News

Moses Surumen plugs Kenya’s skills gap with peer to peer learning

Moses Surumen, who graduated with a degree in EECS this week, has been sharing his knowledge with peers in Kenya for the past two years, helping them develop the skills to solve challenges back home.  Surumen, who has 10 siblings, grew up in Kajiado, a Masai area south of Nairobi.  In 2017, he implemented a program called M-Soma, running a six-week summer course for Kenyan high school graduates in computer science.  “We were building skills the way Berkeley does, providing the best skeletal code for setting up the platform and building onto that several features they wanted to use,” he explains.  Surumen has accepted a position at Qualcomm but plans to continue to explore how to scale his project to work in different African countries.

Chelsea Finn wins 2018 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award

Recent graduate Chelsea Finn (Ph.D. '18, advisors: Pieter Abbeel and Sergey Levine), has won the prestigious ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award. This award is presented annually to "the author(s) of the best doctoral dissertation(s) in computer science and engineering."  In her dissertation, "Learning to Learn with Gradients," Finn introduced algorithms for meta-learning that enable deep networks to solve new tasks from small datasets, and demonstrated how her algorithms can be applied in areas including computer vision, reinforcement learning and robotics.  Finn  is currently a research scientist at Google Brain, a post-doc at the Berkeley AI Research Lab (BAIR), and an acting assistant professor at Stanford.  Last year's recipient, Aviad Rubinstein, was also a Berkeley EECS alum.

Junior AI researchers are in demand by universities and industry

Assistant Teaching Prof. and EE alumna Gireeja Ranade (MS '09/PhD '14, advisor: Anant Sahai) is part of an article in Nature titled "Junior AI researchers are in demand by universities and industry."  Ranade worked at Microsft Research in Washington after graduating from Berkeley but before joining the EECS faculty.  She discusses some of the projects she worked on, the impact that they had, and how they have influenced her teaching.  "I loved the idea that it would be different from an academic postdoc and give me exposure to real problems. It makes you more aware of the issues that product teams face; it helps you see the real challenges," she said.

Mendel Rosenblum wins Inaugural ACM Thacker Breakthrough in Computing Award

CS alumnus Mendel Rosenblum (MS '89/PhD '92) has been honored with the inaugural ACM Charles P. “Chuck” Thacker Breakthrough in Computing Award.  Rosenblum, who is currently a professor at Stanford, is being recognized "for reinventing the virtual machine for the modern era and thereby revolutionizing datacenters and enabling modern cloud computing."   He is a co-founder of VMware,  where helped design and build virtualization technology for commodity computing platforms.  The Breakthrough in Computing Award "recognizes individuals or groups who have made surprising, disruptive, or leapfrog contributions to computing ideas or technologies." Rosenblum will formally receive the award at ACM’s annual Awards Banquet in June.

2019 American Academy of Arts and Sciences Member

Claire Tomlin elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Professor Claire Tomlin (Ph.D. ‘98) has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The academy is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States and serves the nation as a champion of scholarship, civil dialogue and useful knowledge. Members are nominated and elected by peers, and membership has been considered a high honor of scholarly and societal merit ever since the academy was founded in 1780. Professor Tomlin was also inducted into the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) earlier this year, “For contributions to design tools for safety-focused control of cyberphysical systems.” In 2017, she won the IEEE Transportation Technologies Award.

EECS department mourns the loss of Jean Paul Jacob and Elwyn Berlekamp

The EECS department lost two beloved faculty emeriti this month:  Jean Paul Jacob on April 7 and Elwyn Berlekamp on April 9.  Jacob was born in Brazil and spent a number of years working in industry before attending Berkeley (MS '65/PhD '66, advisor: Elijah Polak).  He was a world expert on Informatics and had a career at IBM that spanned over 40 years.  He returned to Berkeley as Faculty-in-Residence in 1971 where he actively promoted diversity initiatives and helped found the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) in 2001.  Jacob won the EE Distinguished Alumni award in 1992.  Berlekamp was known for his work in coding theory and was one of the founders of combinatorial game theory.  He co-invented  the Berlekamp-Welch algorithm (which finds the shortest linear feedback shift register for a given binary output sequence) and the Berlekamp-Massey algorithm (which is used to implement Reed–Solomon error correction).  He bought out the controlling interest in Axcom Trading Advisors in 1989 and vastly increased the returns after rewriting the trading algorithms: returns to all investors in 1990 exceeded 55%, net of all trading costs and performance fees. He sold his interest in Axcom in December 1990.

4 EECS faculty and 3 alumni to participate in Fields Institute symposium celebrating work of Stephen Cook

CS Prof. Shafi Goldwasser, CS Profs. Emeriti Richard Karp,  Manuel Blum and Christos Papadimitriou, and alumni Michael Sipser (2016 CS Distinguished Alumnus, PhD '80, advisor: Manuel Blum), Scott Aaronson (CS PhD '04, advisor: Umesh Vazirani), and James Cook (CS PhD '14, advisor: Satish Rao) will all be speaking at The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences Symposium on 50 Years of Complexity Theory: A Celebration of the Work of Stephen Cook.  The symposium, which will be held May 6-9, 2019 in Toronto, Canada, celebrates 50 years of NP-Completeness and the outstanding achievements of Stephen Cook and his remarkable influence on the field of computing.

photos of Fox, Jordan, and Patterson

Profs. Armando Fox, Michael Jordan, and David Patterson win IEEE International Conference on Data Engineering (ICDE) Influential Paper Award

At the 2019  IEEE International Conference on Data Engineering (ICDE), the Influential Paper Award was won by the 2009 paper "Predicting Multiple Metrics for Queries: Better Decisions Enabled by Machine Learning" by Archana Ganapathi, Harumi A. Kuno, Umeshwar Dayal, Janet L. Wiener, Armando Fox, Michael I. Jordan, and David A. Patterson.  This paper presented a data engineering methodology that has become the foundation for using machine learning to understand system behavior, espeicially in the vital areas of database optimization and data warehousing.  After receiving her Ph.D. in Computer Science at Berkeley, Archana Ganapathi has gone on to lead data strategy and analytics at Splunk.

A Salute to Early Women in STEM at UC Berkeley

In celebration of Women's History Month, Sheila Humphreys, the EECS Emerita Director of Diversity, has published an essay in the EECS Newsletter titled "A Salute to Early Women in STEM at UC Berkeley."  This essay is the first part of a series of writings about the history of diversity in engineering at UC Berkeley, seen primarily through the lens of  Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences.  It covers the first women researchers, faculty, and grad students in STEM at UC Berkeley including Agnes Morgan, Marian Diamond, Susan Graham, Avideh Zakhor, Lillian Gilbreth, and Kawthar Zaki.
Dan Garcia

Dan Garcia tops list of most frequent SIGCSE submissions

CS Teaching Prof. and alumnus Dan Garcia (M.S. '95/Ph.D. '00) has authored more submissions in the 50 year history of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) than anyone else.  Garcia authored 61 SIGCSE submissions accepted between 2003 and 2016 (submissions were counted from 1969 to 2018).  This count is particularly impressive since he was precluded from submitting papers in 2017 and 2018 because he was serving as program co-chair and symposium co-chair, respectively.  It also  doesn't include his 5 accepted submissions in 2019.   Berkeley ranked #3 for the highest number of accepted papers (114) and #9 for the most citations (302) in SIGCSE's history .