March 6, 2017: Seminar - Sybil Derrible: "The Role of Computer Science in Redesigning Civil Infrastructure Systems"


The Role of Computer Science in Redesigning Civil Infrastructure Systems

Sybil Derrible
University of Illinois at Chicago
Department of Civil and Materials Engineering
March 6, 2017
11:00 a.m., Room 1000 SEO


From roads and rail tracks to water conduits and sewage systems, civil infrastructure systems (CIS) are slowly undergoing a revolution in cities around the world. The CIS designs from the 20th century have simply become inadequate. We now live in an era in which we need to be much conservative about how we consume energy and natural resources. Moreover, CIS need to become much more resilient to be able to adapt to a growing population and an increase in the number and frequency of extreme events. Nonetheless, as Einstein said: ?We cannot solve a problem by using the same thinking we used when we created the problem.? This means that solutions to revisit how we design CIS will likely not come from civil engineering. In this talk, I will argue that computer science possesses tremendous potential to tackle this problem. More specifically, I will talk about some of the work we are pursuing at the Complex and Sustainable Urban Networks (CSUN) Laboratory that leverages the power of computer science. First, I will briefly outline my vision of the future of cities. Second, I will introduce and show an application of Network-based Frequency Analysis (NFA), which is a data mining technique that we have created at CSUN. Third, I will present some future work that will include significant elements of computer science. Overall, CIS design and computer science are becoming increasingly integrated. It is therefore high time for computer science and civil engineering to collaborate more together on research projects and to develop courses together to notably pair the skills of our students and redefine how CIS will be designed in the future for a smart, sustainable, and resilient world.


Sybil Derrible is an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Infrastructure Systems in the Department of Civil and Materials Engineering, a Research Assistant Professor at the Institute for Environmental Science and Policy, and the Director of the Complex and Sustainable Urban Networks (CSUN) Laboratory at UIC. His research is at the nexus of civil engineering, urban metabolism, data science and complexity science to redefine how cities are planned and built for smart, sustainable, and resilient urban systems. In 2016, he received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for his work, and he obtained his PhD from the University of Toronto in 2010.

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