News

SinBerBEST 2 sweeps Building and Environment Best Paper Awards

Research collaboration between Singapore–Berkeley Building Efficiency and Sustainability in the Tropics (SinBerBEST 2 -- part of the Berkeley Education Alliance for Research in Singapore center) led by EE Prof. Costas Spanos, and UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment (CBE) resulted in three 2018 Building and Environment Best Paper Awards.  The awards, which are presented annually by the Building and Environment journal, recognize originality, contributions to the field, quality of presentation, and soundness of science.   The honored papers were titled "Automated Mobile Sensing: Towards High-Granularity Agile Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Monitoring," "Development of the ASHRAE Global Thermal Comfort Database II," and "Personal Comfort Models: Predicting Individuals’ Thermal Preference Using Occupant Heating and Cooling Behavior and Machine Learning."

Wireless ‘pacemaker for the brain’ could be new standard treatment for neurological disorders

A new neurostimulator, described in a paper co-authored by EE Prof. Jan Rabaey, Prof. Jose Carmena, Assistant Prof. Rikky Muller, grad students Andy Zhou, George Alexandrov and Ali Moin, and alumnus Fred Burghardt (B.S. '92/M.S. '94), in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, works like a “pacemaker for the brain" to both monitor electrical activity and therapeutically stimulate electric current to the brain at the same time.  The device, named the WAND, could potentially deliver fine-tuned treatments to patients with diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson’s.  Muller's research is part of the CZ Biohub, a division of the $5 billion Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.   Rikky Muller and Jose Carmena are both scheduled to present their work at the 2019 BEARS symposium in February titled "The Future of Medicine: An EECS Perspective."

Study shows playing high school football changes the teenage brain

A research study led by EE Prof. Chunlei Liu (senior author) and postdoc Nan-Ji Gong (first author), which is the cover story of the November issue of Neurobiology of Disease, found that a single season of high school football may be enough to cause microscopic changes in the structure of the brain.  The team (which included researchers from Duke and UNC Chapel Hill) used a new type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to take brain scans of 16 high school players, ages 15 to 17, before and after a season of football. They found significant changes in the structure of the grey matter in the front and rear of the brain, where impacts are most likely to occur, as well as changes to structures deep inside the brain.  This is one of the first studies to look at how impact sports affect the brains of children at this critical age.

Skin-like sensor maps blood-oxygen levels anywhere in the body

A new flexible sensor developed by Berkeley EE researchers can map blood-oxygen levels over large areas of skin, tissue and organs, potentially giving doctors a new way to monitor healing wounds in real time.  The research group, which includes Prof. Ana Claudia Arias, Yasser Khan, Donggeon Han, Adrien Pierre, Jonathan Ting, Xingchun Wang and Claire Lochner (plus researchers from Cambridge Display Technology Ltd), have created a lightweight, thin, and flexible oximeter made of organic electronics printed on bendable plastic that molds to the contours of the body.  The sensor, which is described in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is made of an alternating array of printed light-emitting diodes and photodetectors and can detect blood-oxygen levels anywhere it is placed. The sensor shines red and infrared light into the skin and detects the ratio of light that is reflected back.

Berkeley computer theorists show path to verifying that quantum beats classical

UC Berkeley computer theorists led by CS Prof. Umesh Vazirani,  published a proof of random circuit sampling (RCS) as a verification method to prove quantum supremacy in a paper published Monday, Oct. 29, in the journal Nature Physics.  Quantum supremacy is the term that describes a quantum computer’s ability to solve a computational task that would be prohibitively difficult for any classical algorithm.  “Besides being a milestone on the way to useful quantum computers, quantum supremacy is a new kind of physics experiment to test quantum mechanics in a new regime. The basic question that must be answered for any such experiment is how confident can we be that the observed behavior is truly quantum and could not have been replicated by classical means. That is what our results address,” said Vazirani.

IP paper wins 2018 ACM SenSys Test of Time Award

A paper written by CS Prof. David Culler and alumnus Jonathan Hui (M.S. '05/Ph.D. '08) in 2008 titled "IP is Dead, Long Live IP for Wireless Sensor Networks" has won the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems (SenSys) 2018 Test of Time Award.  The paper dispelled the notion that IP cannot run on wireless embedded sensors and made a long term impact  on standards like 6LoWPAN and platforms like Thread.  The award recognizes papers that are at least 10 years old and have had long lasting impact on networked embedded sensing system science and engineering.  Culler previously won this award in both 2014 and 2015.

Barbara Simons: Making Votes Count

2005 CS Distinguished Alumna Barbara Simons (Ph.D. '81) is the subject of a Berkeley Engineering profile celebrating the 150th anniversary of U.C. Berkeley.  Simons, who is a past president of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), has been drawing attention to the pitfalls of electronic voting since 2003.  She's a vocal critic of electronic ballots and is board chair of Verified Voting, a non-partisan organization that advocates for reliable and secure voting practices, as well as the author of a book titled “Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?”   She is also a long-time champion for programs to increase diversity in computer science and engineering.

Berkeley is #1 university open source contributor

UC Berkeley is the top ranked university in the third annual Octoverse Report list of "Open source contributions made by employees of different organizations," with 2700 contributions.  Berkeley is the fourth ranked organization overall--after Microsoft, Google, and Red Hat.  The Octoverse Report is a roundup of GitHub data across global repositories from the last 12 months.  Four other universities made the top ten:  the University of Washington  (6th place with 1800 contributions), MIT (8th place with 1700), UMich and Stanford (tied 9th with 1600 contributions each) .  

Urmila Mahadev Solves Quantum Verification Problem

CS postdoctoral researcher Urmila Mahadev (advisor: Umesh Vazirani) has come up with an interactive protocol by which users with no quantum powers of their own can employ cryptography to put a harness on a quantum computer and drive it wherever they want, with the certainty that the quantum computer is following their orders.  Her work, which addressed the question "How do you know whether a quantum computer has done anything quantum at all?" was awarded the “best paper” and “best student paper” prizes when it was presented at the Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science this month.  CIT computer scientistThomas Vidick calls her result “one of the most outstanding ideas to have emerged at the interface of quantum computing and theoretical computer science in recent years.”

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.