15 genius algorithms that aren't boring

A look at the world of algorithms designed to prevent Denial of Service attacks, jam electronic signals, monitor your behavior and tell you how bad your gout is.

All computer systems are not created equal. Some get to run way cooler applications than others. Here we take a look at 15 unique algorithms designed to prevent denial-of-service attacks, jam electronic signals, monitor your behavior and yes, tell you how bad your gout is.

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Auburn University

Deny this: Auburn University researchers recently talked up their algorithm-based system for preventing those nasty denial-of-service (DoS)/distributed DoS attacks. Specifically, the researcher developed a new passive protocol called Identity-Based Privacy-Protected Access Control Filter (IPACF) – which they say can block threats to the gatekeeping computers, the Authentication Servers (AS), and let legitimate users with valid passwords to private resources.


Say what?: Language translation is a hot topic and the military researchers at DARPA are on top of it. The agency's Global Autonomous Language Exploitation (GALE) program is designed to translate and distill foreign language material (television shows and newspapers) in near real-time, highlight the salient information, and store the results in a searchable database. GALE is making progress toward achieving this very ambitious goal by 2011. The agency is developing the System for Tactical Use program, a two-way speech translation system to convert spoken foreign language input to English output and vice versa.

Air Force

I'll get that: OK, we don't think the algorithms for this particular system have been developed yet, but obviously the Air Force will build them. That's because it said this year that by 2047 or so technology onboard an unmanned aircraft will let it fly over a target and determine whether or not to unleash lethal weapons - without human intervention. According to the Air Force: "Increasingly humans will no longer be "in the loop" but rather "on the loop" - monitoring the execution of certain decisions. Simultaneously, advances in AI will enable systems to make combat decisions and act within legal and policy constraints without necessarily requiring human input."

Precision Electronic Warfare

We're jammin': Electronically jamming everything from specific cell phones, satellites or any other communications device is the goal of a prototype system military scientists at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency want to build. Known as the Precision Electronic Warfare (PREW), the goal of the technology and its algorithms will be able to surgically disable targets in small areas on demand without hindering or disabling friendly devices in the surrounding area. DARPA said it envisions two modes of operation for a PREW system: point-to-an-area and point-to-a-spot. The first would target very specific communications devices while the latter would disable an entire region.

congruent numbers

How to find 3,148,379,694 mysterious congruent numbers: Recently a group of researchers from across the globe said they, through an algorithm for multiplying large numbers, have figured out congruent numbers up to a trillion. The problem, which was first posed more than a thousand years ago, concerns the areas of right-angled triangles. The difficult part is to determine which whole numbers can be the area of a right-angled triangle whose sides are whole numbers or fractions.

intelligent image system

Big Brother lives: Researchers are looking to develop an intelligent image system that can monitor large areas, perhaps miles wide, identify potential threats based on the correlation of events and anomalies it detects, and issue timely alerts with few false alarms. DARPA's PerSEAS program is developing algorithms to associate these fragments of information in order to identify localized events. Within these localized events, algorithms that discover relationships and anomalies that are
indicative of suspicious behavior, match previously learned threat activity, or match user defined threat activity should also be incorporated.

Yale University

The simple life: A team led by Yale University researchers successfully implemented simple algorithms using a quantum processor based on microwave solid-state technology -- similar to that found in computers and cell phones. The new processor is far from conventional, however, in that it uses the potent power of quantum mechanics to bring the dream of quantum computing a small but significant step closer to reality.


Your gout sir: Having gout, a painful inflammation of your joints, usually in the feet or knees is bad enough, but diagnosing it is no bargain either (the test involves a needle stick into the offending joint). But a new software algorithm used to detect gout via a scanner is promising a much less invasive test. On the scan CT values of uric acid deposits show up in red, while other bone formations and calcium are displayed in blue, according to Siemens which developed the system.

immune responses to infection with influenza A viruses

The math flu: Researchers at the University of Rochester have developed a mathematical model to predict immune responses to infection with influenza A viruses, including novel viruses such as the emergent 2009 influenza A (H1N1). The algorithms in this research look at how specific sets of immune cells fight influenza A virus. The model also helps predict when during the immune response to viral infection antiviral therapy would be most effective.

Aurora Flight Sciences

Protecting nuclear reactors in space: NASA recently picked Aurora Flight Sciences to develop technology to support autonomous control and protection of space-based nuclear reactor systems. Aurora will be developing an advanced reactor instrumentation and control system, which includes algorithms for robotic and manned space vehicles. Aurora has developed a space-based, digital wide-range neutron detector, the primary measurement device for the fission process.

Air Force Office of Scientific Research

Questionable behavior: The Air Force Office of Scientific Research said earlier this year it was working with MIT grad student Emily Fox to develop algorithms that could help reveal patterns of motion of groups of objects -- for example, routes taken by groups of vehicles from particular origins to particular destinations. These extracted models might then be used to determine irregular behavior , something the military is greatly interested in. Fox in the past had developed algorithms that would predict the complicated motion of the routines honey bees perform in bee hives.

prototype machine reading system

The Borg: BBN this year got $29.7 million from the Air Force to develop a prototype machine reading system that transforms prose into knowledge that can be interpreted by an artificial intelligence application. The prototype is part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Machine Reading Program (MRP) that wants to develop systems that can capture knowledge from naturally occurring text and transform it into the formal representations used by AI reasoning systems.

Cornell University researchers

Robot Thinking: Cornell University researchers this year used the number crunching algorithms of their research robot to determine that the swinging, bouncing and oscillating of the devices arose from specific fundamental processes. The algorithm deciphered in hours the same Laws of Motion and other properties that took Isaac Newton and his successor's centuries to realize, they said. The researchers' algorithm can distill fundamental natural laws from mere observations of a swinging double pendulum and other simple systems. In the end it may lead to new discoveries in biological systems, the researchers said. Researchers used a device known as a double pendulum (pictured here) to test their algorithm.


Fingerprints-R-us: The goal: develop a machine that can snap 10 fingerprints in high resolution in less than 10 seconds, without human intervention. Such technology is on its way in the form of a 3-D light system developed by the University of Kentucky which this year got $418,912 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop FlashScan3D. The university has developed a technique called structured light illumination and topological algorithms to capture all of a finger's tiny ridges recorded from three cameras and combine them into a single three-dimensional image. The system can perform its fingerprinting in less than 10 seconds vs. the often messy, ink-rolled technique which can take five to 10 minutes per person.

University of Mainz

Step to the back please: When it comes to shoving more things into a given space, let's hope these guys never run the airline seating computers. University of Mainz researchers have developed an algorithm can pack any 50 differently sized discs into a smaller space than any systems of the past, they said. The researchers said their algorithm's ability to define backward and forward steps for the discs is the key. The idea is to make packing systems in general more efficient.

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