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ME establishes new lab for information systems

The Department of Mechanical Engineering has established the d'Arbeloff Laboratory for Information Systems and Technology, a new interdisciplinary lab, Professor and Department Head Nam P. Suh recently announced. Professors Harry Asada and Ian Hunter will be director and co-director, respectively. The ground floor of Building 1 is being renovated to house a major part of the laboratory.

The goals of the d'Arbeloff Laboratory are to fully exploit the symbiosis between information science and engineering based on natural science. This will be accomplished by establishing a scientific foundation that couples information with the physical world at a fundamental level, creating a new intellectual avenue for studying interactive intelligent behavior, and developing a new methodology for designing systems.

Many of the critical issues inherent in today's advanced systems exist at the interface between the information and technological physical world. The behavior of these systems cannot be properly understood when the mechanisms of information processing, acquisition and communication are isolated from the physical world. The laboratory was established to strengthen activity in the fields of information science and technology.

Areas of initial research will include development of intelligent systems and processes; information-driven systems that can explore the environment and actively select useful information; the process of generating intelligent behavior through learning and adaptation; technologies for advanced sensing, actuation and communication between people and machines; and information mechanics, such as those involved in nanotechnology.

The laboratory will also initiate new activities such as an industrial consortium on Total Home Automation and Health Care Systems to demonstrate its methodology and utility. The goal is to develop technologies for the whole house and its human occupants, integrating information network that will coordinate all the agents. A futuristic house will be built at the laboratory, which will help the elderly live independently, provide various supports needed by double-income families, and house a variety of equipment on monitoring of health status, meal service and more.

Funding for the new lab came from Mr. and Mrs. Alexander V. d'Arbeloff and the offices of the Dean of Engineering and the Provost. Mr. d'Arbeloff (SB in management, 1949) is chairman and president of Teradyne, Inc. in Boston and has been a member of the Corporation since 1989.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 1, 1995.

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