PhD student Mohamad Sindi’s paper selected as Best Paper Finalist for 2019 IEEE High Performance Extreme Computing Conference

July 22nd, 20192019 News in Brief

PhD student Mohamad Sindi’s paper is selected as Best Paper Finalist for the 2019 IEEE High Performance Extreme Computing Conference (HPEC). Sindi’s paper titled “Using Container Migration for HPC Workloads Resilience” is focused on making long running HPC applications fault tolerant. The paper was rated as "Outstandingly Novel" in terms of novelty. The conference's technical committee includes some of the world's top HPC pioneers​. HPEC is the premier conference in the world on the convergence of High Performance and Embedded Computing​, and the largest computing conference in New England​. It brings together experts and people interested in computing hardware, software, systems and applications. Read more here.

PhD student Mohamad Sindi’s paper is selected as Best Paper Finalist for the 2019 IEEE High Performance Extreme Computing Conference (HPEC). Sindi’s paper titled “Using Container Migration for HPC Workloads Resilience” is focused on making long running HPC applications fault tolerant. The paper was rated as “Outstandingly Novel” in terms of novelty. The conference’s technical committee includes some of the world’s top HPC pioneers​. HPEC is the premier conference in the world on the convergence of High Performance and Embedded Computing​, and the largest computing conference in New England​. It brings together experts and people interested in computing hardware, software, systems and applications. Read more here.

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Professor Elfatih Eltahir’s article in Top 50 (#10) most read Earth and planetary sciences Nature Communications articles published in 2018

July 22nd, 20192019 News in Brief

Breene M. Kerr Professor Elfatih Eltahir’s article titled “North China Plain threatened by deadly heatwaves due to climate change and irrigation,” is one of the Top 50 (#10) most read Earth and planetary sciences Nature Communications articles published in 2018. The journal published more than 5,000 papers in 2018, featuring authors from all around the globe. Read more here.

Breene M. Kerr Professor Elfatih Eltahir’s article titled “North China Plain threatened by deadly heatwaves due to climate change and irrigation,” is one of the Top 50 (#10) most read Earth and planetary sciences Nature Communications articles published in 2018. The journal published more than 5,000 papers in 2018, featuring authors from all around the globe. Read more here.

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ONE-MA3: Castle on the Hill

July 19th, 20192019 News in Brief, ONE-MA3 2019

By Anna Landler '22 I went into this trip with few expectations. That’s not the same as low expectations. I simply did not have any concrete things that I expected. I had a notion of general positive feelings towards the trip to Italy, and that’s about it. The first few days were incredible. We arrived in Sermoneta, a hilltop town purposefully stuck in a prior century, I’m talking cobblestone roads that barely fit a large car. These streets were soon home to 15 jet-lagged, travel-dressed American students. As we traipsed through the town, the locals, who are always inexplicably sitting outside their homes, were confused by the sudden crowd of students. Dinner the first night             Over the next couple of days, we engaged in a medley of activities from leisurely strolls around the town (including exercises in surmounting a language barrier to buy shampoo) to kayaking down a stream (someone accidentally turned the wrong way every 60 seconds) to examining old limestone kilns (Admir karate chopped a block with his hand, and can now say he broke a rock) to playing volleyball in the courtyard (the record currently stands at 55 consecutive passes). That was all well and good. We eased into our learning with Vitruvius readings and introductions to conservation tools after lunch (pasta + more) and dinner (pasta + more) at the castle (Castello Caetani, a 16thcentury castle where we are staying at for 10 days). The Gardens of Ninfa, where the ruins are integrated into the [...]

By Anna Landler ’22

I went into this trip with few expectations. That’s not the same as low expectations. I simply did not have any concrete things that I expected. I had a notion of general positive feelings towards the trip to Italy, and that’s about it.

The first few days were incredible. We arrived in Sermoneta, a hilltop town purposefully stuck in a prior century, I’m talking cobblestone roads that barely fit a large car. These streets were soon home to 15 jet-lagged, travel-dressed American students. As we traipsed through the town, the locals, who are always inexplicably sitting outside their homes, were confused by the sudden crowd of students.

Dinner the first night

            Over the next couple of days, we engaged in a medley of activities from leisurely strolls around the town (including exercises in surmounting a language barrier to buy shampoo) to kayaking down a stream (someone accidentally turned the wrong way every 60 seconds) to examining old limestone kilns (Admir karate chopped a block with his hand, and can now say he broke a rock) to playing volleyball in the courtyard (the record currently stands at 55 consecutive passes).

That was all well and good. We eased into our learning with Vitruvius readings and introductions to conservation tools after lunch (pasta + more) and dinner (pasta + more) at the castle (Castello Caetani, a 16thcentury castle where we are staying at for 10 days).

The Gardens of Ninfa, where the ruins are integrated into the beautiful landscape as you walk through them

Then, we hit the ground running (literally) after going for a quick run in the morning, I boarded the bus and soon enough we were at the “The Gardens of Ninfa,” the “most romantic gardens in the world… or maybe just in Europe” according to Admir. But they are more than just gardens. They are gardens embedded in medieval ruins. And there, in the romantic-medieval-garden-blend, we proceeded to take thousands of photos…not joking. We were doing photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is essentially taking lots of pictures at various angles and distances in order to recreate 3D objects digitally. We had an introduction yesterday with a small statue, but here is an enormous difference between recreating a lovely, symmetric, smallstatue and vegetation-covered, crumbling, largecastle ruins. We learned this the hard way, as we struggled to capture every angle possible in 100s of similar-looking photos clogging our camera rolls. We even used drones to aid in our data collection. Finally, we used X-ray fluorescence (XRF) to determine the molecular makeup of the ancient flaking frescos on the wall and thermal imaging to determine the presence of water.

Professor Masic uses the XRF gun to evaluate elements in pigments of a fresco

            Now, here’s the important part: why? Why did we spend 7 hours in 90-degree weather taking the same photos over and over? Well this trip is ONE MA3: “Materials in Art, Archaeology and Architecture”, a precursor to MIT’s class 1.057: “Heritage Science and Technology”. So not only are we learning about those 3 A’s, but we are applying them to conservation. Heritage is an essential part of the human experience: it’s ingrained in our traditions, pride, and culture. And it’s hard to preserve. You think that water, vegetation, a cobblestone make for resilient structures? They don’t. And it’s up to conservation scientists such as Admir and the group working with us (Area 3) to evaluate risks and preserve precious parts of our history.

Lessons on cement composition; followed by us digging into all of those buckets as 4 teams competed to make the strongest and most sustainable cement. 

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ONE-MA3: More Than Travel Companions

July 19th, 20192019 News in Brief

By Anna Landler '22 ONE-MA3 has provided each of us with an unrivaled experience. We have had experts lecture in every aspect of conservation from history to preservation methods. Just the other day we had Duncan, a Roman society, environment and technology expert, give us a tour around Pompeii that exceeded any tours provided on site – English-speaking tourists would seem to linger around our group just to listen to him describe the extensive water system in Pompeii. Rovi Porter '22, Simon Chuang '22, Professor Masic, and myself (left to right), as we leave the castle one day. Clearly, this photo wasn't planned             Everyone we have interacted with certainty deserves an appreciation post. An underrated aspect of this trip is the other students. I’m sure this has been said by hundreds of students about MIT in general. It’s true that this school is a home for some of the most incredible, curious, and driven young people from across the globe. When you are in Italy, attempting to absorb all of the lectures and experiences that the country has to offer, it can be easy to overlook the simple importance of your peers. Lunch in Terracina. From left to right: Maritza Gallegos '22, Stephanie Baez '22, Carene Umubyeyi '22, Simon Chuang '22, and myself              Everyone on this trip is more than a classmate, and more than a friend; they’re also teachers, as these are people that I’ve had the pleasure of learning from because everyone has something to offer. The other day [...]

By Anna Landler ’22

ONE-MA3 has provided each of us with an unrivaled experience. We have had experts lecture in every aspect of conservation from history to preservation methods. Just the other day we had Duncan, a Roman society, environment and technology expert, give us a tour around Pompeii that exceeded any tours provided on site – English-speaking tourists would seem to linger around our group just to listen to him describe the extensive water system in Pompeii.

Rovi Porter ’22, Simon Chuang ’22, Professor Masic, and myself (left to right), as we leave the castle one day. Clearly, this photo wasn’t planned

            Everyone we have interacted with certainty deserves an appreciation post. An underrated aspect of this trip is the other students. I’m sure this has been said by hundreds of students about MIT in general. It’s true that this school is a home for some of the most incredible, curious, and driven young people from across the globe. When you are in Italy, attempting to absorb all of the lectures and experiences that the country has to offer, it can be easy to overlook the simple importance of your peers.

Lunch in Terracina. From left to right: Maritza Gallegos ’22, Stephanie Baez ’22, Carene Umubyeyi ’22, Simon Chuang ’22, and myself 

            Everyone on this trip is more than a classmate, and more than a friend; they’re also teachers, as these are people that I’ve had the pleasure of learning from because everyone has something to offer.

The other day in Terracina, after long hours of photogrammetry of an ancient temple and analysis of the Via Apia (a major Roman road), the group decided to relax on the beach. I sat on the beach with Ben (shout out to Ben Bartschi ‘22, he’s the best). And we just discussed what we wanted about of college, why we chose Course 1, what our jobs might look like… and I think that it is conversations like this that are most valuable. Seeing your peers Duolingo daily to learn a bit of Italian to get by when ordering gelato, running their photogrammetry models into the wee hours of morning (and adding effects for fun, if you’re Ben) is the kind of passion and drive that I can only hope to gain through osmosis.

Jade Ishii ’22, Lucy McMillan ’22, myself, Meriah Gannon ’22. At least we tried to get a jumping photo at the aqueduct

            Every single person here has been vital to the success of this trip. I can’t wait to see what the probing questions and seeds of interest will turn into come the fall, as we complete our projects for 1.057!

Visiting the colosseum together on our free day in Rome!

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ONE-MA3 – Day XX: Photogrammetry among Pharaohs!

July 17th, 2019ONE-MA3 2019

By Sophia Mittman '22 Today, we got to be professionals. At least, the red bars of tape that blocked off certain areas of the Museo Egizio for us to work in made us feel like we were! Basically, each of the four teams was given a separate scavenger hunt—a scavenger hunt that took us to four or five different artifacts throughout the museum with the mission of taking photographs of each object during the museum’s open hours, making sure to reach every possible nook and cranny on the surface of each artifact that we could reasonably reach. Sometimes we had to photograph small statuettes that were missing their top half. Other times we had to photograph large objects, like giant rectangular stone sarcophagus containers, or even larger objects that required us to climb a ladder in order to get pictures of a tall, stone sarcophagus from the top down. My favorite object that we were assigned was a stone tiger, sitting regally in a position similar to that of the iconic Egyptian Sphinx. Even though the signs on the other side of the red boundary tape said “ongoing research activities”, I’m sure it looked like we were avid tourists, ensuring that we got as many clear photos from every angle of each artifact as possible. Our exclusive research area at the museum             Once complete with the physical task of photogrammetry, we took all of those photos and turned them into 3D models for a slide presentation on our computer [...]

By Sophia Mittman ’22

Today, we got to be professionals. At least, the red bars of tape that blocked off certain areas of the Museo Egizio for us to work in made us feel like we were! Basically, each of the four teams was given a separate scavenger hunt—a scavenger hunt that took us to four or five different artifacts throughout the museum with the mission of taking photographs of each object during the museum’s open hours, making sure to reach every possible nook and cranny on the surface of each artifact that we could reasonably reach. Sometimes we had to photograph small statuettes that were missing their top half. Other times we had to photograph large objects, like giant rectangular stone sarcophagus containers, or even larger objects that required us to climb a ladder in order to get pictures of a tall, stone sarcophagus from the top down. My favorite object that we were assigned was a stone tiger, sitting regally in a position similar to that of the iconic Egyptian Sphinx. Even though the signs on the other side of the red boundary tape said “ongoing research activities”, I’m sure it looked like we were avid tourists, ensuring that we got as many clear photos from every angle of each artifact as possible.

Our exclusive research area at the museum

            Once complete with the physical task of photogrammetry, we took all of those photos and turned them into 3D models for a slide presentation on our computer software, Metashape. The first section of our presentation slides summarized our findings of the relic box that we had analyzed the day before. Then, along with the photogrammetry models, we carefully thought out all of the challenges that go along with completing photogrammetry, which I hadn’t ever thought about before but now understand why they need to be considered whenever performing photogrammetry. For example, one of the biggest challenges is lighting. If an object is not well lit in some places or is half-covered by shadow, some of the three-dimensional details and/or textures may be lost in the final digital model, and the lines between the lit areas and shadow will be distractingly noticeable. Another challenge we faced (especially in the museum setting) concerned shifting backgrounds/environment for photography. Tourists and fellow researchers are constantly moving, either in the background behind the object or in the way of it. With shifting backgrounds, it takes the computer software much longer to align photos for the final model, if it is able to align the photos at all. Finally, one of the most simple issues that comes with being physically able to take pictures of an artifact from all angles, especially if it is in a museum up against a wall, inside of a display case, or surrounded by other artifacts that may block particular views of the object.

 Faced with the challenging of doing photogrammetry on a tall sarcophagus near a wall in the museum

            At the end of the day, once all of the groups had presented their presentations, we found that most of us ran into these same dilemmas while taking pictures of the objects. Sometimes the 3D models would have holes missing from parts of them, or they would be morphed to take on an abnormal shape. For the most part, though, each group was successfully able to model a majority of their assigned artifacts. From the other presentations, we also learned lots about each of the other artifacts: where the sarcophagi came from, how much Egyptian blue pigment was used to paint on them, and a little bit about what the hieroglyphics said on one of the artifacts! In the end, each group produced an augmented-reality postcard of an artifact that we had 3D modeled with both visible light and VIL imaging, which was the cherry on top when it came to synthesizing nearly everything that we have learned up until this point into one single project.

Photogrammetry in the Museo Egizio!

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ONE-MA3 – Day XIX: Face-to-Face With 3000-Year-old Artifacts!

July 17th, 20192019 News in Brief, ONE-MA3 2019

By Sophia Mittman '22 Usually, most ancient artifacts can only be seen being displayed behind glass under scattered spotlight, or even from afar behind a rail. Today however, there were no boundaries when it came to analyzing thousand-year-old Egyptian sarcophagi, relic boxes, and statuettes (besides the obvious restrictions of not touching the objects). Each of our four groups ended up analyzing and characterizing one object each. At first the decision of choosing which artifact to analyze was surprisingly difficult. The two large sarcophagi heads were tempting; they were huge, like the ones you would imagine seeing in a documentary on ground-breaking Egyptian excavations. They were colorful and covered entirely with Egyptian paintings, thanks to the dark and dry environment of tombs that they had remained in for thousands of years. How could one turn away from the opportunity to work on such iconic Egyptian artifacts? But, one of the downsides we foresaw was that since the sarcophagi are so large, it would be difficult and time-consuming to obtain a thorough 3D model using photogrammetry and to do VIL (visible induced fluorescence) on it to determine whether or not Egyptian blue existed on its surface, given the time that we had (in the end, it all worked out for the groups that worked on them!). The other two objects were much smaller: a statuette of the Egyptian god Osiris that, like the sarcophagi, still retained a complete layer of painting and hieroglyphics on its surface and a cubical relic box that [...]

By Sophia Mittman ’22

Usually, most ancient artifacts can only be seen being displayed behind glass under scattered spotlight, or even from afar behind a rail. Today however, there were no boundaries when it came to analyzing thousand-year-old Egyptian sarcophagi, relic boxes, and statuettes (besides the obvious restrictions of not touching the objects). Each of our four groups ended up analyzing and characterizing one object each. At first the decision of choosing which artifact to analyze was surprisingly difficult. The two large sarcophagi heads were tempting; they were huge, like the ones you would imagine seeing in a documentary on ground-breaking Egyptian excavations. They were colorful and covered entirely with Egyptian paintings, thanks to the dark and dry environment of tombs that they had remained in for thousands of years. How could one turn away from the opportunity to work on such iconic Egyptian artifacts? But, one of the downsides we foresaw was that since the sarcophagi are so large, it would be difficult and time-consuming to obtain a thorough 3D model using photogrammetry and to do VIL (visible induced fluorescence) on it to determine whether or not Egyptian blue existed on its surface, given the time that we had (in the end, it all worked out for the groups that worked on them!). The other two objects were much smaller: a statuette of the Egyptian god Osiris that, like the sarcophagi, still retained a complete layer of painting and hieroglyphics on its surface and a cubical relic box that was bare on the insides but had distinct paintings on all four of its outer sides.

Taking VIL (visible induced luminescence) photographs of one of the sarcophagi heads

Even though it was small, because it was the oldest artifact of the four options, my group opted to choose the relic box (which is about 3000 years old!). On each of the four sides, there was a painting of an Egyptian god with hieroglyphics running down the side edges and a border of red pigment around each face. Two profiles of the god of the afterlife, Anubis (depicted and known by a dog’s head), were painted on two opposite faces of the box. On the remaining two sides was a classic Egyptian scarab beetle holding a sun above it to represent the sun god Ra and the god of death, Osiris. Our first task was to search for Egyptian blue on the relic box. Just by looking at the paintings visually, we could see details painted in light blue in various locations on all sides, which was an interesting find because many times, over thousands of years, Egyptian blue fades in visible color but still retains all of its crystalline structures and chemical compositions. Our next step was to confirm whether or not this light blue was authentic Egyptian blue or not!

Our group’s VIL and photogrammetry set-up for the ancient relic box

            After setting up a table with cardboard boxes, strong LED lights, and a full-spectrum camera, we proceeded to take pictures of our relic box, rotating it about 20 degrees at a time in between each photograph. After taking a visible light photo, we would change the settings on the camera, attach a filter that doesn’t let any visible light through it (only infrared wavelengths), and then take another photo while blasting the object with infrared-free LED lights. With this VIL technique, we were immediately able to distinguish where Egyptian blue was on our artifact—and fortunately, it was there on all four sides! All of the light blue that we had seen in visible light was in fact Egyptian blue, but interestingly, some of the darker markings on the surface proved to be Egyptian blue as well, only with a slightly weaker strength of luminescence compared to the luminescence of the light blue pigment. We deduced that perhaps in some parts, Egyptian blue could have been mixed with another non-fluorescing pigment, which would cause it to glow less. In addition to performing VIL on our artifact, we also used X-ray fluorescence (XRF) to determine the elements within each color of pigment: red, white, black, blue, and yellow. As we expected, both the red and yellow contained iron, the black was charcoal, the blue was indeed Egyptian blue, and the white was lime, an old friend of ours. All in all, it was fascinating to put our new skills of VIL and XRF to the test by working as actual archeologists on ancient artifacts that had not been thoroughly analyzed using these kinds of technologies before.

Our final VIL results showing where the Egyptian blue is!

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