News

Andrea Goldsmith wins IEEE Eric E. Sumner Award

2018 Distinguished Alumna Andrea Goldsmith (B.A. '86/M.S. '91/Ph.D. '94, advisor: Pravin Varaiya) has won the IEEE Eric E. Sumner Award "for contributions to the fundamental understanding and innovation in adaptive and multiple antenna techniques for wireless communication networks."    The Sumner Award is sponsored by Nokia Bell Labs and recognizes outstanding contributions to communications technology. Goldsmith, who is the Stephen Harris Professor of Electrical Engineering in the School of Engineering at Stanford University, is an expert in the design, analysis and fundamental performance limits of wireless systems and networks, and in the application of communication theory and signal processing to neuroscience.

Chelsea Finn is one of MIT TR's 2018 35 Innovators Under 35

CS PhD student Chelsea Finn (advisers: Pieter Abbeel and Sergey Levine) has been named to MIT Technology Review's 2018 list of "35 Innovators Under 35," an honor which recognizes "exceptionally talented young innovators whose work we believe has the greatest potential to transform the world."  Finn is cited in the Pioneers category because "her robots act like toddlers—watching adults, copying them in order to learn."  She works in the Berkeley AI Research Lab (BAIR) developing robots that can learn just by observing and exploring their environment. Her algorithms require much less data than is usually needed to train an AI—so little that robots running her software can learn how to manipulate an object just by watching one video of a human doing it. “In many ways, the capabilities of robotic systems are still in their infancy,” she says. “The goal is to have them gain common sense.”

Alessandro Chiesa named one of MIT TR's 35 Innovators Under 35

CS Assistant Prof. Alessandro Chiesa has been named to the 2018 roster of MIT Technology Review's "35 Innovators Under 35."  The list acknowledges "exceptionally talented young innovators whose work we believe has the greatest potential to transform the world."  Chiesa, who co-founded Zcash, was cited in the Pioneers category for "a cryptocurrency that’s as private as cash."  Zcash employs a cryptographic protocol called a succinct zero-knowledge proof--an efficient way to convince both parties to a transaction that something is true without divulging any other information. It allows people to do transactions online without risking their privacy or exposing themselves to identity theft.  Launched 4 years ago, Zcash now has a market cap of over a billion dollars.

John Schulman named MIT TR Pioneering Innovator Under 35

CS alumnus John Schulman (Ph.D. '16, adviser: Pieter Abbeel) has been named to MIT Technology Review's 2018 list of "35 Innovators Under 35," an honor which recognizes "exceptionally talented young innovators whose work we believe has the greatest potential to transform the world."  Schulman, whose dissertation was on "Optimizing Expectations: From Deep Reinforcement Learning to Stochastic Computation Graphs," is cited in the Pioneer category for "training AI to be smarter and better, one game of Sonic the Hedgehog at a time."   He is the co-founder of OpenAI, where he has created some key algorithms in reinforcement learning: he trains AI agents in the same way you might train a dog, by offering a treat for a correct response--in this case, by racking up a high score in a video game.  These algorithms, once trained, might be applied in the real world, where they can be used to improve robot locomotion.

Siemens to acquire startup Comfy

German conglomerate Siemens announced it will acquire Comfy, an Oakland-based startup co-founded in 2012 by two CS alumni, Andrew Krioukov (M.S. '13) and Stephen Dawson-Haggerty (Ph.D. '14).  Both students were advised by David Culler.  Comfy (formerly named Building Robotics) is an end-to-end solution utilizing sensors and smart technology to control all aspects of the workplace environment, allowing office workers to not just control temperature and lighting but determine whether a room is currently empty.  This comprehensive approach has helped Comfy land numerous tech giant clients, including Microsoft, Intel, Salesforce and Infosys.  "Our unique strength is that we have, from the beginning, focused on the end user experience," explained Krioukov. "The building of the future that we envision is one that from the moment you walk into work, it knows who you are and what you're doing that day."  The purchase is part of Siemens' expansion into smart building strategies.

Joseph Hellerstein uses machine learning to search science data

Prof. Joseph Hellerstein is one of the principal investigators of a research team who are developing innovative machine learning tools to pull contextual information from scientific datasets and automatically generate metadata tags for each file. Scientists can then search these files via a web-based search engine for scientific data, called Science Search, that the Berkeley team is building.  The work is being done in conjunction with the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) including principal investigators Katie Antypas, Lavanya Ramakrishnan and Gunther Weber.  “Our ultimate vision is to build the foundation that will eventually support a ‘Google’ for scientific data, where researchers can even search distributed datasets," said Ramakrishnan. "Our current work provides the foundation needed to get to that ambitious vision.”

Soumen Chakrabarti and Sunita Sarawagi among 10 Best Machine Learning Researchers in India

Two CS alumni, Soumen Chakrabarti (Ph.D. '96, advisor: Katherine Yelick) and Sunita Sarawagi (Ph.D. '96, advisor: Michael Stonebraker), both currently CSE professors at IIT Bombay, have made the 2018 list of Analytics India Magazine's Top 10 Machine Learning Researchers in India. Chakrabarti's research interests include better embedding representation for passages, entities, types and relation; searching the annotated Web with entities, types and relations; and Graph conductance search. He holds eight US patents, has produced 167 research papers, and authored one of the earliest books on web search and mining.  Sarawagi is interested in deep learning, web information extraction, data integration, graphical models and structured learning.  She has published more than 130 research papers and holds four patents.

Bin Yu wins COPSS 2018 Elizabeth L. Scott Award

EE/CS Prof. and alumna Bin Yu (M.S. '87/Ph.D. '90) has won the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) 2018 Elizabeth L. Scott Award.  This award is granted to an individual who has helped foster opportunities in statistics for women, exemplifying the spirit of mathematician and statistician Elizabeth L. Scott. Scott, who like Yu was a Cal alumna and professor, was a founding member of Berkeley's statistics department and fought hard for women's equal treatment on campus and beyond.  COPSS is comprised of the presidents, past presidents and presidents-elect of five Northern American statistical societies, and their awards are considered among the most prestigious in the field of statistics. Yu, who has a split appointment in EECS and Statistics, is interested in statistical inference, machine learning, and information theory. Her collaborations are highly interdisciplinary and include scientists from genomics, neuroscience, precision medicine, and political science.

Joseph Gonzalez wins 2018 Okawa Research Grant

CS Assistant Prof. Joey Gonzalez has won a 2018 Okawa Research Foundation Grant.  Okawa Research Grants are bestowed for "studies and analyses in the fields of information and telecommunications."  Gonzalez's research interests are at the intersection of machine learning and data systems. The award will be presented in San Francisco in the fall.

Shankar Sastry on universities and the digital transformation of society

Prof. Shankar Sastry, dean of the College of Engineering, has written an article in Berkeley Engineer magazine about the radical transformation of technology and our world.  He explores how new technologies are impacting different sectors of society and how universities can help, not just through cutting edge research, but also by addressing growing concerns about privacy, social issues, law, and economics.  "Our challenge going forward is to meld these new technologies with economic, business, legal, behavioral and many other tools and advances to design a society we will be glad to live in, even in the face of dramatic changes in how we work and live. This indeed will be our mantra going forward in Inventing the Future," he said.