Jeff Mahler and Ken Goldberg (photo: Jason LeCras for The New York Times)

Ken Goldberg and Jeff Mahler explain how warehouse robots will learn on their own

CS/IEOR Prof. Ken Goldberg, director of the AUTOLAB, and his EE graduate student Jeff Mahler, are profiled in a  New York Times article titled "In the Future, Warehouse Robots Will Learn on Their Own," about researchers who are using neural networks and machine learning to teach robots to grab things they have never encountered before.   The AUTOLAB robot was trained by being shown hundreds of purely digital objects, after which it could pick up items that weren’t represented in its digital data set.  “We’re learning from simulated models and then applying that to real work,” said Goldberg,

Hallac Scholar Alex Montanez

Alex Montanez wins inaugural Hallac Scholarship

EECS sophomore Alex Montanez is part of the inaugural class of Hallac Scholars.  The program, sponsored by the global asset management firm BlackRock, combines scholarship, mentorship and internship to help students learn how engineers can use their skills to develop innovative tech for delivering financial services.  Although Montanez was fascinated by computers, his junior high and high school didn’t offer any computer science or engineering classes, and had no computer club.  He had to learn almost everything on his own. As a BlackRock intern next summer, he’ll serve on the science team that works on Aladdin as well as on developing apps used by the firm’s clients. “I wanted to know how computers and electronics worked because they were everywhere. I’m interested in the impact computers have in helping people,” he says.

Armen Chouldjian demonstrating his BART web app

Armen Chouldjian helps increase BART's safety and reliability

EECS senior Armen Chouldjian was one of 11 engineering interns, selected from more than 200 college applicants around the nation, to work in the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Maintenance and Engineering Department.  His summer project was to take information-dense reports generated from various BART computer systems and make them more readable and accessible.  He and his partner, Anuj Shah, went far beyond that, creating an internal web application that is already being used for greater efficiency and quicker diagnosis and resolution of problems.  “It’s a win-win,” said Chouldjian. “I get to play with cool technology and it ends up helping people.”

Startup institute, The House (Joshua Jordan/Daily Cal)

Berkeley ranks second in most venture capital-backed entrepreneurs in 2017

For the second year in a row, U.C. Berkeley has ranked No. 2 among the 50 undergraduate programs that produce the most venture capital-backed entrepreneurs, according to PitchBook’s 2017-18 report.  The report distinguishes undergraduate and MBA programs, compares Ivy League colleges to other universities and analyzes numbers such as companies per sector, female founders and total capital raised by founders’ companies. This year, UC Berkeley produced 1,089 entrepreneurs and 961 companies.

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.

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.”

Berkeley is one of the best computer science colleges for women

U.C. Berkeley made StudySoup's list of the top 20 female-friendly computer science programs in the country.  The graduate student group WICSE (Women in Computer Science and Engineering) is credited for the ranking because they are working to "build a more inclusive environment in the industry. In addition to outreach programs for younger students, the organization partners with research institutions and corporate partners to host workshops and network events."

Rebecca Portnoff takes a step toward fighting human trafficking

CS graduate student Rebecca Portnoff (adviser: David Wagner) has developed the first algorithm to identify adult ads tied to human trafficking rings by linking the ads to public information from Bitcoin — the primary payment method for online sex ads.  “The technology we’ve built finds connections between ads,” says Portnoff.  “Is the pimp behind that post for Backpage also behind this post in Craigslist? Is he the same man who keeps receiving Bitcoin for trafficked girls? Questions like these are answerable only through more sophisticated technological tools – exactly what we’ve built in this work – that link ads together using payment mechanisms and the language in the ads themselves.”  Her team will present their findings this month at the Association for Computing Machinery’s SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining.

Grant Ho, Mobin Javed, Vern Paxson and David Wagner win 2017 Internet Defense Prize

CS graduate student Grant Ho, Aashish Sharma (LBNL),  CS alumna Mobin Javed (Ph.D. 2016), and CS Profs. Vern Paxson and David Wagner have won the 2017 Internet Defense Prize, worth $100,000, for their paper "Detecting Credential Spearphishing in Enterprise Settings."  CS graduate student Thurston Dang,  Petros Maniatis (Google Brain), and Prof. David Wagner, were finalists for their paper "Oscar: A Practical Page-Permissions-Based Scheme for Thwarting Dangling Pointers."  The award, which is funded by Facebook and offered in partnership with USENIX, recognizes research that meaningfully makes the internet more secure.