News

Lee Felsenstein and the first public computerized bulletin board system

The Community Memory Project, a 1970's era counterculture experiment co-founded by EECS alumnus Lee Felsenstein (B.S. '72), is the subject of an article in California Magazine titled “'We’re Using a Computer': Was Social Media Invented in Berkeley?"  Members of the public were invited  to interface with a carboard box "terminal" where they could enter and retrieve messages on a computer via a teletype machine.  “It was sort of a noisy, sluggish craigslist,” Felsenstein says .  It “...was the first point where spam showed up, the first point for trolling, the first place where people developed personas online.”  An original Community Memory terminal is on display at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

Gitanjali Swamy testifies in support of Massachsetts anti-discrimination bill

EECS alumna Gitanjali Swamy (Ph.D. '97) testified in defense of a proposed bill (S939) she helped to draft which calls for sexual harassment and discrimination laws in Massachusetts to apply not only to employers but to investors and financiers as well--particularly private investors such as venture capitalists.  The purpose of the bill is to ensure that investors are held to the same standards as other employers and that women are afforded the same protections under the law.  Swamy is the founder and advisor to UC Berkeley’s Witi@UC Women, and a representative of the United Nations EQUALS Leadership Coalition.

Berkeley distinguished by number of graduating startup founders

According to Crunchbase News,  UC Berkeley graduated 108 startup founders--not including business school graduates --who raised $1M or more after May 1, 2018.   This makes Berkeley the top-ranked public university, and the third-ranked university of any kind after Stanford and MIT, in founding graduates.  In the Crunchbase tally of all funded founders graduating from public universities (including those with business school degrees), Berkeley (with 240) had more than three times the number of funded founders than second-ranked UCLA (with 85).  Berkeley News notes that you would have to combine the second- through fifth-ranked schools (UCLA, Michigan, Illinois and Washington)  to get to Berkeley’s level. “Berkeley is the original question-the-status-quo, do-disruptive-thinking place,” says Caroline Winnet of Berkeley SkyDeck. “I like to say that we don’t just think outside the box. There is no box.”

Elizaveta Tremsina is 2019 ACM SRC Grand Finals Winner

A paper written by recent graduate Elizaveta Tremsina (B.S. '19 CS/Physics/Applied Math) has taken third place in the undergraduate category of the 2019 ACM Student Research Competition (SRC) Grand Finals.  The paper, titled "Your Story Recorded in a Magnet: Micromagnetic Simulations of Spin-Orbit Torque in Multi-layer Structures," was a continuation of the first place poster she presented at the 2018 Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing.    "I am extremely thankful to the Berkeley EECS department for the amazing 4.5 years and for the unique chance to participate in cutting-edge research with Dr. Salahuddin's group and also attend the Tapia conference (my first one back in 2016 and last year)," she said. "I hope that more Berkeley undergrads participate in this competition in the future, be it at Tapia or other ACM conferences."  Tremsina was presented with her award at the ACM awards banquet last weekend.

Nadia Heninger wins Borg Early Career Award

EECS alumna Nadia Heninger (B.S. '04) has won the 2019 Borg Early Career Award (BECA).  The BECA  is given to a woman in computer science and/or engineering who has made significant research contributions and who has contributed to her profession, especially in the outreach to women.  After graduation, Heninger earned a Ph.D. from Princeton and is currently an associate professor in Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego.  She is known for her work on freezing powered-down security devices to slow their fading memories and allow their secrets to be recovered via a cold boot attack, for her discovery that weak keys for the RSA cryptosystem are in widespread use by internet routers and other embedded devices, and for her research on how failures of forward secrecy in bad implementations of the Diffie–Hellman key exchange may have allowed the NSA to decrypt large amounts of internet traffic via the Logjam vulnerability.

Mark D. Hill wins ACM-IEEE CS Eckert-Mauchly Award

CS alumnus Mark D. Hill (Ph.D. '87, advisers: David Patterson and Alan J. Smith) has won the ACM-IEEE CS Eckert-Mauchly Award, considered the most prestigious award in the computer architecture community.  Hill, who is currently a professor at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, was cited "for contributions to memory consistency models and memory system design."  Widely regarded as the leading memory systems researcher in the world today, Hill made seminal contributions to the fields of cache memories, memory consistency models, transactional memory, and simulation.   His thesis advisor, David Patterson, won the Eckert-Mauchly award in 2008.  It will be presented at the 2019 ACM/IEEE International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA) in June.

Tianshi Wang and Jaijeet Roychowdhury win UCNC 2019 Best Paper Award

A paper co-authored by freshly minted alumnus Tianshi Wang (Ph.D. '19, winner of the 2019 EECS David Sakrison Memorial Prize for "truly outstanding research") and Prof. Jaijeet Roychowdhury has won Best Paper Award at the International Conference on Unconventional Computation and Natural Computation (UCNC) 2019.  The paper, titled "OIM: Oscillator-based Ising Machines for Solving Combinatorial Optimisation Problems" will be presented at the conference in Japan next week.

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.