ng Jun Kang had to overcome daily challenges that others gave no thought to. Like getting to class, for instance, or taking notes. Or even getting a drink of water.

The 22-year-old first year Computer Science undergraduate at the National University of Singapore has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which was caused by a brain injury during birth.

Although his condition affects his muscle control, motor skills and his speech, it proved no obstacle to his achieving good grades and clinching scholarships. Quite the opposite, he argues.

"My condition has gifted me resilience and patience in everything that I do," he said.

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LiveSnippets: Writing on-the-go

22 December 2020 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , Feature , Media , Social Media & Digital Business

 

In April 2018, Hyeongcheol Kim flew to Montreal for work. The young PhD student was excited — it was his first time in the Canadian city and the conference he was about to attend was one of the biggest in his field of computer science. What’s more, Montreal was only a three hour journey from Quebec City, a place he had glimpsed many times on the small screen.

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Beyond the classroom: Innovations that change the world

14 December 2020 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Systems & Networking , Security

 

Lettuce, mint and even tomatoes – Singaporeans may soon be able to grow these vegetables and more in their HDB flats.

Having witnessed “a deep psychological fear” when COVID-19 sparked panic buying here, Toby Fong and his team – superFARM – decided to bolster the nation’s food security. Their plan? Encourage green fingers through home-based farming.

“When we think about food security, it’s usually at a national level so it almost feels like the individual (is disconnected) from the entire food security equation,” said Toby, who graduated with a Master’s from NUS Architecture this year.

Under the “Make Our People Better” category, Toby, NUS Computing graduate Lim Hui Qi and NUS Arts and Social Sciences graduate Ong Jun Ren will design modular farming units that can fit into the smallest of homes. These units can also be customised for bigger spaces.

The plan is to transform niche hydroponics systems into functional mini-farms. In the next six months, half of their $50,000 funding will go to research such as field testing and online surveys, while the rest will be used for prototype development.

The team also wants to expand the individual’s role in food security to make sustainability a way of life.

“We want to recalibrate people’s attitude and behaviour to encourage responsible food consumption,” said Toby.

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Associate Professor He Bingsheng wins IEEE TPDS 2019 Best Paper award

09 December 2020 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , Student

9 December 2020 – Associate Professor He Bingsheng and his collaborators have won the IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems 2019 Best Paper award.

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Assistant Professor Jun Han and collaborators win Best Poster Runner-Up Award at SenSys 2020

08 December 2020 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , Research , Systems & Networking , Security

8 December 2020 – Assistant Professor Jun Han, Computer Science PhD student Sriram Sami, and final-year undergraduates Yimin Dai (Computer Science) and Sean Rui Xiang Tan (Computer Engineering), as well as Assistant Professor Nirupam Roy from the University of Maryland, won the Best Poster Runner-Up Award at the 18th ACM Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems (SenSys 2020).

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Robot vacuum cleaners can be used by hackers to 'spy' on private conversations: NUS study

08 December 2020 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Systems & Networking , Security

 

When your robot vacuum cleaner does its work around the house, beware that it could pick up private conversations along with the dust and dirt. Computer scientists from NUS have demonstrated that it is indeed possible to spy on private conversations using a common robot vacuum cleaner and its built-in Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar) sensor.

The novel method, called LidarPhone, repurposes the Lidar sensor that a robot vacuum cleaner normally uses for navigating around a home into a laser-based microphone to eavesdrop on private conversations.

The research team, led by Assistant Professor Jun Han from NUS Computer Science, and his doctoral student Mr Sriram Sami, managed to recover speech data with high accuracy. NUS students, Mr Dai Yimin and Mr Sean Tan Rui Xiang, as well as Assistant Professor Nirupam Roy from the University of Maryland, also contributed to this work.

Mr Sami shared, “The proliferation of smart devices – including smart speakers and smart security cameras – has increased the avenues for hackers to snoop on our private moments. Our method shows it is now possible to gather sensitive data just by using something as innocuous as a household robot vacuum cleaner. Our work demonstrates the urgent need to find practical solutions to prevent such malicious attacks.”'

The core of the LidarPhone attack method is the Lidar sensor, a device which fires out an invisible scanning laser, and creates a map of its surroundings. By reflecting lasers off common objects such as a dustbin or a takeaway bag located near a person’s computer speaker or television soundbar, the attacker could obtain information about the original sound that made the objects’ surfaces vibrate. Using applied signal processing and deep learning algorithms, speech could be recovered from the audio data, and sensitive information could potentially be obtained.

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New practices needed to stay safe online in era of working from home

08 December 2020 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Systems & Networking , Security

 

Say "no" when your child asks to use your work laptop to do his schoolwork, or set up a different user account on the work laptop for different activities.

There are ways to reset habits and practices for a more digitally secure 2021 as working and e-learning from home become the new normal even after Covid-19, said panellists at The Straits Times Reset 2021 Webinar Series: Digitalisation And Cyber Security on Wednesday.

The panellists comprised of Associate Professor Steven Wong from the Singapore Institute of Technology, Mr David Koh, chief executive of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore; Associate Professor Chang Ee-Chien from the National University of Singapore School of Computing; and Mr Benjamin Ang, head of the Cyber and Homeland Defence Programme at the Centre of Excellence for National Security, a policy research think-tank.

Prof Chang suggested segregating devices at home by individual or workflow. For example, as far as possible, children should use a different desktop or laptop from the ones their parents use for work.

"If that is not possible, then try to segregate by setting up different user accounts on a laptop. Even if you have your own machine, you can segregate accounts for work, for family, or for playing games," he said.

"Segregation is about setting up security parameters, so that when something happens within that parameter it will not spill over to other (areas)."

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Seven NUS professors lauded for their work and service

08 December 2020 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Programming Languages & Software Engineering , Security

 

NUS has honoured seven exceptional educators, researchers and professionals at the NUS University Awards 2020. The annual event recognises individuals for their outstanding contributions in the areas of education, research and service to the University, Singapore and the global community.

Professor Dong Jin Song from the NUS' School of Computing was given the University Research Recognition Award for developing a software verification framework that has more than 4,000 users from over 150 countries.

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye lauded the award winners for being role models for the university community. “Each award winner has exemplified the spirit of excellence with an indomitable spirit. They are truly esteemed individuals – beacons and pathfinders who inspire us to better ourselves and to scale new heights even in times of crisis. NUS is proud to celebrate their dedication and distinguished accomplishments,” he said.

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The Department of Computer Science welcomes four new faculty members

02 December 2020 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , Algorithms & Theory , Systems & Networking , Artificial Intelligence

2 December 2020 – Four new faculty members have joined NUS Computing’s Department of Computer Science:

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60 years of facial recognition: The hidden perils behind Singapore’s ‘facial recognition era’

27 November 2020 Department of Computer Science , Faculty , News Media , Security , Media

 

In recent years, the Singapore government has tapped on facial recognition for various purposes as part of its ‘smart nation’ initiative. For instance, Changi Airport’s Terminal 4 uses facial recognition technology for various purposes such as passenger check-in, immigration and boarding, while GovTech launched a launched the "Lamppost-as-a-Platform" project, which outfits some 95,000 traditional lampposts in the country with a network of wireless sensors and cameras to support urban and transportation planning and operations.

Associate Professor Terence Sim from the School of Computing at the National University of Singapore stated in an exclusive interview with China-based news website The Paper that there are trends of facial recognition technology being abused, and that laws protecting such technology could be further strengthened. He also elaborated further on privacy issues regarding such technology.

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Hackers hijacking WhatsApp accounts by asking for security codes

23 November 2020 Department of Computer Science , News Media , Systems & Networking , Security , Media

 

When a secondary school friend contacted him out of the blue a few months ago asking for a verification code on WhatsApp, administrative executive Tan Jun Heng, 25, did not suspect anything was amiss.

His friend simply claimed to have "accidentally" sent the code to his number. But within seconds of sending the code, Mr Tan was automatically locked out of his own WhatsApp account. It had been hijacked.

Mr Tan and his friends are among a growing pool of WhatsApp users who have become victims of social hacking, where scammers use already hijacked social media accounts to contact victims by posing as their friends or family.

National University of Singapore's Associate Professor Chang Ee-Chien, whose research interests include data privacy, said the impersonation tactics used by hackers are "very low-tech, but very effective, as people tend to trust their friends or family".

With full access to their victim's account, hackers may then exploit the victim's personal relationships and ask for money from friends or family. Or, if they glean enough information about their victim's place of employment, they may also target the victim's workplace, added Prof Chang. 

However, experts say, there are preventive measures that users can take to prevent such attacks.

Ms Wong and AiSP executive committee member James Tan said setting up a two-step verification process on your WhatsApp account can prevent others from signing in to it. Users should not click on suspicious looking links, even if they are purportedly from friends or family, they added.

For impersonation scams, however, "the only solution is to not trust people", said Prof Chang. He added: "It is very important that you must presume that whoever is speaking to you on the other end is not your friend."

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