The Berkeley Campus is Open

Visit the UC Berkeley COVID-19 resources website for the latest testing and access information.  Cory and Soda Halls are open but we will likely have limited in-person/on-site staffing during the first two weeks of the Spring 2022 semester.  Although most classes will be conducted remotely during this time, we anticipate in-person instruction to resume on January 31st.

Yang You wins IEEE CS TCHPC Early Career Researcher Award for Excellence in High Performance Computing

EECS alumnus Yang You (Ph.D. '20, advisor: James Demmel) has won the IEEE Computer Society Technical Consortium on High Performance Computing (TCHPC) Early Career Researcher Award for Excellence in High Performance Computing.  The focus of his research is efficient deep learning on distributed systems. He is known for developing the industry benchmark LARS (Layer-wise Adaptive Rate Scaling) and LAMB (Layer-wise Adaptive Moments for Batch training) optimizers to accelerate machine learning on HPC platforms.  His team broke the world record of ImageNet training speed in 2017 and the world record of BERT training speed in 2019, and his training techniques have been used by many tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and NVIDIA.  You made the Forbes 30 Under 30 2021 Asia list for Healthcare and Science in April and is now a Presidential Young Professor of Computer Science at the National University of Singapore.

Sumit Gulwani wins Max Planck-Humboldt Medal

Sumit Gulwani (Ph.D. '05, advisor: George Necula), now a Partner Research Manager at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington, has been selected to receive the 2021 Max Planck-Humboldt Medal for "automatic programming and computational education."  Gulwani, who won the ACM SIGPLAN Doctoral Dissertation award and the MSR Ph.d. Fellowship while at Berkeley, is an expert in program analysis and artificial intelligence.  He shaped the field of program synthesis, which emerged around 2010, by developing algorithms that can efficiently generate computer programs from very few input-output examples, natural-language-based specification, or from just the code and data context. His work made it possible for non-programmers to program tedious, repetitive spreadsheet tasks, and enabled productivity improvements for data scientists and developers for data wrangling and software engineering tasks. Recently, Gulwani has also been using the tools of program synthesis for computer-aided education of pupils and students. Starting from the automatic correction of learners' work in programming education, he further evolved this line of work to detect misunderstandings and give learning feedback and grades, also in subjects like mathematics and language learning. He is also the inventor of the popular Flash Fill feature in Microsoft Excel.  The award will be presented during a ceremony in Berlin on November 3, 2022.

Hani Gomez, Ph.D.: Computing Pedagogy at the Nexus of Technology and Social Justice

EECS alumna Hani Gomez (Ph.D. '20, advisor: Kris Pister) is the subject of a Berkeley Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS) profile titled "Hani Gomez, Ph.D.: Computing Pedagogy at the Nexus of Technology and Social Justice."  Gomez was born in Bolivia and earned her B.S. in EE at the University of South Carolina before coming to Berkeley for her graduate studies.  She has merged social justice and technology into a post-doc research position at Berkeley, split between EECS and the Human Contexts and Ethics (HCE) program in CDSS.  Gomez helped develop the course CS 194-100 EECS for All: Social Justice in EECS last spring, was one of three presenters in a June HCE workshop titled "Towards Social Justice in the Data Science Classroom," and serves on the EECS Anti-Racism Committee.  She says the preoccupation with perfectionism at Berkeley "doesn’t leave room [for you] to learn from your mistakes...You need to give yourself room to learn or unlearn, to grow and relearn.”

BESAC wins 2021 Loyal Company Outstanding Volunteer Group Award

The UC Berkeley Black Engineering and Science Alumni Club (BESAC) has been selected by the Cal Alumni Association Board of Directors and the UC Berkeley Foundation Board of Trustees to receive the 2021 Loyal Company Outstanding Volunteer Group Award. This award "commends a volunteer group or alumni chapter that has maintained a meaningful relationship to Berkeley while successfully engaging its members through events, programs, and philanthropic opportunities." BESAC's mission "is to improve the opportunities and support for Cal Black alumni, students, professors, and staff in engineering and sciences and to bring UC Berkeley alumni together in organized efforts to benefit the members of the chapter and UC Berkeley."  The award will be presented during Reunion and Parents Weekend, on October 1st.

Yang You receives honorable mention for ACM SIGHPC Dissertation Award

EECS alumnus Yang You (Ph.D. '20, advisor: James Demmel)  was named as one of two honorable mentions for the 2020 ACM Special Interest Group in High Performance Computing (SIGHPC) Dissertation Award.  You was selected for developing LARS (Layer-wise Adaptive Rate Scaling) and LAMB (Layer-wise Adaptive Moments for Batch training) to accelerate machine learning on HPC platforms. His thesis, “Fast and Accurate Machine Learning on Distributed Systems and Supercomputers,” focuses on improving the speed and accuracy of Machine Learning training to optimize the use of parallel programming on supercomputers.  You made the Forbes 30 Under 30 2021 Asia list for Healthcare and Science in April and is now a Presidential Young Professor of Computer Science at the National University of Singapore.

New AI system allows legged robots to navigate unfamiliar terrain in real time

A new AI system, Rapid Motor Adaptation (RMA), enhances the ability of legged robots, without prior experience or calibration, to adapt to, and traverse, unfamiliar terrain in real time.  A test robot figured out how to walk on sand, mud, and tall grass, as well as piles of dirt, pebbles, and cement, in fractions of a second.  The project is part of an industry-academic collaboration with the Facebook AI Research (FAIR) group and the Berkeley AI Research (BAIR) lab that includes CS Prof. Jitendra Malik as Principal Investigator, his grad student Ashish Kumar as lead author, and alumnus Deepak Pathak (Ph.D. 2019, advisors: Trevor Darrell and Alexei Efros), now an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon, among others.  RMA combines a base policy algorithm that uses reinforcement learning to teach the robot how to control its body, with an adaptation module that teaches the robot how to react based on how its body moves when it interacts with a new environment.  “Computer simulations are unlikely to capture everything,” said Kumar. “Our RMA-enabled robot shows strong adaptation performance to previously unseen environments and learns this adaptation entirely by interacting with its surroundings and learning from experience. That is new.”  RMA's base policy and adaptation module run asynchronously and at different frequencies so that it can operate reliably on a small onboard computer.  

Gloria Tumushabe cultivates women coders in Africa

EECS alumna and current Master's student Gloria Tumushabe (B.S. ’20) is the subject of an article in the Spring 2021 Berkeley Engineer titled "Cultivating female coders in Africa."  During the COVID pandemic shutdown, Tumushabe developed a program called Afro Fem Coders to allow her to remotely teach computer programming to girls in Uganda from her home in Walnut Creek.  Two weeks after reaching out by word-of-mouth and social media, she had heard back from more than 40 girls who were eager to participate.  She sent them money to pay for laptops and internet service, and formed an international network of women professionals to provide one-on-one mentoring.  In the year since the program began, it has grown to 120 girls from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana and Ethiopia. “The more of us women in this space, the better,” she said.  Tumushabe is leading the EECS Anti-Racism Committee meetings this semester, and was awarded the 2021 EECS Eugene L. Lawler Prize for her "amazing work and dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion, and improving the EECS Department for students who come after her."

Yang You makes Forbes 30 Under 30 2021 Asia for Healthcare and Science

EECS alumnus Yang You (Ph.D. '20, advisor: James Demmel) has been named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 2021 Asia list for Healthcare and Science.  Yang, who is now a Presidential Young Professor of Computer Science at the National University of Singapore, studies Machine Learning, Parallel/Distributed Algorithms, and High-Performance Computing. The focus of his research is scaling up deep neural networks training on distributed systems or supercomputers.  He has broken two world records for AI training speed: one in 2017 for ImageNet and the other in 2019 for Boundless Electrical Resistivity Tomography (BERT).  Yang has won numerous best paper awards as well as the inaugural Berkeley EECS Lotfi A. Zadeh Prize for outstanding contributions to soft computing and its applications by a graduate student.

Leslie Field to participate in "Reflections on Arctic Ice" webinar

EE alumna Leslie Field (M.S. '88/Ph.D. '91, advisor: Richard White), who is the founder and CTO of the Arctic Ice Project and an adjunct lecturer at Sanford, will be a co-panelist in a webinar titled "Reflections on Arctic Ice: A special webinar with Dr. Peter Wadhams."  Wadhams, a professor emeritus of Ocean Physics at Cambridge and the author of “A Farewell to Ice,”  has made more than 50 polar expeditions and recently appeared in the documentary “Ice on Fire” with Leonardo DiCaprio.   Field was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. from the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center (BSAC).  The event will be on April 20th at 12 pm PST and is free, but registration is required.

Maryann Simmons and Hayley Iben win Academy Awards

CS alumnae Maryann Simmons (B.A. / M.S./ Ph.D. '01, advisor: Carlo Séquin) and Hayley Iben (M.S. '05/Ph.D. '07, advisor: James O'Brien) have won 2020 Technical Achievement Awards (SciTech Oscars) from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for hair simulation systems.

Simmons is now a senior staff software engineer and the technical lead for Hair & Cloth at Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS).  She was part of the team responsible for the WDAS Hair Simulation System, which the citation describes as "a robust, predictable, fast and highly art-directable system built on the mathematics of discrete elastic rods. This has provided Disney artists the flexibility to manipulate hair in hyper-realistic ways to create the strong silhouettes required for character animation and has enabled a wide range of complex hairstyles in animated feature films." According to The Hollywood Reporter, the WDAS System was "used in animated features such as Tangled, to manage Rapunzel’s ultra-long waves."  While at Berkeley, Simmons was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Golden Key Honor Society.

Iben, who is now the director of engineering at Pixar Animation Studios, was part of the team responsible for the Taz Hair Simulation System.  The citation describes Taz as "a robust, predictable and efficient mass-spring hair simulation system with novel formulations of hair shape, bending springs and hair-to-hair collisions. It has enabled Pixar artists to bring to life animated digital characters with a wide variety of stylized hair, from straight to wavy to curly."  While at Berkeley, Iben was president of Women in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (WiCSE) from 2004-2007, and a member CSGSA.