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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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.
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.
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.
Most pundits gazing into the crystal ball will likely shout two words in their prediction of healthcare’s future: precision medicine. Increasingly, there is growing recognition that tailoring treatments based on an individual’s lifestyle, genes, and environmental factors can yield much improved outcomes.
Every semester, Francis Yeoh spends part of his time in pitch slams. These are intense sessions where teams of students have five minutes to try and sell their start-up ideas. Yeoh, the Professorial Fellow for Entrepreneurship at the NUS School of Computing, and his colleagues listen carefully to the pitches before deciding which teams are worthy of a $10,000 grant.
Stéphane Bressan and Christian Miniatura grew up in rival neighbourhoods of the naval garrison town of Toulon in southern France. They went to the same high school and the same college only a few years apart, but never were acquainted until 2006 when they were both working halfway across the world, at the National University of Singapore. Miniatura and Bressan became fast friends, meeting regularly to “put the world to rights” over French food and wine.
“One of our favourite debates was whether artificial intelligence can be useful to quantum physics,” says Bressan, an associate professor at the School of Computing. He was convinced that AI could lend a helping hand in solving some of physics’ longstanding problems. But Miniatura, a quantum physicist by training and the director of the Franco-Singaporean physics laboratory MajuLab, remained perplexed albeit intrigued at the possibility.
These days, we live and buy by online reviews. Looking for a pair of headphones? Wondering what movie to stream or if you should splash out for the new PlayStation 5? Or perhaps you need a hotel to stay in and suggestions for the best baby back ribs in town? Well look no further than the Internet, for someone somewhere will surely have a recommendation to offer about the product, service or facility you are thinking of.
Life has a funny way of leading people down paths they least expect. Just ask NUS Computing lecturer Boyd Anderson. Two years ago, Anderson, then a PhD student, found himself at Mustafa Centre, a 24-hour mall in the heart of Singapore’s Little India district. It was 3 a.m., and Anderson was throwing what seemed to be a random assortment of things into a shopping cart: a hot glue gun, Velcro tape, disposable socks, and 12 pairs of sneakers, each a different size.
In March 2011, the New York Times introduced a policy that would later be recognised as a milestone in media history. The newspaper, deemed one of the best in the world, declared that its online content would no longer be completely free — after the first 20 articles, readers would have to pay a small fee.
Your heartbeat quickens as you watch your video game avatar run through the twisting corridors of the castle. There is still treasure to be found and a hostage to be rescued, and time is running out. Suddenly, a large shadow looms on the dim candlelit stone walls, followed by a low roar that sounds awfully close. You take a deep breath, clutch your mace a bit tighter, and ready yourself to attack. You swing around the corner, weapon raised, and…
He was only 11 when he learnt how to code and design his first computer game, a 2D car racing game, with a $25 software called Game Maker 8.1. Now 19, Mr Victor Loh will be joining the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) once he completes his studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS), where he is reading a double degree in computer science and statistics. The national serviceman is one of 15 Smart Nation scholarship awardees this year - selected from a pool of 723 applicants, an increase from 614 applicants last year.
Another Smart Nation scholar joining GovTech is Mr Kevin Foong, 21, a Year 1 computer science student at NUS. He became interested in artificial intelligence and cloud computing during his eight-month internship at a private software engineering company last year. Mr Foong believes technology can solve problems and cited GovTech's SafeEntry digital check-in system, which aids in contact tracing efforts against Covid-19, as an example.
In 2015, Shi Ying Lim was working on her Ph.D. in Austin, Texas. As part of her work, she studied a budding health IT startup that was trying to develop an app to help patients with chronic diseases.
The aim was to help patients — who were living with conditions such as diabetes or had just been discharged after surgery — better manage their care. Among other things, the app would send patients reminders to take their medication or change their dressing, and to contact their doctors if complications arose.
Confined to their homes during the circuit breaker period, Singapore’s Covid-19 lockdown, people began ordering certain products in earnest: fitness equipment, home office accessories, flour and other baking goods. If, like many, you were forced to turn to online shopping in recent months, you might have realised what a complex beast it can be.
Today’s virtual assistants and smart devices have come a long way. They can tell you if you’re running low on milk, what the weather will be like tomorrow, or change the TV channel without you having to lift a finger. But if researcher Desmond Ong has his way, the Google Homes and Alexas of the future might be able to add another attribute to their already impressive resume — emotional intelligence.
When Yingda Zhai was working on his PhD in Austin, Texas, he used to stroll through the neighbourhood he lived in not too far from campus. On these walks, he saw something that puzzled him, something that would set the course of his research for the next few years.
What Zhai noticed was this: his neighbourhood wasn’t that well-to-do, and lining the streets were shops like MetroPCS, Cricket Wireless, and FamilyMobile. These small cell phone companies, also known as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), offered cheap plans without any contracts or credit checks. But the snag was that they came with slower connection speeds, smaller network coverage, and without features such as phone tethering.
If you have been to parts of Orchard Road or Bugis Junction, two busy shopping streets in Singapore, you might have noticed something unusual. There, familiar “traffic light men” flash red and green to help guide pedestrians safely across the road. But these are also accompanied by matching LED strips on the ground.
In recent years, Singapore and a handful of other cities, including Sydney, Tel Aviv, and Augsburg, have embedded lights into pavements at busy intersections as an additional safety measure for pedestrians. Ilsan in South Korea has gone even further, employing flickering lights and laser beams at road crossings to warn walkers of the dangers ahead.
Whatever the means, their target is the same: the heads-down tribe of smartphone zombies — people who walk around perpetually glued to their mobile device.
To understand the work she does, Angela Yao says to imagine a future where robot helpers are commonplace. Whether they’re workplace assistants, companions, or domestic helpers, robots need to be able to do one crucial thing, says the assistant professor from NUS Computing.
These days, artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere we look. It’s what powers predictive searches on Google, enables Spotify and Amazon to recommend new songs and products, puts self-driving vehicles on the road, helps doctors to quickly diagnose diseases…the list goes on. With the presence of AI growing ever larger in our lives, so has the need for us to trust it.
It was July 2011 in Pattaya, Thailand. While guiding the Singaporean team at the International Olympiad for Informatics (IOI), Dr Steven Halim was struck by an idea to improve the teaching of algorithms to students—by creating a website where many different algorithms can be learnt through animation.
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