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  1. Abstract Climate change is altering species’ range limits and transforming ecosystems. For example, warming temperatures are leading to the range expansion of tropical, cold-sensitive species at the expense of their cold-tolerant counterparts. In some temperate and subtropical coastal wetlands, warming winters are enabling mangrove forest encroachment into salt marsh, which is a major regime shift that has significant ecological and societal ramifications. Here, we synthesized existing data and expert knowledge to assess the distribution of mangroves near rapidly changing range limits in the southeastern USA. We used expert elicitation to identify data limitations and highlight knowledge gaps for advancing understanding of past, current, and future range dynamics. Mangroves near poleward range limits are often shorter, wider, and more shrublike compared to their tropical counterparts that grow as tall forests in freeze-free, resource-rich environments. The northern range limits of mangroves in the southeastern USA are particularly dynamic and climate sensitive due to abundance of suitable coastal wetland habitat and the exposure of mangroves to winter temperature extremes that are much colder than comparable range limits on other continents. Thus, there is need for methodological refinements and improved spatiotemporal data regarding changes in mangrove structure and abundance near northern range limits in the southeastern USA. Advancing understanding of rapidly changing range limits is critical for foundation plant species such as mangroves, as it provides a basis for anticipating and preparing for the cascading effects of climate-induced species redistribution on ecosystems and the human communities that depend on their ecosystem services. 
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  2. Witnessing the blooming adoption of push notifications on mobile devices, this new message delivery paradigm has become pervasive in diverse applications. Accompanying with its broad adoption, the potential security risks and privacy exposure issues raise public concerns regarding its great social impacts. This paper conducts the first attempt to exploit the mobile notification ecosystem. By dissecting its structural elements and implementation process, a comprehensive vulnerability analysis is conducted towards the complete flow of mobile notification from platform enrollment to messaging. Meanwhile, for privacy exposure, we first examine the implementation of privacy policy compliance by proposing a three-level inspection approach to guide our analysis. Then, our top-down methods from documentation analysis, application network traffic study, to static analysis expose the illicit data collection behaviors in released applications. In addition, we uncover the potential privacy inference resulted from the notification monitoring. To support our analysis, we conduct empirical studies on 12 most popular notification platforms and perform static analysis over 30,000+ applications. We discover: 1) six platforms either provide ambiguous KEY naming rules or offer vulnerable messaging APIs; 2) privacy policy compliance implementations are either stagnated at the documentation stages (8 of 12 platforms) or never implemented in apps, resulting in billions of users suffering from privacy exposure; and 3) some apps can stealthily monitor notification messages delivering to other apps, potentially incurring user privacy inference risks. Our study raises the urgent demand for better regulations of mobile notification deployment. 
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  3. Serverless computing has become increasingly popular for cloud applications, due to its compelling properties of high-level abstractions, lightweight runtime, high elasticity and pay-per-use billing. In this revolutionary computing paradigm shift, challenges arise when adapting data analytics applications to the serverless environment, due to the lack of support for efficient state sharing, which attract ever-growing research attention. In this paper, we aim to exploit the advantages of task level orchestration and fine-grained resource provisioning for data analytics on serverless platforms, with the hope of fulfilling the promise of serverless deployment to the maximum extent. To this end, we present ACTS, an autonomous cost-efficient task orchestration framework for serverless analytics. ACTS judiciously schedules and coordinates function tasks to mitigate cold-start latency and state sharing overhead. In addition, ACTS explores the optimization space of fine-grained workload distribution and function resource configuration for cost efficiency. We have deployed and implemented ACTS on AWS Lambda, evaluated with various data analytics workloads. Results from extensive experiments demonstrate that ACTS achieves up to 98% monetary cost reduction while maintaining superior job completion time performance, in comparison with the state-of-the-art baselines. 
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  4. Distributed Deep Neural Network (DDNN) training on cloud spot instances is increasingly compelling as it can significantly save the user budget. To handle unexpected instance revocations, provisioning a heterogeneous cluster using the asynchronous parallel mechanism becomes the dominant method for DDNN training with spot instances. However, blindly provisioning a cluster of spot instances can easily result in unpredictable DDNN training performance, mainly because bottlenecks occur on the parameter server network bandwidth and PCIe bandwidth resources, as well as the inadequate cluster heterogeneity. To address the challenges above, we propose spotDNN, a heterogeneity-aware spot instance provisioning framework that provides predictable performance for DDNN training in the cloud. By explicitly considering the contention for bottle-neck resources, we first build an analytical performance model of DDNN training in heterogeneous clusters. It leverages the weighted average batch size and convergence coefficient to quantify the DDNN training loss in heterogeneous clusters. Through a lightweight workload profiling, we further design a cost-efficient instance provisioning strategy which incorporates the bounds calculation and sliding window techniques to effectively guarantee the training performance service level objectives (SLOs). We have implemented a prototype of spotDNN and conducted extensive experiments on Amazon EC2. Experiment results show that spotDNN can deliver predictable DDNN training performance while reducing the monetary cost by up to 68:1% compared to the existing solutions, yet with acceptable runtime overhead. 
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  5. Few studies have explored the complex circuit simulation of stochastic and unary computing systems, which are referred to under the umbrella term of bit-stream processing. The computer simulation of multi-level cascaded circuits with reconvergent paths has not been largely examined in the context of bit-stream processing systems. This study addresses this gap and proposes a contingency table-based reconvergent path-aware simulation method for fast and efficient simulation of multi-level circuits. The proposed method exhibits significantly better runtime and accuracy. 
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  6. Quantum computers in the current noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) era face two major limitations - size and error vulnerability. Although quantum error correction (QEC) methods exist, they are not applicable at the current size of computers, requiring thousands of qubits, while NISQ systems have nearly one hundred at most. One common approach to improve reliability is to adjust the compilation process to create a more reliable final circuit, where the two most critical compilation decisions are the qubit allocation and qubit routing problems. We focus on solving the qubit allocation problem and identifying initial layouts that result in a reduction of error. To identify these layouts, we combine reinforcement learning with a graph neural network (GNN)-based Q-network to process the mesh topology of the quantum computer, known as the backend, and make mapping decisions, creating a Graph Neural Network Assisted Quantum Compilation (GNAQC) strategy. We train the architecture using a set of four backends and six circuits and find that GNAQC improves output fidelity by roughly 12.7% over pre-existing allocation methods. 
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  7. Hyperdimensional computing (HDC) offers a singlepass learning system by imitating the brain-like signal structure. HDC data structure is in random hypervector format for better orthogonality. Similarly, in bit-stream processing – aka stochastic computing– systems, low-discrepancy (LD) sequences are used for the efficient generation of uncorrelated bit-streams. However, LD-based hypervector generation has never been investigated before. This work studies the utilization of LD Sobol sequences as a promising alternative for encoding hypervectors. The new encoding technique achieves highly-accurate classification with a single-time training step without needing to iterate repeatedly over random rounds. The accuracy evaluations in an embedded environment exhibit a classification rate improvement of up to 9.79% compared to the conventional random hypervector encoding. 
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  8. Sorting is a fundamental function in many applications from data processing to database systems. For high performance, sorting-hardware based sorting designs are implemented by conventional binary or emerging stochastic computing (SC) approaches. Binary designs are fast and energy-efficient but costly to implement. SC-based designs, on the other hand, are area and power-efficient but slow and energy-hungry. So, the previous studies of the hardware-based sorting further faced scalability issues. In this work, we propose a novel scalable low-cost design for implementing sorting networks. We borrow the concept of SC for the area- and power efficiency but use weighted stochastic bit-streams to address the high latency and energy consumption issue of SC designs. A new lock and swap (LAS) unit is proposed to sort weighted bit-streams. The LAS-based sorting network can determine the result of comparing different input values early and then map the inputs to the corresponding outputs based on shorter weighted bit-streams. Experimental results show that the proposed design approach achieves much better hardware scalability than prior work. Especially, as increasing the number of inputs, the proposed scheme can reduce the energy consumption by about 3.8% - 93% compared to prior binary and SC-based designs. 
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