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Grant awarded to UTPA for computer science research program
By Javier Espinoza, Intern
Posted: 08/06/2012
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The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a grant of $171,710 to The University of Texas-Pan American for its computer science program to research new techniques for designing algorithms for hard combinatorial problems.


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Dr. Yang Liu, assistant professor of computer science at UTPA, received a grant for $171,710 from The National Science Foundation (NSF) to research new techniques for designing algorithms for hard combinatorial problems.

The start date for the grant is Aug. 1 and will be under the direction of Dr. Yang Liu, assistant professor of computer science at UTPA, who is the principal investigator of the grant.

“The idea is to research the capability of using multiple computers at the same time to problem-solve math, science equations and theories,” Liu said.

Liu said he is excited to receive the grant funding.

“It shows that we have received attention from the science research community. We are looking forward to our research on algorithms,” he said.

An algorithm is commonly known as a set of rules that precisely defines a sequence of operations.

The grant will cover costs such as traveling expenses to conferences and will also allow Liu to hire a graduate student as a research assistant and an undergraduate student, from UTPA, for three months in the summer for the next three years.

Aside from beginning his research, Liu said he is also interested in getting students involved with this project.

“Any research project is good for the University because we want to integrate both education and research together, not just simply teach fundamental lessons,” he said.

Liu believes students who participate in this research will be motivated and will benefit much from the project.

“We want to inspire students to be more creative towards a new way to create a new knowledge, not just learn from knowledge itself. One of the most important things is to get students here at UTPA to participate in research. We need to create something new instead of just learning from something that already exists,” he said.

Liu's research is broken up in three parts. The first part is devoted to studying the effects of new measures on designing algorithms for problems such as the Boolean Satisfiability Problem. The second part is focused on expanding the power of algebraic techniques. The last part will devise a way to implement resulting algorithms on a parallel, multi-core machines.

The NSF describes the program this way:

"Efficient algorithms are fundamental to various areas in computer science. This project will study new techniques for designing efficient algorithms for hard combinatorial problems. The interaction between theoretical analysis and practical implementations of such hard problems will be explored.

"Furthermore, this project will advance the study of algorithms and systems in a minority-serving institute where under-represented students will gain valuable experience in foundational cutting-edge research."