News

Ming Wu to step down as faculty director of the NanoLab

EE Prof. Ming Wu will be stepping down as faculty director of the Berkeley Marvell Nanofabrication Laboratory (NanoLab) at the end of 2018.  He took up the position in 2008 after his predecessor, EE Prof. Tsu-Jae King Liu, became associate dean of research at the College of Engineering.  At the time, a new state-of-the-art clean room research facility was in its final stages of construction in Sutardja Dai Hall.  Under Wu’s leadership, multiple capabilities were added to the NanoLab – including a suite of high-resolution spectroscopy and microscopy tools.

Berkeley computer theorists show path to verifying that quantum beats classical

UC Berkeley computer theorists led by CS Prof. Umesh Vazirani,  published a proof of random circuit sampling (RCS) as a verification method to prove quantum supremacy in a paper published Monday, Oct. 29, in the journal Nature Physics.  Quantum supremacy is the term that describes a quantum computer’s ability to solve a computational task that would be prohibitively difficult for any classical algorithm.  “Besides being a milestone on the way to useful quantum computers, quantum supremacy is a new kind of physics experiment to test quantum mechanics in a new regime. The basic question that must be answered for any such experiment is how confident can we be that the observed behavior is truly quantum and could not have been replicated by classical means. That is what our results address,” said Vazirani.

IP paper wins 2018 ACM SenSys Test of Time Award

A paper written by CS Prof. David Culler and alumnus Jonathan Hui (M.S. '05/Ph.D. '08) in 2008 titled "IP is Dead, Long Live IP for Wireless Sensor Networks" has won the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems (SenSys) 2018 Test of Time Award.  The paper dispelled the notion that IP cannot run on wireless embedded sensors and made a long term impact  on standards like 6LoWPAN and platforms like Thread.  The award recognizes papers that are at least 10 years old and have had long lasting impact on networked embedded sensing system science and engineering.  Culler previously won this award in both 2014 and 2015.

"Graphical Lasso and Thresholding" wins 2018 Data Mining Best Paper Award

A paper titled “Graphical Lasso and Thresholding: Equivalence and Closed-form Solutions” by IEOR PhD candidate Salar Fattahi and EE Assistant Prof. Somayeh Sojoudi has won the 2018 Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) Data Mining (DM) Best Paper Award.   The paper compares the computationally-heavy Graphical Lasso (GL) technique, a popular method for learning the structure of an undirected graphical model, with a numerically-cheap heuristic method that is based on simply thresholding the sample covariance matrix.  By analyzing the properties of this conic optimization problem, the paper shows that its true complexity is indeed linear (both in time and in memory) for sparse graphical models and solves instance as large as 80,000×80,000 (more than 3.2 billion variables) in less than 30 minutes on a standard laptop computer, while other state-of-the-art methods do not converge within 4 hours.  The award recognizes excellence among DM members, particularly its student members, and was announced at the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, on November 5th.

In the Age of A.I., Is Seeing Still Believing?

EE Profs. Hany Farid and Alyosha Efros, the class CS 194-26—Image Manipulation and Computational Photography, and grad students Shiry Ginosar, Deepak Pathak, Angjoo Kanazawa, Richard Zhang, Jacob Huh and Tinghui Zhou are profiled in a New Yorker article titled "In the Age of A.I., Is Seeing Still Believing?" about how advances in digital imagery could deepen the fake-news crisis—or help us get out of it.  Farid is an expert in photo-forensics who "trained" a neural network to pick out numbers in the pixels of a degraded image of a license plate.  Efros pioneered a method for intelligently sampling bits of an image and probabilistically recombining them so that a texture could be indefinitely and organically extended (known in Photoshop as "content-aware fill").   True realism, Efros said, requires “data, data, data” about “the gunk, the dirt, the complexity of the world,” which is best gathered by accident, through the recording of ordinary life.

Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli wins ACM SIGDA Pioneering Achievement Award

EE Prof. Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli has won the 2018 Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Design Automation (SIGDA)  Pioneering Achievement Award.   This award honors a person for a lifetime of outstanding contributions within the scope of electronic design automation, as evidenced by ideas pioneered in publications, industrial products, or other relevant contributions. The award is based on the impact of the contributions throughout the nominee’s lifetime.  Sangiovanni-Vincentelli is known for his contributions to cyber-physical systems and design automation.  He co-founded  two companies in the field: Cadence Design Systems and Synopsys, Inc.

Machine Learning to Help Optimize Traffic and Reduce Pollution

CS Prof. Alexandre Bayen, the director of the Institute of Transportation Studies,  is leading a traffic-smoothing project dubbed CIRCLES (Congestion Impact Reduction via CAV-in-the-loop Lagrangian Energy Smoothing) that applies deep reinforcement learning to self-driving cars to smooth traffic, reduce fuel consumption, and improve air quality.  The potential for cities is enormous,” said Bayen. “Experiments have shown that the energy savings with just a small percentage of vehicles on the road being autonomous can be huge. And we can improve it even further with our algorithms.”

Berkeley team is selected for first-ever grid software competition

A team lead by EE Assistant Prof. Somayeh Sojoudi, and IEOR Profs. Shmuel Oren and Javad Lavaei, has been selected for funding to participate in the ARPA-E Grid Optimization (GO) Competition today.  The GO Competition comprises a series of prize challenges to accelerate the development and comprehensive evaluation of new software solutions for tomorrow's electric grid.   It is sponsored by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and comes with $4M in prizes.  Challenge 1 will ask competitors to build software solutions to the problem of security constrained optimal power flow (SCOPF), or, more simply, the challenge of routing electricity from the source to the consumer quickly, efficiently, safely, and reliably. 

Robert Pilawa-Podgurski wins 2018 IEEE Education Society Van Valkenburg Award

EE Associate Prof. Robert Pilawa-Podgurski is the 2018 recipient of the IEEE Education Society Mac E. Van Valkenburg Award.  This award is given annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to teaching unusually early in their professional careers as evidenced by teaching performance, development of new teaching methods, and curricular innovation in fields of interest to the IEEE Education Society. The citation was "for his demonstrated passion for teaching and commitment to individual student growth, and his curriculum innovations in hands-on learning in the area of electric power and energy systems".

Stuart Russell named Honorary Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford

Prof. Stuart Russell has been elected as an Honorary Fellow of Wadham College at Oxford University, his alma mater.  Warden of Wadham College, Ken Macdonald QC praised Russell for his scholarship in the field of Artificial Intelligence, his work with the United Nations and with former US President, Barack Obama.  Russell has devoted his career to the study of AI, including such topics as the interaction of knowledge and machine learning, the unification of logic and probability, and metareasoning (reasoning about reasoning).   Other Wadham Fellows include the late Jeremy Knowles, chemist and former Dean of Arts and Sciences at Harvard, and Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Anglican communion.