News

CS faculty and alumni participate in Turing Award 50th Anniversary

The Turing Award 50th Anniversary celebration was held at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco on June 23-24, 2017.   CS Professors Stuart Russell and Michael Jordan participated on a panel discussion about advances in deep neural networks, Prof. Umesh Vazirani moderated a panel on quantum computing.  Prof. Emeritus and Turing winner Michael Stonebraker discussed the legal ramifications of collecting data from a growing number of devices with different encoding formats, and alumnus and Turing winner Butler Lampson (Ph.D. '67) participated on a panel about the end of Moore's Law.

The ACM A.M. Turing Award is considered the "Nobel prize of computing," and comes with a $1 million prize for contributions of lasting and major technical importance to the computing field.   EECS faculty have won four:  Richard Karp for theory and efficiency of algorithms (NP-completeness) in 1985, William Kahan for numerical analysis (floating-point) in 1989, Manuel Blum for computational complexity theory and cryptography in 1995, and Michael Stonebraker for modern database systems in 2014.  EECS alumni have won seven: Ken Thompson (B.S. '65/M.S. '66) for operating systems theory (UNIX) in 1983, Niklaus Wirth (Ph.D. '63) for computer languages (EULER/Pascal, etc.) in 1984, Butler Lampson (Ph.D. '67) for distributed, personal computing (workstations, networks, etc.) in 1992, Douglas Englebart (MS. '53/Ph.D. '55) for interactive computing in 1997, Leonard Adleman (Ph.D. '76) for public-key cryptography in 2002, and Shafi Goldwasser (M.S. '81/Ph.D. '84) with Silvio Micali (Ph.D. '82) for cryptography and complexity theory in 2012.

Paper co-authored by Sanjit Seshia and Alexandre Donze receives 2017 IEEE Transactions on CAD Donald O. Pederson Best Paper Award

A paper co-authored by Prof. Sanjit A. Seshia and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Alexandre Donze, along with researchers from Toyota, has been selected for the 2017 IEEE Transactions on CAD Donald O. Pederson Best Paper Award. This award recognizes the best paper published in the Transactions on Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems publication. Donald O. Pederson was a professor of electrical engineering in EECS and one of the designers of SPICE, the canonical integrated circuit simulator. The paper, entitled "Mining Requirements from Closed-Loop Control Models", received this recognition at the 54th Design Automation Conference.

Vasuki Narasimha Swamy and César Torres win Microsoft Research Dissertation Grants

EE graduate student Vasuki Narasimha Swamy (adviser: Anant Sahai) and CS graduate student César Torres (adviser: Eric Paulos) have won inaugural Microsoft Research Dissertation Grants.  These grants offer financial support to selected doctoral students from groups that are under-represented in the field of computing.  Of the 200 applicants, only 12 were chosen.  Vasuki's research topic is “Real-time Ultra-reliable Wireless Communication” and César's is “Hybrid Aesthetics – A New Media Framework for the Computational Design of Creative Materials, Tools, and Practices within Digital Fabrication.”

Edgar Solomonik wins Householder Prize for best dissertation in numerical linear algebra

Alumnus Edgar Solomonik (CS Ph.D. '14,  adviser: James Demmel) has won the Alston S. Householder Prize XX (2017)  for the best dissertation in numerical linear algebra.  The Householder prize, which is presented once every three years at a Symposium held in cooperation with the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and the SIAM Activity Group on Linear Algebra, has two winners this year.  Edgar's dissertation,  titled "Provably Efficient Algorithms for Numerical Tensor Algebra," also won the EECS Department's David J. Sakrison Memorial Prize for truly outstanding research. Edgar is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dawn Tilbury named head of NSF Engineering Directorate

EECS alumna Dawn Tilbury (M.S.'92, Ph.D.'94) will lead investments in fundamental engineering research and education as the newly appointed head of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Engineering (ENG).  ENG supports engineering research and education critical to the nation's future and fosters innovations that benefit society.   It provides about 32 percent of the federal funding for fundamental research in engineering at academic institutions.  Dawn has been a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan, focusing in the area of control systems, with a courtesy appointment in the EECS department.  She also formerly served as associate dean for research in UMich's College of Engineering.  "I welcome the opportunity to work with the engineering and scientific community to address the big challenges that face the nation and world today," she says.

Jose Carmena in IEEE article titled “Timeline: The Evolution of Assistive Technologies”.

Jose Carmena is mentioned in IEEE’s publication The Institute in an article titled “Timeline: The Evolution of Assistive Technologies”  (see timeline at the bottom of the article, year 2017). In celebration of The Institute's 40th anniversary this article highlights topics and technologies  over the past four decades that have applied electronics to significantly help people overcome disabilities. Professor Carmena is recognized for contributions to the neural basis of motor-skill learning and neuroprosthetic systems. His research program in neural engineering and systems neuroscience is aimed at understanding the neural basis of sensorimotor learning and control, and at building the science and engineering base that will allow the creation of reliable neuroprosthetic systems for the severely disabled. He is also co-chair of the IEEE Brain Initiative and Co-Director of the Center for Neural Engineering and Prostheses at UC Berkeley and UCSF.

Sculpted Light in the Brain

In an effort to gather scientists at the interface between neurosciences, optical engineering, and computer science, an all-day conference is being held on Friday, June 9, in Stanley Hall titled Sculpted Light in the Brain.   Participants are united in their mission to develop technologies to enable real time optical communication with the living brain.  The endeavor was initiated with a $2k seed grant to the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) and grew into a $20K showcase for the collaboration between neuroscientists, electrical engineers, and computer scientists, highlighting U.C. Berkeley's position as a preeminent leader in brain research. The conference, which already has a 50 person waitlist, will host 11 fully funded speakers including EE Associate Prof. Laura Waller,  present 25 posters, and is supported by a dozen corporate sponsors .

Armando Solar-Lezama: Academic success despite an inauspicious start

Alumnus and Mexican immigrant Armando Solar-Lezama (CS Ph.D. '08) is the subject of an MIT News article describing some of the academic obstacles he had to overcome on his path to becoming a tenured professor at MIT.  Armando's creative  approaches to his class assignments were discouraged in Mexico and despite self-educating to narrow the gap, he experienced systematic repression in high school when he moved to Texas with his family in 1997.  After he graduated from Texas A&M, he was welcomed into the Berkeley EECS graduate program.  Under the mentorship of Prof. Ras Bodik, Armando discovered the nascent area of "program synethesis," which has since blossomed into a popular field of research.  Read about Armando's challenging and inspiring journey.

Meet the most nimble-fingered robot yet

Many researchers are working on ways for robots to learn to grasp and manipulate things by practicing over and over, but the process is very time-consuming. The research work on robotic deep learning by Prof. Ken Goldberg is featured on the cover of MIT Review in an article titled "Meet the Most Nimble-Fingered Robot Yet".  Instead of practicing in the real world, Prof. Ken Goldberg and colleagues have developed a robot that learns by feeding on a data set of more than a thousand objects that includes their 3-D shape, visual appearance, and the physics of grasping them. This data set was used to train the robot’s deep-learning system. Advances in control algorithms and machine-learning approaches, together with new hardware, are steadily building a foundation on which a new generation of robots will operate.

David Culler named Interim Dean for the Division of Data Sciences

Prof. David Culler has been appointed the Interim Dean for the newly created Division of Data Sciences.  The purpose of the new division is to bring techniques to bear in statistics, mathematics, and computer science on new sources of data.  One of their goals is the creation of an undergraduate data science major and data science minor.   Prof. Culler's duties will include fostering a cooperative atmosphere among the relevant faculties; working with the administration to form an advisory board with representation of key external constituencies; advancing fundraising efforts in concert with broader campus fundraising objectives; and enlisting a team of Berkeley faculty members who will work with him to develop the initiative. He will begin his new role on July 1, 2017 for a two-year term.