September 09, 2004 —
Cyrus Shahabi, associate professor of computer science and research area director
of information management in the Viterbi School of Engineering’s Integrated Media
Systems Center (IMSC), has been awarded the coveted 2004 Presidential Early Career
Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).
Shahabi was recognized for his innovative work in multidimensional databases
and related techniques for storing and analyzing streaming data. These large,
complex streaming technologies have wide-ranging applications in a variety of
fields, including scientific data analysis, medicine and education. A prototype
streaming architecture, called Yima, has already been developed at USC to handle
multiple simultaneous high-bandwidth streams of images and sound, all synchronized
to single-frame accuracy over the Internet.
“Cyrus’s accomplishments are nothing short of remarkable for a young faculty
member,” said Viterbi School Dean C. L. Max Nikias. “We are very excited that
he is being acknowledged for his exceptional talents in streaming technologies.
He is extraordinarily gifted and has the ability to make real headway in this
The awards, presented today in a ceremony at the White House, are given annually
to approximately 60 of the finest junior faculty in science and engineering across
the country. According to the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy,
which administers the awards, recipients possess “talents and potential that are
expected to make them leaders in 21st century science and technology.”
Jack Marburger, left, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy,
and Arden L. Bement Jr., right, National Science Foundation acting director, present
Cyrus Shahabi with his award at a Sept. 9, 2004 White House ceremony.
Shahabi is the fifth member of the Viterbi School faculty to win the award, which
is supported by nine federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation.
NSF contributes to the awards program through its own prestigious Faculty Early
Career Development (CAREER) program. Junior faculty receiving one of these grants
become eligible for PECASE awards, but only 5 percent of CAREER awardees will
receive the PECASE award annually.
Shahabi won an NSF CAREER award in 2003. The grant provided him with $400,000
over five years for research, teaching and outreach activities in the management
of immersive sensor data streams.
In his award letter from the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Shahabi
was called “a shining example to future generations of researchers” and cited
for his “talent and commitment” to the field.
Shahabi is currently at work on AIMS, “An Immersidata Management System.” “Immersidata”
consists of multidimensional sensor data streams produced by a user’s interaction
within a three-dimensional environment of images and sound. Users interacting
in a typical immersive environment are tracked and monitored through various sensory
devices, such as tracking sensors that they wear on their heads, hands and legs,
or by using video cameras and haptic devices, such as a “cyber glove.”
“These are the user interfaces of the future,” Shahabi said, “which will become
increasingly popular as the next generation of the Internet — Internet 2 — comes
“Internet 2 promises to be totally immersive, involving processing and accessing
enormous amounts of data,” added Gérard Medioni, chairman of the computer science
department. “ Shahabi’s work on multimedia indexing, using feature extraction
and wavelets is clever, elegant and efficient. It has the potential of becoming
the reference in the field.”
The main objective of the AIMS project is to address the challenges involved
in managing the multidimensional sensor data streams generated in immersive environments.
“Immersive data can be multidimensional, spatio-temporal and delivered in continuous
data streams,” Shahabi said. “At the same time, it can be potentially large in
size and bandwidth requirements, and it can be noisy.”
Currently, Shahabi is applying the techniques developed in the AIMS project
to design backend storage and database architectures for two different application
domains. One is in the area of scientific data analysis, supported by a grant
from NASA/JPL and Chevron-Texaco’s Center for Interactive Smart Oilfield Technologies
(CiSoft) at the Viterbi School of Engineering. The other is in the area of education,
with development of the “20 20 Classroom,” which gives users an interactive classroom
environment via the computer in which to learn. Shahabi co-leads that project,
which is being conducted within the Integrated Media Systems Center.
“Receiving this kind of national recognition and encouragement puts an extra
responsibility on my shoulders to conduct the highest quality research for the
broadest impact on society,” Shahabi said. “My dream is to make these data tools
practical and readily available to every scientist, engineer and researcher who
works with immersive applications. That would have a significant impact on science
Shahabi at post-award reception in Indian Treaty Room at White House's Eisenhower
Executive Office building.
Shahabi has received four significant grants in the last year in the field of
multidimensional databases and scalable, end-to-end streaming architectures. These
technologies enable efficient delivery of multiple synchronized streams of high
quality audio and video data over the Internet.
He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from USC and has been a key investigator
in the university’s Integrated Media Systems Center since it was founded in 1996.
Shahabi came to USC from Iran in 1992, after earning a bachelor of science degree
in computer engineering from Sharif University of Technology. He also directs
USC's Information Laboratory.
He is a resident of Irvine, CA, and the author of two books, more than 100 articles,
book chapters and conference papers.