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Two UCF Students Recognized for Outstanding Undergraduate Research

December 16, 2020

The Computing Research Association (CRA) has an annual award for outstanding undergraduate research. “This award program recognizes undergraduate students in North American colleges and universities who show outstanding potential in an area of computing research.”  This year Joseph Giordano received an honorable mention for the award and Gary Hoppenworth was a finalist.  Congratulations to both for their outstanding research.


Gary Hoppenworth has worked with Dr. Sharma Thankachan, with whom he has published two papers in well-respected theoretical computer science conferences (ESA 2020 and SOSA21) and pursued successful experimental research with the Department of Defense. He has received the highly competitive Goldwater Scholarship, as well as the UCF Distinguished Undergraduate Research Award, in recognition of his research efforts. Gary has worked on proving new time complexity lower bounds for the problem of computing the edit distance on k strings. This problem is a natural generalization of the standard edit distance problem, which is of immense interest to the theoretical Computer Science community. Moreover, this problem has important applications in bioinformatics due to its relation to the fundamental multiple sequence alignment problem. This research inquiry was Gary’s idea, and he chose to explore two versions of edit distance on k strings: the median edit distance problem and the center edit distance problem. Gary, working with several graduate students, gave new conditional lower bounds for both of these problems and found a previously unknown reduction from median edit distance to center edit distance. Gary has also studied the fine-grained complexity of two graph problems: the pattern matching on graphs problem and the subtree isomorphism problem. These problems have important applications to computational biology, text databases, and compiler optimization. This work showed that improving the best known algorithms for pattern matching on graphs or subtree isomorphism by even a constant number of logarithmic factors would have major consequences in the field of circuit complexity.


Joseph Giordano was a co-author with Dr. Annie Wu on a conference paper that was published in May 2020 and has been the lead author on a second conference paper that was submitted to the 2021 International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS), the premier conference in the field of multi-agent systems. Joseph has worked on two simulation projects, running experiments and analyzing data. For a study that compares different methods of agent desynchronization and how they affect the ability of a swarm to achieve its goals, Joseph designed and ran the experiments and performed all of the analysis.

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