News

John Schulman named MIT TR Pioneering Innovator Under 35

CS alumnus John Schulman (Ph.D. '16, adviser: Pieter Abbeel) has been named to MIT Technology Review's 2018 list of "35 Innovators Under 35," an honor which recognizes "exceptionally talented young innovators whose work we believe has the greatest potential to transform the world."  Schulman, whose dissertation was on "Optimizing Expectations: From Deep Reinforcement Learning to Stochastic Computation Graphs," is cited in the Pioneer category for "training AI to be smarter and better, one game of Sonic the Hedgehog at a time."   He is the co-founder of OpenAI, where he has created some key algorithms in reinforcement learning: he trains AI agents in the same way you might train a dog, by offering a treat for a correct response--in this case, by racking up a high score in a video game.  These algorithms, once trained, might be applied in the real world, where they can be used to improve robot locomotion.

Siemens to acquire startup Comfy

German conglomerate Siemens announced it will acquire Comfy, an Oakland-based startup co-founded in 2012 by two CS alumni, Andrew Krioukov (M.S. '13) and Stephen Dawson-Haggerty (Ph.D. '14).  Both students were advised by David Culler.  Comfy (formerly named Building Robotics) is an end-to-end solution utilizing sensors and smart technology to control all aspects of the workplace environment, allowing office workers to not just control temperature and lighting but determine whether a room is currently empty.  This comprehensive approach has helped Comfy land numerous tech giant clients, including Microsoft, Intel, Salesforce and Infosys.  "Our unique strength is that we have, from the beginning, focused on the end user experience," explained Krioukov. "The building of the future that we envision is one that from the moment you walk into work, it knows who you are and what you're doing that day."  The purchase is part of Siemens' expansion into smart building strategies.

Joseph Hellerstein uses machine learning to search science data

Prof. Joseph Hellerstein is one of the principal investigators of a research team who are developing innovative machine learning tools to pull contextual information from scientific datasets and automatically generate metadata tags for each file. Scientists can then search these files via a web-based search engine for scientific data, called Science Search, that the Berkeley team is building.  The work is being done in conjunction with the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) including principal investigators Katie Antypas, Lavanya Ramakrishnan and Gunther Weber.  “Our ultimate vision is to build the foundation that will eventually support a ‘Google’ for scientific data, where researchers can even search distributed datasets," said Ramakrishnan. "Our current work provides the foundation needed to get to that ambitious vision.”

Tsu-Jae King Liu named Dean of Berkeley Engineering

Prof. Tsu-Jae King Liu has been selected as the new Dean of the College of Engineering.  King Liu served as Associate Dean for Research in the College from 2008-12, Chair of the EECS department from 2014-16, and Vice Provost for Academic and Space Planning on the Berkeley campus from 2016-18. She is a member of both the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors, and is internationally recognized for her research innovations in semiconductor devices and technology, garnering numerous awards and honors for her work.  King Liu is replacing Prof. Shankar Sastry, who held the post for more than 10 years.

Soumen Chakrabarti and Sunita Sarawagi among 10 Best Machine Learning Researchers in India

Two CS alumni, Soumen Chakrabarti (Ph.D. '96, advisor: Katherine Yelick) and Sunita Sarawagi (Ph.D. '96, advisor: Michael Stonebraker), both currently CSE professors at IIT Bombay, have made the 2018 list of Analytics India Magazine's Top 10 Machine Learning Researchers in India. Chakrabarti's research interests include better embedding representation for passages, entities, types and relation; searching the annotated Web with entities, types and relations; and Graph conductance search. He holds eight US patents, has produced 167 research papers, and authored one of the earliest books on web search and mining.  Sarawagi is interested in deep learning, web information extraction, data integration, graphical models and structured learning.  She has published more than 130 research papers and holds four patents.

Bin Yu wins COPSS 2018 Elizabeth L. Scott Award

EE/CS Prof. and alumna Bin Yu (M.S. '87/Ph.D. '90) has won the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) 2018 Elizabeth L. Scott Award.  This award is granted to an individual who has helped foster opportunities in statistics for women, exemplifying the spirit of mathematician and statistician Elizabeth L. Scott. Scott, who like Yu was a Cal alumna and professor, was a founding member of Berkeley's statistics department and fought hard for women's equal treatment on campus and beyond.  COPSS is comprised of the presidents, past presidents and presidents-elect of five Northern American statistical societies, and their awards are considered among the most prestigious in the field of statistics. Yu, who has a split appointment in EECS and Statistics, is interested in statistical inference, machine learning, and information theory. Her collaborations are highly interdisciplinary and include scientists from genomics, neuroscience, precision medicine, and political science.

Joseph Gonzalez wins 2018 Okawa Research Grant

CS Assistant Prof. Joey Gonzalez has won a 2018 Okawa Research Foundation Grant.  Okawa Research Grants are bestowed for "studies and analyses in the fields of information and telecommunications."  Gonzalez's research interests are at the intersection of machine learning and data systems. The award will be presented in San Francisco in the fall.

Michael-David Sasson appointed to Chancellor's Staff Advisory Committee

CS Division staffer Michael-David Sasson has been selected to serve on the Chancellor's Staff Advisory Committee (CSAC), which advises the Chancellor and her cabinet on a wide range of issues relating to staff.  Up to sixteen Berkeley staff members are appointed by the Chancellor to serve for a term of three years.  The CSAC provides input into campus decision-making processes including the development and modification of policies and procedures that directly affect staff.  In the 2000s, Sasson served as president of the Coalition of University Employees (CUE), Local #3, which is now part of IBT.

Jyuo-Min Shyu elected to board of UMC

2016 EE Distinguished Alumnus Jyuo-Min Shyu (Ph.D. '88) has been named a non-Executive Director of United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC), a "leading global semiconductor foundry that provides advanced IC production for applications spanning all major sectors of the electronics industry." Shyu, who is  currently a professor of computer science at National Tsing Hua University, was the 2015-16 Taiwan Minister of Science and Technology.  His research focuses on microelectronic system design and applications, optimization-based design, and multicore design automation.

Margaret Yau named Crafton Hills College Professor of the Year

Alumna Margaret Yau (B.S. EECS '04) has been named a 2017-18 Professor of the Year by Crafton Hills College, a community college in Yucaipa, California.  She was part of the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP) from 2002-4, won a Jim and Donna Gray scholarship in 2003, and became a CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award Finalist in 2004.  After graduating with high honors, Yau earned an M.S. from UCSD before taking a position at Crafton Hills in 2011.  “I really enjoy helping the students learn,” she said. “I especially like the ‘light bulb moment’ when they understand some concept or skill. That’s something I find rewarding.”