Archive for December 20th, 2011


USPTO Seeking Text Recognition, Image Analysis Algorithms

December 20th, 2011

USPTO Innovation Challenge [image courtesy NASA Tournament Lab].The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), together with the recently created Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (COECI), launched the USPTO Innovation Challenge last week, offering $50,000 in prizes for specialized algorithms that can “help bring the 7 million patents presently in the patent archive into the digital age.” In particular, the USPTO Innovation Challenge is seeking new algorithms to automatically identify and locate specific elements within patent documents, as part of a broader effort to improve the patent examination process. According to Robynn Sturm Steffen, a Senior Advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP):

Approximately half-a-million U.S. patents are filed by inventors, entrepreneurs, and businesses each year. The Challenge is part of a broader USPTO endeavor to modernize the information technology used by the Office’s patent examiners.


Most patent examiners must look at hundreds of pages of documentation for each patent they examine, so many aspects of the new system are designed to reduce the amount of page flipping, improve readability, and allow for annotation of the documents. This includes the need for a better way for patent examiners to view and parse the detailed drawings that are often critical to determining whether an invention merits a patent [more after the jump].


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“Scaling Up”

December 20th, 2011

In the December 2011 Communications of the ACM, CCC Council member and MIT Professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Frans Kaashoek discusses multicore computing, security, and OS design:

Frans Kaashoek: "In research, taking an extreme position is interesting because it forces you to clarify your thinking and solve the hard case" [image courtesy Dominic Casserly via the CACM].Kaashoek has … conducted wide-ranging research in computer systems, including operating system design, software-based network routing, and distributed hash tables, which revolutionized the storage and retrieval of data in decentralized information systems. He also helped found two startups: Sightpath, a video broadcast software provider that was acquired by Cisco Systems in 2000, and Mazu Networks, which was acquired by Riverbed Technology in 2009. Kaashoek was named an ACM fellow in 2004 and elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2006. Last year his work was recognized with an ACM-Infosys Foundation Award…


You have said that your work on the exokernel operating system, which enables application developers to specify how the hardware should execute their code, was driven by intellectual curiosity. Can you elaborate?


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