University of British Columbia

Department of Computer Science


 Computational Sustainability

Winter Session 2013-14, Term 2

Instructor: Alan Mackworth

Schedule, Topics and Readings

This schedule will be updated periodically as the course progresses.

Readings etc.
Week 1:
Jan 7 & 9
Course overview
What is sustainability? Biophysical, Ecological, Human, Social, Economic, Sustainable development, Resilience, Computation, Green ICT, e-waste, Dematerialization. Computational Sustainability: 2 types 1) models 2) embedded. Constraint-based agents. Constraint-based sustainability. Planetary Boundaries as Constraints. Design Space for CompSust systems. Five dimensions: 1) Level: Biophysical, Biological, Social, Economic 2) Domain 3) Type 4) Spatial Scale 5) Temporal Scale.
"Computation and Sustainability: Beyond Green IT" (talk slides)
"Computational Sustainability: Computational Methods for a Sustainable Environment, Economy, and Society"
 "Agents, Bodies, Constraints, Dynamics, and Evolution"
The Age of Sustainable Development (MOOC)
Week 2:
Jan 14 & 16
Green ICT
Sustainability meets computation.
Green IT: “designing, manufacturing, using, and disposingof computers, servers, and associated subsystems […] efficiently and effectively with minimal or no impact on the environment.” [Source: Wikipedia, “Green Computing”]
  • Lifecycle design
  • Modular, replaceable, recyclable systems
  • Low power chips and programming
  • Cloud computing
  • Server farm design
  • Load balancing
  • Green renewable energy supplies
Jan 16: guest lecturer Alan Wagner
"Harnessing Green IT: Principles and Practices"
"From Green IT to Greening with IT"
"How dirty is your data?"
"Energy Oddities, Part 1: Why the Energy World Is Odd"
"Energy Oddities, Part 2: Why Green Computing is Odd"
"Code Green: Energy-Efficient Programming to Curb Computers' Power Use"
"EnerJ, the Language of Good-Enough Computing"
"New Algorithms Reduce the Carbon Cost of Cloud Computing"
Week 3:
Jan 21 & 23
Biophysical Level
  • Planetary boundaries
  • Climate models
"Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity"
"Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis" (IPCC)
"Climate Change: A Grand Software Challenge"
Week 4:
Jan 28 & 30
Biophysical Level (continued)
  • Carbon budget
  • Oceanographic modeling and monitoring
"Assessing 'Dangerous Climate Change': Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature"
"Un-burnable oil: An examination of oil resource utilisation in a decarbonised energy system"
"The Trillion-Ton Cap: Allocating The World's Carbon Emissions"
"Sea level in the 5th IPCC report"
"International Earth system expert workshop on ocean stresses and impact"

Week 5:
Feb 4 (No class) & 6

Biological Level
  • Ecosystem management 
  • Resilience
  • Wildlife corridors
  • Social life of zebras etc.
"Trophic Downgrading of Planet Earth"
"Robust Network Design for Multispecies Conservation"  (slides)
"Machine Learning for Computational Sustainability"

Week 6:
Feb 11 & 13
Biological Level (continued)
  • Marine ecosystems

"Species Extinction in the Marine Environment"
"Global imprint of climate change on marine life"
"Fish thermometer reveals long-standing, global impact of climate change"

"Google Earth reveals untold fish catches"
"Fisheries applications of remote sensing: An overview"
"Sea life relocating fast in response to climate change"
Week 7:
Feb 18 & 20
Midterm break - no classes
Week 8:
Feb 25 & 27
Social Level
  • Urban design
  • Transport
  • Communication and social change
"A Decision Support System for the Design and Evaluation of Sustainable Wastewater Solutions"
Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design
Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities: Design Strategies for the Post-Carbon World
"A Multi-objective Approach to Balance Buildings Construction Cost and Energy Efficiency"
"A Machine Learning Approach to Pattern Detection and Prediction for Environmental Monitoring and Water Sustainability"
"Towards Fully Autonomous Driving: Systems and Algorithms"
Week 9:
Mar 4 & 6
Social Level (continued)
  • Agriculture
  • Education
  • Assistive technology and aging
  • Sustainable healthcare
  • Personal health monitoring
"Planning and Design for Sustainable Urban Mobility — Global Report on Human Settlements 2013"
"Why Cul-de-Sacs Are Bad for Your Health"
"Driverless Cars Are Further Away Than You Think"
The Great Indian Phone Book: How the Cheap Cell Phone Changes Business, Politics, and Daily Life

"Robots Could Help Farmers Rein In Fertilizer Pollution"
"Navigation Assistance for Intelligent Wheelchairs"
"An Intelligent Powered Wheelchair for Users with Dementia: Case Studies with NOAH (Navigation and Obstacle Avoidance Help)"
Week 10:
Mar 11 & 13
Economic Level
  • Energy: Clean energy, smart grid, household disaggregation
  • Insurance: crops
"Transdisciplinary electric power grid science"
"Privacy by Design: Fundamentals for Smart Grid App Developers"
"Inspiring Energy Conservation Through Open Source Metering Hardware and Embedded Real-Time Load Disaggregation"
"The Cognitive Power Meter: Looking Beyond the Smart Meter"
"Non-intrusive load monitoring using prior models of general appliance types"
"Mobile Payments Gain Traction Among India’s Poor"
Week 11:
Mar 18 & 20
Economic Level (continued)
  • New markets: fisheries, agriculture, Mar 18: guest lecturer Kevin Leyton-Brown
  • ICT and the economy
  • Equity
  • Capital/labour
"A Mobile Market for Agricultural Trade in Uganda"
Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy
The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World
Gambling with Civilization
Week 12:
Mar 25 & 27
Project Presentations
Week 13:
Apr 1 & 3
Project Presentations
Week 14:
Apr 8
Wrap Up "Naomi Klein: How science is telling us all to revolt"
"Is sustainability a dangerous myth fuelling over consumption?"

  Alan Mackworth 2014-02-26