Dutta, Niknejad, and Salahuddin lead new research centers to help usher in future of microelectronics

Associate Prof. Prabal Dutta, Prof. Ali Niknejad, and Prof. Sayeef Salahuddin are leading partners in three new multi-university research centers that aim to jump-start the future technologies for the microelectronics industry, with a particular focus on energy-efficient computing as well as communications and sensing.  Dutta is the associate director of Computing on Network Infrastructure for Pervasive Perception, Cognition and Action (CONIX), an SRC center that will also involve Profs David Culler, Jan Rabaey, Claire Tomlin and John Wawrzynek.  Niknejad will be associate director of the Center for Converged TeraHertz Communications and Sensing (ComSenTer), a $27.5 million SRC center that will also involve Profs. Elad Alon, Borivoje Nikolic and Vladimir Stojanovic. Salahuddin will serve as associate director of ASCENT, which focuses on next-generation, energy-efficient computing that overcomes bottlenecks in data transfer.  Prof. Jeffrey Bokor will also participate in ASCENT.

AI@The House built to support AI-related startups

Profs. Dawn Song, Ion Stoica, Kurt Keutzer, Michael Jordan, Pieter Abbeel, and Trevor Darrell have teamed up with EECS alumnus Cameron Baradar (B.S. '15) and startup institute The House to run a new "global center-of-gravity of AI activity" called AI@The House. The new program will offer technical guidance, mentorship, free graphic processing units and financial support, among other resources, to startups focused on AI.  Their first core initiative is an accelerator for startups who are leveraging AI to build industry-defining products.

Sayeef Salahuddin named Associate Director of new $26M computer collaboration

EE Prof. Sayeef Salahuddin will serve as associate director of a new, $26 million research center called Applications and Systems-driven Center for Energy-Efficient integrated Nano Technologies (ASCENT), which will focus on conducting research that aims to increase the performance, efficiency and capabilities of future computing systems for both commercial and defense applications .  ASCENT, under the direction of Notre Dame Professor Suman Datta,  will involve 20 faculty members representing 13 of the nation's leading research universities, and is funded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC)’s Joint University Microelectronics Program (JUMP), which represents a consortium of industrial participants and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).  The multidisciplinary research center will develop and utilize advanced technologies to sustain the semiconductor industry's goals of increasing performance and reducing costs. 

Prasad Raghavendra wins inaugural NAS Michael and Sheila Held Prize

CS Associate Prof. Prasad Raghavendra has won the inaugural Michael and Sheila Held Prize.  The award, sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), honors  outstanding, innovative, creative, and influential research in the areas of combinatorial and discrete optimization, or related parts of computer science, such as the design and analysis of algorithms and complexity theory.  Raghavendra and co-recipient David Steurer are being recognized "For a body of work which revolutionizes our understanding of optimization and complexity. It better explains the exact limits to efficient approximation of NP-hard problems. It provides better understanding of the computational assumptions underlying hardness of approximation. And it develops a structure theory of linear and semi-definite programming and their hierarchies, which leads to new algorithms and new lower bounds."  The prize comes with $100,000 and will be presented at the NAS annual meeting in April.

Cartoon by © Arend van Dam

GEESE: A new cross-disciplinary student initiative to reflect on issues of society & technology

A new initiative, Graduates for Engaged and Extended Scholarship around Computing & Engineering (GEESE), aims to address growing concerns about the rapid advancement and integration of technologies in the global arena by building a coalition of engineers and social science scholars across campus to engage in issues vital to society and technology.  GEESE, launched this semester as one of CITRIS's Tech for Good initiatives,  plans to build a campus community of grad students and postdocs who will bring together disciplines and perspectives from fields like law, public policy, economics, anthropology, sociology, and philosophy, to promote cross-disciplinary scholarship on issues that cannot be wholly addressed from the silos of individual fields.  They will hold roundtables on relevant issues to gauge students' interests, and organize seminars with thought leaders to reflect and redefine their mission and acitivities.

Stuart Russell and all things "Slaughterbot"

CS Prof. Stuart Russell is featured in an interview by the "Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists" titledAs much death as you want”: UC Berkeley's Stuart Russell on “Slaughterbots.  Russell discusses the genesis of the hit YouTube video, the technology that goes into lethal autonomous weapons, and some of the difficulties involved in controlling their proliferation.

Ben Recht wins NIPS Test of Time Award

Prof. Ben Recht has won the Neural Information Processing System (NIPS) 2017 Test of Time Award for a paper he co-wrote with Ali Rahimi in 2007 titled "Random Features for Large-Scale Kernel Machines."   Deep learning, which involves stacking many neural networks on top of one another to learn the features of giant databases and develop clever algorithms, is being used to carry out more and more tasks in an expanding number of areas.  In their acceptance speech at the NIPS conference, Recht and Rahimi posited that more theory is needed to understand the state-of-the-art empirical performance of deep learning, and called for simple theorems and simple, easily reproducible experiments.  "We are building systems that govern healthcare and mediate our civic dialogue, we influence elections," said Rahimi. "I would like to live in a society where systems are built on top of verifiable, rigorous thorough knowledge and not alchemy."

Four EECS undergraduate researchers recognized by CRA

All four EECS students nominated for this year's Computing Research Association (CRA) Undergraduate Researcher Award were recognized by the selection committee.  Senior CS/Math major Garrett Thomas (nominated by Pieter Abbeel) and EECS junior Peter Manohar (nominated by Alessandro Chiesa) were named as finalists.  Senior CS major Siqi Liu (nominated by Sanjam Garg) and CS/Statistics/Math senior Tianhe Yu (nominated by Sergey Levine and Pieter Abbeel) merited honorable mentions.  This award program recognizes undergraduate students in North American universities who show outstanding research potential in an area of computing research.

Rikky Muller flanked by Wang and Grubb

Daniel Grubb and Ruocheng Wang win EE140/240A Keysight design competition

Daniel Grubb (EE140) and Ruocheng Wang (EE240A) have won an Analog Integrated Circuits I class design competition sponsored by Keysight technologies. The students designed low-power and high-speed LCD display drivers for a smartwatch display for the classes taught by Assistant Prof. Rikky Muller. Competition finalists gave presentations to a panel of judges that included three Berkeley alumni who are now Keysight engineers.  Grubb and Wang won hand-held digital multimeters generously donated by Keysight.

Harold Pimentel selected as HHMI Hanna H. Gray Fellow

CS alumnus Harold Pimentel (Ph.D. '16, advisor: Lior Pachter), now a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford, has been chosen as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Hanna H. Gray Fellow.  The goal of the fellows program is to "recruit and retain individuals who are from gender, racial, ethnic, and other groups underrepresented in the life sciences, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, early in their careers."  Pimentel is researching what happens when cells fail to prune RNA copies of genes. These copies contain interrupting sequences called introns that are usually spliced out before an RNA molecule serves as a template for protein production. Neglecting to trim away introns is sometimes associated with abnormal cellular behavior and disease. Pimentel plans to use computational methods he developed to analyze a vast set of RNAs in healthy and cancerous tissues to discover whether lingering introns play a part in cancer.   He says he will use the $1.4M award to start a new lab.