Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Learn: Measurements, Analysis and Diagnostics Using GPU-based Laptop Computers:

Outdoor Field Engineering Measurements, Analysis and Diagnostics Using GPU-based Laptop Computers: checking for cracks in Military Vehicles Damaged by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Dr Paul R P Hoole
(from Facebok: Paul Hoole) 

The Entertainment Industry is not infrequently ahead of the Engineering Industry or the Scientific Community. The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) found much of its develo0ment impetus coming from Digital Games, for instance in Play station games, where both two-dimensional (2-D) and three-dimensional (3-D) graphical processing in games require billions of pixels to be operated on in a second, with hundreds of game operations to be performed on each pixel. The GPU (a parallel processor) can be far superior in performing computationally demanding operations which can be parallelized compared to the conventional Central Processing Unit (CPU, a sequential processor), though still using high level languages such as C++. 

What is also fascinating is that the mathematical Solvers that are used in engineering and scientific computations may also need rethinking when switching from CPU to GPU (or CPU+GPU) systems. Example: the well-known Gauss-Seidel method (where in each iteration n+1, values of variables in the nth and completed  n+1th values are used) which is more efficient than the Gauss-method when using a CPU becomes less efficient than the Gauss method in GPU, since the Gauss method may be readily parallelized, since in the n+1th iteration only values from the nth iteration are used. Similarly the Genetic Algorithm (GA) readily lends itself to parallelization.

When military vehicles are damages in the theater of war, or internal cracks appear in advanced near-shore all-steel patrol ships and submarines, it is expensive and time consuming to bring them into a test station to have it reviewed for war-worthiness. Hence the need is to take the analysis and diagnostics test equipment on to the field – which often means Laptop based measurement, analysis and diagnostics systems. Laptops mean limited amount of hardware and memory, as well as the need to keep power consumption low. In GPU technology research itself, in order to keep power consumption low, seeks to reduce the traffic between GPU and memory thus the need for bandwidth reducing high level algorithms.

To test whether steel vehicles that have been damaged by explosives are still reliable to be used, cracks, crack size and shape and location need to be identified and assessed. The Eddy Current probe generates magnetic field at low frequencies and the surrounding fields are measured and then intensive computational work needs to be performed on a finite element or finite different grid with thousands of pixels or nodes that are cast over the area being analyzed. Not only have the structure and fields to be modeled, but mathematical solvers are used to determine material properties and geometrical shapes of the material around any hidden cracks. The CUDA (Computer  Unified Device Architecture)  architecture uses a combination of CPUs (for serial executions) and GPU (parallel portion executions) using both types of processors.

Applications of GPU will grow in the fields of electrical, communication, safety, radar and medical systems as researchers forge the way ahead. 

(PH/Nov 2014)

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Learn: Thoughts on patterns of Four Student Types in relation to Examination Performance

Thoughts on patterns of Four Student Types in relation to Examination Performance
Dr. Paul Hoole

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224, 
Shakespeare (17th century)

The thoughts given below are expressed with the hope that they would be of help to both students and to parents that want guide their children, specially in relation to examination performance. 
  Being personal thoughts, there may be points on which readers will disagree and like to challenge what is written, and you are welcome to write to me. Many important subjects are not touched upon: for instance, nothing is said about the important preparation of:
(a)    A Weekly Study Plan (6 days/week) for the entire semester, and sticking to it
(b)    A Revision Plan (6 days/week) for the last two months leading to the examinations.
Since (a) and (b) overlap over the last two months of the semester, these two months can be the most demanding months of a semester. I will urge every student to attend to planning and be well prepared with these before the commencement of the semester, once the subjects are known.
      Special cases are also not touched upon: where students suffer from serious health setbacks or crisis such as a death in the family (these cannot be expected to influence examination marking - and  need to be addressed at another point). Moreover, laboratory/research assignments or final year projects and thesis are not discussed herein (final year project/thesis is touched upon in other articles in this blogspot). Character building is not much touched upon: this includes both building up of Values [Trust, Integrity(including Transparency] and Collaboration] and Virtues [Truthfulness, Justice, Compassion, Faithfulness and Being a good example/influence]. No mention is made of the impact of bad teaching, wrongly designed course/structure, uncommitted administration or poor facilities- which are important, if unfortunately one or more of these factors should exist.

     To end the article on a positive note, I let two students have the last words- at the end of this article is given “Concluding with student emails”

     Examination answer scripts from students often show a repeating pattern of three (or four) types of students/answer scripts. Consider four, (1) A grade, (2) B Grade, (3) C and D Grades and finally (4) E and F. Although traits are classified into four, there can be some cross over of trends or characteristics of the students over these four grade types/lines.

Type 1. A (above 85%). Consistently Hardworking and Interested in Learning.
Pleasure to mark their answer scripts and easy to mark. Smooth, clear, neat, confident, correct answers consistently throughout the paper (say 5 Qs, for all 5 and for each part within each of 5 questions). Normally about 5% of the class fall into this category, although the percentage could easily increase if the other students were as consistent and systematic about their work throughout the semester.  These also tend to have a high sense of their responsibility, of the sacrifice or support being given to them and their need to honour and bring high praise to their benefactor, or want to excel in learning and future calling. Sometimes competitive, moody when someone else does better in a class test, Though not all, some are perfectionists, and can become depressed if they fall behind; perfectionism is not good, because we all tend to have areas and times of academic imperfections. These students are  very clear on what they want to aim at and prepared to put in the hard work and discipline. They are prepared to sacrifice pleasures and many things that divert them from their books.

These students, interestingly are  consistently dedicated, serious students throughout the semester, aggressive in doing problem-solving tutorials regularly, clearing doubts, mostly weekly revising what is taught in class (can see that at the next class), do the essays, when coming to consult bring along a stack of papers showing all the self-effort work they have done, bringing out the problem area/question from the neatly done tutorials and lecture notes.
Before the examinations, because they have been keeping up to date, they probably revise the entire stuff 2 or 3 times. This could be seen in a few of the answer scripts which from beginning to end the answers to all questions and all parts were so neat, so clear, smooth flowing, all points rightly touched, all problems neatly solved - it is almost as if they perfectly reproduce the model solution for each question. Answers are systematically arranged inside their brains and calmly they answer although the questions may have new twists and turns. They know their stuff, and it is obvious to the examination paper marker.
Type 2: B  (75- 84%). Interested in Learning, but Over confident and Inconsistent.
Say out of 5 Questions these students may do perfectly 3 and then go down on the other one or  two questions thus bringing down their marks. Else within each question, they may answer perfectly 70 to 80% and botch up the rest of the question. There are gaps and inconsistencies. In most electrical and electronic engineering subjects that I teach, there are three distinctly different but related areas or strands covered: (a) mathematical analysis and principles and concepts related to it, (b) problem solving using mathematical formulas, and (c) Applications of (a) and (b) to devices and systems. Unless students demonstrate excellence in all three areas, in each question, they will miss an A grade. Hence the need to be consistent and thorough in all three areas which will appear in each question. In other non-engineering disciplines too there will be this different strands of knowledge that will be tested.

Marking these students is a bit harder than Type 1 because of the inconsistency and surprising downward trend in answers, sometimes within each question. But normally straight forward right or wrong, clear where they have to be marked wrong and where right.
Failing to show such thoroughness probably indicate that the students have been inconsistent in keeping up with weekly classes, inconsistent in regular daily, weekly study time, schedule and in keeping up with lectures, tutorials, assignments, laboratory reports. Over confident. Diverted. Inconsistent. Not fully serious or dedicated to excel, somewhat indifferent and can be cocky about their negligence - possibly wealthy or living like wealthy student lots of diversions and social activities with friends. Uncontrolled with social media and lots of connected people to chat. At study time and sometimes even in class they peep into their mobile phones, surfing the internet. Sometimes dress and awkward behavior showing that they are too self conscious about themselves, about self-image and looks. Show of over confidence, discontent and grumbling at times revealing that they are not sure of themselves as class room, book and laboratory learners. 

Moreover, careless mistakes and sudden blanks in the examination room show that these students need to practice problem solving and essay writing and derivations (the same ones) over and over again (say three times) before facing the examinations, so that they are confident and collected when answering questions.
Type 3. C and D (55 to 74%). Seeks to  perform well by habit, but poor discipline and irresponsible.
Quite difficult to mark these answer scripts/papers; and can be very annoying marking these. Often the teacher ends of looking for places to give marks, sometimes untidy, scribbles, disorderly working, can see really unsure and sometimes trying to bluff one's way through. Needs a calm, relaxed and undistracted mind to mark.
These students are probably irresponsible student s who think that they can just pass and get good grades by revising over the last few weeks, some of them highly self conscious about looks and style hence can be awkward to handle, sometimes even in class or college can see them into their social media and computers looking for novel things to amuse themselves. Habitually late or last-minute on report and assignment submissions.  blame teachers for not having given this or that,  irregular with work throughout the semester, having a fun time more than study time, irresponsible, socializing much, disliking the strict teacher, dodgers and on a few occasions outright cheating. It is sad that sometimes students can try to take advantage over the weak points or kindness of the teacher. These students would do much better if they get a grip on their time management and take responsibility for failure rather than using their intelligence to see who and what they can blame for their poor performance. Moreover, careless mistakes and sudden blanks in the examination room show that these students need to practice problem solving and essay writing and derivations (the same ones) over and over again (say three times) before facing the examinations, so that they are confident and collected when answering questions.

     These students are in general interested in learning, but have too many diversions (addicted to sports? entertainment? internet? socializing? bad music and habits - including bad religious music/habits? television? etc) and need to both get rid of somethings and plan out their semester (weekly/revision) very carefully and stick to the plan. It is best that these students take a breath and start organizing their weekly study time schedules, regularly attend classes and be attentive, and start regularly doing the tutorials and weekly revise each subject, and go beyond the lectures and tutorials to sharpen their mind and knowledge. To also see that they owe it to those that spend money on them and the College to do their very best in their studies. Moreover as Shakespeare expresses, if this opportunity is missed over the years, it is highly likely that their future lives will be mediocre, shallow and miserable because many doors will be closed to them as far as opportunities are concerned, and the bad, irresponsible habits they have acquired will affect their personal, relational, work and married lives too.
Type 4. E and F Grades (50-54 and Below 50%)
Mostly not interested in learning, or have been having lots of fun time and not seeing learning as fun and enjoyable. Socializing much,distracting themselves with mind destroying habits (including lots of pop music, friends who do not motivate and challenge learning and academic excellence). Sometimes think it is the teacher's duty and examiner's sympathy that must work for them and pass them, pretty indifferent to the fact that someone else's money is being invested into their education, show that they care little for what others think, and that they are independent spirited and know what they want in life, do not take timely action to correct mistakes, lack of understanding, have little interest to try out problems and exercises on their own, give little time to read over teacher's notes, problem solving done or outlines in class, these hardly refer to the textbook or other literature to try master things on their own. Dress habits can also be inappropriate for class, or shabby.
    To these students what causes panic is sometimes the realization that failure might mean loss of financial support, having to leave the dormitory, shame of going back to town/village without a degree, etc, pretty sad. But all this need not be. It can be and needs to be corrected; the student must be willing to face up to his or her failure to do what is right and responsible, and start putting things right. Teachers want to help these students and it is a delight to see them improve and perform well- some of the readers of this article will agree that many who once were in the E and F grade levels, later became A grade performers. What a delight to see or experience that.
Concluding with a student note:
Please do email to me if you would like to correct, sharpen or challenge my observations (my email is given below). Let me conclude with an email that I received recently – a "giving" email to any struggling teacher. This is what a student wrote to me: Good afternoon Prof. You have been so helpful, mentor and a great lecturer throughout the semester, Even though I may not be a top student but one thing I'm sure is I learn a lot from you ….. during the semester and too in my study life as well as life after study, I learned a lot...Thanks so much once again (semester 2, year 2). I am not saying this for the sake of saying it because everytime you you walk into the lecture room the atmosphere feels totally different. i always have this sense of direction and confidence .And therefore i know you have come here for a purpose (semester 1, year 4).

God's grace to you.
Dr Paul RP Hoole (prof.hoole@gmail.com)

Friday, 31 October 2014

5 topics: Holiday studies, Examination Marking, Aggressive students, Sex and Farewell:

Holiday studies, Examination Marking, Aggressive students, Sex and Farewell: 5 topics
Dr Paul Hoole
These five brief blogs appeared first in my Facebook Paul Hoole.

1.       Holidays (1 of 5)
On something that I advised a third year student yesterday, -  all the students who hope to return next year: during the long break away from the University, do not lose touch with your academic work. Spend at least 2 hours each weekday with engineering books/literature/problem solving. University education as you know includes three strands: Knowledge, Skills and Character. In all these three areas book learning plays a critical part. During your time away, try to spend about a minimum of two hours with books related to your University studies. For instance, you can find out what subjects you will be reading next semester, and try to get materials on some of these subjects and prepare yourself over these months. Those weak in mathematics and problem solving address yourselves to subjects that involve these. A minimum of two hours each week day is not too much, but can make a big difference to your learning.
2.      Examination marking (2 of 5)

As lecturers we are involved in examinations marking, sometimes it can be hard and discouraging. But it is exhilarating to mark scripts which reach near perfection in marking, and I was thankful for these, three or so. It is so good to see how the demands of mathematical formulations, problems solving and conceptual applications were put so attractively and correctly- including, for instance, where the answer has grasped a minor, but important point, addressed in the lecture room, grasped and used to set out an argument and analysis. Such rare moments are exhilarating. Sometimes one wonders why more students cannot be so much more dedicated and sincere about learning. It is possible, and it is a choice we each make. It is significant that later when I cross checked the class register, each one of these students that had done out standingly had perfect lecture attendance record. Attendance alone is of course not sufficient – attentiveness and follow up work to go over the material are critical. But it is a bare minimum, isn’t it?
It is well known that one hour’s lecture (Passive learning) will take the student 2 to 3 hours to learn on their own. Hence it is that tutorials, laboratory work, assignments (Active Learning, each needed for skill development) carry less credits compared to Passive learning. Cannot each student become more sincere about learning?

3.      Aggressive first year students: Are we sincere? (3 of 5)

It has been good to see a greater spirit of aggressiveness amongst some of the First Year students in relation to learning.
During this time something I was heartened to note as that some of the first year students that came to consult me while revising came with a stack of papers- and I saw that they had redone on their own the tutorial problems and the problems I solved or solutions outlines in class room all on their own. It was so good seeing this. I found them also later thankful for what as teachers we put in. More of such spirit is good.
Moreover, overall the class attendance of First years was so much higher than the other classes. I would encourage the first years to build on this and continue to improve your learning – whether knowledge, skills or character as the years progress. Other seniors, why not reconsider your commitment to learning?
Recently when writing to an Administrator at the University I wrote, there are two things in my personal opinion that is a big hindrance to moving on:
At the Church we are not serious about God. At the University we – teachers and administrators- are not sincere about our work.
If there is some truth in my views - could not students become more sincere about learning?
How sincere are we as teachers, administrators and students about our calling?

4.      Sex (4 of 5)
A subject that has come up again and again over my past year here is the subject of sex, all in different forms. Without elaborating on the issues raised, I would like us to consider what is right and healthy about sex:
1. Sexual experience must be strictly confined to one man-one woman marriage and marriage alone. Outside marriage we need to practice strict abstention from sex of all kinds and in every form. To starve our sexual desires outside marriage is right and good. It is possible to be completely and happily be human without sex.
2. Within marriage, of one man to one woman, the husband must cherish, nurture and enjoy sexual intimacy with his wife, and wife with her husband, as a lifetime gift and experience, as long as it is possible with thankfulness for each other.
3. What if there has been failure and wrong done? A decisive, new, fresh beginning – admission of wrong done and restitution where it is needed (e.g. immediate marriage).
As a Christian, I believe that all three aspects (1) (2) and (3) above are possible with the loving kindness, forgiving mercy, presence and power of the risen Christ.

5.       Farewell.to an Old Tree (5 of 5)
(One of the oldest and largest trees on campus was cut down in 2014)
The felling of an old tree on campus in 2014. The final year students leaving us would have been the last batch of final years that would have walked under its shadows. It is indeed Farewell to an Old Friend.
Those who enjoy fairy tale stories, would have once recognized in that tree a tree under which the Teddy Bears much have had their picnics. Now it is no more. Wonder where they are going to go now. Remember the song (I first heard it about 50 years ago, and never tire of hearing it): Picnic Time for the Teddy bears?

PRPH/Oct 2014

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Look: Death in the University

 Death in the University
by Dr Paul Hoole
(From my Facebook: Paul Hoole)

Death visited the University community late last week. One student was taken away all of a sudden (today was the funeral), without warning. Another student, I was told, is in critical condition at the hospital. How do we come to terms with death? One report says that on average every teenager thinks about death every 5 minutes. How do we see death and what happens after? 

1. Steve Jobs. The renowned CEO of the Apple Company (and PIXAR) the late Steve Jobs in his speech to students at one of the top Universities, Stanford University, said that death helped him to make the important choices of life. Death takes away “all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure”. When he was first diagnosed with cancer at the age of about 49, which eventually led to his early death, he evidently realized that in the end he had nothing to lose in life, death will take away everything. It helped him evidently, to choose what is really important in life, knowing how short it is, to do what he really loves doing. To live every day as if it is his last day (from what I can trace, originally spoken by a Puritan Pastor of 17th century), and to make each day a day worth living (evidently from age 17). Steve Jobs like all of us, was confronted with “our helplessness in the face of death.”

2. Famous Oxford University Professor AJ Ayer, famous for his lifelong Atheism (teaching that there is no God, this life is all there is to live, after that the End), once in life went into what is known as brain death. But he came back alive. He said that in those moments that he was medically (clinically)  dead, he saw things including some bright light after death, and he believed that he saw God, and that he will have to revise all that he had written as an Atheist. But his intellectual, atheistic friends became angry and wrote angry letters to him. So he finally backed away, and weakened his article by saying that he is still an Atheist, but that after that experience he believes that this life may not be the end of the story, there is something beyond this life, something unknown after death.

3. Another famous Reading Philosophy Professor Anthony Flew – who began his teaching career at Oxford and lectured in many other Universities- and Atheist (who wrote books read all over the world), in his honesty that he will go where facts of his research took him. He came to the conclusion that there is a God, there is more to life than what we see, touch and perceive with our senses. He claimed that his research showed that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, as reported in the Bible had quality and quantity of evidence, as no other miracle-claim. He believed that facts and evidence led him to change his views, and he wrote withdrawing his previous teachings and claims. He had come to believe in the existence of God (There Is A God), and that there is more to life than what an Atheist believes.

4. The picture with the four horses shows the red horse and its rider who represents death in a Bible book (he is one of the four evil riders of the white, red, black and pale horses). The red horse rider death alone is followed by another figure, who gathers in people that the red horse rider cuts down (into a place after death).

5. A graphic portrayal of hope is found in his most popular story book (The Lord of the Rings) by Oxford Professor JRR Tolkien. He speaks of life after death, of heaven as portrayed in the Bible, in the following terms: Gandalf says to Pippin (in the Lord of the Rings, in the heat of battle): 
"The journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain curtain of this world rolls back and all turns to silver glass. And then you see it. White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise." 

Prof. Hoole, Aug 2014 (prof.hoole@gmail.com)