News

Campus Shutdown Notice

In light of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, we have decided to close our administrative offices starting Monday, March 16, 2020 until further notice.  Cory and Soda Hall are closed.  Classes are being held remotely.  All events in Cory and Soda Halls will either be cancelled or held remotely, and staff will be working remotely during this time.

Low-cost, readily deployable respirators could help frontline healthcare workers

EECS Associate Profs. Prabal Dutta and Robert Pilawa-Podgurski have embarked on a project with doctors at UCSF to develop cost-effective powered air-purified respirators (PAPR) that will offer greater protection for healthcare workers from the coronavirus during higher risk medical procedures.  They are using an approach originally proposed to them by Oakland resident Lakin Moser, to explore a do-it-yourself PAPR concept that would be medically acceptable, inexpensive to build and rapidly scalable for regional, national and global needs.  Their prototype, which is made with a combination of off-the-shelf components and custom electronic circuits and mechanical parts sourced from Bay Area manufacturers and major electronics distributors, will cost $200 per unit--ten times less than standard devices--and can be manufactured at scale in weeks. “A key aspect of the design was to source components that are widely available, and to provide modularity to enable swap-in of alternatives if supply chain issues arise,” said Pilawa-Podgurski.  The latest version of their prototype, which was built in the team's garages and basements,  is currently undergoing usability testing at UCSF Medical Center to ensure that it meets clinical standards.  The team plans to post their design on the web as soon as it is finalized for production.

Enabling robots to learn from past experiences

EECS Prof. Pieter Abbeel and Assistant Prof. Sergey Levine are developing algorithms that enable robots to learn from past experiences — and even from other robots.  They use deep reinforcement learning to bring robots past a crucial threshold in demonstrating human-like intelligence: the ability to independently solve problems and master new tasks in a quicker, more efficient manner.  An article in the Berkeley Engineer delves into the innovations and advances that allow Abbeel and Levine help robots make "good" choices, generalize between tasks, improvise with objects, multi-task, and manage unexpected challenges in the world around them.

Using machine-learning to reinvent cybersecurity two ways: Song and Popa

EECS Prof. and alumna Dawn Song (Ph.D. '02, advisor: Doug Tygar) and Assistant Prof. Raluca Ada Popa are featured in the cover story for the Spring 2020 issue of the Berkeley Engineer titled "Reinventing Cybersecurity."  Faced with the challenge of protecting users' personal data while recognizing that sharing access to that data "has fueled the modern-day economy" and supports scientific research, Song has proposed a paradigm that involves "controlled use" and an open source approach utilizing a new set of principles based on game theory.  Her lab is creating a platform that applies cryptographic techniques to both machine-learning models and hardware solutions, allowing users to keep their data safe while also making it accessible.  Popa's work focuses on using machine-learning algorithms to keep data encrypted in cloud computing environments instead of just surrounding the data with firewalls.  "Sharing without showing" allows sensitive data to be made available for collaboration without decryption.  This approach is made practical by the creation of a machine-learning training system that is exponentially faster than other approaches. "So instead of training a model in three months, it takes us under three hours.”

Pieter Abbeel and Sergey Levine: teaching computers to teach themselves

EECS Prof. Pieter Abbeel and Assistant Prof. Sergey Levine both appear in a New York Times article titled "Computers Already Learn From Us. But Can They Teach Themselves?" which describes the work of scientists who "are exploring approaches that would help machines develop their own sort of common sense."  Abbeel, who runs the Berkeley Robot Learning Lab, uses reinforcement-learning systems that compete against themselves to learn faster in a method called self-play.  Levine, who runs the Robotic AI & Learning Lab, is using a form of self-supervised learning in which robots explore their environment to build a base of knowledge.

Susan Graham: the sole woman professor in Berkeley EECS for 17 years

CS Prof. Emerita Susan Graham, the first and only woman professor in the EECS department for 17 years,  is the subject of a profile in the Daily Cal in honor of the 150th anniversary of women at Berkeley.  Graham arrived in the CS department (then part of the College of Letters & Science) in 1971, became the first woman professor in the College of Engineering in 1973 when the CS department merged with the EECS department, and remained the only woman on the EECS faculty until the arrival of Avideh Zakhor in 1988.  Graham, who played a key role in the development of Berkeley Unix, is known for her work in software tools, programming language implementation, high-performance computing and software development environments.  She is the "Ace of Diamonds" in the "Notable Women in Computing" playing cards and appears in the "Notable Women in Tech" online solitaire game.

Yi Ma elected 2020 SIAM Fellow

EE Prof. in Residence Yi Ma has been selected to be a 2020 Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).    SIAM Fellows are members of SIAM "who have made outstanding contributions to fields" served by the SIAM community.  Ma was recognized "for contributions to the theory and algorithms for low-dimensional models and their applications in computer vision and image processing."

Arthur Gill has passed away

EECS Prof. Emeritus  and alumnus Arthur Gill (Ph.D. '59, advisor: Aram Thomasian) died on March 21, 2020, at the age of 90.  Gill joined the EECS faculty in 1960, just after earning his doctorate, and was one of the first professors at Berkeley to hold positions in both EE and CS before the formation of the EECS department in 1968.   His research focused on network analysis and synthesis, communication theory, system theory, and computer science.  He was an active member of the Electronics Research Laboratory for the duration of his 30 year career, and Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Affairs in the College of Engineering from 1981 to 1991.  He was the first faculty ‘supervisor’ of the Computer Science Reentry Program, an early, innovative, and successful effort to increase the number of women and minority students studying CS at Berkeley.  Gill is survived by his children, Jonathan and Leori Gill, their children and grandchildren, and his long-time partner in life and travel, Marijke Van Doorn (widow of EECS Prof. Eugene Lawler).

Students create online "Coronavirus Tracker" to keep average Americans informed

CS major Jason (XiangJun) Li and a few friends have developed a website designed to provide clear, reliable, up-to-date numbers and trends on the COVID-19 outbreak "for average Americans," particularly those on mobile phones.  LiveCoronaUpdates.org, which was launched last Tuesday, uses data released by the World Health Organization and official government websites, and provides "the simplest and most intuitive dashboard for people to quickly understand the trends and assess risks."  The site includes domestic and global numbers of patients confirmed/recovered/dead, simple graphics and tables, a headline feed, and text alerts using data that is updated every 3 hours.

Berkeley EE and CE grad programs rank 1 and 2 in 2021 US News & World Report

Berkeley Electrical Engineering ranked #1, and Computer Engineering ranked #2, in the 2021 US News and World Report graduate school rankings.  EE tied with MIT and Stanford as the top graduate Electrical/Electronic/Communications Engineering program in the nation, while Computer Engineering tied in second place with Stanford after MIT.  It should be noted that tuition for both MIT's and Stanford's Master's programs come to over $53.4K annually, while Berkeley's costs $11.4K in-state and $26.5 out-of-state per year.   Berkeley was ranked as the third best Engineering school overall.

Using RISE-developed frameworks to target veteran suicide epidemics

Berkeley RISE Lab visiting researcher Edmon Begoli is interviewed in a Data Exchange Podcast titled "Hyperscaling natural language processing," in which he discusses distributed online learning and its applications in public health.  In particular, Begoli is collaborating with CS Prof. Ion Stoica and his team on how to use RISE-developed frameworks, including the Ray framework, for real-time, robust and resilient analytic decision making.  One application is to potentially identify veterans at risk for suicide by tracking their medical prescriptions.  Begoli, Stoica, and CS Prof. Michael Jordan will all be participating in the first Ray Summit in May.