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.

Ion Stoica and Scott Shenker donate $50M for construction of new CDSS building

CS Profs. Ion Stoica and Scott Shenker have each donated $25M toward the construction of The Gateway, the new building that will house the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS).  The Gateway is conceived as "a planned nexus for collaborative, integrated data science and computing education and research to solve societal problems," and will be located on Hearst Avenue near the Scenic Avenue intersection.  The combined gift of $75M, which includes an equal share from a third anonymous donor, will support the development and construction of the building, and the creation of two new full-time faculty positions.  The project also received a windfall in February 2020 when another anonymous donor contributed $252M to the project. “These generous gifts are so inspiring and represent great momentum for the Gateway,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol T. Christ. “The gifts from faculty speak not only to the power of Berkeley’s vision of data science and computing but also to the unique impact of our faculty in driving innovation and change from the ground up.

Yang "Linda" Huang launches new novel: My Good Son

EECS Instructional Support Group (ISG) systems administrator Yang "Linda" Huang, has just published her third book, My Good Son (University of New Orleans Press, May 2021).  The novel, described as "layered, evocative and engaging" by Ms Magazine, had been selected for the University of New Orleans (UNO) Publishing Lab Prize "for the best unpublished novel or short story collection" by authors from around the world.  Like Huang's previous work, "My Good Son" focuses on the generational and cultural complexities of post-Tiananmen Chinese family life.  The story centers on a traditional Chinese father striving for the success of his son, and explores "the parallels and differences of American and Chinese cultures―father-son relationships, familial expectations, sexuality, social mobility, and privilege."  "My Good Son" was reviewed by both the  New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.  Huang, who was featured in the Chinese Literature Podcast on June 4th, will be participating in a Virtual Launch at Booksmith on June 9th, where she will engage in a conversation with author Kaitlin Solimine.

EECS department welcomes new leadership

The EECS department will be welcoming three new chairs, all of whom are EECS alumni, to guide the department for the next two years.  The new tripartite structure reflects the growth and changing needs of the department, which has been managed by a two-person leadership team for over 20 years.   Prof. Claire Tomlin (Ph.D. '98, advisor: Shankar Sastry), the new EECS department chair, will be largely responsible for outward-facing communications and strategic matters.  She will be just the second woman to hold this position since the EECS department formed 90 years ago (Tsu-Jae King Liu was the first in 2014).  Tomlin is known for her outstanding research in control systems and robotics, and is currently the Faculty Director of the CITRIS Sustainable Infrastructures Initiative.  The division chairs will be responsible for day to day operations and academic matters: Prof. Clark Nguyen (B.S. '89/M.S. '91/Ph.D. '94, advisor: Jitendra Malik), a pioneer in micro electromechanical systems, will be the new EE division Chair; and Prof. David Wagner (M.S. '99/Ph.D. '00, advisor: Eric Brewer), an expert in cryptography and computer security, will be the new CS division chair.  Outgoing EECS chair Jeff Bokor and CS chair John Canny successfully shepherded EECS through the COVID-19 pandemic with vision and resourcefulness.  They greatly expanded faculty diversity by overseeing the recruitment of 19 new members, and were behind the initiative to reform the L&S CS undergraduate admissions process.  They also actively mobilized the department during the Black Lives Matter movement, engaging with students and the EECS community to identify cultural and institutional problems, and finding ways to effectively address them.  Two results of this effort were the indefinite suspension of the GRE requirement for graduate admissions, and a revision of the EECS publication guidelines to allow for a more open and critical discussion of department policies and practices with regard to race.  The new chairs will take the helm on July 1, 2021.

Shankar Sastry wins 2021 ASME Rufus Oldenburger Medal

EECS Prof. S. Shankar Sastry has won the 2021 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Rufus Oldenburger Medal for significant contributions and outstanding achievements to the field and profession of automatic control.  Sastry, who was dean of Berkeley Engineering for over ten years, was cited “For fundamental contributions to the foundations of nonlinear, adaptive and hybrid control, control of robots and vehicles, and for contributions to control and robotics education.”  EECS Prof. Lotfi Zadeh (1921-2017) previously won this award in 1993.  The medal will be presented at the ASME Dynamic Systems and Control Division Awards ceremony and dinner, which will take place at the newly instituted Modeling, Estimation and Control Conference (MECC 2021), in Texas in October.

NLP team helps a computer win the 2021 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament

A team at the Berkeley Natural Language Processing Group (NLP) helped augment an AI system named "Dr. Fill" that has won the 2021 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT).  This is the first time in the contest's history that an AI has trumped its human competitors.  The team, which included CS Prof. Dan Klein, graduate students Nicholas Tomlin, Eric Wallace, and Kevin Yang, and undergraduate students Albert Xu and Eshaan Pathak, approached Matthew Ginsberg, who created the Dr. Fill algorithm in 2012, and offered to join forces by contributing their machine learning system  called the Berkeley Crossword Solver (BCS).  BCS employs a neural network model to combine general language understanding with more "creative" crossword puzzle clues, then applies its knowledge to practice puzzles, improving as it learns.  “We had a state-of-the-art natural language understanding and question-answering component but a pretty basic crossword handler, while Matt had the best crossword system around and a bunch of domain expertise, so it was natural to join forces,” said Klein. “As we talked, we realized that our systems were designed in a way that made it very easy to interoperate because they both speak the language of probabilities.”  ACPT is the oldest and biggest tournament of its kind, consisting of seven qualifying puzzles and a final playoff puzzle; solvers are ranked using a formula that balances accuracy and speed. Although Dr. Fill made three errors, it completed most puzzles in well under a minute, and ultimately outscored its top human competitor, who made zero errors, by 15 points.  The contest was held online this year and attracted more than 1,100 contestants vying for the $3K grand prize. 

Tsu-Jae King Liu, Chenming Hu, and Leon Chua featured as luminaries on IEEE EDS podcast

Dean of Berkeley Engineering and EECS Prof. Tsu-Jae King Liu, and EECS Profs. Emeritus Leon Chua and Chenming Hu (also Professor in the Graduate School), are featured as luminaries in an IEEE Electron Devices Society (EDS) Podcast Series.  Considered among "the most successful members of the [Electron Devices] Society," these three professors share their insights and wisdom in interviews designed to provide "invaluable inspiration and knowledge for those in the engineering field."  Liu, the first and only woman to chair the EECS Department, leads a research team that explores the development of novel semiconductor devices, non-volatile memory devices, and M/NEMS technology for ultra-low power circuits.  Hu is considered a “microelectronics visionary" whose seminal work on metal-oxide semiconductor MOS reliability and device modeling has had enormous impact on the continued scaling of electronic devices.  Chua is an expert in nonlinear circuit theory and cellular neural network theory, the inventor of the eponymous Chua's circuit, and the first person to postulate the existence of the memristor.  Liu and Hu are among the co-inventors of the three-dimensional FinFET transistor, which is used in all leading microprocessor chips today.

EECS Faculty votes to drop GRE requirement indefinitely

After intensive debate spanning 2020 and 2021, and careful analysis of a trial cycle of GRE-free admissions for Fall 2021, the EECS Department has voted to drop the GRE requirement for graduate admissions indefinitely. Effective immediately, and beginning with the Fall 2022 cohort, whose application window opens in September 2021, the application requirements for all graduate research degree programs in EECS will neither require, nor accept, GRE scores.

In 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, the EECS faculty temporarily suspended the GRE requirement for graduate admissions for the 2020-21 cycle, i.e., for those admitted for Fall 2021, primarily due to the challenges posed by COVID. The department subsequently observed a 30% increase in applications from groups historically underrepresented in EECS, a 47% increase in admittance of those applicants, and a 150% increase in yield from those populations. Not only did we attract and admit more high-performing underrepresented students, but a higher percentage of those admitted decided to attend UC Berkeley to study EECS.

The graduate admissions process in EECS is a holistic review involving the following factors: transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statements, statements about intended research, publications (if any), and for applicants evaluated favorably on these factors, one or more phone conversations with EECS faculty.  Since applicants come from a wide range of socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, we also consider the applicant's demonstrated ability and motivation taken in the context of the opportunities they had available. Given this thorough, multifaceted review, the majority of EECS faculty concluded, after extensive discussion, that the GRE does not add much value, relative to the harm it does to diversity and equity. 

Diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields is a longstanding challenge. For example, nationally, fewer than 22% of computer science PhD degrees are awarded to women students, and only 4% to Black students. GRE scores show significant gender and race-based differences, but these differences do not correlate with later success in graduate school, much less with undergraduate grade point average (GPA) in many cases. Therefore, using GRE scores as a “cutoff” disadvantages women and underrepresented minorities applying to graduate programs. The UC Regents recently voted to drop ACT/SAT scores from undergraduate admissions for the UC system for similar reasons.

For these reasons, along with the financial burden GRE testing fees place on economically disadvantaged applicants across the globe, the EECS Department has concluded that the GRE score has limited benefit in evaluating PhD and masters degree applicants, and that the exam itself, as well as the administration of it, harms diversity and equity.

For more information about Berkeley EECS graduate admissions, please visit our website: 

https://eecs.berkeley.edu/academics/graduate/research-programs/admissions

David Culler EECS Berkeley Citation

David Culler awarded Berkeley Citation

Prof. Emeritus David Culler is a 2021 recipient of the Berkeley Citation, which is awarded to distinguished individuals whose contributions to UC Berkeley go beyond the call of duty and whose achievements exceed the standards of excellence in their fields. Prof. Culler has been on the faculty since 1989 and is the founding Director of Intel Research, UC Berkeley and was Associate Chair of the EECS Department, 2010-2012 and Chair from 2012 through June 30, 2014. He is an NAE member, a Fellow at both ACM and IEEE, and won the Okawa Prize in 2013. Most recently, Prof. Culler served as the inaugural interim dean of the Division of Data Sciences known today as the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS).

Charles Dove EECS 2021 Hertz

Charles Dove named 2021 Hertz Fellow

EE graduate student Charles Dove (advisor: Laura Waller) has been named a 2021 Fellow by the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing groundbreaking applied science with real-world benefits for all humanity. Dove utilizes principles from machine learning and differentiable programming to create new methods for the simulation and fully automatic design of light-based technology. This capability would enable significant growth in the scale, scope, and capabilities of nearly all light-based technology, including biomedical imaging, cellular manipulation and characterization, optical telecommunications, photonic quantum computing, and LIDAR. Hertz Foundation awards allow fellows "the freedom to pursue innovative research wherever it may lead."

Michael I. Jordan elected 2021 Foreign Member of the Royal Society

CS Prof. Mike Jordan has been elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society.  The Royal Society began as an "'invisible college' of natural philosophers and physicians," which opened its first meeting in 1660 with a lecture by acclaimed scientist Christopher Wren.  Their mission is "to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity."  Jordan joins an elite group of 8,000 Fellows elected over the past 400 years that includes Isaac Newton (1672), Charles Darwin (1839), Albert Einstein (1921), Stephen Hawking (1974), and EECS Prof. Eli Yablonovitch (2013). Fellows and Foreign members must be nominated by at least two Fellows of the Royal Society, and must have made "a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science."  Jordan is known as one of the leading figures in machine learning, and one of the world's most influential computer scientists.  New Fellows are formally admitted to the Society at the Admission Day ceremony in July, when they sign the Charter Book and the Obligation of the Fellows of the Royal Society.