News for the Week of March 25, 2013

*List of Announcements (details below):*

  * US News & WR: SEOR ranked 28 in Industrial, Manufacturing and
    Systems Engineering
  * New M.S. in Biostatistics
  * New Undergraduate Minors: Mechanical Engineering, Aviation Flight
  * C4I Seminar: Friday, Mar 29, 1:30 pm, room 4705
  * Harry Wechsler and Venkatesh Ramanathan are Issued a Patent
  * NY Times: California Bill Seeks Campus Credit for Online Study
  * NY Times: Colleges Assess Cost of Free Online-Only Courses

*US News & WR: SEOR ranked 28 in Industrial, Manufacturing and Systems 

US News & World Report ranked the Volgenau School of Engineering as 
number 28 in the category of Industrial/Manufacturing/Systems 
Engineering for 2013, tied with the University of Virginia and the 
University of Arizona.  This is the first year that US News & World 
Report included Systems Engineering as part of a graduate engineering 
specialty. In earlier years, the specialty was Industrial/Manufacturing 

Full information about the rankings can be found at[subscription 

*New M.S. in Biostatistics*

Last week, SCHEV gave its final approval to our new M.S. in 
Biostatistics.The program will be available beginning Fall 2013.

The M.S. in Biostatistics will allow students to specialize in the 
design and analysis of health-related and biological studies, while 
maintaining the rigor and technical training of the Statistical Science 
master's program.


*New Undergraduate Minors: Mechanical Engineering, Aviation Flight Training*

Starting in Fall 2013, the Volgenau School of Engineering will offer 
undergraduate minors in two new topics:

  * Mechanical Engineering
  * Aviation Flight Training and Management


/Mechanical Engineering:/The discipline of mechanical engineering 
involves anything that moves or uses energy. There are two major stems 
in mechanical engineering: mechanical systems and thermal fluid systems. 
Mechanical engineers design, build, and analyze complex devices, 
systems, and processes that involve the conversion of energy from one 
form to another, the production of work, and the transport of energy and 
mass from one location to another. Since its origin, mechanical 
engineering has evolved tremendously and plays a vital role in 
multidisciplinary fields where mechanical and thermophysical properties 
of materials and movement or transport are relevant. Examples include 
materials science and nanotechnology, biomedical engineering, aerospace 
engineering, nuclear engineering, and many others. Application areas of 
mechanical engineering include energy systems, transportation, medicine, 
machines, electronics, robotics, materials, and many other areas.

/Aviation Flight Training and Management: /This minor provides students 
with a unique opportunity to earn a pilot's license and gain expertise 
in various aspects of aviation management. The combination of pilot's 
license and aviation management places the candidate seeking employment 
with airlines, airports, air traffic control at a competitive advantage. 
Students completing this minor have completed one step in preparation 
towards jobs as Commercial Pilots, Military Pilots, Corporate Pilots, 
Certified Flight Instructors, Unmanned Aerial Systems Operators, Airline 
Dispatchers, Airport Managers, Air Traffic Controllers, Aviation Flight 
Test Engineers, Aviation System Engineers.

*C4I Seminar: Friday, Mar 29, 1:30 pm, room 4705*

Speakers: Dr. Wei Sun and Walter Powell, George Mason University

/Combinatorial Prediction Markets by Graphical Model: Algorithms and 


Prediction markets are defined as speculative markets created for the 
purpose of making predictions. The current market prices can be 
interpreted as estimates of the probability of the event, or the 
expected value of the parameter. Public prediction markets such as the 
Iowa Electronic Market or the Foresight Exchange have been in place for 
over two decades.  More recently, Intrade, Inkling, and Betfair have 
been in the news.

All of these prediction markets ignore the relationships between 
questions, but /combinatorial /prediction markets explicitly consider 
and exploit dependencies among base events. This allow us to collect 
more information and promises better accuracy.  A combinatorial market 
can integrate partial information from many people, and update a joint 
probability distribution that is far larger than any one person can 
fully edit or consider. However, we must tame the combinatorial 
explosion before the problem is beyond computers as well.

In this talk, we show how to use Bayesian networks to represent and 
update combinatorial markets -- including user assets.  We also present 
results of a recent murder-mystery experiment where participants used 
either a regular prediction market or a combinatorial market to solve 
the mystery. Finally, in order to further improve the market's accuracy, 
we designed an auto-trader based on user's input and/or belief expressed 
as a Bayesian network fragment.  We show results that simple 
auto-traders can encourage participation, and new work on a "Kelly Rule" 
auto-trader that finds optimal trades given a user's joint beliefs.

Speaker information:
**A Research Assistant Professor in the Center of Excellence in C4I at 
George Mason University, since August 2009, Dr. Wei Sun is currently 
involved as a core researcher in a government funded research project 
called DAGGRE, which has awarded the GMU research team with more than $5 
million dollars in research funding.An expert in Bayesian inference, Dr. 
Sun obtained his Ph.D. in Information Technology in 2007 and has 
developed several efficient inference algorithms for hybrid Bayesian 
networks. He has a rich experience in predictive modeling, probabilistic 
reasoning, nonlinear filtering, sampling methods and simulation. 
Applications of his research include sensor fusion, tracking, 
classification, forecasting, performance modeling, and recently 
prediction markets. Dr. Sun has published 20 technical papers in 
referred journals and prestigious conferences, and two book chapters.

Walter Powell is a Ph.D. candidateand Research Instructor in George 
Mason University's C4I center.  A retired naval officer, his is 
completing his doctoral research in the evaluation of the quality of 
decisions.  As part of his research he has developed numerous 
experiments and evaluations that assessed the usefulness of various 
decisions support systems.  As a Senior Research Engineer with RTSync, 
Inc., he consults on modeling and simulation projects for various 
governmental and industry entities.

For further information contact Deb Schenaker, 993-3682, email: 
[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>, or visit our website

*Harry Wechsler and Venkatesh Ramanathan are Issued a Patent*

Harry Wechsler of the Computer Science Department and recent Ph.D. 
graduate Venkatesh Ramanthan were issued the following patent by the US PTO.

Title: Robust Human Authentication Using Holistic Anthropometric and 
Appearance-Based Features and Boosting
Inventors: Harry Wechsler and Venkatesh Ramanathan
Number: 8,379,940 B2
Issue date: February 19, 2013.

*NY Times: California Bill Seeks Campus Credit for Online Study*


"Legislation will be introduced in the California Senate on Wednesday 
that could reshape higher education by requiring the state's public 
colleges and universities to give credit for faculty-approved online 
courses taken by students unable to register for oversubscribed classes 
on campus.

"If it passes, as seems likely, it would be the first time that state 
legislators have instructed public universities to grant credit for 
courses that were not their own --- including those taught by a private 
vendor, not by a college or university."

*NY Times: Colleges Assess Cost of Free Online-Only Courses*

"Elite universities are joining in, but the massive online open courses, 
known as MOOCs, threaten to poach paying students from other institutions."



Stephen G. Nash
Senior Associate Dean
Volgenau School of Engineering
George Mason University
Nguyen Engineering Building, Room 2500
Mailstop 5C8
Fairfax, VA 22030

[log in to unmask]
Phone: (703) 993-1505
Fax: (703) 993-1633