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.

Stuart Russell answers 3+ questions in wake of Turing Lecture

In May 2020, CS Prof. Stuart Russell delivered the most highly attended Turing Lecture yet,  to a virtual audience of over 700 people from around the world, on the subject of provably beneficial AI.  In a follow-up article, "Three (plus) questions with Turing Lecturer Stuart Russell," he answers some of the many questions not covered during the live Q&A.  In his talk, Russell argues that "it is useful to imbue systems with explicit uncertainty concerning the true objectives of the humans they are designed to help. This uncertainty causes machine and human behaviour to be inextricably (and game-theoretically) linked, while opening up many new avenues for research."  The top three questions address how AI should make immediate choices, how to address changing preferences as society evolves, and how AI can be controlled to minimize bias.  The ideas discussed are explored in his most recent book, "Human Compatible: AI and the Problem of Control" (Viking/Penguin, 2019).  The Turing Lectures are hosted by The Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence, and should not be confused with the Turing Talks sponsored by BCS and IET.

Murat Arcak, Kameshwar Poolla and Claire Tomlin named 2020 IFAC Fellows

EECS Profs. Murat Arcak, Kameshwar Poolla, and Claire Tomlin (also alumna, PhD '1998) have been named 2020 Fellows of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC).  The IFAC Fellow Award is given to "persons who have made outstanding and extraordinary contributions in the field of interest of IFAC, in the role as an Engineer/Scientist, Technical Leader, or Educator."  Arcak was cited "for contributions to nonlinear systems, control of networks and applications," Poolla was cited "for contributions to system identification and robust control with applications to manufacturing and energy," and Tomlin was cited "for contributions to cyber-physical and hybrid systems with application to safety in autonomy and learning."  The awards will be presented at the 2020 IFAC World Congress this week.

Murat Arcak and John Maidens win IFAC Automatica Paper Prize

EECS alumnus John Maidens (PhD 2017) and his advisor EECS Prof. Murat Arcak have won the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) Automatica Paper Prize for “Symmetry Reduction for Dynamic Programming,” co-authored by Axel Barrau and Silvère Bonnabel (Automatica vol. 97, pp. 367-375, 2018).  This journal award recognizes "outstanding contributions to the theory and/or practice of control engineering or control science, documented in a paper published in the IFAC Journal Automatica," and will be presented this week at the triennial IFAC World Congress during the virtual closing ceremony.  Maidens is now a data scientist at Eko where he builds AI to automatically assess heart health.

Two EECS projects awarded Berkeley Changemaker Technology Innovation Grants

CS Prof. Eric Paulos and Associate Prof. Bjoern Hartmann have both won 2020 Berkeley Changemaker Technology Innovation Grants to support projects involving "transformative ideas with real applications that benefit the Berkeley campus."  Paulos's project is Lucid Learning, a suite of tools to help students in disciplines like architecture, art practice, theater, dance and performance studies, to incorporate augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) into their iterative processes of collaboration, design and feedback.  There are currently online tools that can help assess work in quantitative courses but few available for more open-ended, studio-based teamwork courses.  Hartmann's project, VRTutor, aims to both allow students to interact with an instructional 3D video pre-recorded by their professor in VR, and also allow instructors to view a live feed of students working in VR to give them guidance.  Tutorial feedback can be offered by drawing on the student's video feed on a tablet, then re-projecting the drawings into the student’s VR scene in 3D.

Two projects led by EECS faculty win funding to combat COVID-19

Projects led by CS Prof. Jennifer Listgarten and EE Prof. Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli have been awarded funding from the C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute to harness the power of AI to combat the spread of COVID-19 and other emerging diseases.  Listgarten's project will draw upon techniques such as reinforcement learning, robust uncertainty estimation and probabilistic modeling to develop new and trustworthy methods for therapeutic drug discovery for COVID-19.  Sangiovanni-Vincentelli's project will develop algorithms for AI that will help health care institutions better detect and contain emerging diseases.  These projects are two of six awarded to UC Berkeley, and among 26 projects world-wide, which will share $5.4M to accelerate AI research for COVID-19 mitigation through advances in medicine, urban planning and public policy.

Payam Delgosha wins 2020 IEEE Jack Keil Wolf ISIT Student Paper Award

EECS grad student Payam Delgosha is a winner of the IEEE Jack Keil Wolf ISIT Student Paper Award at the 2020 IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory (ISIT), which was held as a Zoomference on June 21 -26, 2020. Payam won the award for his paper "A universal low complexity algorithm for sparse marked graphs" co-authored with his research advisor Venkat Anantharam.  This award recognizes outstanding papers on information theory for which a student is the principal author and presenter. Delgosha earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Sharif University of Technology, Iran.  He plans to join the  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a research assistant professor of computer science in Fall 2020.

Introducing the world’s thinnest, most efficient, broadest band, flat lens

EECS Assoc. Prof. Boubacar Kanté, his graduate students Liyi Hsu, Jeongho Ha and Jun-Hee Park, postdoctoral researcher Abdoulaye Ndao, and Prof. Connie Chang-Hasnain, have demonstrated a revolutionary, ultrathin and compact, flat optical lens that spans wavelengths from the visible to the infrared with record-breaking efficiencies.  Their paper, “Octave bandwidth photonic fishnet-achromatic-metalens,” published in Nature Communications, is the first time a photonic system with the entire rainbow has been proposed and demonstrated with efficiencies larger than 70% in the visible-infrared region of the spectrum.  Attempts to make traditional lenses flatter and thinner, so that they can be deployed in increasingly smaller applications, have been hampered by the way that lens curvature and thickness are used to direct light.  The Fishnet-Achromatic-Metalens (FAM) utilizes a complex “fishnet” of tiny, connected waveguides with a gradient in dimensions, which focuses light on a single point on the other side of the lens, regardless of the incident wavelength.  As the world’s thinnest, most efficient, and broadest band, flat lens, its use in applications like solar energy, medical imaging, and virtual reality, is just the beginning.  As Kanté explains, “We have overcome what was regarded as a fundamental roadblock.”  One idea for a possible implementation would be to integrate the miniature lens into microrobots being developed at the Berkeley Sensor & Actuator Center (BSAC).

Margo Seltzer, Keith Bostic and Mike Olson

BerkeleyDB wins 2020 SIGMOD Systems Award

The creators of BerkeleyDB (BDB) have won the 2020 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Management of Data (SIGMOD) Systems Award for their "seminal work in embodying simplicity, quality, and elegance in a high-performance key-value store that has impacted many systems and applications over the last 25 years."   BDB is a software library that originated as an effort to free up the user space utilities in BSD, UC Berkeley's free version of the Unix operating system.  It used revolutionarily simple function-call APIs for data access and management, which allowed developers to create custom solutions at a fraction of the usual cost.  Keith Bostic, a member of Berkeley's Computer Science Research Group (CSRG), and his wife, graduate student Margo Seltzer (Ph.D. '92, advisor: Michael Stonebraker), co-founded Sleepycat Software, Inc. to provide commercial support for BDB.  Seltzer served as CTO, Bostic as VP Eng and Product Architect, and former Berkeley student and BDB co-developer Mike Olson (who later co-founded Cloudera) was the first full-time employee and later served as CEO.  Seltzer, Bostic, and Olson are among the 16 developers cited for the award. BDB ships in every copy of Linux and BSD; drove most LDAP servers, and powered a large portion of the Web 1.0.

Ming Lin elected to 2020 ACM SIGGRAPH Academy

EECS alumna Ming C. Lin (B.S./M.S./Ph.D. '93, advisor: John Canny) has been elected to the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH) Academy.  She is one of six scholars selected for membership this year, an honor which is reserved for individuals who have made "substantial contributions to the field."  Lin was cited "for contributions in collision detection, physics simulation, natural phenomena, crowd animation, haptics, and sound rendering."  She became an ACM Fellow in 2011 and IEEE Fellow in 2012, and is currently chair of the Computer Science department at the University Maryland.  An expert in virtual reality, computer graphics and robotics, Lin's particular focus is on multimodal interaction, physically based animations and simulations, as well as algorithmic robotics and their use in physical and virtual environments.  Her research has applications in medical simulations, cancer screening, urban computing, as well as supporting city-scale planning, human-centric computing, intelligent transportation and traffic management.

Paper by Peter Mattis to be presented at ACM SIGMOD conference

A paper co-written by EECS alumnus Peter Mattis (B.S. '97) is being presented at the 2020 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Management of Data (SIGMOD) International Conference on Management of Data this month.  The paper, titled "CockroachDB: The Resilient Geo-Distributed SQL Database," describes a cloud-native, distributed SQL database called CockroachDB, that is designed to store copies of data in multiple locations in order to deliver speedy access.  The database is being developed at Cockroach Labs, a company co-founded in 2015 by a team of former Google employees that included Mattis, who is also the current CTO, and fellow-alumnus Spencer Kimball (CS B.A. '97), currently the company CEO.  Cockroach Labs employs a number of Cal alumni including Ceilia La (CS B.A. '00) and Yahor Yuzefovich (CS B.A. '18).