News

Campus Reopening Notice

Starting June 16th, vaccinated EECS faculty, staff, and students can voluntarily return to their offices, labs and other research spaces in Cory and Soda Halls if they follow the procedures outlined in the EECS Safety Manual.  Building restrictions for non-affiliated collaborators, event attendees, and visitors will continue but be loosened over time. Cory and Soda Halls will open during the first week in August.  We are not hosting events or activities until we receive more clarity about regulatory requirements and are able to resume full operations. Most employees will return to campus on July 12th, and in-person instruction will resume for the Fall semester on August 25th, unless otherwise specified by campus. Please continue to check the University Coronavirus Updates and Resources for latest information.

Rediet Abebe and Jelani Nelson to participate in U-M Africa Week

CS Prof. Jelani Nelson and Assistant Prof. Rediet Abebe will be participating on a panel about the "Role of Computing in Africa's Economic Future" at the University of Michigan Africa Week conference on Tuesday, February 16th, from 9:30 am to 10:45 (EST).  U-M Africa Week brings together "thought leaders in higher education, industry, and government for a series of discussions on the key issues and opportunities that will shape Africa in the coming decades."  Nelson is a member of the UC Berkeley Theory Group and is the founder and co-organizer of AddisCoder, a free intensive 4-week summer program which introduces Ethiopian high schoolers to programming and algorithms.  Abebe studies artificial intelligence and algorithms, with a focus on equity and justice concerns.  She is co-founder and co-organizer of the multi-institutional, interdisciplinary research initiative Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG).  The conference will run from February 15 to 19, 2021.

Kam Lau wins IEEE Microwave Pioneer Award

EE Prof. Kam Lau has won the 2021 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Microwave Theory & Techniques Society (MTT-S) Microwave Power Award.  This award recognizes an individual or a small team who have made outstanding pioneering technical contributions that advance microwave theory and techniques, which are described in an archival paper published at least 20 years prior to the year of the award.  Lau was cited for “pioneering developments and commercialization of RF over fiber devices, systems and applications which launched the microwave photonics industry.”   He is known for developing an ultra-stable radio frequency (RF) over fiber system for ultra-precise, long-distance synchronization of antennas, which has enabled both ground-based communication networks and spaceborne planetary radar imaging systems.

Fung Feature: Liaowang Zou

Liaowang (Zoey) Zou, an EECS Master of Engineering (MEng) candidate with a concentration in Data Science and Systems, is the subject of a Coleman Fung Institute interview.  Zou, who grew up in China, describes how she became interested in STEM as a child, what drove her to EECS, her experience working as a consultant for a tech company after graduating from Duke, why she decided to come back to school, and her capstone project on detecting incipient disease using artificial intelligence (AI) models.

New wearable device detects intended hand gestures before they're made

A team of researchers, including EECS graduate students Ali Moin, Andy Zhou, Alisha Menon, George Alexandrov, Jonathan Ting and Yasser Khan, Profs. Ana Arias and Jan Rabaey, postdocs Abbas Rahimi and Natasha Yamamoto, visiting scholar Simone Benatti, and BWRC research engineer Fred Burghardt, have created a new flexible armband that combines wearable biosensors with artificial intelligence software to help recognize what hand gesture a person intends to make based on electrical signal patterns in the forearm.  The device, which was described in a paper published in Nature Electronics in December, can read the electrical signals at 64 different points on the forearm.  These signals are then fed into an electrical chip, which is programmed with an AI algorithm capable of associating these signal patterns in the forearm with 21 specific hand gestures, including a thumbs-up, a fist, a flat hand, holding up individual fingers and counting numbers. The device paves the way for better prosthetic control and seamless interaction with electronic devices.

Rediet Abebe and Shafi Goldwasser to speak at Women in Data Science 2021

Computer Science Assistant Prof. Rediet Abebe and Prof. and alumna Shafi Goldwasser (M.S. '81/Ph.D. '84, advisor: Manuel Blum) are slated to speak at the inaugural  24-hour virtual Women in Data Science (WiDS) conference, hosted by Stanford University on International Women's Day, March 8th.  WiDS first took shape at Stanford in 2015 as a way to inspire and educate data scientists worldwide, regardless of gender, and to support women in the field.  Abebe, who began at Berkeley this spring, is a specialist in artificial intelligence and algorithms, with a focus on equity and justice concerns.  Goldwasser, currently the Director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, is a pioneer in probabilistic encryption, interactive zero knowledge protocols, elliptic curve primality and combinatorial property testings, and hardness of approximation proofs for combinatorial problems.   Andrea Goldsmith (B.A. '86/M.S. '91/Ph.D. '94, advisor: Pravin Varaiya), the 2018 Berkeley EE Distinguished Alumna and Dean of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University, and Meredith Lee, the Berkeley CDSS Chief Technical Advisor, will also be speaking.  The WiDS Berkeley regional event will follow the WiDS Worldwide event, featuring additional speakers on March 9-10.   Register for the WiDS conference now!

Steven Cao and Stephen Tian

Steven Cao wins CRA 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award

Senior EECS student Steven Cao has won a Computing Research Association (CRA) 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award, and senior Stephen Tian was named runner-up.    The award recognizes significant contributions to computing research projects.  Cao (nominated by Prof. Dan Klein)  worked with the Berkeley Natural Language Processing group, where he developed new methods in syntactic parsing for one project, and contributed to the development and testing of new methods to provide more accurate translations between languages in another.  He also worked on developing new and provably correct blockchain protocols and on several projects related to medical imaging.  He co-authored seven papers, including first authorship on papers at three conferences.  He served as Teaching Assistant for two courses while also acting as a research mentor for the group.  Tian (nominated by Prof. Sergey Levine) demonstrated how a robotic finger with a touch sensor could perform myriad tasks using the same reinforcement learning algorithm in one project, and proposed a novel algorithm to allow a robot to achieve a variety of goals indicated as goal images in another.  He co-authored several papers at at least three conferences,  and served as a TA, while also volunteering at events for local high school students.   Ryan Lehmkuhl  (nominated by Prof. Raluca Ada Popa)a was a finalist, and Joey Hejna (nominated by Prof. Pieter Abbeel) received an honorable mention.

Randy Katz to step down as Vice Chancellor for Research

EECS Prof. and alumnus Randy Katz (M.S. '78 / Ph.D. '80) has announced that he will be retiring in June 2021, and will step down as UC Berkeley's Vice Chancellor for Research.  During his tenure as vice chancellor, Katz demonstrated a deep commitment to research excellence at Berkeley, helping to expand the annual research funding budget from $710M to over $800M by vigorously supporting major, multi-year, federally and industrially funded research centers. Philanthropic support for research on campus has also greatly expanded under his guidance with the creation of the Weill Neurohub and Bakar BioEnginuity Hub.   He established the position of a central chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer and encouraged new approaches to managing the University’s intellectual property assets, thereby generating substantial campus revenue.  He oversaw the repatriation of sacred belongings to the Native American community, and revitalized the leadership of campus Organized Research Units (ORUs); leading the campus through complex but orderly ramp-down and ramp-up of research activities in the face of major disruptions, including Public Safety Power Shutdowns, air quality emergencies, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  He also helped lead the International Engagement Policy Task Force to foster international collaboration while safeguarding the campus against undue foreign influence.  During his time in the EECS department, Katz oversaw 52  Ph.D. dissertations and has been honored with the campus Distinguished Teach Award.

Sanjit Seshia and John Canny named ACM Fellows

CS Profs. Sanjit Seshia and John Canny have been named to the 2020 class of fellows of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) in recognition of their fundamental contributions to computing and information technology.  Seshia, whose PhD thesis work at Carnegie Mellon on the UCLID verifier and decision procedure helped pioneer the area of satisfiability modulo theories (SMT) and SMT-based verification, and who has led the development of technologies for cyber-physical systems education based on formal methods, was cited "for contributions to formal verification, inductive synthesis, and cyber-physical systems."  Canny, who has explored roofline design for machine learning, improved inference and representations for deep learning, and is best known for creating the widely used Canny edge detector, was cited "for contributions in robotics, machine perception, human-computer interaction, and ubiquitous computing."  Prof. Emeritus Manuel Blum (now at Carnegie Mellon) was also among the 95 scientists inducted into the 2020 class who represent the top 1% of ACM members.

5 questions for Michael Jordan and Rediet Abebe

CS Prof. Michael Jordan and Assistant Prof. Rediet Abebe are featured in the Center for Data Innovation's "5 Questions" series, in which data innovators discuss their research focus areas and careers.  Jordan, whose research spans computational, statistical, cognitive, and social sciences, discusses how economic concepts can help advance AI as well as the challenges and opportunities of coordinating decision-making in machine learning.  Abebe, who will begin teaching in the spring, is the co-founder of Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG), an initiative that uses techniques from algorithms, optimization, and mechanism design (a field in economics that studies the mechanisms through which a particular outcome or result can be achieved), along with insights from other disciplines, to improve access to opportunity for historically underserved and disadvantaged communities.

Deep learning helps robots grasp and move objects with ease

CS Prof. Ken Goldberg is the co-author of a study published in Science Robotics which describes the creation of a new artificial intelligence software that gives robots the speed and skill to grasp and smoothly move objects, making it feasible for them to soon assist humans in warehouse environments.  He and postdoc Jeffrey Ichnowski had previously created a Grasp-Optimized Motion Planner that could compute both how a robot should pick up an object and how it should move to transfer the object from one location to another, but the motions it generated were jerky.  Then they, along with EECS graduate student Yahav Avigal and undergraduate (3rd year MS) student Vishal Satish, integrated a deep learning neural network into the motion planner, cutting the average computation time from 29 seconds to 80 milliseconds, or less than one-tenth of a second.  Goldberg predicts that, with this and other advances in robotic technology, robots could be assisting in warehouse environments in the next few years.