Hallac Scholar Alex Montanez

Alex Montanez wins inaugural Hallac Scholarship

EECS sophomore Alex Montanez is part of the inaugural class of Hallac Scholars.  The program, sponsored by the global asset management firm BlackRock, combines scholarship, mentorship and internship to help students learn how engineers can use their skills to develop innovative tech for delivering financial services.  Although Montanez was fascinated by computers, his junior high and high school didn’t offer any computer science or engineering classes, and had no computer club.  He had to learn almost everything on his own. As a BlackRock intern next summer, he’ll serve on the science team that works on Aladdin as well as on developing apps used by the firm’s clients. “I wanted to know how computers and electronics worked because they were everywhere. I’m interested in the impact computers have in helping people,” he says.

Armen Chouldjian demonstrating his BART web app

Armen Chouldjian helps increase BART's safety and reliability

EECS senior Armen Chouldjian was one of 11 engineering interns, selected from more than 200 college applicants around the nation, to work in the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Maintenance and Engineering Department.  His summer project was to take information-dense reports generated from various BART computer systems and make them more readable and accessible.  He and his partner, Anuj Shah, went far beyond that, creating an internal web application that is already being used for greater efficiency and quicker diagnosis and resolution of problems.  “It’s a win-win,” said Chouldjian. “I get to play with cool technology and it ends up helping people.”

Joint CS and IEOR Profs. Michael Jordan and Pieter Abbeel

Pieter Abbeel and Michael Jordan appointed joint faculty in IEOR

CS Profs. Pieter Abbeel and Michael Jordan, two of the best-known experts in machine learning, have been appointed as joint faculty in the department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR) in addition to their primary appointments in EECS (and Statistics for Jordan).  "Profs. Abbeel and Jordan are terrific colleagues that bring extremely valuable perspectives to our interests in robotics, automation, machine learning, and data science," states Ken Goldberg, Chair of IEOR.  Abbeel's work has been featured in many popular press outlets, including BBC, New York Times, MIT Technology Review, Discovery Channel, SmartPlanet and Wired.  In a recent article in Science, Jordan was named the currently most influential computer scientist in the world.

Startup institute, The House (Joshua Jordan/Daily Cal)

Berkeley ranks second in most venture capital-backed entrepreneurs in 2017

For the second year in a row, U.C. Berkeley has ranked No. 2 among the 50 undergraduate programs that produce the most venture capital-backed entrepreneurs, according to PitchBook’s 2017-18 report.  The report distinguishes undergraduate and MBA programs, compares Ivy League colleges to other universities and analyzes numbers such as companies per sector, female founders and total capital raised by founders’ companies. This year, UC Berkeley produced 1,089 entrepreneurs and 961 companies.

Prof. David Wagner teaching CS C8 (photo: SF Chronicle)

UC Berkeley rises to the challenge of Data Science demand

Prof. David Wagner, who co-teaches CS C8: The Foundations of Data Science, and Prof. David Culler, interim dean of the new Division of Data Sciences,  are featured in a San Francisco Chronicle article titled "Universities rush to add data science majors as demand explodes."   As worplace demand for data scientists and data enigineers continues to soar,  student enrollment in CS C8 has more than tripled since 2016. The Division of Data Sciences was established in the College of Engineering in December,  and a data science undergraduate major--the first new undergraduate major the College of Letters & Science in 16 years--is in the works.  “No program has grown this fast at Berkeley,” said Culler.

CS Prof. Emeritus David Patterson

David Patterson responds to former Google employee's memo about diversity

CS Prof. Emeritus David Patterson published an opinion piece in Wired in response to former Google employee James Damore’s memo, in which Damore stressed that women are biologically different and not suited to working in technology companies like Google.  Patterson, along with Maria Klawe of Harvey Mudd College and John Hennessy of Stanford, highlighted four main points in rebuttal to Damore’s memo: 1) implicit bias exists, 2) members of underrepresented groups are discouraged by daily biases not experienced by others, 3) a shortage of software engineers will limit the growth of the industry, and 4) it's more effective to discuss these issues face-to-face than via electronic communication.

Assistant Prof. Sergey Levine (photo: NVIDIA)

Sergey Levine explains how deep learning will unleash robotics

CS Assistant Prof. Sergey Levine explores how deep learning will unleash robotics in an NVIDIA AI Podcast which first aired on Sept 1st.  “One of the most important things is that you have to somehow communicate to the robot what it means to succeed,” Levine said in a conversation with AI Podcast host Michael Copeland. “That’s one of the most basic things …You need to tell it what it should be doing.”  He points out that it’s important that the robots don’t just repeat what they learn in training, but understand why a task requires certain actions. “If you want to get a robot to do interesting things, you kind of need it to learn on its own,” Levine said

Lotfi Zadeh, 1921-2017

Lotfi Zadeh has passed away

CS Prof. Lotfi Zadeh, known as the Father of Fuzzy Logic, passed away on the morning of September 6, 2017.  He was 96.  Zadeh touched many lives and had a tremendous impact on many scientific and technological fields.  He is best known as the founder of fuzzy mathematics, fuzzy set theory, fuzzy logic, Z numbers and Z-transform.   He won many awards including the IEEE Medal of Honor,  the Honda Prize, the Okawa Prize, and the IEEE Hamming Medal.  He was a founding member of the Eurasian Academy and a member of the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame.  A state funeral will be held in his birth city of Baku, Azerbaijan.  Memorial arrangements in the U.S. are pending.

Edward A. Lee publishes new book, "Plato and the Nerd"

EE Prof. Edward A. Lee has published his first book for a general audience, Plato and the Nerd: The Creative Partnership of Humans and Technology  (MIT Press, 2017).  In it, Lee observes that engineering is a deeply intellectual and fundamentally inventive process and that the producers of digital technology have an unsurpassed medium for creativity.   Janos Sztipanovits writes in his review "Lee's book is a brilliant articulation of the unique and increasingly important role technology plays in the evolution of mankind. He offers a deeply optimistic perspective with clarity and intellectual rigor without ever losing accessibility."  Lee has previously coauthored several textbooks on topics including digital communication, signal processing, embedded systems, and software modeling.

CS grad student Yang You

Yang You wins ACM IEEE-CS George Michael Memorial Fellowship

Graduate student Yang You (advisor: James Demmel) has won a 2017 ACM IEEE Computer Society George Michael Memorial Fellowship for his work on designing accurate, fast, and scalable machine learning algorithms on distributed systems.   The award, which was named in honor of George Michael, one of the founding fathers of the Supercomputing (SC) Conference series, is given in recognition of overall potential for research excellence in subjects of interest to the High Performance Computing (HPC) community.  In You's most recent work, “Scaling Deep Learning on GPU and Knights Landing Clusters,” his goal is to scale up the speed of training neural networks so that networks which are relatively slow to train can be redesigned for high performance clusters. This approach has reduced the percentage of communication from 87% to 14% and resulted in a five-fold increase in speed.