Lecture series with Turing laureates celebrates Berkeley’s ‘golden age’ of CS research

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of computer science at UC Berkeley and the university’s sesquicentennial, the EECS Department is launching a special series of lectures by winners of the ACM A.M. Turing Award, considered the field’s equivalent of a Nobel Prize.  The Turing laureates all have ties to UC Berkeley either as current or past faculty members or as alumni. They include David Patterson, UC Berkeley professor emeritus of computer science, who, along with former Stanford president John Hennessy, earned a Turing this past March for influential work on computer architecture design. “The 1970s and 1980s represented a golden age of computer science research at Berkeley,” said Patterson. “A remarkable seven research projects that began here went on to earn Turing awards.”

John Ousterhout, professor of computer science at Stanford University, adds: “If you use Turing Awards as the metric, you could make the case that the greatest team of computer researchers ever assembled at one place and time was at UC Berkeley in the 1970s and 1980s.” The lecture series, which is open to the public, will kick off at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26, with a talk by Shafi Goldwasser, director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at UC Berkeley. Every Wednesday through Nov. 14 will feature a Turing award laureate speaking in Banatao Auditorium in Sutardja Dai Hall.  In addition to their technical talk, the lecturers will reflect on their time at UC Berkeley and look toward the future of research and technological development in their fields. In anticipation of full attendance, these lectures will also stream live on YouTube via CITRIS.

Connie Chang-Hasnain elected Vice-President of Optical Society of America

EE alumna and Prof. Connie Chang-Hasnain (Ph.D. '87) has been elected 2019 Vice-President of the Optical Society of America (OSA).   Since 1916, OSA has been the world’s leading champion for optics and photonics, uniting and educating scientists, engineers, educators, technicians and business leaders worldwide to foster and promote technical and professional development. Chang-Hasnain currently serves as Associate Dean for Strategic Alliances in the College of Engineering,  The position of OSA vice-president requires a four-year commitment to OSA's Board of Directors: one year each as vice president in 2019, president-elect in 2020, president in 2021, and past-president in 2022. “Connie’s international and strategic experience is a perfect fit for the OSA’s officer position,” said Elizabeth Rogan, CEO of  OSA.  “Her numerous and effective volunteer roles reflect her strong connection with the photonics industry.”

Diamond dust enables low-cost, high-efficiency magnetic field detection

Researchers including EE Prof. Sayeef Salahuddin and postdoc Dominic Labanowski (Ph.D. '17) have created a device that dramatically reduces the energy needed to power magnetic field detectors, which could revolutionize how we measure the magnetic fields that flow through our electronics, our bodies, and our planet.   The researchers found a new way to excite the tiny nitrogen-infused diamond nonocrystals in their magnetic sensor with microwaves, using 1,000 times less power than is required by traditional sensors.  “Our sensors could replace those more-difficult-to-use sensors in a lot of applications from navigation to medical imaging to natural resource exploration,” said Labanowski.

Constance Chang-Hasnain wins prestigious Okawa Prize

Alumna and EE Prof. Constance Chang-Hasnain (M.S. '84/Ph.D. '87) has won the 2018 Okawa Prize "for pioneering and outstanding research of VCSEL photonics through the development of their novel functions for optical communications and optical sensing."  The Okawa Prize recognizes "persons who have made outstanding contributions to research, technological development and business in the information and telecommunications fields, internationally."  Chang-Hasnain is Associate Dean for Strategic Alliances in the College of Engineering, Co-director of theTsinghua-UC Berkeley Shenzhen Institute, and the Chair of the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Graduate Group.  Her research interests range from semiconductor optoelectronic devices to materials and physics, with current foci on nano-photonic materials and devices for chip-scale integrated optics.

Charles Susskind remembered at L.A. Museum of the Holocaust

Late EE Prof. Charles Susskind, who passed away in 2004, is one of 10 children featured in an exhibit at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust titled Childhood Left at the Station: A Tribute to the Children of the Kindertransport, as well an accompanying L.A. Times article titled "Child separation during World War II: How an exhibition at L.A.'s Museum of the Holocaust resonates today."  Susskind caught one of the last Kindertransport trains out of Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1939--just a few weeks shy of his 18th birthday (at which time he would have been ineligible for the program) and the onset of the war.   Kindertransport was an international, non-denominational rescue effort that got Jewish children out of Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland between 1938-1939.  The suitcase he carried will be on display, bearing the green, hand-painted number that identified him as a child refugee.  “It’s tiny,” curator Jordana Gessler says. “Probably 18 by 14 inches. That suitcase is all he brought with him.”

Key role of micron-scale strain distributions in magnetoelectric multiferroic devices revealed

A research study led by EE Prof. and Associate Chair Jeffrey Bokor and post-doctoral research associate Roberto Lo Conte, among others, on the influence of nonuniform micron-scale strain distributions on electrical reorientation of magnetic microstructures has been highlighted on the news site Advances in Engineering.  The work, which was conducted in the Center for Translational Applications of Nanoscale Multiferroic Systems (TANMS), is the first to thoroughly characterize the micron-scale strain and magnetic response, as a function of an applied electric field, in a composite multiferroic system. Their goal was to come up with a comprehensive behavior and understanding of these materials using direct imaging of both the electrically induced magnetic behavior and the piezo-strain.  These materials systems are of broad technological interest, since they offer a path toward the development of ultralow power magnetoelectric devices which can be useful for manipulation of micro and nano-scale objects such as biological cells. Their work is published in the research journal, Nano Letters.

Six new EECS faculty welcomed in 2018

The EECS department welcomes six new faculty members who joined the department in 2018:  CS Prof. Shafi Goldwasser (EECS M.S. '81/Ph.D. '84) is a cryptography pioneer and one of only three women to have won the ACM A.M. Turing Award. Goldwasser was a professor in the Department of EECS at MIT and joined us to become the new director of the Simons Institute; EE Assistant Prof. Jiantao Jiao's research on causal relationships has applications in the fields of health and social sciences. Jiao is expecting his Ph.D. in EE from Stanford University this fall; CS Prof. Jennifer Listgarten applies machine learning to computational biology and gene editing, including CRISPR technology. She came to us from Microsoft Research New England; EE Prof.-in-residence Yi Ma (EECS M.S. '97/Ph.D. '00) applies mathematical analysis to applications in computer vision and autonomous robots. He comes to us from ShanghaiTech University, where he was professor and executive dean of the School of Information Science and Technology; EE Associate Prof. Robert Pilawa-Podgurski's research interests include renewable energy applications and power electronics. He comes to us from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was an associate professor of ECE; EE Assistant Teaching Prof. Gireeja Ranade (EECS M.S. '09/Ph.D. '14) has research interests that span various aspects of artificial intelligence (AI), wireless communications and robotics. She comes to us from Microsoft Research, where she was a postdoctoral researcher in AI.

Some EECS contributions to the history of Berkeley's scientific endeavors

Some of the achievements of members of the EECS department are highlighted in a Daily Cal article titled "From cyclotrons to wetsuits: A brief history of UC Berkeley’s scientific endeavors. The article covers  Unix, which was developed by EE alumnus Kenneth Thompson (B.S.‘65/M.S.‘66) in 1969, and RISC, a project directed by CS Prof. Emeritus David Patterson in 1981.  Prof. Randy Katz, who is currently Berkeley's Vice Chancellor for Research, says “The magic of Berkeley is that we are (a) public institution. Our research agenda is about how the work we do impacts society.”

Stuart Russell shares his favorite algorithms

CS Prof. Stuart Russell is one of four top experts asked by The Next Web (TNW) "which algorithms they think made the biggest contribution to artificial intelligence and science in general?"  Russell chose Lookahead and Backchaining, which he described as "fundamental modes of decision making.”  Other experts chose Gradient Descent, Convolutional Networks, and Forward-backward.

Joe Hellerstein on the must-haves of a modern data prep platform

CS Prof. Joseph Hellerstein is the subject of a feature in InsideBigData titled "The Must-Haves of a Modern Data Prep Platform."  Hellerstein is the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Trifacta, a company that develops data wrangling software for data exploration and self-service data preparation for analysis.  he discusses how the challenge of data preparation sits squarely between the growth of BI and visualization tools and the specific data needed to fuel them.  Efficient data preparation is key to alleviating new demand from business users. The article offers three key requirements that a data preparation platform should have.  Hellerstein's career in research and industry has focused on data-centric systems and the way they drive computing. Fortune Magazine included him in their list of 50 smartest people in technology , and MIT’s Technology Review magazine included his work on th eir TR10 list of the 10 technologies “most likely to change our world.”