News

Brett and Chelsea Finn

The education of Brett the robot

CS Prof. Pieter Abbeel, graduate student Chelsea Finn, and Brett the robot are featured in a Wired article titled "The Education of Brett the Robot" which delves into some of the nuts and bolts of machine learning.  Brett (short for Berkeley Robot for the Elimination of Tedious Tasks) is using a reinforcement learning algorithm to allow it to learn from its mistakes.  Abbeel will speak on "Deep Learning-to-Learn Robotic Control" at the EECS Colloquium on October 11th.

Lotfi Zadeh's farewell ceremony (photo: Azeri News)

President Aliyev attends farewell ceremony for Lotfi Zadeh

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended a farewell ceremony for Prof. Emeritus Lotfi Zadeh, held at the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) in Baku.  The ceremony was attended by many prominent Azerbaijani state and government officials, scientists, and public figures.  Education Minister Mikayil Jabbarov said that his last wish was to be buried in his homeland. “This shows that he lived with Azerbaijan in his heart till his last breath. His contributions to world science are unparalleled.”  Zadeh passed away on September 6, at the age of 96.  He was laid to rest in the 1st Alley of Honor in Baku.

CS major Saloni Shah

Saloni Shah and Dan Garcia talk about challenges for women in CS

Senior CS major Saloni Shah and Teaching Prof. Dan Garcia are featured in a TechRepublic cover story titled "The state of women in computer science: An investigative report."   They discuss some of the challenges of attracting and retaining women students in computer science, and some of the efforts that Berkeley has made to bridge the gap.  Shah has interned at Google the past two summers and has participated in—and won—several collegiate hackathons.  She describes instances where her fellow students have suggested that her achievements were the result of affirmative action.  "I have all of these projects," she says. "I have definitely shown I can do it."  "I don't think they actually believe that women don't belong in computer science," she adds. But when they say that her accomplishments were possible only because she received special treatment as a woman, she explains that it's usually "a means of justifying why they didn't get something."

Dust in the Machine

Chancellor's Professor of Electrical Engineering and Neuroscience Jose Carmena, and Prof. Michel Maharbiz, are the subjects of a California Magazine article titled "Dust in the Machine," about brain-machine interface (BMI) research.  In 2013, Carmena, Maharbiz, then-graduate student Dongjin Seo (Ph.D. '16), Prof. Jan Rabaey, and Prof. Elad Alon published a paper on a new kind of implantable bioelectronics--a neural interface called "neural dust"--that was the size of a 1-millimeter cube, wireless, battery-less, and small enough to be placed in the peripheral nervous system and muscles.  The article describes BMI systems and subsequent technological advances and challenges.  Carmena is also co-director of the Center for Neural Engineering and Prostheses at Berkeley and UCSF.

CS Prof. Lotfi Zadeh, 1921-2017

Lotfi Zadeh wins 2017 Golden Goose Award

CS Prof. Emeritus Lotfi Zadeh has posthumously won a 2017 Golden Goose Award for "Fuzzy Logic, Clear Impact," sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).  The award honors teams of scientists whose silly-sounding taxpayer-funded research has returned serious benefits to society.  "Zadeh proposed these revolutionary concepts in 1965 to deal with the mathematics and logic of imprecise information, receiving a skeptical response and howls of 'complete nonsense.' He even drew the attention of Senator William Proxmire and the infamous Golden Fleece Award. But since the concept's debut, the original research paper has become one of the most widely cited in history, used in more than 16,000 patents and applied to efficiency improvements for HVAC systems, healthcare devices and more."  The winners will be honored at a ceremony at the Library of Congress this evening."  Prof. Zadeh passed away earlier this month.

CS Assistant Prof. Anca Dragan

Anca Dragan wants autonomous cars to understand people

CS Assistant Prof. Anca Dragan is one of the subjects of a San Francisco Chronicle article titled "Humanizing cars, sensitizing humans,"  about how the rise of robot vehicles will require reprogramming our relationship with them.  Dragan was interviewed for the section on "emotional intelligence" and what a robot car sees.  She said driverless cars will need to predict what humans on the road will do — and figure out how to behave appropriately around them.  Dragan is testing a computer model of an autonomous vehicle which nudges toward the adjacent lane and detects whether the simulated human driver hits the brakes or the accelerator, fairly similar to how most people change lanes.  “Those reactions tell it about your driving style, so it can anticipate whether it should merge or let you go first,” she said. “We’re excited to see that the car can ‘reason’ properly about people.”

Pulkit Agrawal (photo: Nitesh Mor)

Pulkit Agrawal is teaching machines how to be curious

CS Ph.D. student Pulkit Agrawal (advisers: Jitendra Malik and Jack Gallant) is the subject of a Quant Magazine article titled "Clever Machines Learn How to Be Curious."  Agrawal is working at the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab with CS grad student Deepak Pathak, Pathak's adviser Prof. Trevor Darrell, and CS Prof. Alexei A. Efros,  to design experimental machine-learning algorithms which aim to "make a machine curious."  They equipped their learning agent with what they call an intrinsic curiosity module (ICM) designed to pull it forward through a video game without going haywire, despite having no prior understanding of the game. “You can think of curiosity as a kind of reward which the agent generates internally on its own, so that it can go explore more about its world,” Agrawal said.

Schematic of a solar-powered electrolysis cell (Clarissa Towle/Berkeley Lab)

Ali Javey helps demonstrate efficient, light-powered production of fuel via artificial photosynthesis

Research co-authored by EE Prof. Ali Javey has demonstrated that the power of photosynthesis can be harnessed to convert carbon dioxide into fuels and alcohols at efficiencies far greater than plants. The achievement marks a significant milestone in the effort to move toward sustainable sources of fuel.  The study, titled "Efficient solar-driven electrochemical CO2 reduction to hydrocarbons and oxygenates," was led by Berkeley Lab postdoctoral fellow Gurudayal and co-authored by LBLpostdoctoral researcher James Bullock, who works in Javey's lab, among others.  “This is a big step forward in the design of devices for efficient CO2 reduction and testing of new materials, and it provides a clear framework for the future advancement of fully integrated solar-driven CO2-reduction devices,” said Berkeley Lab chemist Frances Houle,  who was not part of the study.

CS Prof. Kathy Yelick

Kathy Yelick Charts the Promise and Progress of Exascale Science

CS Prof. Katherine Yelick is the subject of an interview in HPCwire in which she discusses the promise and progress of exascale science.  The article follows on the heels of Yelick's keynote address on "Breakthrough Science at the Exascale" at the ACM Europe Conference in Barcelona, Spain, earlier this month.  The fastest supercomputers in the world today solve problems at the petascale—that is a quadrillion calculations each second.  Exascale computing refers to systems capable of at least  one exaFLOPS, or a billion billion calculations per second.  Yelick's research interestes include parallel programming languages, compilers, algorithms and automatic performance tuning.   She is the Associate Laboratory Director (ALD) for Computing Sciences at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).

Prof. Jan Rabaey

Jan Rabaey wins 2017 SRC Aristotle Award

EE Prof. Jan Rabaey has won the 2017 Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) Aristotle Award.  The award recognizes SRC-supported faculty whose deep commitment to the educational experience of SRC students has had a profound and continuing impact on their professional performance and, consequently, a significant impact for members over a long period of time.   Rabaey was cited for having "made high-impact contributions to a number of fields, including advanced wireless systems, low power integrated circuits, sensor networks, and ubiquitous computing.  His current interests include the conception of the next-generation integrated wireless systems, as well as the exploration of the interaction between the cyber and the biological world."  The award was presented at  TECHCON 2017 on September 12th.