Sanghani Center Student Spotlight: Yi Zeng

Graphic is from the paper “‘Rethinking the Backdoor Attacks’ Triggers: A Frequency Perspective’”

At the International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV 2021) earlier this month, Yi Zeng, a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering, gave a poster presentation on “Rethinking the Backdoor Attacks’ Triggers: A Frequency Perspective.”

Among the paper’s collaborators is his advisor Ruoxi Jia. Zeng was a master’s degree student at the University of California San Diego when he became aware of Ruoxi (at the University of California Berkeley at the time) and her achievements in trustworthy machine learning. 

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Sanghani Center Student Spotlight: M. Maruf

Graphic is from the paper “Maximizing Cohesion and Separation in Graph Representation Learning: A Distance-aware Negative Sampling Approach”


Having the opportunity to apply state-of-the-art machine learning models to bioinformatics problems as an undergraduate motivated M. Maruf to take a deep dive into machine learning and deep learning as a Ph.D. student in computer science at Virginia Tech which he chose because of its exemplary research and top-notch facilities. 

“Dr. Anuj Karpatne’s unique view towards solving real-world problems fascinated me to explore more knowledge-infused machine learning,” Maruf said of his advisor at the Sanghani Center.

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Sanghani Center Student Spotlight: Si Chen

Graphic is from the paper “Knowledge-Enriched Distributional Model Inversion Attacks”

With privacy a growing concern, Si Chen, a Ph.D. student in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is using machine learning to study potential attacks and defenses against machine learning models. 

She was attracted to this area of research because it is important and practical in real-world settings.

“For example,” said Chen, “if a company trains a medical diagnosis model on a training set containing sensitive information, an attacker may be able to infer the training set’s knowledge even if he or she only has access to the model. Our job is to research better attack algorithms that can aid development of defense techniques.”

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Sanghani Center Student Spotlight: Muntasir Wahed

Graphic is from the paper “SAUCE: Truncated Sparse Document Signature Bit-Vectors for Fast Web-Scale Corpus Expansion”

Working toward a Ph.D. in computer science, Muntasir Wahed is delving into self-supervised learning, adversarial training, and out-of-distribution detection.

“Suppose we train a machine learning classifier to help medical diagnosis of a disease X given an X-ray,” Wahed said. “We collect a large dataset of X-rays for both positive and negative samples of the disease X. However, after we deploy the classifier in real life, it encounters confusing X-rays that have features not seen in any of the X-rays in the training samples. In such cases, it would be unreliable to classify the samples as positives or negatives. Instead, we would like to have a mechanism to recognize that these samples are so far unseen, or in other words, out-of-distribution.”

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Sanghani Center Student Spotlight: Arka Daw

Graphic is from the paper “Physics-guided architecture (PGA) of neural networks for quantifying uncertainty in lake temperature modeling” 

Conferences have been a big part of Arka Daw’s life as a Ph.D. student this past academic year.

Daw presented “Physics-Guided Architecture (PGA) of Neural Networks for Quantifying Uncertainty in Lake Temperature Modeling” in proceedings at the 2020 SIAM International Conference on Data Mining (SDM), and “PID-GAN: A GAN Framework based on a Physics-informed Discriminator for Uncertainty Quantification with Physics” in proceedings at the 2021 ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (KDD).

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Sanghani Center students spend summer months gaining real-world experience at companies, labs, and organizations across the country


Yue Feng, a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering, is an intern with the Snap Research Creative Vision Team in Santa Monica, California.

With restrictions to working in physical office space still in effect, graduate students at the Sanghani Center are working remotely this summer for companies, labs, and programs from coast to coast. Students are not only gaining real-world experience from internships and other opportunities but, in many cases, they are also able to advance their own research interests.

Following is a list of Sanghani Center students and the work they are doing:

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Congratulations to Sanghani Center Spring 2021 Graduates

Virginia Tech’s virtual university commencement will livestream tonight, Friday, May 14, at 6:15 p.m., and degrees will be conferred at this time.

“We are extremely proud of our graduates who achieved their goals despite more than a year of a pandemic that upended much of their lives,” said Naren Ramakrishnan, the Thomas L. Phillips Professor of Engineering in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech and director of the Sanghani Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics. “When everything went virtual, they continued to attend classes, meet with their advisors, conduct research, present papers at conferences, and work at internships — all testament to their perseverance and a good barometer of their future success .”

Following is a list of Sanghani Center graduates:

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UrbComp program team receives Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence

In this 2019 photo Colin Flynn, Vicki Keegan, and Susan Hembach from Loudoun County Public Schools meet at the Sanghani Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics with Ph.D. students Andreea Sistrunk, Subhodip Biswas, and Fanglan Chen to discuss how Redistrict is helping to establish school attendance zones. 

A multidisciplinary faculty team has garnered the Virginia Tech 2021 Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence for developing and administering the Urban Computing (UrbComp) program that trains graduate students in the latest methods of analyzing massive datasets to study key issues facing urban populations while emphasizing ethical and societal issues for practicing responsible data science.

The award, announced today by the university, accompanied by a $2,000 monetary award, is funded through the university’s Alumni Association and managed and administered by the Commission on Outreach and International Affairs.

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Sanghani Center Student Spotlight: Ping Wang

 Graphic is from the paper “Text-to-SQL Generation for Question Answering on Electronic Medical Records”

In 2016, Ping Wang followed her advisor, Chandan Reddy, from Wayne State University, where she received a master’s degree in computer science, to Virginia Tech and the Sanghani Center.

Her area of interest is healthcare systems, which are undergoing many changes in the era of big data.

“Advances in artificial intelligence and digitization in healthcare have enabled healthcare providers to effectively sift through tremendous amounts of medical information,” said Wang. “My first research project in this direction was about survival analysis and my advisor Dr. Reddy and other group members provided many useful suggestions and help at the initial stage. After further investigation, I found that there are still many unique challenges in the healthcare domain. I hope to leverage my expertise in data mining and machine learning to solve real-world challenges and advance healthcare applications.”

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Sanghani Center Student Spotlight: Nurendra Choudhary

Graphic is from the paper 
“Self-Supervised Hyperboloid Representations Logical Queries over Knowledge Graphs”

Nurendra Choudhary was an applied science intern with the Amazon Search Team in Palo Alto, California, last summer where he worked on representation learning of products by leveraging the heterogeneous relations between them.

At The Web Conference 2021 last week, Choudhary, a Ph.D. student in computer science at the Sanghani Center, presented “Self-Supervised Hyperboloid Representations Logical Queries over Knowledge Graphs,” his research with data scientists at Amazon and his advisor Chandan Reddy.

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