These Seidenberg graduate students are serving tennis with a new global ranking system

Three former graduate students and current alumni from Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems intrigued Floridian officials with a paper they wrote and presented in Miami in July 2018.

The alumni in the Software Development and Engineering program, Dionysios Kakaroubas, Jesseka Farago, and Stephen Webber, wrote a research paper on the topic of tennis scoring and ranking. Dionysios started the project because of his fascination with the sport.

Dionysios Kakaroubas is standing in front of a railing while holding a bag in his hands. The background is a field with a city view behind a river.
Dionysios Kakaroubas

“I’ve been a tennis fan since I was a little kid, so I know how the system works right now and how the current ranking system is. I know that many fans and players complain about it, so I knew that there were flaws with it. I wanted to develop a new formula so I could make a new version of it to eliminate these flaws,” Dionysios explains. “If you have more losses, [with our system] you cannot be higher up in the rankings. This is happening right now and all of the fans are complaining about it.”

The team developed a new system to improve the way tennis rankings are generated. Instead of using one attribute to determine only rank and scoring, they tested their theory that using the following three attributes would make a better system: abstention, number of tournaments played, and “bonus points for multiple wins in high-level tournaments.”

“We also developed a scenario generator,” Dionysios says. “It is a piece of software that predicts the different outcomes of different rounds of a tournament.”

They presented their software and a paper titled, The Enhancement of the Tennis Ranking System: A Software Solution, in July 2018 at the International Conference of Sports and Society in Miami.

The presentation gained the attention of Mathew Ratner, Associate Director of Sports Tourism at the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Kakaroubas is currently communicating with Ratner about how to integrate the Pace group’s new ideas into Florida’s tennis ranking system.

After presenting their paper in Miami, the group decided to reach out to a conference in Kyoto, Japan. They were accepted to attend and present at the conference in November of 2018!

The photo itself is a selfie of three people in a car.

In Kyoto, the team presented the latest draft of their research paper titled, An Elaborated Software Solution: The Tennis Ranking System, at the 20th International Conference on Sport Science and Social Science in Sport.

 

“The Kyoto experience was one of a kind. We had the opportunity to meet people who are involved in organizing the Olympics’ tennis Championships for Tokyo 2020,” Dionysios exclaims. “We also discussed Japan having its own national tennis league with a separate ranking system than the World Tour one. That was great feedback for us and our publication. There is a recognition that our work could potentially have a worldwide impact and can be placed in any country, culture, and part of the world.”

The latest version of the paper adds in two more attributes for scoring and ranking: consecutive wins and consecutive losses. The team also accounts for the surface that the game is played on with three different options: clay, grass, or a hard surface. With a total of five attributes contributing to the final score and taking the playing surface into account, the team’s system is stronger than the existing tennis ranking system.

As for the future, Dionysios says that he and the rest of the team are “planning to develop this project. Not just in the paper, but to bring it to real life in a real-life project.”

The team is still in touch with contacts from both Florida and Japan. According to Dionysios, they’re looking to start a new state league within the next year in Miami.

“I am really satisfied and happy with what we have achieved so far. Our paper got and [is] still getting a lot of attention and a promising future seems to be ahead! My idea, our work ethic and efforts seem to pay off!”

As they continue to develop the software, the team will work to make the tennis ranking system better for current and future players. Keep your eyes on their names, because they’re serving the sport with a game-changing product.

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Upcoming Hackathons and Conferences to attend Summer and Fall of 2019

When you ask any technologist, scientist, or industry professional about how they kickstarted their career, they’ll almost always say this: networking. Creating a network of industry professionals, professors, and colleagues can give you better access to prestigious job/internship openings and much more. One easy (and fun) way to grow your network is through attending Hackathons and conferences!

Attending these events can be the best way for students, faculty, and staff of all ages to create a network in the technology industry. Listed below are some upcoming conferences and hackathons that could be the ticket to jumpstarting your own professional career in the world of tech.

 

HACKATHONS:

The Environmental Hackathon by AngelHack is from July 12 through July 13, located in Brooklyn, NY. You can purchase your $10 ticket on Eventbrite in order to compete in the event’s challenge for a grand prize total of $5,000. What do you have to do? Students who enter must “develop a visual machine learning model that deliver accurate alerts for a range of environmental conditions,” according to the ticket listing.

The ConsenSys NYC Hackathon by ConsenSys is a free Hackathon from July 20 through July 21. The event, which is held in Brooklyn, NY, gives the grand prize winner of the challenge $1,500 and allows them to be fast-tracked into consideration for project funding. The challenge criteria subjects are listed on their site: infrastructure L1 and L2, education and technical knowledge, social impact, security, and usability of dev tooling. Snag your free ticket here.

The Voicehacks Hackathon in Newark, NJ, is a free one-day Hackathon on July 22. The challenge is as follows: “this will be a one-day sprint-style hackathon intended to allow developers, designers, product managers, entrepreneurs, and technology enthusiasts up to innovate development in a fast-paced and fun atmosphere where attendees can bring their own ideas to life.” You can get your ticket here.

The Mount Sinai Health Hackathon is held on October 11 through October 13 in New York, NY. According to the site, “it will be an exciting 48-hour trans-disciplinary competition focused on creating novel technology solutions for problems in healthcare. This year’s theme is Artificial Intelligence – Expanding the Limits of Human Performance.” You can check out the event details here.

 

CONFERENCES:

The ICSD 2019 conference is totally free! Join in on the perfect networking opportunity from September 24 to September 25. According to the website, “the aim of the conference is to identify and share practical, evidence-based solutions that can support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” You can get your free ticket for the conference on Eventbrite.

The Silicon Harlem Next-Gen Conference has a much higher price at $75 per ticket, but the Harlem-based event sounds like a blast. On October 17,  “the 6th Annual Silicon Harlem Conference will dive into the rapidly coming new infrastructure driven by 5G technology,” according to their site details.

 

If you attend any of these conferences or hackathons, be sure to let us know how they went! We’d love to hear about your experience and possibly share your story.

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Seidenberg PhD candidate Sukun “Luna” Li presents paper in Shanghai, wins ‘Best Presenter’ award

Sukun “Luna” Li

Pace University PhD in Computer Science candidate Sukun “Luna” Li was awarded “Best Presenter” at the 2019 International Conference on Pattern Recognition and Intelligent Systems, which took place March 22-24 in Shanghai, China.

This conference discussed artificial intelligence, pattern recognition, and  deep learning. Comprised of two sections – oral presentations and a poster session – the conference brings experts from around the world to present their research and share their discoveries. Luna was invited to give an oral presentation of her PhD research paper, titled “Feature Extraction Method of EEG based Biometrics”, and after giving an excellent presentation, was given the best presenter award.

Luna attributes her achievement to good advice and plenty of practice: “I think the reason I received the award because my research advisor, Dr. Sung-Hyuk Cha, told me a PhD student should not only be good at writing a paper, but also should spend more time on presentation. One of his requirements for me is presenting my research paper with passion and appeal, and I practice as much as I can,” she said.

Pics or it didn’t happen – Luna’s certificates of presentation for the award

Luna’s paper will go on to be published in the Conference Proceeding, which will be indexed by databases including Thomson Reuters, Inspec, El Compendex, and more.

“I am a very shy person on public speaking, especially for English (my second language),” Luna added. “But our school, Seidenberg, gave me a lot of chances to speak in public places, like the Finland and Austria trips for NYC design factory.”

Dr. Jonathan Hill, Dean of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University, said: “Luna’s achievement is testament to her talent and dedication as a student of Computer Science and a practitioner of Design Thinking. Her research work is incredibly detailed and she has developed truly stellar presentation skills with which to describe her work. Luna is a hard worker and is always willing to go the extra mile. She is a fine representative of the Seidenberg School and one we are very proud of having in our PhD program.”

Sukun Li receives the award from Conference Chair, Prof. Majid Ahmadi, Associate Dean of the University of Windsor, Canada.

My experience at JSConf Hawai’i and how I attended for free

Skimming through Twitter a few months ago a Tweet caught my eye: JSConf Hawai’i was being announced as the latest in the global JSConf series. It’d be happening in Honolulu, Hawai’i in early February, the call for papers (CFPs) had just been sent out, and they were offering diversity scholarships!

Within a couple of weeks, I had submitted a talk proposal and an application for their diversity scholarship. A few weeks after that, I got a reply. My talk hadn’t been selected but I had been awarded a diversity scholarship, which would cover the cost of my flight, hotel, and conference ticket. I was bummed my talk hadn’t been accepted but I was excited to go.

Months later, I found myself sitting in a room surrounded by fellow JavaScript developers getting the lowdown on the days ahead. I was thrilled to be at the conference for many reasons. The organizers made a noticeable effort to reach out to people from underrepresented groups in tech. The conference had an explicit Code of Conduct (COC). Plus ones were invited to some events. And we had the option to defer our swag and opt instead for a donation to be made to Aloha Lives Here charity.

During the opening remarks and via conference handouts the COC was brought up repeatedly and we were reminded to use inclusive language and remain mindful of those around you. This, coupled with great coffee and weather, meant the day started off on a high.

Things took a turn and I found myself on a conference rollercoaster. Speakers and MCs were using “guys” when referring to the audience and “crazy” when describing experiences. These are not inclusive words and can be triggering for some. I was taken aback when it wasn’t addressed, giving the impression the organizers didn’t care.

Along the left-rear wall was a projection of the conference logo on top of a backdrop that shifted constantly. Sitting near it was a mistake. The repeated flickering was distracting and anxiety-inducing.

Overall the talks I attended were great, but it was difficult to remain attentive towards the end of the day. It seemed like lighter topics were reserved for earlier time slots while talks that required more active thinking were held after lunch. Through side conversations and observation, I gathered that many were tuning out towards the afternoon. It didn’t help that there were no talk descriptions provided online or in handouts, which meant you didn’t really know what you were getting into when sitting down. This was not ideal and the first time I’ve encountered this at a talk-driven event.

Given the smaller size of the conference, I expected ample opportunities to speak with people about what they were working on and the tools they were using. Instead, I found myself wanting to run away because everyone else seemed to already know each other, huddled in large enclosed circles deep in conversation. Cue the imposter syndrome! I did end up chatting with a few people, but sadly all my interactions were quick and superficial.

The faltering on language usage and lack of thoughtful opportunities for people to interact (especially for those of us who are more introverted), affected my experience the most. Having run events and volunteered at many myself, some of these hiccups are notoriously difficult to get right—especially the first time around—while others require specific planning, foresight, and workflow for immediate action.

Conferences can be stressful and difficult at times. If you come in on the first day expecting every experience to be wonderful, you are in for a disappointment. However, the experience is valuable and worthy. At this event, I heard some exciting talks and got to interact with some awesome people. But most of all, I got to experience what it can be like to feel doubt and anxiety and I learned how to overcome those emotions and have a good time!

I loved the diversity in talk topics, speakers, and attendees. I thought the talks played well with each other and there was something to be taken away by people across different skill levels and backgrounds. While my conversations with people left much to be desired, everyone I interacted with was respectful and at no time did I feel unsafe. A total win there!

My top three talks were:

1. HI and AI, by Kyle Oba

Kyle discussed a project he worked on where facial recognition was used to match visitors at the Honolulu Museum with different art objects, whilst explaining the tech behind it in the process.

2. JavaScript is AsynchroWAT?, by Crystal Martin

Crystal talked about all things callbacks, promises, and async/await using female-relatable real life examples.

3. What Tamagotchis can teach you about ES6 generators, by Jenn Creighton

Jenn brought Tamagotchis to the browser and talked about optimization and state management using ES6 generators.

My favorite joke of the conference was from Kyle Oba when he uttered a slightly paraphrased version of: “…python, you know, executable pseudocode,” whilst discussing how it’s used almost exclusively in data science.

If you’d like to attend a conference and maybe even travel for free while improving your coding know-how, here are five conferences offering scholarships in 2019:

Want to speak at a conference? Get help crafting your first talk proposal for a conference or meet-up at an upcoming Global CFP Day. It’s free and held yearly.


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Seidenberg goes to the International Conference on Information Systems

During the week of December 13th, 2018, several Seidenberg students and faculty traveled to San Francisco to attend the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS). ICIS, the leading conference in the academic information systems field, is held annually in the middle of December at a new location. Seidenberg community members had the opportunity to travel to California for last year’s prestigious conference.

Attendees of the conference—Dr. Daniel Farkas, Dr. Namchul Shin, Dr. Li-Chou Chen, student Tianyu Wang, Dr. Yegin Genc, and Dr. Isaac Vaghefi—hosted workshops, presented talks, and papers, and won some pretty amazing awards.

Dr. Farkas and Dr. Shin hosted a GIS workshop during the conference. The half-day workshop on Location Analytics and Location of Things brought in scholars from around the world interested in this area to discuss their professional experiences and research.

Left to right: Dr. Namchul Shin, Dr. Dan Farkas and a colleague from University of Redlands, CA, who is one of the co-organizers of the workshop held at ICIS.

Dr. Farkas also worked with Dr. Chen to present a TREO talk on the topic of “Individual Attitude, Trust, and Risk Perception towards Blockchain Technology, Virtual Currency Exchange, Cryptocurrency Transactions and Smart Contracts.” This talk opened up dialogue about each of these subjects at the conference.

Tianyu, who is in the process of obtaining a Ph.D., presented a paper, co-authored with Dr. Chen and Dr. Genc, titled “An N-gram-based Approach for Detecting Social Media Spambots.” Tianyu won the Doctoral Research Award from the PRE-ICIS SIGDSA symposium for the paper.

Lastly, and most impressively, Dr. Vaghefi won an award for the highly competitive “Paper-A-Thon,” in which he competed against 15 international teams. The paper submitted by Dr. Vaghefi, “DIGITAL DETOX? Understanding Users’ Abstinence from Social Network Sites Use,” was selected as the best paper to be presented at the conference. Overall, the paper “embeds a series of mixed-method studies to understand how social network users can take a break from technology and its positive outcomes,” according to Dr. Vaghefi.

With Tianyu’s Doctoral Research Award and Dr. Vaghefi’s winning “DIGITAL DETOX?” paper, Seidenberg had some major wins at the ICIS. The Seidenberg community continues to create leaders in the information systems field.

If you’re interested in attending the ICIS this coming December, get in touch with one of the previously mentioned faculty members and get started on your ideas!

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Nexus Maximus: a Wrap-up of the 2018 Conference

In September 2018, students from Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems presented innovative solutions to problems at Nexus Maximus. In order to showcase their hard work properly, we reached out to some of the students who attended the conference in order to hear about their experiences first-hand.

Nexus Maximus, created by Jefferson (Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University), is a conference which gives undergraduate and graduate students a platform to present innovative projects each year. The 2018 conference opened the minds of students to explore many topics, including improving health care access, designing healthy communities, developing new policies and business models to deliver sustainable value to the community, and building community diversity. According to Jefferson, students had the opportunity to “evaluate and seek innovation that supports the health and well-being of specific local community populations.”

Of the Computer Science, Information Systems, and Information

Technology students who attended the conference—Chinmay Joshi, Ronak Pansara, Ezana Ceman, Joseph Goggin, Kyle Hanson, Naglis Bukauskas, William Bender, Christopher Cherestal, and Laina Posner—two students got in touch with us to discuss their experiences. They outlined what they experienced and highlighted the best portions of the weekend-long experience.

Ezana Ceman, a junior undergraduate student majoring in Information Systems and a New York City Design Factory (NYCDF) Product Innovation Project (PiP) Member, spoke with me about the 2018 conference. She called the event a “fun and innovative experience” and described it as “a unique 3-day team challenge that allows you to step out of your comfort zone and use your talents to create an amazing concept.”

Some of the concepts worked on included strategies to battle food insecurity, homelessness, and much more. While the projects themselves shined a light on the groups’ innovative minds, Ezana explains that recognition wasn’t the highlight.

The best part of the conference is the community participation itself, according to Ezana: “you get to meet students from all around the world and work together to make society a better place.”

Nexus Maximus assists students by giving them the opportunity to learn how to develop and present projects, but the inspiration comes from the students themselves. The willingness to create innovative solutions to communities problems showcases the determination that these students have to create a better world.

Ronak Pansara, a graduate student who will complete his master’s degree in Information Systems in May 2019, also spoke about his experience at Nexus Maximus and the project that his team presented.

Ronak’s team helped people seeking help on NYC streets by giving them detailed and professional signs. He explained that his team’s “project “Signs of Trust” is all about helping homeless people in a unique manner.”

He says further, “This project was inspired by problems arising in many areas. [Their team found that] homeless people were either ignored or people would not trust them as they might not use [the] money for [a] good cause. So that’s why we came up with a unique solution for bridging the gap of honesty and trust.”

“My experience at Nexus Maximus was stupendous,” he states. “It not only helped me building my interpersonal skills, it also helped me in learning new things on how to work with people who were from different [countries].”

Ronak noted that the best part of his overall experience was “how [they] identified [their] individual strengths and weaknesses and how [they] utilized each other by working together in the project.”

“Though we didn’t win any awards, we did get one [non-governmental organization] (NGO) [which] supported our cause for homeless people,” Ronak states. The recognition in itself was a win for the team.

Another team, which included Chinmay Joshi and others, did get recognized with the “Maxime Innovation” award from the conference for maximum innovation. The team worked on a project, titled “Fresh Express”, that tackled how to better deal with food insecurity and waste within the Philadelphia area.

Overall, all of the students experienced growth and success at Nexus Maximus. Both Ronak and Ezana recommend this opportunity to other students. If you’re interested in attending in September 2019, grab some classmates and get to work on the next innovative idea!