Assistant Prof. Sergey Levine (photo: NVIDIA)

Sergey Levine explains how deep learning will unleash robotics

CS Assistant Prof. Sergey Levine explores how deep learning will unleash robotics in an NVIDIA AI Podcast which first aired on Sept 1st.  “One of the most important things is that you have to somehow communicate to the robot what it means to succeed,” Levine said in a conversation with AI Podcast host Michael Copeland. “That’s one of the most basic things …You need to tell it what it should be doing.”  He points out that it’s important that the robots don’t just repeat what they learn in training, but understand why a task requires certain actions. “If you want to get a robot to do interesting things, you kind of need it to learn on its own,” Levine said

Lotfi Zadeh, 1921-2017

Lotfi Zadeh has passed away

CS Prof. Lotfi Zadeh, known as the Father of Fuzzy Logic, passed away on the morning of September 6, 2017.  He was 96.  Zadeh touched many lives and had a tremendous impact on many scientific and technological fields.  He is best known as the founder of fuzzy mathematics, fuzzy set theory, fuzzy logic, Z numbers and Z-transform.   He won many awards including the IEEE Medal of Honor,  the Honda Prize, the Okawa Prize, and the IEEE Hamming Medal.  He was a founding member of the Eurasian Academy and a member of the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame.  A state funeral will be held in his birth city of Baku, Azerbaijan.  Memorial arrangements in the U.S. are pending.

Edward A. Lee publishes new book, "Plato and the Nerd"

EE Prof. Edward A. Lee has published his first book for a general audience, Plato and the Nerd: The Creative Partnership of Humans and Technology  (MIT Press, 2017).  In it, Lee observes that engineering is a deeply intellectual and fundamentally inventive process and that the producers of digital technology have an unsurpassed medium for creativity.   Janos Sztipanovits writes in his review "Lee's book is a brilliant articulation of the unique and increasingly important role technology plays in the evolution of mankind. He offers a deeply optimistic perspective with clarity and intellectual rigor without ever losing accessibility."  Lee has previously coauthored several textbooks on topics including digital communication, signal processing, embedded systems, and software modeling.

CS grad student Yang You

Yang You wins ACM IEEE-CS George Michael Memorial Fellowship

Graduate student Yang You (advisor: James Demmel) has won a 2017 ACM IEEE Computer Society George Michael Memorial Fellowship for his work on designing accurate, fast, and scalable machine learning algorithms on distributed systems.   The award, which was named in honor of George Michael, one of the founding fathers of the Supercomputing (SC) Conference series, is given in recognition of overall potential for research excellence in subjects of interest to the High Performance Computing (HPC) community.  In You's most recent work, “Scaling Deep Learning on GPU and Knights Landing Clusters,” his goal is to scale up the speed of training neural networks so that networks which are relatively slow to train can be redesigned for high performance clusters. This approach has reduced the percentage of communication from 87% to 14% and resulted in a five-fold increase in speed.

Anupama Kaul

Anupama Kaul named director of the UNT PACCAR Technology Institute

Anupama Kaul (EE Ph.D. 2000) has been named director of the University of North Texas College of Engineering’s PACCAR (Pacific Car and Foundry Company) Technology Institute.  Kaul was a task manager at Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology before joining the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) as associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Engineering, and the AT&T Distinguished Professor.  She will now be the PACCAR professor in engineering and a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical Engineering at UNT.  “I am honored to serve as director of the PACCAR Technology Institute and look forward to the exciting ways in which the institute will embrace interdisciplinary research in strategic areas of national and global significance, with nanotechnology as a core enabling element,” she said.

Sam Blackman

Sam Blackman is dead at 41

EE alumnus Sam Blackman (M.S.E. '99)  died over the weekend of a reported cardiac arrest at age 41.  He was the chief executive and co-founder of AWS Elemental, and considered one of the highest-profile tech executives in Portland.  He worked at Silicon Graphics and Intel, and spent six years designing integrated circuit products at Pixelworks, before leaving to form Elemental.  He is credited with building it into one of the city's biggest startup successes.  Amazon bought Elemental in 2015 for $296 million.

CS 61A (Brian Ly/Daily Cal)

CS 61A course enrollment reaches a record 1,762

Enrollment in CS 61A, The Structure & Interpretation of Computer Programs,  has increased from 1,568 students last fall to 1,762 students this semester.  CS 61A is a popular introductory coding class--a requirement for EECS majors--co-taught by Assistant Teaching Professor Jon DeNero and Prof. Paul Hilfinger.  The live lecture attendance is expected to drop as students discover that lectures are being webcasted three different times for about 600 students each time.  “We have enough funding and enough TAs [over 50] and, as of yesterday, I think we have enough rooms,” DeNero said.  Additional student support is provided by discussion sections, expanded small group-mentoring sections, and pilot online versions of discussions and labs.  Last fall, 60 percent of the students rated their class experience 5/5.

3rd place winners of the 2017 Greylock Hackfest

Berkeley team takes 3rd place in Greylock Hackfest

Undergraduate students Jian Lu (EECS junior), Walt Leung (CS sophomore), Jiayi Chen (CS junior), and Malhar Patel (EECS junior) placed 3rd at the Greylock Hackfest in July.  Their platform, BeAR, allows multiple users to connect to the same #AR (augmented reality) session.  The Hackfest, sponsored by Greylock Partners, allows 45 teams of up to four university students the opportunity to show what they can build to a panel of tech industry  judges.  Hacks are judged based on five different criteria: level of difficulty, aesthetics, originality, usefulness, and your project’s “WOW factor.”

Andrew Ng and Prof. Pieter Abbeel

Heroes of Deep Learning: Andrew Ng interviews Pieter Abbeel

CS alumnus Andrew Ng (Ph.D. '02), one of the world's leading authorities on AI, interviews EE Prof. Pieter Abbeel for Heroes of Deep Learning, an interview series from Ng's cousera course, Deep learning AI.  “Work in Artificial Intelligence in the EECS department at Berkeley involves foundational research in core areas of knowledge representation, reasoning, learning, planning, decision-making, vision, robotics, speech and language processing," Abbeel says. "There are also significant efforts aimed at applying algorithmic advances to applied problems in a range of areas, including bioinformatics, networking and systems, search and information retrieval. There are active collaborations with several groups on campus, including the campus-wide vision sciences group, the information retrieval group at the I-School and the campus-wide computational biology program. There are also connections to a range of research activities in the cognitive sciences, including aspects of psychology, linguistics, and philosophy. Work in this area also involves techniques and tools from statistics, neuroscience, control, optimization, and operations research. Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab (BAIR)."

Charles Giancarlo, the new CEO of Pure Storage

Charles Giancarlo named CEO of Pure Storage

EE Alumnus Charles Giancarlo (M.S. '80) has been named Chief Executive Officer of Pure Storage, the market's leading independent all-flash data platform vendor for the cloud era.   Giancarlo previously served in senior executive roles at Silver Lake Partners and Cisco Systems, Inc.  "Charlie is an exceptionally talented leader with a three-decade track record of driving growth and innovation at leading global technology companies," said outgoing CEO Scott Dietzen.