Published April 4, 2017
by Christian Miller
At the flagship computer architecture conference ASPLOS, researchers working at the liminal edge between hardware and software introduce concepts that will appear in the consumer market in five to ten years. Throughout its first 21 years, the prestigious conference never accepted a single paper from UB. In 2017, Jerry Ajay fixed that.
Jerry and his advisor, Wenyao Xu, work to design better 3D printing practices. "My paper proposes and achieves a 25% reduction in energy consumption in the 3D printing process," Jerry said. "From a naive perspective, we analyze traits of the workload and then alter it on the operating system (OS) of a 3D printer so that printing takes place in an efficient manner by power gating the orientation of the X and Y motors so they're switched off most of the time." When integrated circuit blocks are shut off, they don't waste electricity.
ASPLOS is the common nickname for the ACM International Conference on Architecture Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems. Jerry and Wenyao attended its 2017 annual meeting in Xi'An, China.
This project is only the first step in a planned line of improvements. "3D printing is new. We might be able to reduce this percentage even further," he continues. "Our second paper will be focused on implementing safety in 3D printers. Right now, they're very susceptible to damage. Anything could go wrong, especially damage to the nozzle being suspended due to collisions. We want to implement significant changes in the 3D printing operating system. These problems are very unique to the OS of 3D printers."
From a workaday perspective, they start with the freely-available, open source Marlin 3D printer firmware, then implement improvements as customized code modules. They measure the success of their results with satisfiability modulo theories solvers such as Z3.
Jerry arrived in Buffalo after earning his BS from Bangalore University in 2013. He found it to be "cultural shock" but in a good way. "Diversity, different people who come here. You end up learning how to interact with people from different cultures. That's really exciting and fun in itself. You can make friendships and meet people from all over the world to build your network."
"Above all, UB is situated in a very nice location. You live in a part of the city with no traffic jam, that's very quiet and peaceful, and situated near a lake, where I can walk around when I need a break. The people are friendly and helpful. The notion of a suburb is different from India, where everybody likes being in the city. People in Buffalo like to stay in the suburbs because it is more quiet and peaceful."
Now Jerry and his girlfriend, who's in med school at the University of Rochester, are sold on the region. Jerry hopes to win a faculty position in Western New York some day. "That is my dream position. I come from a medium-sized city in India, and after I come here, now I'm in my fourth year in Buffalo, I find a little discomfort in moving to a big city again. I like Western New York." He smiles. "The weather doesn't bother me."