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EECS students, postdocs, alumni and faculty make strong showing at 2019 USENIX Security Symposium

EECS students, postdocs, alumni, and faculty were front and center at the 28th USENIX Security Symposium in Santa Clara last week.  In addition to the Test of Time and Distinguished Paper Awards (see below), Keynote Speaker Alex Stamos (B.S. '01), previously the Chief Security Officer of Facebook, highlighted the threat model work of current ICSI postdoc Alisa Frik (advisor: Serge Egelman).  Alumnus Nicholas Carlini (Ph.D. '18, advisor: David Wagner) gave a talk on his neural networks research which was co-authored by CS Prof. Dawn Song and postdoc Chang Liu.  ICSI researchers Primal Wijesekera and Serge Egelman, and former ICSI postdoc Joel Reardon, were awarded a Distinguished Paper Award for "50 Ways to Leak Your Data: An Exploration of Apps' Circumvention of the Android Permissions System." Grad students Frank Li (advisor: Vern Paxson) and Nathan Malkin (advisors: Serge Egelman and David Wagner), received a Distinguished Paper award at the SOUPS '19 technical session for "Keepers of the Machines: Examining How System Administrators Manage Software Updates For Multiple Machines." The Zip Bomb research of alumnus David Fifield (Ph.D. '17, advisor: Doug Tygar) was also awarded a Best Paper award at the WOOT '19 technical session.

Two CS grad students, co-advised by David Culler and Raluca Popa, also made presentations.  Sam Kumar presented "JEDI: Many-to-Many End-to-End Encryption and Key Delegation for IoT" and Michael P. Andersen presented "WAVE: A Decentralized Authorization Framework with Transitive Delegation."

Grant Ho, Vern Paxson, and David Wagner win USENIX Security Symposium Distinguished Paper Award

Graduate student Grant Ho and his co-advisors Profs. Vern Paxson and David Wagner, were honored with a Distinguished Paper Award at the 2019 USENIX Security Symposium for "Detecting and Characterizing Lateral Phishing at Scale".  In the paper, they presented "the first large-scale characterization of lateral phishing attacks, based on a dataset of 113 million employee-sent emails from 92 enterprise organizations."  Ho, Paxson, and Wagner previously won the same award at the 2017 USENEX Security Symposium for their paper "Detecting Credential Spearphishing Attacks in Enterprise Settings."

David Wagner, Eric Brewer, Ian Goldberg, and Randi Thomas win 2019 USENIX Test of Time Award

CS Profs. and alumni David Wagner (Ph.D. '00) and Eric Brewer (B.S. '89), alumnus Ian Goldberg (Ph.D. '00), and then-student Randi Thomas have won the 2019 USENIX Test of Time Award for their 1996 paper titled "A Secure Environment for Untrusted Helper Applications."  The paper, which introduced a fundamental and crucial technique for confining untrusted applications in computer systems, and which made a significant contribution to the computer security field, was written by Wagner, Goldberg and Thomas when they were Brewer's graduate students.  “Beyond its strong academic impact — cited by 890 papers," said award committe member Dan Boneh, "the technique is now used to confine web pages in the Chrome browser, and to confine applications running on Android."

GauGAN AI art tool wins two major awards at SIGGRAPH 2019 Real-Time Live Competition

A viral real-time AI art application, co-created by three current and former graduate students of CS Prof. Alexei Efros, has won two coveted awards--Best in Show and Audience Choice--at the SIGGRAPH 2019 Real-Time Live Competition.  The interactive application, called GauGAN, was co-created by Ph.D. candidate Taesung Park during a summer internship at NVIDIA, along with alumni and NVIDIA researchers Jun-Yan Zhu (Ph.D. '17,  ACM SIGGRAPH Outstanding Doctoral Disseration winner) and Ting-Chun Wang (Ph.D. '17), as well as NVIDIAs Ming-Yu Liu.  GauGAN is the first semantic image synthesis model that can turn rough sketches into stunning, photorealistic landscape scenes.

You can’t squash this roach-inspired robot

Research co-authored by grad student Justin Yim and EE Profs. Ron Fearing and Robert Full, among others, has resulted in the creation of a small cockroach-inspired robot so hardy that it can survive being crushed underfoot.  The robot, which is about the size of a large postage stamp, is made of a thin sheet of a piezoelectric material called polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF).  Applying electric voltage to PVDF causes it to expand or contract, creating oscillations that propel the device forward.  The robot can sail along the ground at a speed of 20 body lengths per second, said to be the fastest pace among insect-scale robots.  Their paper was published in the journal Science Robotics.

New tech breakthough will allow drones to fly for days

Prof. Eli Yablonovitch is the co-author of a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that describes a groundbreaking discovery which has allowed researchers to raise the efficiency of thermophotovoltaics from 23% (where it has stayed for 15 years) to an unprecedented 29%. This ultralight alternative power source could allow drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles to operate continuously for days.  The paper, "Ultraefficient thermophotovoltaic power conversion by band-edge spectral filtering," co-authored by a 10-person research team that includes postdoc Luis Pazos-Outon, details how a highly reflective mirror installed on the back of a photovoltaic cell can reflect low energy infrared photons to reheat the thermal source, providing a second chance for a high-energy photon to be created and generate electricity.

Michael Jordan on the goals and remedies for AI

CS Prof. Michael Jordan has written a commentary in the Harvard Data Science Review (HDSR) titled "Dr. AI or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Economics" (a play on the title of the film Dr. Strangelove).  In it, he  argues that instead of trying to put "‘thought’ into the computer, and expecting that ‘thinking computers’ will be able to solve our problems and make our lives better," he explores the prospect of bringing microeconomics "into the blend of computer science and statistics that is currently being called ‘AI.'"

Robert J. Wood's RoboBee X-Wing flies solo

An untethered bee robot co-created by EE alumnus Robert J. Wood (PhD '04, advisor: Ron Fearing) graces the cover the of the June 2019 issue of Nature magazine and is the subject of a Wired article titled "What Could Possibly Be Cooler Than RoboBee? RoboBee X-Wing."  Wood, now a professor of engineering and applied sciences at Harvard, is one of the creators of the RoboBee X-Wing, an aerial vehicle the size of an insect that is capable of untethered flight.  It has four wings driven by two piezoelectric actuators and carries a 60-mg photovoltaic array and a 91-mg signal generator, giving it a thrust efficiency matching that of similarly sized insects.

Shruti Agarwal and Hany Farid use facial quirks to unmask ‘deepfakes’

CS graduate student Shruti Agarwal and her thesis advisor Prof. Hany Farid have created a new weapon in the war against "deepfakes," the hyper-realistic AI-generated videos of people appearing to say and do things they never actually said or did.  The new forensic technique, which uses the subtle characteristics of how a person speaks to recognize whether a new video of that individual is real, was presented this week at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Long Beach.  “The basic idea is we can build these soft biometric models of various world leaders, such as 2020 presidential candidates," said Farid, "and then as the videos start to break, for example, we can analyze them and try to determine if we think they are real or not.”

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.