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UIUC Library, I-CHASS and XSEDE Collaborate on Supercomputing Award

Posted by on Apr 17, 2012 in News | No Comments

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library in collaboration with the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Science (I-CHASS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was awarded a 30,000 Service Units (SU) start-up allocation grant on the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) Blacklight shared memory system at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC). In addition to the award of supercomputing time, the project was allocated 12 months of XSEDE technical support to assist them with optimizing their code and visualizing the results. The project team of principal investigator Harriett Green, English and Digital Humanities Librarian and assistant professor of library administration; Kirk Hess, Digital Humanities Specialist; and Economics Ph.D. candidate Richard Hislop also will be supported by XSEDE database experts and other consultants.

The project, entitled “Bandits and Browsing: Data Mining and Network Analysis for Library Collections,” will build a scalable system for library collection analysis and recommender system development. Based on the data analyses resulting from this project, the team would begin development on an enhanced recommender system for library catalogs and digital libraries that retrieves richer search results from a library collection search based on network analysis of subject relevancy, circulation data of items, and usage data for items that share interrelated subjects. In order to build this test bed for algorithm and functionalities in the recommender system, the project will utilize the advanced computing resources of XSEDE to develop self-optimizing search algorithms and network analyses that would run against the bibliographic and catalog data in library catalogs and digital library indexes.

The project team created initial prototypes of search algorithms, topic analyses, and network analyses using the English literature collection’s 40,000-item sample set. A core algorithm was initially developed to identify items that are infrequently used, yet have a high degree of topical relevance to other heavily used works in a collection. Based on these and other analyses conducted on the sample set of data, the team will expand the scalability of the search algorithms and network analyses against a full 22 million-item subset of the University of Illinois Library catalog data using the advanced computing resources of XSEDE. The team will run search and indexing algorithms against the entire subset of Library catalog records, build network graphs for subject correlations, and do full analyses for item relevancy.

“We anticipate that these analyses will enable the initial development of a recommender system for library catalogs and digital libraries that will present the fullest possible breadth of relevant items and content in users’ search results,” Green said. “And ultimately, we hope that this will lead to a platform that will enable librarians, information scientists, and researchers to launch in-depth studies of collection use statistics, cataloging schemas, and content access, and also share their methodologies and analytical tools inter-institutionally.”

Michael Simeone, Associate Director, Interdisciplinary Studies at I-CHASS and project co-PI, said, “This will be an important project to show how high-end computation can help us understand the individual decisions that contribute to making broader-scale knowledge.”


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the proud home of one of the largest and richest public research library collections in North America with more than 12 million volumes. For more information on the Library at Illinois, visit


Scientists, engineers, social scientists, and humanist around the world – many of them at colleges and universities – use advanced digital resources and services every day. Things like supercomputers, collections of data, and new tools are critical to the success of those researchers, who use them to make us all healthier, safer, and better informed. XSEDE integrates these resources and services, makes them easier to use, and helps more people use them. The five-year National Science Foundation-funded XSEDE project supports 16 supercomputers and high-end visualization and data analysis resources across the country through a collaborative partnership of 17 institutions. For more information on XSEDE, visit:

$45,000 Grant Awarded to Blended Humanities-STEM Youth Summer Program

Posted by on Mar 26, 2012 in News | No Comments

The Arctic Slope Community Foundation Board approved a $45,000 grant to a collaboration of Ilisagvik College, American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), the Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts and Social Science (I-CHASS), the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), and the Climate, Adaptation, Mitigation, E-Learning (CAMEL) project to support a 2 week summer blended Humanities and Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) program at the Ilisagvik College, Barrow Alaska, for 12 high school aged Native youth from the North Slope Borough.

During this program, the participants will discover, investigate, and analyze the Barrow, Alaska permafrost.  Information gained from this experience will help them to develop and enhance their personal understanding of the permafrost’s significant relationship and impact on their local villages/communities. Additionally, they will learn how to share their insights on a broader national/international platform though the use of technological tools such as the iPod touch, websites, webcasting, and social media applications.

The program will seek to provide a fun, informal learning environment for students in grades 9-12 while exploring a serious climate change topic. The experience will motivate the students to continue monitoring their environment and sharing this data and to also consider future studies in the humanities and STEM fields.

The program will provide a forum to raise Alaskan Native youth awareness about permafrost’s role in climate change.  The program will enable them to think about ways to mitigate and adapt to the impending challenges while documenting and exchanging cultural knowledge and observations with Elders.  Additionally, the program will encourage youth to share this information on a national level and become engaged in the climate change dialog, while being exposed and trained in the use of various technologies for capturing and preserving data including scientific language and cultural data.

As noted by Mark Nuttall and his colleagues in the paper “Adaption to Climate Change in the Arctic,” climate change adaptation occurs at the local level, so it is important to develop programs that incorporate indigenous perspectives and knowledge and to facilitate indigenous societies’ ability to decide for themselves how to address climate change risks.  This summer program presents a step in this direction.


I-CHASS Announces Winners of Scalable Research Challenge

Posted by on Feb 17, 2012 in News | No Comments

The Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (I-CHASS) is pleased to announce the winners of the Scalable Research Challenge  2012. The following nine projects have been selected to collaborate closely with the I-CHASS and National Center for Supercomputing Applications to shape their research projects to take advantage of advanced computing resources such as large-scale parallel processing, algorithmic development, and new interface design:

Therese Tierney, PhD DE:New Media, Assistant Professor, Design, School of Architecture, UIUC

Professor Tierney’s [i-metro], a locative information commons, project advances the position that information, as both a resource and an integral component of the public sphere, should be equally available to all. To address the inequality of information access, [i-metro], an interactive information portal to be situated within metro transit stations, provides free, comprehensive locative and other travel-related information in real time. [i-metro] will display information on a touchscreen–like a vastly oversized iPhone- providing access to maps, timetables, and ticket reservations—thus transforming the urban experience with layered opportunities and data most useful on the go. Transit riders will also participate by uploading their own content through messaging and geo-tagging. [i-metro]contributes to new forms of public engagement by creating socially rich nodes for public benefit by linking the functionality of the Web to the scale of the city in real time.

Michael Regenwetter, Professor, Department of Psychology, UIUC
Chris Zwilling, doctoral student, Department of Psychology, UIUC

Professor Regenwetter and Mr. Zwilling’s research aims to further our understanding of human decision-making processes. Their lab focuses on another important part of this larger picture: developing and testing models of human decision-making processes at a higher level of detail thanks to advanced methodologies. In particular, the approach allows looking at both the commonalities, as well as the differences between people in their underlying decision making processes. This proposal specifically, does not aim to solve the ubiquitous shortcomings of human decision-making in the world. Kahneman’s research revealed far-reaching insights into human-decision making, which then allowed others to apply his results to the real world. Their work on models of decision-making, especially if propelled forward by contemporary high-level computing resources, has the potential for many broad and tangible real-world applications, hence it can have a real impact on the human condition.

Harriett Green, English and Digital Humanities Librarian, Assistant Professor of Library Administration, UIUC

Professor Green’s work engages how researchers use libraries. The Maximum Exposure project will examine a library user’s decision points in the search process that provide data for incorporating into the search itself. With this data, hedonic regression and multi-armed bandit model as analytical methods to determine which items have high relevancy but low use by digital library users. The resulting items that fit these parameters will be exposed to the user in a separate “Understudied” list to accompany the main search results set. The relevancy of the Understudied items will be determined by the correlation of the metadata to subject headings and search key terms.

Ruby Mendenhall, Assistant Professor of African American Studies, Sociology, UIUC

Professor Mendenhall’s project focuses to address a critical barrier to decreasing depression among low-income Black single mothers who live in segregated, high-risk neighborhoods by investigating how ecological risk and protective factors moderate the effects of role strain and coping strategies on depression.

Mara R. Wade, Chair, Society for Emblem Studies, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, UIUC

The Emblematica Online project is digitizing two of the world’s largest and most important Renaissance emblem book collections, thereby establishing a digital subject library shared across two institutions, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Herzog August Bibliothek. The project aims to digitize, index and build a new portal providing integrated access to our digital emblem book collections and eventually those of other major emblem book collections worldwide. The project will serve as a prototype for similar digitized image-text related projects in the humanities.

Victor Masayesva, Owner/Director, IS Productions

Mr. Masayesva’s project is in the intersection of agricultural scientific approaches to corn and the sorts of corn farming he does as a Hopi person and that other Indigenous peoples in North and Meso America do. He has met with a lot of people on campus about various aspects of the project, including people at the Visualization Lab at Beckman, IGB faculty, and ACES faculty (Crop Sciences, Ag Econ). We are working toward an agreement on supporting one thread of the project through the R&D phase into preproduction and another thread that will probably be based here at Illinois that will hopefully involve video documentation of a test field in South Campus across a planting-harvest cycle next year. The project will create a documentary on the relationship of corn, its migration and the people that carried it from it’s equatorial roots, to the latest chapter in the story: the development of corn for mass agriculture here at UIUC.

Gabriel Solis, Associate Professor and Chair of Musicology Division, School of Music, UIUC

The project seeks to create a valuable program that would allow for a comparison of a large number of recordings in terms of a number of measurable sonic features, and that will create systematic, three- and four-dimensional visualizations of those sonic features for the process of interpretation of the results and representation of results in scholarship and teaching. One of the most compelling things about this project is that it would fulfill a long-standing desire in the community of musicians and music scholars for precisely such a tool.

Maria E. Cotera, Associate Professor of American Culture and Women’s Studies, Director, Latina/o Studies Program, University of Michigan
Linda Garcia Merchant, Independent Film Maker, Las Pilonas Productions

Chicana por Mi Raza is a digital humanities project that involves the collection, digitization, and display of archival materials and oral histories related to the development of Chicana Feminist thought and praxis over the long civil rights era.  The project proposes both the collection of documents related to this history–photographs, posters, correspondence, written material (both published and unpublished), ephemera–and the development of a flexible user interface that can allow users, both professional and novice, to access these materials through interactive timeline and mapping utilities.

Richard Hindle, Assistant Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, UIUC

This project began through accidentally finding a ‘missed’ reference in the patent system. A patent was awarded without referencing an existing patent. The project is to develop visualization methods for patent relationships in multiple databases, and show relationships between innovations in locations and among technologies.

IML Partners with I-CHASS to Win Humanities Supercomputing Award

Posted by on Nov 1, 2011 in News | No Comments

Urbana, Illinois. The Institute for Multimedia Literacy (IML) at the University of Southern California, in collaboration with the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Science (I-CHASS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign were awarded a 30,000 Service Units (SU) startup allocation grant on the Dash/Gordon supercomputer at the San Diego Supercomputing Center. The new flash-based Gordon is part of the National Science Foundation’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), a national collaboration of computing infrastructure. The IML and I-CHASS team will use Gordon to pursue interactive large scale media analytics.

In addition to the award of supercomputing time, the project was allocated 12 months of XSEDE staff technical support to maintain the necessary codes on the supercomputing infrastructure. The team also will be supported by XSEDE database experts and other consultants.

“Dash/Gordon is one of the key goals of XSEDE; this is the first data analysis-intensive platform in addition to the cycle intensive computing in the expanding portfolio available to humanities and social science researchers in the continued development of high performance computing beyond the TeraGrid,” said John Towns, principal investigator for XSEDE.

Professor and project principal investigator Virginia Kuhn, associate director of the IML, said she plans to create an archive of multimedia resources that are available for interactive query and large-scale analytics that exploits the flash memory available on Gordon.

This project also will deviate from typical supercomputing projects in that it will allow the researchers to interact with their data in real time, on demand, as opposed to a more traditional batch-oriented approach, said I-CHASS associate director Alan Craig, who is also a research scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at Illinois and project co-principal investigator.

Kevin Franklin, executive director of I-CHASS, senior research scientist at NCSA, and project co-PI, said this project will extend the ways in which researchers in humanities, arts, and social sciences interact with high-performance computing systems.

Kuhn, Craig and Franklin expressed their interest in the project with the following statement: “The world is an increasingly visually saturated place, making the need for critical attention urgent. Yet one issue that continues to plague cinema and new media scholars is the inability to index, tag, and search vast media archives, and this includes films that have been digitized, as well as emergent “born digital” media. The situation is exacerbated by the rise of video and multimedia as a common mode of authoring and the concurrent increasing complexity of the field brought about by advances in digital effects. The application of high-performance computational analytics to these digital archives can prove crucial to scholarly research, and it also has the potential to impact large-scale literacy by allowing the type of sustained critical analysis of the media in which humans are immersed.”


Scientists, engineers, social scientists, and humanities experts around the world – many of them at colleges and universities – use advanced digital resources and services every day. Things like supercomputers, collections of data, and new tools are critical to the success of those researchers, who use them to make us all healthier, safer, and better informed. XSEDE integrates these resources and services, makes them easier to use, and helps more people use them. The five-year National Science Foundation-funded XSEDE project supports 16 supercomputers and high-end visualization and data analysis resources across the country through a collaborative partnership of 17 institutions. For more information on XSEDE, visit:, October 3rd.

Digital Humanities and Social Sciences–Pathways to Funding

Posted by on Sep 23, 2011 in News | No Comments

Please join us for an information session highlighting some recent faculty collaborations with
I-CHASS (Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science). Learn more about I-CHASS, its mission, and innovative digital humanities and social science collaborative projects that have led to numerous grant successes (among them NSF and NEH).

Hear first-hand from I-CHASS-affiliated faculty and staff about faculty-Institute collaborations and pathways to funding. Panelists will include: Alan Craig (Associate Director for Human-Computer Interactions, I-CHASS); Kevin Franklin (Executive Director, I-CHASS; African American Studies); Dianne Harris (Director, IPRH; Landscape Architecture); Ned O’Gorman (Communication); Marshall Scott Poole (Director, I-CHASS; Communication); Michelle Shumate (Communication); and Michael Simeone (I-CHASS, Assistant Director).

Monday, October 3rd

4:00 – 5:15 PM

500 Swanlund Administration Building

This session is co-sponsored by the OVCR and IPRH (Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities).

Please RSVP to Kelley Frazier, 3-6771.

I-CHASS Begins Scalable Research Challenge (SRC) for Illinois Campuses

Posted by on Sep 21, 2011 in News | No Comments

Imagine a research project could take on a scale previously unheard of. Instead of studying a handful of images, what about studying hundreds? Instead of three texts, what if you had the ability to consider information from 40, 50, 100 or 1,000,000? Is there any software you would like to use but lack the computational power to run it?

What if individual works of art could be visualized and organized by their images and data? What if these works could be viewed in full detail, along with a collection of hundreds or millions of others? How would the interaction between art and viewer change or enhance the experience?

Have you ever thought about scaling up your research using computer resources? How could the use of advanced computing help you collect, analyze, or visualize your object of study?

Through the SRC12, I-CHASS will connect Illinois researchers in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Science to high performance computing specialists within the University of Illinois communities at Chicago, Springfield and Urbana-Champaign so that new questions about research may emerge, and standing research projects may be amplified. Participants will collaborate with computing specialists at I-CHASS, NCSA and possibly other U of I faculty to further research topics using cutting-edge technology in areas such as imaging, visualization, text mining, data modeling, and analysis.

Beginning Tuesday October 18, I-CHASS will host a three-part series of workshops that will help develop proposals for work that can begin as small-scale projects with potential to grow into bigger objects of study that consider large and multiple collections.
For additional information contact: Michael Vila, Project Manager, I-CHASS, Michael Vila.

I-CHASS Article Provides Roadmap for Technology-Driven Collaborative Scholarship

Posted by on Sep 16, 2011 in News | No Comments

In beginning to wrap up its research funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Digging into Data Challenge grant, I-CHASS is pleased to announce the publication of “Digging into data using new collaborative infrastructures supporting humanities-based computer science research,” in First Monday.

The essay, composed by I-CHASS researchers, engineers, and affiliates, outlines the cloud-based collaboratoration tools used by the Authorship Related Questions research group to present the legal, scholarly, and technical dimensions of multi-site collaboratory research:

As interdisciplinary collaborations are becoming more common, aligning the interests of computer scientists and humanities scholars requires the formulation of a collaborative infrastructure for research where the approaches, methodologies, pedagogies, and intellectual innovations merge. While the concept of shared resources in a “cloud” is gaining popularity for office and document–based collaborations, we maintain that constructing a “cloud” of collective resources for use in researching large image archives across multiple disciplines and institutions requires a specific design that accommodates the communicative demands of multi–disciplinary academic research, the intricacies of intellectual property and publication, the needs of software developers working from remote sites, and the difficulties of serving large amounts of data for collective examination. In other words, the model we have developed tightly integrates practices and technologies for data sharing, software sharing, and knowledge sharing/communication.

[Go to Full Article…]

NEH Awards Institute for Advanced Topics in Digital Humanities Grant to I-CHASS and CDH

Posted by on Sep 7, 2011 in News | No Comments

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Science (I-CHASS) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Center for Digital Humanities (CDH) at the University of South Carolina have collaborated to win a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Institutes for Advanced Topics in Digital Humanities (IATDH) grant award in the amount of $249,588.00 to support a project called the Humanities High Performance Computing Collaboratory (HpC).

HpC will engage humanities scholars in a year-long collaboration with computing specialists in order to: 1) receive a comprehensive education in four computational concentrations; 2) receive instruction in digital humanities project design and management; 3) obtain hands-on experience with a variety of technical platforms; 4) work with experts to outline pilot explorations in at least one area of computational concentration; and 5) join a year-long virtual community where scholars will support their peers in authoring digital humanities projects.

HpC represents an investment (structural, computational, and resource-based) in developing a model that will provide technical support, access to high performance computing, and products and services associated with digital technologies to humanities scholars with all levels of expertise—from beginner to the most advanced.

Participants will join with computing specialists at I-CHASS, CDH and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) to be educated in growing areas of digital technology (Image Analytics, Social Networking, Mobile Applications, Augmented Reality, and Serious Gaming).  After the training workshops, the community will discuss these technologies and develop their applications for humanities research via a virtual community as well as envision long-term technological goals for their projects. HpC will facilitate two five-day-long residencies as well as one two-day long conference for forty-five humanities scholars and ten computing specialists. An open call for participation in the HpC program will be released in the near future.
This is the second NEH Institutes for Advanced Topics in Digital Humanities (IATDH) grant award for the program Humanities High Performance Computing Collaboratory (HpC). The first award in 2009 for $249,997.00 leveraged advance cyberinfrastructure facilities to support three interdisciplinary humanities research groups.  The topics each group explored were globalizing medieval studies, developing three-dimensional (3D) history spaces, and constructing a multimedia repository for faculty and students of digital/new media. The three humanities research teams worked to develop their projects with computer scientist and engineers at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and the Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center (PSC).