News

Stuart Russell dissects the hype around AI in Paris

CS Prof. Stuart Russell's speech at an event at the American Library in Paris titled "AI And The Future Of Humanity" has been described as a "potential game-changer."  The lecture is explored in an article for Forbes by  Lauren deLisa Coleman titled "Here's The Real Reason You're Terrified Of The $1.2-Trillion AI Industry But Don't Yet Truly Know Why."  Russell is credited with dissecting the hype around AI, including affirming the value of the technology to humanity while asking questions about the ways it might evolve, and exploring some of the shared strategies that are needed during the foundation of this evolution.  The event was produced by Ivy Plus European Leaders, a think tank of alumni from leading US and European Universities, in partnership with UC Berkeley and UC Davis.

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.

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.”

Tsu-Jae King Liu named Dean of Berkeley Engineering

Prof. Tsu-Jae King Liu has been selected as the new Dean of the College of Engineering.  King Liu served as Associate Dean for Research in the College from 2008-12, Chair of the EECS department from 2014-16, and Vice Provost for Academic and Space Planning on the Berkeley campus from 2016-18. She is a member of both the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors, and is internationally recognized for her research innovations in semiconductor devices and technology, garnering numerous awards and honors for her work.  King Liu is replacing Prof. Shankar Sastry, who held the post for more than 10 years.

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.

PerfFuzz wins ISSTA18 Distinguished Paper Award

"PerfFuzz: Automatically Generating Pathological Inputs," written by graduate students Caroline Lemieux and Rohan Padhye, and Profs. Koushik Sen and Dawn Song, will receive a Distinguished Paper Award from the ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Software Testing and Analysis (ISSTA) 2018 in Amsterdam in July.  PerfFuzz is a method to automatically generate inputs for software programs via feedback-directed mutational fuzzing.  These inputs exercise pathological behavior across program locations, without any domain knowledge.   The authors found that PerfFuzz outperforms prior work by generating inputs that exercise the most-hit program branch 5x to 69x times more, and result in 1.9x to 24.7x longer total execution paths.

Raluca Ada Popa and Sanjam Garg awarded Hellman Fellowships

CS Assistant Professors Raluca Ada Popa and Sanjam Garg have been selected to receive Hellman Fellowships.  The Hellman Fellows Fund substantially supports "research of promising assistant professors who show capacity for great distinction in their research." Popa's interests include security, systems, and applied cryptography.  She has developed practical systems that protect data confidentiality by computing over encrypted data, as well as designed new encryption schemes that underlie these systems.  Garg's research interests are in cryptography and security, and more broadly in theoretical computer science.  His work on multilinear maps and obfuscation has found extensive applications in cryptography. Other recent EECS faculty recipients of this award include Thomas Courtade, Tapan Parikh, Michael Lustig, and Pieter Abbeel.

Shankar Sastry Awarded Berkeley Citation

Prof. Shankar Sastry was awarded the Berkeley Citation, one of the university's highest honors, at the College of Engineering's 2018 Commencement ceremony on March 15th.  It celebrated Sastry's tenure of more than a decade as the dean of engineering, which is ending this year.  The award, which was kept as a surprise, honors Sastry’s achievements and leadership. As dean, he helped lead the growth of the college’s educational and support programs for students, fostered opportunities for world-class research faculty, and increased Berkeley Engineering’s footprint, through the creation of new buildings, institutes and alliances and partnerships with other university and research partners.  “The last decade has been remarkable,” said Vice Chancellor Oscar Dubón, “thanks in no small part to Shankar’s vision, energy and enthusiasm for Berkeley and its students. With creative new approaches, he met the challenge of preparing our graduates for a changing world, increasing our focus on design, entrepreneurship, hands-on learning, and integrating business or clinical skills with engineering.”

Explainable AI could reduce the impact of biased algorithms

CS Assistant Prof. Joseph Gonzalez is quoted in an article for VentureBeat titled "Explainable AI could reduce the impact of biased algorithms."   The article discusses the ways human bias could potentially be introduced into machine learning-enabled systems and how General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) might help. Collecting data from the past is a common starting point for data science projects — but historical “data is often biased in ways that we don’t want to transfer to the future,” said Gonzalez.  “It is an incredibly hard problem...but by getting very smart people thinking about this problem and trying to codify a better approach or at least state what the approach is, I think that will help make progress.”