News

David Wang and Samantha Wathugala named 2019 Siebel Scholars

CS graduate students David Wang and Samantha Wathugala have been named to the Siebel Scholars Foundation’s 2019 class.  The Siebel Scholars program recognizes top students at the world’s leading graduate schools of bioengineering, business, computer science and energy science, and comes with a $35,000 award.  Wathugala applies state-of-the-art deep learning techniques to object detection, grasping and manipulation in an unstructured domain, using a toy-collecting robot.  Wang uses deep learning to build accurate, reliable systems for precision irrigation and autonomous driving.


College of Engineering reports 7% increase in female students admitted for 2018-19

UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering has seen a 7 percent increase in the number of female students admitted for the 2018–19 academic year, according to the college’s admissions statistics.  Multiple strategies have been implemented in recent years to increase the number of female engineering students: reaching out to middle school students, making work more relevant to societal needs, offering hands-on experience, and building community.  Female engineering students have faced difficulty entering the male-dominated college.  In 2017, women constituted 25 percent of freshmen and 19 percent of transfers, this year, women made up 32 percent of incoming freshmen and 26 percent of transfers.

Alisha Menon will study ways to help the brain talk to computers

Incoming graduate student Alisha Menon is featured in a community post on the Beaverton Patch titled "Brilliant Teen Seeks PhD At UC Berkeley With STEM Award."  Menon graduated from Oregon Connections Academy (ORCA), a statewide online public high school, at age 16 and took only 3 years to complete her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Arizona State University.  She will attend Berkeley in the fall on an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, studying Control, Intelligent Systems, and Robotics (CIR).  "I see the potential for infinite applications - from prosthetics controlled directly by neural signals to brain-computer interfaces that will eliminate the need for secondary interaction tools like keyboards," Menon said. "There are so many directions (that) technology that interacts with the brain can go. Some of these ideas are currently being developed such as virtual reality/artificial reality interfaces, rehabilitation systems, and deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's. Other ideas are more futuristic such as 'typing' using neural signals. I can't wait to be a part of this field as it grows and develops!"

K. Shankari warns that Google is tracking you

CS graduate student K.Shankari (advisors: Randy Katz and David Culler) is featured in an AP News article titled "AP Exclusive: Google tracks your movements, like it or not."  Shankari, who studies the commuting patterns of volunteers in order to help urban planners,  noticed that her Android phone prompted her to rate a shopping trip to Kohl’s, even though she had turned Location History off.  When Location History is turned off,  iPhones and Androids display pop-ups which say "None of your Google apps will be able to store location data in Location History" and “places you go with your devices will stop being added to your Location History map," respectively.  However, the Google account web page admits that “some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other Google services, like Search and Maps.”  “I am not opposed to background location tracking in principle,” said Shankari. “It just really bothers me that it is not explicitly stated.”

Explore UC Berkeley’s culture of entrepreneurship with Hriday Kemburu

CS alumnus Hriday Kemburu (B.A. '16) is featured in a Daily Cal article about UC Berkeley’s start up ecosystem titled "‘Dream, build and start up’: Exploring UC Berkeley’s culture of entrepreneurship.'   Kemburu is the CEO of Wildfire,  which began as a UC Berkeley-specific safety app during Kemburu's senior year and branched out into a communications platform spanning more than 30 campuses.  Wildfire is used for spreading the word about anything from crimes to celebrity sightings.  Berkeley's network of startup incubators, accelerators, investors and classes have helped launch hundreds of companies.

Jun-Yan Zhu wins ACM SIGGRAPH Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award

CS alumnus Jun-Yan Zhu (Ph.D. '17, advisor: Alexei Efros) has won the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH) Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award. Zhu is a pioneer in the use of modern machine learning in computer graphics. His dissertation is arguably the first to systematically attack the problem of natural image synthesis using deep neural networks. As such, his work has already had an enormous impact on the field, with several of his contributions, most notably CycleGAN, becoming widely-used tools not just for researchers in computer graphics and beyond, but also for visual artists.

Panamanian Hackers Unite!

The inaugural edition of PanamaHackea, an educational hackathon for the peoples of Panama, will be held on Saturday, September 29, 2018, in Torre de Las Américas, Panama City.  This event is the brainchild of 6 students from 4 schools, including Berkeley CS junior Rafael Félix, who hope to inspire and empower "a new generation of Panamanian designers, entrepreneurs, and engineers" by making new technologies more available and accessible to everyone.  In the months leading up to the event, they will create and share tutorials, workshops, tools and resources covering topics from the basics of programming to the latest in Machine Learning.  Participants will enjoy space, food, comaraderie, challenges, and prizes, in a supportive and collaborative environment.

Lensless Cameras May Offer Detailed Imaging of Neural Circuitry

EECS graduate students Nick Antipa and Grace Kuo, along their advisor Associate Prof. Laura Waller, have penned an article for Photonics Media titled "Lensless Cameras May Offer Detailed Imaging of Neural Circuitry" about a new architecture which could enable simultaneous monitoring of millions of neurons in 3D space at frame rates limited only by image sensor read times.  Instead of using a large, lens-based light-field microscope to image individual brain neurons, the DiffuserCam lensless imaging architecture consists of a diffuser placed in front of a 2D image sensor. When an object is placed in front of the diffuser, its volumetric information is encoded into a single 2D measurement.   Borrowing tools from the field of compressed sensing, a 3D image is reconstructed by solving a sparsity-constrained optimization problem.

Maxim Rabinovich named 2018 Hertz-Gates Fellow

CS Ph.D. student Maxim Rabinovich (joint advisors: Michael Jordan and Daniel Klein) has received a 2018 Fannie and John Hertz Foundation Hertz-Gates Fellowship in Global Health and Development.  Rabinovich is currently researching machine learning and natural language processing, and is interested in developing artificial intelligence tools that support and extend human reasoning. Recent work in this direction includes projects on minimax theory for multiple testing, code generation from natural language specifications, fine-grained entity typing, and function-specific mixing rates for MCMC.  Rabinovich's work has been supported by the Hertz Foundation since 2015.

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.”