Meet IBM's Mark Smith, Master Inventor, San Jose, CA

Each year, IBM selects a new field of Master Inventors as one way of recognizing IBMers who have mastered the patent process, provided broad mentoring, added value to IBM's portfolio, and demonstrated sustained innovation leadership and service.
Once selected, a Master Inventor is expected to apply his or her mastery of patent knowledge by actively serving as a:

*leader in the invention community
*mentor to a broad community of inventors
*resource to Intellectual Property Legal office

Additional responsibilities of the Master Inventor include:

*nurturing new inventors who are new or unfamiliar with the patent process
*providing advice and assistance to less experienced inventors
*proactively arranging and leading patent mining or education sessions
*contributing to the inventor community's knowledge and understanding of intellectual property value
*helping IP Law patent professionals and senior technical management increase the focus on creating, protecting, and deriving value from intellectual property assets
*recognizing inventions of high licensing value to IBM
*assisting in the licensing of IBM's intellectual property assets, as appropriate
*serving on invention development teams as active members that evaluate disclosures and provide constructive feedback to inventors

This year, IBM Research has named thirty-eight Master Inventors from its global community of researchers. Join me in welcoming Almaden's Mark A. Smith to this list of esteemed IBMers.

Mark A. Smith, a research engineer in David Pease's Storage-Specific Solutions and Services Group on IBM Information Archive and Tivoli Fastback Duplication, has found inspiration from "people in pursuit of knowledge and truth, especially those with humanitarianinterests," listing a few as C.S. Lewis, Jonas Salk, Mother Teresa, Harriet Tubman and Galileo Galilei. "I use inspirations like these to try to shape my way of thinking. I think of Harriet Tubman and Mother Theresa as a breed of grass-roots inventors. Harriet Tubman gave us the well-engineered underground railroad, and Mother Teresa a new way of thinking about humanitarianism. Jonas Salk rejected the broadly-held thought that a killed virus could not be used tocure polio, pursuing this rejected avenue of research to achieve his vaccine. Galileo Galilei was a true out-of-the-box thinker, arriving through methodical reason at a conclusion that contradicted his own beliefs; and instead of rejecting either, found a way to reconcile the two for himself. C.S. Lewis is an innovator of methods, marrying analysis with faith in a way that inspires me." Although Mark is not sure what inspired him to do so, he started his working life as a "golf-ball picker-upper and cleaner", working at a golf range after hours while in high school. He graduated to lifeguard and then swim coach; and while an undergraduate, worked as a web lackey for UCSD's computer science department. As a grad student, Mark worked on a software package for finite element modeling and visualization of heart mechanics as a Systems Analyst in the Cardiac Mechanics Research Group in UCSD's Bioengineering department.

Once an IBMer, Mark took a trip through many different areas of Research, (something that he cites as one of the best parts of working at Almaden - the freedom to change your path), beginning with 2 summer internships in the Computer Science Department. As an intern, Mark worked on Systems Management in Virtual Worlds, one of the most innovative initiatives of the time. Following that, now a Research Engineer, Mark worked in Steve Welch's Kool Systems Management Group working on Object Storage, LifeBoat, and ThinkVantage Technologies. Moving on to USER group, Mark found new areas of collaboration, investigating ways to use Data Deduplication to enhance user experience, looking at what is fundamentally a 'large-grain compression' technology through the lens of network collaboration, system abnormality detection and stability enhancement. Mark is now in Almaden's Storage department where he focuses more on Data Deduplication and Archival, contributing to both Tivoli FastBack and Information Archive. One of the best partsof the job, though, is being able to leverage IBM's commitment to continued learning through one of IBM's professional learning assistance programs. Through this program, he is also able to pursue his interest in Bioinformatics at Stanford University. A well-rounded IBMer, Mark's appointment to Master Inventor is supported by his work in each of these areas.

Favorite travel destinations: The wilderness and nature, as exemplified by: Austria, New Zealand, Costa Rica, and the Big Island of Hawaii

Best things about working at Almaden: Nobody looks at you funny if you take a nap, the freedom to change your path, working with colleagues who are not afraid of being wrong, schedule flexibility, the opportunity to continue learning, and working in teams comprised of individuals representing every inhabited continent.

What does achieving this honor mean to me?: Having my contributions to IBM's Intellectual Property recognized through an appointment to Master Inventor is exciting! It is an affirmation that I have been investigating at least some things that make a significant difference to IBM and our customers. I find Dr. Salk's remark that "the reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more" is true in life and in inside IBM. I hope that achieving this honor continues to afford me the opportunity to try new things, fail, and try again.

Math vs. Massive Data Overload

This year digital information will grow to 988 exabytes or equivalent to a stack of books from the sun to Pluto and back.

Sure, lots of data is great for predicting the future and producing models, but how do you know if the data is any good? IBM scientists have developed an algorithm that can tell you.

Data, data everywhere

Much of this data is gathered by sensors, actuators, RFID-tags, and GPS-tracking-devices, which measure everything from the degree of pollution of ocean water to traffic patterns to food supply chains.
But the question remains, how do you know if the data is good and not filled with errors, anomalies or if it was generated by a busted sensor? For example, if a scientist attempts to predict climate change based on a broken sensor that is off by 25 degrees for an entire year, the model is going to reflect that error. As the saying goes, "garbage in, garbage out."

“In a world with already one billion transistors per human and growing daily, data is exploding at an unprecedented pace,” said Dr. Alessandro Curioni, manager of the Computational Sciences team at IBM Research – Zurich. “Analyzing these vast volumes of continuously accumulating data is a huge computational challenge in numerous applications of science, engineering and business.”

Lines of efficiency

To solve this challenge IBM scientists in Zurich have patented a mathematical algorithm (for the details click here) with less than 1000 lines code that reduces the computational complexity, costs, and energy usage for analyzing the quality of massive amounts of data by two orders of magnitude.
To confirm their method, scientists validated nine terabytes of data—nine million million (or a number with 12 zeros) on the fourth largest supercomputer in the world in Germany, a Blue Gene/P system at the Forschungszentrum Jülich.

The result, what would normally have taken a day, was crunched in 20 minutes. In terms of energy savings, the JuGene supercomputer at Forschungszentrum Jülich requires about 52800 kWh for one day of operation on the full machine, the IBM demonstration required an estimated 700 kWh  - only 1 percent of what was previously needed.

“Determining how typical or how statistically relevant the data is, helps us to measure the quality of the overall analysis and reveals flaws in the model or hidden relations in the data,” explains Dr. Costas Bekas of IBM Research – Zurich. “Efficient analysis of huge data sets requires the development of a new generation of mathematical techniques that target at both reducing computational complexity and at the same time allow for their efficient deployment on modern massively parallel resources.”


Inventors' Corner: U.S. Patent #7,635,189 – "Method and system for synchronizing opto-mechanical filters to a series of video synchronization pulses

This patent, U.S. Patent #7,635,189, describes a technique for converting a portable projector into a three-dimensional (3D) stereoscopic display. Any projector based on standard digital light processor (DLP) technology can be converted to 3D using this patented invention. To view the image in 3D, the user wears a pair of passive, polarization sensitive eyeglasses. This patent, which is part of a broader effort to investigate 3D display technology -- including 10 patented IBM inventions -- addresses how to synchronize a precision, multi-segment color filter wheel inside the projector with a series of video signals that distinguish the left and right eye views which make up a 3D image. Using this technique, a system can project images which appear to extend 3 feet beyond the plane of the projection screen. It provides a very low-cost way to implement 3D technology. The invention is compatible with 90% of the portable projectors on the market, all standard video formats, and all major PC games and graphics software; and eliminates eye strain which can be associated with prolonged viewing of other 3D systems.

IBM inventor, Casimer DeCusatis, earned a patent for this invention.


Capture, Reuse and Share Your Web Browsing History With Friends and Colleagues - Try It Out and Tell Us What You Think

Following is a guest post from Jeffrey Nichols on the CoScripter team at IBM Research - Almaden in San Jose, CA.

CoScripter Reusable History is a new tool from IBM Research that extends the web history capability of your Firefox web browser. The tool is now available for download from the IBM Research Labs Experimental Technology site.

I know what you're thinking...I don't use the built-in history tool in my web browser now, so why would I use CoScripter Reusable History? I think there are a couple answers. First, our new tool records history at the level of interactions, such as clicking on a link or entering text into a form field, instead of the typical page-based model of traditional web history systems. With today's modern web sites, if I want to be able to navigate back to a page in the future, I often find that saving the URL is not sufficient. Instead, I need to remember the exact set of actions that took me to that page, which is exactly what CoScripter Reusable History does for me.

The second, and even more important, answer is that CoScripter Reusable History makes it easy to share sequences of actions from your history with other users. This is possible because each interaction in your history is recorded as a string of natural-sounding text that is easily understood by people (borrowed from our existing CoScripter technology). If you copy a sequence of actions out of your history and paste it into an e-mail, then the recipient of that e-mail can repeat the interactions just by reading the e-mail. Of course, if the recipient has CoScripter installed, then the interactions can be repeated for them automatically. CoScripter Reusable History also supports sharing sequences of actions through social networking tools, like Twitter and Facebook.

I have been using CoScripter Reusable History for more than a year on my primary computer, and I've found it to be very useful. If a colleague has a question about an internal business process that I've gone through, such as a corporate naming request, I can simply search my recorded history, copy out the relevant actions, and share them with my colleague. A similar process could be used for explaining how I got into a problem situation with a help desk, submitting a bug report, or communicating a business process change to a worldwide team. Given the difficulty of communicating processes, and the fact that many business processes are now done through the web, I think that CoScripter Reusable History will be useful tool for enterprises and individuals alike.

For more information, watch the demonstration video above, read a technical report, or try out the software for yourself.

We'd love to get your feedback.