Mission-Agile Complex Event Processing System    

Article from The Advocate

LSU scientists develop new efficiency software

Two LSU scientists have developed software that can monitor systems, make decisions based on that information, learn from the results, and use those experiences to make future decisions.

The software potentially might be applied to everything from lowering cities’ and farms’ water usage to improving the efficiency of the nation’s electric power grid.

In the 1950s, computer science involved making large series of numerical calculations, said Supratik Mukhopadhyay, computer science assistant professor. By the 1990s, computer scientists were focusing on information.

“Today, we realize that the fundamental thing in computer science is not information but events,” Mukhopadhyay said.

Because there is so much data now, terabytes of it, humans can’t possibly process it, he said. (A terabyte is a 1 followed by 12 zeros)

The software that Mukhopadhyay and department chairman S.S. Iyengar have developed can sift through this flood of information to detect a complex event or pattern.

A complex event differs from a simple or single event, Iyengar said. For example, when a bank’s software declines an ATM withdrawal because the customer’s account doesn’t have enough money that’s a simple event.

A complex event might involve multiple events that take place over time, with the software comparing the current circumstances to events in the past, Iyengar said. For example, a computer network might decline a withdrawal if the amount is 50 percent more than the average of the past 10 withdrawals, and the ATM is more than 200 miles away from the location of the previous withdrawal. The current withdrawal might be declined on the presumption that a thief is at work.

The network makes plans and decides on a course of action, in much the same way that a person might, Iyengar said. Each time the network takes an action, it reassesses the situation, and it reassesses continuously.

The result is the software learns quickly and rapidly makes the system as efficient as possible, Iyengar said.

The system can be almost anything, from the sprinklers on a golf course, a drone ship in the Persian Gulf or a hospital patient’s intravenous pump, Iyengar said.

Mukhopadhyay said unlike some current systems, the LSU software is not bothered by uncertainty; the software can adapt to the situation.

The goal is to embed the software in a computer chip so that customers can take the chip and develop their own interface, Iyengar said. The scientists will make the first chip at LSU and hope to complete the chip by the end of summer.

Iyengar said the university has made a presentation to Praeses LLC, a Shreveport-based information management services firm whose clients include Fortune 100 companies and the military.

Praeses Chief Executive Officer Frank M. Auer said he has spoken once to Pete Kelleher, LSU’s vice chancellor for intellectual property, commercialization and development.

After sitting through a technical presentation of the software, Auer said he can appreciate the power of the system.

The key is the software’s “learning algorithm,” a set of instructions that allow the software to solve a problem, Auer said. Praeses would like to work with the scientists.

“This particular software seems unique to us …. Is it cool? Yes. But is it unique? I don’t know yet,” Auer said.

Much remains to do before the software can be licensed, Auer said. LSU is months away from completing the analysis needed to license the product, but the software appears to have commercial and military applications.

Kelleher said if he can get the professors together with the university attorneys for a few hours, LSU could take the initial steps to protect the software in a month or so.

“It sounds like it could have a lot of applications. It could be used by a number of companies. It looks like it could be kind of a value-added software to what they are typically doing in their businesses,” Kelleher said. “So we might be able to broadly license it with unique positions for different companies, depending on what their business and what their clients’ businesses are.”

Iyengar and Mukhopadhyay said they have actually done some work for the Navy using the system. Much of that work is classified and cannot be discussed.

However, Iyengar said, in theory there might be a lot of unmanned ships operating in areas that are considered very hazardous, say the Persian Gulf.

If one of these ships needed to launch a torpedo or missile, it would be launched initially using water pressure, he said. The water pressure has to build up to a certain level to successfully launch the torpedo or missile.

The system can monitor the pressure, and if it gets too high, which could cause the missile to explode onboard, the system can remotely disengage the missile, Iyengar said.

Other applications are simpler.


Iyengar and Mukhopadhyay often use a golf course sprinkler system to demonstrate their software’s power.

Say a golf course owner has installed sensors that can measure the soil’s moisture and nutrient content, Mukhopadhyay said. The LSU system allows the owner to enter his policies for watering and fertilizing the course. The software uses input from the sensors, then makes intelligent decisions on whether to turn on each sprinkler, increase the water flow to one sprinkler while turning off another, and so forth.

Iyengar said such a system would differ from an automatic sprinkler, which turns on the water at the same times on the same days for the same duration. The LSU software optimizes watering the golf course, he said.

“This means it is like a human being,” Iyengar said. “When we go there and when we see the ground is wet, then there is no point in turning the sprinkler on.”

Another commercial application involves the electric power grid.

Mukhopadhyay said the grid distributes power from a variety of sources, such as coal-fired power plants, wind farms and solar power generators.

The grid has to maintain a steady flow of electricity while coordinating power supplied at different frequencies, Mukhopadhyay said.

Ed Legge, a spokesman for Edison Electric Institute, said the LSU software is the sort of effort that the industry is seeing nationwide.

Software developers are attempting to add intelligence and control, and utilities are embracing the technology, Legge said. One of the hallmarks of the “smart grid” is the ability to bring on more renewable energy. Because renewable energy generation can vary, the amount generated depends on the weather.