Yannis Ioannidis and the Greek spin-off that will become the voice of Samsung

CS alumnus Yannis Ioannidis (Ph.D. '86) is featured in an article about Samsung's purchase of Greek text-to-speech company Innoetics for close to 50 million euros.  Ioannidis is president of the ATHENA Research & Innovation Center, which nurtured the startup and provided critical support during its evolution and the development of its technology. Innoetics' text-to-speech software learns languages by listening to native speakers, whose voices it can then mimic with great accuracy.  It is currently fluent in 19 languages. Samsung plans to use the technology across a wide range of its product ecosystem.  Ioannidis says that, as a result of the purchase, “any voice emanating from a Samsung device in the years to come will be ‘Greek,’ the product of Greek technology.”  Ioannidis is currently a professor of Informatics and Telecommunications at the University of Athens.

Vern Paxson's cybersecurity startup Corelight raises $9.2M in Series A funding

Corelight, a cybersecurity startup co-founded by CS Prof. Vern Paxson, has raised $9.2 million in Series A funding from Accel Partners, with participation from Osage University Partners and Riverbed Technology Co-founder (and former Berkeley CS professor) Dr. Steve McCanne.  Corelight provides powerful network visibility solutions for cybersecurity built on a widely-used open source framework called Bro, which was developed by Paxson while working at LBNL in 1995.   The Corelight Sensor, which enables wide-ranging real-time understanding of network traffic, is already being used by many of the world’s most capable security operations including Amazon and five other Fortune 100 companies.

The tale of Lester Mackey's pursuit of the Netflix Prize

In October 2006, Netflix announced "The Netflix Prize," a $1M competition where teams of programmers raced to make the Netflix recommendation engine 10% more accurate.  The nail-biting competition is profiled in an article for Thrilllist which prominently features participant and CS alumnus Lester Mackey (Ph.D. '12), then an undergraduate at Princeton.   "It was so much fun," he said. "The contest was structured so well. We had to learn so much to be competitive and I met so many people along the way."  The winners beat the second place team by only 20 minutes.   Mackey is now a researcher at Microsoft Research New England and an adjunct professor of Statistics at Stanford University.

Two sophomores are using AI to fight fake news on Facebook

EECS sophomore Rohan Phadte and Interdisciplinary Studies major Ash Bhat have built a Messenger bot called NewsBot to help users discern whether articles are "fake news" on Facebook. Besides determining the validity of an article, it also offers a barometer that shows where an article might fit on the left-right bias spectrum, and is one of the only tools of its kind.  The idea for the algorithm first came to them during machine-learning classes.  Although it still has some bugs, they are making updates every day and the tool will improve as more users provide feedback.   "We want people to read more than just the headline. We want them to understand what the news they see says and who it's coming from." Bhat says.  Read the article on Mic.

Avideh Zakhor: the brains behind Google Earth and Street View

Computer vision pioneer Prof. Avideh Zakhor is the subject of a Mercury News profile titled "Avideh Zakhor: the brains behind Google Earth and Street View,"  which touches on her emigration from Iran,  the creation of the 3-D city modeling technology for a Defense Department-funded start-up which she ultimately sold to Google, and her current research on indoor mapping.  She also discusses the value of encouraging skilled immigrant workers to come to the U.S and the importance of getting more women into STEM fields.  "Maybe then we wouldn’t in Silicon Valley have a shortage of STEM workers — it makes it very hard for tech companies to operate; the labor market is very tight." she says.

Harry Huskey and the Bendix G-15 in 1988 (Dan Coyro -- Santa Cruz Sentinel file)

Harry Huskey is dead at age 101

Computer pioneer Harry Huskey, who designed the G15--which might be called the first "personal computer"--at Berkeley in 1954, has died.  He taught and conducted research into computer language in the EE department from 1954 to 1967, when he left to found and direct the computer center at U.C. Santa Cruz.  Starting in the 1940s, he worked on the Eniac (the country’s first general-purpose programmable electronic computer), the Automatic Computing Engine, and the SWAC, before designing the G-15.  It was manufactured and sold by Bendix Aviation Corporation as the first computer designed to be used by a single person without the intervention of other operators.  At 950 lbs and the size of a refrigerator, it was much smaller than the other room-sized computers at the time, and cost just under $50,000 (or could be rented for about $1,500 a month),  a fraction of the millions of dollars that other systems cost.  At 101 years old, he was one of the last surviving scientists in the vanguard of the computer revolution.

Raghav Chandra's UrbanClap dominates India's on-demand services ecosystem

Alumnus Raghav Chandra (EECS B.S. '11) and his second start-up, UrbanClap, are the subject of a Live Mint article describing the formation and rise of the most funded start-up in the still nascent hyperlocal segment of the on-demand services sector in India.  UrbanClap, which aggregates 107 local services and 65,000 providers, and enables customers to request services online through its website or mobile application, raised $36.6M in funding during the first 2 years after its inception.  Raghav, who was active in GamesCrafters as a student, became a software engineer at Yelp and Twitter, and founded the startup Buggi, before meeting his current partners to co-found UrbanClap.

Student startup culture is in The House

A number of EECS alumni and faculty have been invited to guest lecture for a DeCal course called "Build the Future" (CS 198), designed in collaboration with startup institute The House, to get undergraduate students engaged with the Berkeley entrepreneurial ecosystem and to use their time on campus creatively.  CS majors Jimmy Liu and Zuhayeer Musa (who run a company called Bash) helped develop the course, CS Prof. Scott Shenker is the faculty advisor, and Cameron Baradar (B.S.’15 EECS) is executive director of The House.  Speakers will include CS Prof. Joe Hellerstein, EE Prof. Kurt Keutzer, co-founder of Oculus Jack McCauley (B.S.’86, EECS), and founder of inDinero Jessica Mah (B.S.’10 EECS).

Startup Trifacta gives customers an intuitive, agile new way of working with data

Trifacta, a data wrangling startup co-founded by Prof. Joe Hellerstein (also company CSO and CS alumnus--M.S. '92), is one of the companies profiled by Computer Weekly in an article titled "Silicon Valley startups aim to make big data capture and prep slicker."  Customers of Trifacta, which specializes in sorting out data and getting it into shape for analysis, includes the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, PepsiCo, Walmart, and soon Google (Cloud Dataprep). Other CS alumni on the Trifacta team include co-founder and CXO Jeffrey Heer (B.S. '01/M.S. '04/Ph.D. '08) and Vice President of Products Wei Zheng (B.A. '99).  

Ankur Aggarwal makes Forbes 30 Under 30 in healthcare

Alumnus Ankur Aggarwal (EECS M.Eng.'12) has been named in Forbes magazine's 30 Under 30 list,  a compilation of the brightest young entrepreneurs, innovators and game changers across 20  industries.  Ankur and his college roommates teamed up to found TowerView Health, which sells a smart pill box with custom trays of medication.