Collaborative Research Projects

Current Illinois-Insper Collaborative Research Projects

Insper faculty are working with Illinois CS faculty and graduate students on joint research projects.  Year 1 projects have been selected through a joint peer-review process, and start on August 15, 2022.  These are given below: 

Rafael Ferrao (Insper), Igor Montagner (Insper), Mariana Silva (UIUC), and Craig Zilles (UIUC)

The proposed research collaboration brings together computing education research expertise from the University of Illinois with state-of-the-art curriculum/program design at INSPER for mutual benefit. The proposal seeks to extend our understanding of the principles of immediate feedback and frequent assessment with multiple attempts to improve student learning. Because INSPER’s educational context, which includes an intensive (32 hour/week) programming introduction and an emphasis on project-based work throughout the curriculum, is very different than that of Illinois, it presents a unique opportunity to generalize our understanding of these techniques. Through the proposed work, we intend to: create a sustainable research collabo- ration between INSPER and Illinois, develop a better fundamental understanding of student learning in CS, and deploy and evaluate interventions to improve learning at INSPER, including novel applications for project-based courses that could facilitate more project-based work in Illinois’s large enrollment courses.

Laximant Kale (UIUC), Lawrence Rauchwerger (UIUC), and Luciano Silva (Insper) 

All of the planets in our solar system orbit around the Sun. Planets that orbit around other stars are called exoplanets. Exoplanets are very hard to see directly with telescopes. Instead, astronomers can observe indirectly measuring how the brightness of the star changes during a transit. This can help them figure out the size of the planet. The Box Least Squares (BLS) periodogram is a statistical tool used for detecting transiting exoplanets and eclipsing binaries in time series photometric data. The current implementation of the BLS algorithm is rather slow for the data sets we hope to process in the future. This is due to the lack of certain optimizing transformations, e.g., locality enhancing transformations (tiling) as well as use of appropriate resources. With that we mean that the existing code cannot be executed on a parallel computer system based using CPUs and/or GPUs. Transforming the current periodogram computing software (essentially the BLS algorithm) into a modern parallel code that can exploit all levels of (nested) parallelism and balance the execution for the imbalanced and input dependent cases. We propose to develop a parallel version of the BLS algorithm using the STAPL and Charm4Py parallel programming environments and then try to combine them into a single, better performing code.

Fabio Ayres (Insper), George Chacko (UIUC), Charles Kirschbaum (Insper), and Tandy Warnow (UIUC) 

This project proposes to address the interdisciplinary research question of detecting and characterizing communities in large graphs. Simultaneously, a second question will be studied, social organization in specialty groups. The team will examine (i) the dynamic structure of communities in the global research enterprise, and (ii) communities in jazz influenced by critical events in musical history.

The project team previously developed new scalable graph clustering methods for identifying communities with core-periphery structure. These methods will be extended towards a deeper contextual understanding in our two application areas. The team will collaboratively iterate between method development, discovery, and evaluation.  The team anticipates (i) new methods for community detection, (ii) new knowledge that informs research policy, science governance and jazz history, and (iii) reproducible results and reusable data. More generally, these methods are expected to have broader applicability to large networks and the results to stimulate further scholarship.

Each member of this team has unique skills, yet has common interests in community structure, network growth, and methods development. The team envisions an extended collaboration developing from this project that will drive new scientific questions, methods, and discovery. Methods of implementation will be made freely available and course materials will be developed for use at both Insper and Illinois.

 Fabio Ayres (Insper) Paris Smaragdis (UIUC), and Tiago Fernandes Tavares (Insper)

Generative modeling of media is at the forefront of artificial intelligence. Computers can now synthesize text, images, and video, at high quality, even generating curiously novel outputs at times. Models such as Open AI’s DALL·E 2 or Google Imagen have been prominent in the news today, and are producing fascinating digital artwork.

However, one area that has not seen a significant advance is that of audio generation. This is not due to lack of interest: automatic generation of audio signals is a strongly sought-after technology in the entertainment industry, and generation of synthetic acoustic data is a crucial step in the development of technologies that range from speaker and mic design, to deep sea drilling monitoring and biomedical diagnostic modeling.

This research project will tackle the necessary work to adapt modern generative models to time-series in general. This will primarily include enabling long-term temporal dependencies and addressing the ubiquitous problem of superposition.

At a high level, patterns set by systems like DALL·E 2 will be followed. A generative model that is conditioned on text and audio will be developed, and would be able to generate audio data based on textual descriptions but also based on audio inputs themselves.

 Fábio José Ayres (Insper), David A. Forsyth (UIUC)Luciano P. Soares (Insper), Shenlong Wang (UIUC), and Yuxiong Wang (UIUC)

This research will explore data-driven rendering -- where one makes realistic images and sequences of images by compositing real data assets in various ways.  Recent work from the project team will be adapted to produce data-driven rendering systems that can be used in Virtual Reality or even Augmented Reality applications.  This project aims to produce a scene representation pipeline that will allow a user to take a small number of pictures of a room, and make a model; then take a small number of images each of some objects to produce models of those objects; then insert the objects into the room.  At each step, the user should just need to place and move objects within the room. The final model of room and objects should be small, fast to render, accurate under arbitrary change of viewpoint, and will admit stereo rendering.

The goal is for the model to show what happens when a particular spotlight is turned on or off.  The project team’s recent work on image based reshading and relighting will be expanded to make a composite model that is consistently shaded and is relightable, allowing the AR user to perceive a more realistic scene.