VISION 2000: College of Engineering 1995 Annual ReportELECTRICAL AND COMPUTER ENGINEERING
VISION 2000: College of Engineering 1995 Annual ReportHR

Professor James E. Smith wants to improve computer performance through instruction-level parallelism, a process enabling computers to carry out numerous instructions simultaneously within a single processor. Such parallelism is automatically detected by a combination of computer hardware and the compiler, which is a program that translates higher programming language into machine language. (Ordinary programs can be processed this way without special programming.) Although numerical processing is a traditional application for high-performance computers, Smith's research focuses on the more challenging problem of non-numeric processing, including data-intensive applications. Here parallelism is more difficult to achieve due to the nature of the applications and the programming languages and styles.

In fields such as audio/image compression, image enhancement, echo cancellation, robotics and seismology, digital filter banks and wavelets channel signals to many sub-bands, extract key information from those sub-bands, and reconstruct the original signal. Consequently, less storage space is required for essential data, which quickens access to information and reduces operating costs. Such technology has many potential uses, including some in the biomedical field, where early detection and diagnosis make a big difference. Assistant Professor Truong Q. Nguyen is finding fast and efficient processes of building multidimensional and nonuniform filter banks. He is studying signal compression, biomedical signal processing, array processing, adaptive signal processing, nondestructive evaluation and wideband detection.

Assistant Professor Steven S. Gearhart's research could make it easier for pilots to land their planes in fog. He is studying ways antennas and receivers can be combined into imaging or phased arrays, forming a "millimeter-wave camera." In such technology, individual antennas examine single pixels of a scene, and the combined output of all of the antennas forms an overall image. Such devices penetrate fog, allowing pilots to "see" a runway during bad weather. They could also be used by air traffic control systems to track multiple airplanes. Additionally, millimeter wave receivers and imaging arrays have applications in the automobile industry, such as for intelligent cruise control and collision avoidance systems.

Advanced flat panel displays, especially active matrix LCDs, are commonly used in laptop computers and may eventually replace bulky CRT displays for workstation computers and high-definition television. In such displays, each pixel is controlled by a thin-film transistor fabricated in a silicon film built into the display. The goal is for each pixel to operate properly on areas up to 50-by-50 cm. With support from the U.S. Display Consortium, Assistant Professor Amy E. Wendt is using plasma processing technology to create a unique chemical environment for developing these materials. For example, in the fabrication of microchips, when exposed to a plasma through a stencil, transistors as small as 0.25 microns can be etched into a silicon surface.


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Date last modified: Wednesday, 29-Nov-1995 12:00:00 CST
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1995 Annual Report Contents