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Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering
Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering (SBASSE) at LUMS is the first private research school of science and engineering in Pakistan. In higher education, the term research school refers to a model of teaching and scholarship practised by some of the best institutions in the world where the primary function of the university is to create and disseminate new knowledge. SBASSE has consciously modelled itself along the lines of the world’s top research schools and has a highly qualified faculty to accomplish its mission. The hallmark of SBASSE is its no-boundaries philosophy, which encourages cross-disciplinary collaborations not only between various disciplines at SBASSE but also those offered by other Schools at LUMS.
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Science for Pakistan
Contribution in Science and Technology by the researchers at SBASSE has an impact on the future development of Science in Pakistan.
Meet our Faculty
At SBASSE our faculty members share the boundaries of their life experiences and interests that foster a dynamic learning environment on campus.
Research and Impact
Under the supervision of Dr. Murtaza Taj,…
Under the supervision of Dr. Murtaza Taj, the thesis work of his MS students; Shehryar Malik, Muhammad Umair Haider, Omer Iqbal, has been published online. This includes two MS thesis, one of which is based on neural network pruning through constrained reinforcement learning (CRL), which will be featured in this story.
In agriculture, pruning is cutting off unnecessary branches or stems of a plant. In machine learning, pruning is removing unnecessary neurons or weights. Network pruning reduces the size of neural networks by removing (pruning) neurons such that the performance drop is minimal. Traditional pruning approaches focus on designing metrics to quantify the usefulness of a neuron which is often quite tedious and sub-optimal. More recent approaches have instead focused on training auxiliary networks to automatically learn how useful each neuron is however, they often do not take computational limitations into account. In this work, the research team proposes a general methodology for pruning neural networks. The proposed methodology can prune neural networks to respect pre-defined computational budgets on arbitrary, possibly non-differentiable, functions. The team only assume the ability to be able to evaluate these functions for different inputs, and hence they do not need to be fully specified beforehand. This was achieved by proposing a new pruning strategy through constrained reinforcement learning (CRL) algorithms. The paper proves the effectiveness of the team’s approach via comparison with state-of-the-art methods on standard image classification datasets. Specifically, the study reduced 83 − 92.90% of total parameters on various variants of VGG ( pretrained network), while achieving comparable or better performance than that of original networks. The team also achieved 75.09% reduction in parameters on ResNet18 without incurring any loss in accuracy.
[Source of graphic: https://towardsdatascience.com/pruning-neural-networks-1bb3ab5791f9]
The team evaluated our approach using CIFAR-10 dataset on ResNet18 and variants of VGG network. The training was performed using Adam optimizer. They propose a novel framework for neural network pruning via constrained reinforcement learning that allows respecting budgets on arbitrary, possibly non-differentiable functions. There is a pro-Lagrangian approach that incorporates budget constraints by constructing a trust region containing all policies that respect constraints. Their team’s experiments show that the proposed CRL strategy significantly outperform the state-of-the-art methods in terms of producing small and compact while maintaining the accuracy of unpruned baseline architecture. Specifically, our method reduces nearly 75.08%−92.9% parameters without incurring any significant loss in performance.
Many claim that math is the language of the…
Many claim that math is the language of the universe; string the words with careful deliberation and you might end up with an almost poetic reconstruction of reality. To the contrary of most of our school level pedagogy, mathematics can be perplexingly enriched with visuals, a form of visual poetry. In a universe that binds us in three spatial dimensions, mathematics is the ultimate liberator that lets us imagine, quite tangibly, the possibilities of dimensions higher (and lower) than what we inhabit. Be it a daedal tesseract, or a complex reconstruction of the Mandelbrot set, mathematics has an innate power to inform our wildest imagination.
Fukaya category is one startling example of the many ways in which complex mathematics can be expressed through the study of surfaces and topology.
Dr. Haniya Azam is an Assistant Professor at the department of mathematics who is the first author of a paper which has been published in the Journal of Pure and Applied Algebra, one of the most well reputed journals of mathematics. Dr. Haniya’s paper tackles the complex topic of mathematical surfaces called Fukaya category, a mathematical concept whose applications spill over to other disciplines, such as in the famous string theory, by providing vital support for the mirror symmetry conjecture.
This research constructs the topological Fukaya category of a surface with genus greater than one, making this model intrinsic to the topology of the surface.
Pictured above: non-separating curves on a surface of genus two.
In their paper, Dr. Haniya and her team review the definition of Floer homology for unobstructed curves. Floer chain complex will be generated by intersection points, which requires the usual transversality condition on the pair of curves giving these intersection points. Defined in this naive manner, their chain complexes are not invariant under isotopy. For a given choice of disjoint representatives of two curves the intersection could be empty, whereas a little perturbation may give rise to intersection points.
Instead of using the area form of the surface, the researchers use an admissibility condition borrowed from Heegaard-Floer theory which ensures invariance under isotopy. The paper shows finiteness of the moduli space using purely topological means and compute the Grothendieck group of the topological Fukaya category.
You can read the complete paper below for a much deeper dive into Dr. Haniya’s work.
Haniya Azam, Christian Blanchet, Topological Fukaya categories of surfaces, Journal of Pure and Applied Algebra, Volume 226, Issue 6, 2022, 106941, ISSN 0022-4049.
Members of the very specie that accessed,…
Members of the very specie that accessed, utilized, and exploited fossil fuels for centuries, are now campaigning against it. Collectively, we’d start blushing out of embarrassment if a report card on our upkeeping of the environment were to be worn as a lanyard. But blush not – the seaweeds are here!
Seaweed, as a third-generation biofuel feed- stock, could potentially circumvent many of the challenges posed by traditional fossil fuel alternatives, as it requires no arable land, fresh water, or fertilizer for cultivation and exhibits a higher biomass yield per unit area of cultivation than its terrestrial counterparts. Unlike lignocellulose, macroalgae have almost no lignin; therefore, their sugars can be released by easier and more economic operations. Seaweed cultivation could also directly improve the marine environment by removing CO2, heavy metal pol- lutants, and dissolved nutrients that would otherwise cause eutrophication.
This study conducted by Dr. Rofice Dickson and his colleagues evaluates the environmental impacts, economic potential, and makes a case of producing bioenergy from seaweed via biological conversion pathways, including the: sugar pathway; volatile fatty acids pathway; and methane pathway to produce ethanol, ethanol and heavier alcohols, and heat and power, respectively. Much like any other form of plant-based agriculture, seaweed production consists of two stages: cultivation and harvesting. Cultivation can be subdivided into four stages: the collection of fertile seaweed; spore release and sporophyte formation; rearing and nursing of seedlings; and offshore cultivation. The harvesting consists of activities related to the collection of seaweed from the sea and their transportation to a harbor.
The maximum seaweed price and minimum product selling price are both calculated as economic indicators. Overall, results demonstrate that the sugar platform is economically superior, as it provides a higher average maximum seaweed price of USD 121.6/t compared with USD 57.7/t and USD 24.2/t for volatile fatty acids platform and methane platform, respectively. However, the study also concluded that production via fermentation is so far the best alternative for energy production since it led to better economic and lifecycle outcomes.
A seaweed biorefinery could be located near a city close to the shore, which will provide necessary infrastructure and labor, such as Karachi. A seaweed cultivation site in Republic of Korea, with a distance of 15 km from the shore to the biorefinery, was considered for the analysis of terrestrial transportation. The main challenge in seaweed transportation is its high moisture content of 85–90 wt%. If the biorefinery is located far from cultivation sites, hauling wet biomass significantly increases transportation costs. Seaweed-based food companies utilize artificial drying to optimize the storage time. When being sold as a food product, the high seaweed price compensates for its high drying costs.
Although this study provides deep insight into the economic and environmental sustainability of green energy extracted from seaweed via biochemical pathways, some barriers to large-scale deployment of seaweed biorefineries, including high-quality biomass at a low price and adequate supply to meet the demands of industrial biorefineries, remain. In this regard, mechanized offshore cultivation and efficient seaweed farming techniques need to be developed to increase productivity and decrease the seaweed production cost.
P. Fasahati, R. Dickson, C.M. Saffron, H.C. Woo, J. Jay Liu,
Seaweeds as a sustainable source of bioenergy: Techno-economic and life cycle analyses of its biochemical conversion pathways, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 157, 2022, 112011, ISSN 1364-0321, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2021.112011
There’s no doubt that social media is a microcosm of information, that…
There’s no doubt that social media is a microcosm of information, that covers a great swath of topics. Tweets and touts relaying public policy, to messages that have been forwarded many times spreading misinformation regarding something as serious as COVID-19. The landscape of social media is fertile for the growth and spread of both correct and incorrect information. However, healthcare is a serious issue and laying down a misinformation mine can prove fatal in some cases. Therefore, researchers at SBASSE have created Baang – a digital platform where you use your voice to access reliable healthcare advice!
But why develop a voice-based service? Over the last two decades, voice-based social media platforms have been enabling people who are poor, remote, and low-literate to still get the benefits of the Internet. These platforms allow users to call toll-free phone numbers to record voice messages in their local language and listen to and react to messages recorded by others. Mobile Vaani connects over five million people to infotainment in the media-dark regions in India and CGNet Swara enables rural communities to listen to local news and report grievances. The paper outlines the need for creating a new, versatile application experience. Many scholars have examined the vital role that mainstream social media plays during crises and disasters, for example, by establishing rapid and direct communication channels from authorities, providing support and information to people in need, and bringing to light the challenges on the ground. However, there is a scarcity of research on how voice-based social media platforms are used during public health emergencies by users who are predominantly low-literate and low-income.
To fill this gap, the research team examined three strategies to foster engagement with and dissemination of trusted information: (1) encourage users to access a curated list of approved health guidelines, (2) provide them incentives to engage with and propagate trusted COVID content, and (3) prompt them to reflect on their COVID-related information behaviors. Over a six-month deployment, the platform received around half a million calls from 12,000 users, who were predominately low-literate, low-income men from across Pakistan, with 96% having less than ten years of education. These users recorded over 35,000 audio posts, played them over 2.4 million times, voted on them 322,000 times, and shared them with other users over 130,000 times. The paper also mentions that users approached with all three strategies showed comparatively higher engagement with authentic COVID information. The engagement was not limited to messages being played by the users and included users recording their own COVID content and engaging with and sharing credible content widely with their peers. Users adapted the platform to meet their specific informational, emotional, and instrumental needs.
Pictured above is a schematic for the user interface of Baang.
The findings highlight knowledge engagement as being more meaningful and relevant for information campaigns compared to user engagement with the platform and its features. Our work provides critical insights on how social media platforms can foster user engagement with credible content and, in doing so, makes two important contributions: (1) A six-month deployment of a voice-based social media platform in Pakistan, providing insights into how communities with low literacy rates engaged with credible health information during the COVID pandemic, (2) A mixed-methods analysis that evaluated the efficacy of three design strategies to foster user engagement with health information.
The hope is that through Baang, a major population from the global south, and especially the underserved communities within the Indo-Pak region can get reliable access to health information, navigating safely around the abyss of misinformation found in abundance across social media.
Agha Ali Raza, Mustafa Naseem, Namoos Hayat Qasmi, Shan Randhawa, Fizzah Malik, Behzad Taimur, Sacha St-Onge Ahmad, Sarojini Hirshleifer, Arman Rezaee and Aditya Vashistha, Fostering Engagement of Underserved Communities with Credible Health Information on Social Media. In Web4Good special track at TheWebConf 2022 (WWW'22), April 25 - 29, 2022, Lyon, France.
Harnessing solar energy is intricately…
Harnessing solar energy is intricately linked with tinkering of molecular structure inside state-of-the-art materials. Coating traditional silicon panels with a layer of perovskite has boosted our hopes for a better, much more efficient way of generating electricity from solar energy.
Pictured above is an artist’s rendition of what a perovskite crystal structure looks like.
However, it is not just light that perovskite is good at capturing. Let’s talk about heat – the greatest escape artist known to the physicist. Whether the process is chemical or physical in nature, or radioactive decay; heat always manages to escape into ‘the great outdoors’ of a given physical system. Wishful as it may be, imagine if this ‘wasted heat’ could be utilized to generate electricity, increasing efficiency of a thermoelectric system. Dr. Uzma Hira, a former student of Dr. Falak Sher (Chair, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, SBASSE) is the first author of a research paper that describes just that! A chemical doping process that can create a material which shows much better thermoelectric properties than conventional materials of similar kind. The answer is Hexagonal Double-Perovskite-Type Oxides, that substitutes Barium with Bismuth. The research paper entails how chemically doped Ba2−xBixCoRuO6 hexagonal double-perovskite-type oxides were prepared using a solid-state method and characterizes its interesting thermoelectric properties.
Shown above is the hexagonal interface of a double-perovskite type oxide, which offers promise as a p-type thermoelectric material. Pictured below is
Double perovskite oxides having the general formula A2BRuO6, where A is an alkaline-earth or rare-earth metal and B is a transition metal, show very interesting magnetic and electronic properties. The key parameter here is how effectively does a material demonstrate the Seebeck effect (named conspicuously after the Baltic German physicist, Thomas Johann Seebeck). In this fascinating phenomenon, temperature difference between two conductors can induce an EMF, generating a potential difference which can be measured. The material which Dr. Uzma’s team has worked on can be conveniently identified as Ba2CoRuO6, which is doped with Bismuth for better thermoelectric performance.
Conservative estimates suggest that about half of the total energy that we consume each year is lost to the environment as waste heat. Thermoelectric power generation offers an attractive route for the direct conversion of heat into electric power and is considered to be an important component of a sustainable future energy landscape. In fact, one need not invest too much into imagining the future of thermoelectric promise. As you read this, rovers on the planet Mars are creating kilometers worth of trails and roving the red planet using RTG technology as their primary power source. RTG can be unpacked as Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator. RTG’s utilize the head from the natural decay of Plutonium.
The most common thermoelectric materials are alloys of chalcogenides such as Bi2Te3, PbTe, Bi2, and BixSb2−xTe3 are based on either bismuth telluride or lead telluride. These materials are relatively scarce and therefore expensive, toxic, and unstable at high temperatures. Transition-metal oxides were initially ignored in the search for potential thermoelectric materials until the discovery of high power factors in p-type NaxCoO2about twenty years ago. Since then, many other metal oxides have been explored and reported as promising thermoelectric materials. Yet, the performance of most oxide materials is still lower than that of non-oxide traditional TE materials, and the effort is still ongoing in the search for efficient novel TE metal oxides.
The crystal structures of hexagonal perovskite oxides that were studied in Dr. Uzma’s research were studied using XRD, SXRD, and NPD at room temperature. Their crystal structure was heated without liquefaction (sintered) at a blistering temperature of 1150 °C. An increase in the crystalline size was noticed. This increase in the grain size, which was inferred from the diffraction data, and can be explained by the presence of Bismuth. The solid-state chemical reactions consist of four main steps of diffusion, reaction, nucleation, and crystal growth. When the diffusion rate is faster and the nucleus’s growth rate is greater than the nucleation rate at the given reaction conditions, larger crystals are formed. The low melting point of Bi2O3 (817 °C) compared to BaCO3 (1360 °C) suggests that the diffusion of Bi3+ cations will be faster than that of Ba2+cations and, consequently, the crystallite/grain size will be larger in the Bismuth-doped samples for the given sintering time and temperature. Take a look at the electron micrographs obtained from this study.
The researchers, including Dr. Falak Sher and Dr. Uzma Hira, have concluded that doping the perovskite crystal with Bismuth makes for a much better choice when it comes to selecting thermoelectric materials for harnessing energy from heat.
Read more about this work here:
Ba2–xBixCoRuO6 (0.0 ≤ x ≤ 0.6) Hexagonal Double-Perovskite-Type Oxides as Promising p-Type Thermoelectric Materials. Uzma Hira, Jan-Willem G. Bos, Alexander Missyul, François Fauth, Nini Pryds, and Falak Sher. Inorganic Chemistry 2021 60 (23), 17824-17836. DOI: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.1c02442. Also see:
Amongst the proudest achievements for a teacher is witnessing the growth and success of their students. One such instance was recently shared by Dr. Abubakr from the Department of Electrical Engineering at SBASSE. This story revolves around the stellar achievement of SBASSE’s alumnus, Dr. Hasan Nasir, who graduated from the school in 2011.
Hasan Arshad Nasir went on to do his PhD from University of Melbourne, and then returned to Pakistan to join NUST as an assistant professor at SEECS a few years back. “I have received the news that Dr. Hasan Nasir has been awarded the solo university-wide best teacher award at NUST, across all their campuses, colleges, and faculties (Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Risalpur, Karachi)”. The news heralds joy and happiness for those faculty members who have helped shape up Dr. Nasir’s student career at LUMS.
Recalling Dr. Hasan’s earlier years at SBASSE, Dr. Abubakr said “Hasan joined us as a lab engineer at a very young electrical engineering department, when SSE was a small operation running from a few rooms on top of the Pepsi Dining Center. Working sometimes from lounges and pantries due to the absence of office spaces, Hasan helped me design and operationalize the home-grown control systems teaching lab, which is still in operation today. He later joined our MS computer engineering program and produced an MS thesis that laid the foundations for what later evolved into a whole Center for Water Informatics and Technology (WIT). In 2012, he was admitted to an extremely competitive PhD program in electrical engineering at University of Melbourne where he continued the theme of his MS work to invent control techniques for flooding. After his return from Australia, he has continued to maintain a very strong research linkage with WIT center and helped supervise our students in EE.”
“His research achievements had already made us extremely proud but now with his recognition in teaching, it has reinforced my belief that top-class teaching and impactful research go hand in hand.”, Dr. Abubakr emphasized.
Paying a heartfelt homage to Dr. Abubakr, Dr. Nasir shared an unfeigned message for Dr. Abubakr, “I learnt different methods of teaching and building the relation with the students from you from 2009-2012. You would be surprised, but I follow those practices, and I want to dedicate this award to you.”
After his PhD, Dr. Nasir spent another two years at The University of Melbourne as a Post-Doc researcher, before joining the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (SEECS), NUST as an Assistant Professor. His research interests include optimization-based control and system identification, with water and power systems as the main application areas.
Amongst the proudest achievements for a teacher is witnessing the growth and success of their students. One such instance was recently shared…
Seminars and Conferences
Prof Hara Charalambous will introduce the relative canonical ideal and Petri's classical theorem with special emphasis on the lift of curves and combinatorial criteria for generating sets.
Zoom Meeting link
Meeting ID: 914 3843 0977
For more details click here.
Prof Hara Charalambous will introduce the relative canonical ideal and Petri's classical theorem with special emphasis on the lift of curves and combinatorial criteria for generating sets.
Salman Hameed is Charles Taylor Chair and Professor of Integrated Science and Humanities at Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA. His primary research interest focuses on understanding the reception of science in Muslim societies and how Muslims view the relationship between science & religion. Salman is also actively engaged in science communication and is the founder and CEO of Kainaat Studios that produces astronomy content in Urdu (https://www.youtube.com/KainaatAstronomyInUrdu). He also has a weekly astronomy segment in English for a radio station in Western Massachusetts. Through Kainaat Studios, he also produces astronomy content in Urdu specially aimed at kids in Pakistan. His writings have appeared in Dawn Magazine, Express Tribune, Science, and the Guardian.
Public Lecture Series
Dr. Sarah Qureshi is working on contrail-free aero engines as the CEO and founding director of Aero Engine Craft (Pvt) Ltd. She is also a visiting fellow at the School of Aerospace at Cranfield University. Sarah has a PhD degree in Aerospace Engineering from Cranfield University, UK. Her area of specialization is Propulsion whereby she worked on the development of a contrail-free aero-engine that has been derived from a novel patented technology. Sarah was actively involved with the invented technical outcome of the engine. The innovated engine has a tremendous potential in bringing about an environmental revolution in the context of aviation.
Dr. Sarah Qureshi , along with the inventor of technology Mr. Masood Latif Qureshi has now set up Aero Engine Craft (Private) Limited as Pakistan's first commercial engine and aircraft company to convert this patented technology into a full scale commercial application ready to be used by modern civil transport aircraft. During her PhD, Sarah supervised a number of MSc. students for their research projects on Jet Engine Technology. Prior to this, Sarah completed her master’s degree in the field of Aerospace Dynamics from Cranfield University, UK. Her research involved the design of a trajectory following controller inclusive of stability augmentation, attitude control system and outer loop autopilot for unmanned aircraft (UAVs) flying in close formation for the purpose of air to air refuelling. After graduating as a Mechanical Engineer from Pakistan, Sarah gained extensive experience of working in the local automotive and engineering industry.
Her bachelors' research project involved the development of a measurement and data logging system for the in-cylinder temperature and combustion of an internal combustion engine. Her prime technical interests are focused upon engine technology and aircraft design. Sarah holds a Private Pilot License (PPL) with 70 hours of Flying Experience. She has also learned acrobatic flying and several flight manoeuvres while at Cranfield.
Dr. Sarah Qureshi is working on contrail-free aero engines as the CEO and founding director of Aero Engine Craft (Pvt) Ltd. She is also a visiting fellow at the School of Aerospace at Cranfield University. Sarah has a PhD degree in Aerospace Engineering from…
سائنس اور ٹیکنالوجی کی کہانیاں
علم کی نشونما باہمی تعاون اور اچھے علمی ماحول کے ذریعے ہی ممکن ہے۔ دنیا کے بیشتر ممالک میں مضبوط باہمی تعلقات کی ایک بنیاد سائنسی سفارت کاری ہے۔ اس سوچ کی عکاسی کرتے ہوے وزارت خارجہ نے دی پارٹیکل کی ٹیم کے ساتھ مِل کر ایک نئے رسالے کو تشکیل کیا ہے۔ اس جریدے میں شامِل پاکستان میں نجی سطح پر رونما ہونے والی وہ تمام اہم سائنسی سرگرمیاں ہیں جن میں بین القوامی تعاون کا نمایاں کردار رہا ہے۔
لمز کے سکول برائے سائنس اور انجینئرنگ میں شعبہ کیمیا سے تعلق رکھنے والے ڈاکٹر محمد ظہیر نے اپنے علمی سفر کی روداد بہت خوبصورت اور جامع انداز میں بیان کی ہے۔ جبکہ سکول برائے سائنس اور انجینئرنگ کے ڈین ڈاکٹر صبیح انور نے پاکستان میں سائنس کو مثالی فروغ دینے والے ادارے خوارزمی سائنس سوسائٹی کی کوششوں کو نمایاں کیا۔
دی پارٹیکل کی ٹیم نے ان مضامین کی ترتیب و تدوین میں اپنا کردار ادا کیا۔ افتتاحی شمارہ پڑھنے کے لیے اِس لِنک کو کلِک کریں
علم کی نشونما باہمی تعاون اور اچھے علمی ماحول کے ذریعے ہی ممکن ہے۔ دنیا کے بیشتر ممالک میں مضبوط باہمی تعلقات کی ایک بنیاد سائنسی سفارت کاری ہے۔ اس سوچ کی عکاسی کرتے ہوے وزارت خارجہ نے…