Dave Patterson wins ACM Turing Award with Stanford's Hennessy for Creation of RISC

The Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) announced today that the winners of the 2017 ACM Turing Award are UC Berkeley's David A. Patterson and Stanford University's John L. Hennessy for "pioneering a systematic, quantitative approach to the design and evaluation of computer architectures with enduring impact on the microprocessor industry. Hennessy and Patterson created a systematic and quantitative approach to designing faster, lower power, and reduced instruction set computer (RISC) microprocessors." (ACM) Since then, computer architects have been using principles derived from their approach in a wide variety of projects for industry and academia.  Today, 99% of the more than 16 billion microprocessors produced annually are RISC processors, to be found in most smartphones, tablets, and the billions of embedded devices that comprise the Internet of Things (IoT).  

EE and CE grad programs place #1 and #2 in 2019 US News rankings

The Berkeley Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering programs have been ranked #1 and #2 respectively by U.S.News & World Report, continuing our tradition as one of the best EECS graduate programs the world.  In the 2019 rankings, Electrical/Electronic/Communications Engineering moved up from #3 to #1, tying with MIT and Stanford.  Computer Engineering held the #2 spot between MIT and UI Urbana-Champaign.  The College of Engineering graduate programs held the #3 spot under MIT and Stanford, with #1 rankings in Civil and Environmental/Environmental Health, a #2 ranking in Chemical Engineering, #3 rankings in Industrial/Manufacturing/Systems, Materials,and Mechanical, and a #4 ranking in Biomedical/Bioengineering.

Amal El-Ghazaly forges a path in higher education

EE postdoctoral fellow Amal El-Ghazaly, who works with the Nanoelectronics and Nanostructures Group, is featured in a Berkeley News article as one of the 25 scholars from Berkeley, Stanford, Caltech and UCLA who’ve won postdoctoral fellowships from the NSF-sponsored California Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP).  The alliance was formed to address the seemingly intractable ethnic underrepresentation in key STEM fields in the postdoctoral and faculty ranks at prestigious universities.  Aspiring professor El-Ghazaly, a hijab-wearing Muslim of African heritage, was often the only underrepresented minority student, and sometimes the only woman, in her specialized applied physics courses at CMU and Stanford.  The Berkeley-led Alliance will share its challenges and successes at the Pathways to a Diverse Professoriate conference on campus this week.

John DeNero wins 2018 UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award

Assistant Teaching Prof. John DeNero has won the UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award.   The award, presented by the Academic Senate, recognizes U.C. Berkeley's brightest teaching stars for their inspiring and transformational teaching.  DeNero says his teaching goal is not necessarily to make students happy but to help them learn how to solve problems that they thought they couldn't solve.  He has a knack for grabbing attention, exciting students, and in many ways, serving as a pioneer.  He teaches his introductory course for computer science majors, CS 61A, to nearly 1,600 students in 47 sections with the help of a course staff of 95 undergraduates. Distinguished Teaching Award winners are frequently called upon by the campus to provide a voice on issues related to teaching. They serve on forums, panels, and committees involving teaching issues, and they are advocates for excellence in teaching at Berkeley.

Barbara Simons proves how easy it is to hack elections—and how it can be stopped

College of Engineering Distinguished Alumna Barbara Simons (Ph.D. '81) is the subject of an article in the Dail Kos titled "Computer scientist Barbara Simons proves how easy it is to hack elections—and how it can be stopped."  Simons,  who runs Verified Voting, has been a longtime advocate for bringing paper ballots back to all states and exposing the perils of electronic paperless ballots.  Last summer, she ran an experiment at the Def Con Hacker Conference in Las Vegas in which she secured 4 voting machines and had two teams of hackers successfully compromise them. “Anything that’s happening in here, you can be sure [it’s something] that those intent on undermining the integrity of our election systems have already done,” she said.  Simons will be a keynote speaker at the WiCSE 40th Reunion on Saturday.

Michael Jordan named Plenary Lecturer at the 2018 International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM)

Prof. Michael Jordan has been named a Plenary Lecturer at the 2018 International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), which will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August.  ICM is considered the world’s premier forum for presenting and discussing new mathematical discoveries.  Plenary speakers are invited from around the world to present one-hour lectures which are held without other parallel activities--an honor that has been bestowed on only a small handful of computer scientists over the 121 year history of the ICM.

Ashokavardhanan, Jung, and McConnell

Ashokavardhanan, Jung, and McConnell named KPCB Engineering Fellows

Undergraduate students Ganeshkumar Ashokavardhanan (EECS  + Business M.E.T.),  Naomi Jung (CS BA), and Louie McConnell (EECS + Business M.E.T.) have been selected to participate in the 2018 KPCB Engineering Fellows Program, named one of the top 5 internship programs by Vault.  Over the course of a summer, KPCB Engineering Fellows join portfolio companies, where they develop their technical skills and are each mentored by an executive within the company. It offers students an opportunity to gain significant work experience at Silicon Valley startups, collaborating on unique and challenging technical problems.

EECS mourns the loss of Angela Waxman

Angela Waxman, the CS Graduate Student Services Staff Advisor, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday night from a stroke.  Angela joined the EECS department in July 2017, and made a positive impact on those lucky enough to have worked or interacted with her.  Her kindness, warmth and positive spirit will be greatly missed. Contact Shirley Salanio ( for details about the funeral service.
Carlini (photo: Kore Chan/Daily Cal)

AI training may leak secrets to canny thieves

A paper released on arXiv last week by a team of researchers including Prof. Dawn Song and Ph.D. student Nicholas Carlini (B.A. CS/Math '13), reveals just how vulnerable deep learning is to information leakage.  The researchers labelled the problem “unintended memorization” and explained it happens if miscreants can access to the model’s code and apply a variety of search algorithms. That's not an unrealistic scenario considering the code for many models are available online, and it means that text messages, location histories, emails or medical data can be leaked.  The team doesn't “really know why neural networks memorize these secrets right now, ” Carlini says.  “At least in part, it is a direct response to the fact that we train neural networks by repeatedly showing them the same training inputs over and over and asking them to remember these facts."   The best way to avoid all problems is to never feed secrets as training data. But if it’s unavoidable then developers will have to apply differentially private learning mechanisms, to bolster security, Carlini concluded.

Shankar Raman named 2018 MIT MacVicar Fellow

Alumnus Shankar Raman (EE M.S. '88), now a professor of literature at MIT, has been named a 2018 MacVicar Fellow.  The MIT MacVicar Faculty Fellows Program recognizes professors who are champions of teaching and advising, and who engage with students to advance the mission of the Institute.  After obtaining his B.S. in electrical engineering from MIT and master's from Berkeley, Raman changed fields and received a master's and Ph.D. in English literature from Stanford.  His research ranges from Renaissance and late-Medieval literature and culture to post-colonialism and literary theory.  His unconventional career path has proven particularly beneficial to his students. “One of the most unique and helpful aspects of Prof. Raman’s advising,” one former student wrote, “was his ability to leverage his own unique life trajectory, which enables him to connect with MIT students on their own technically-minded terms better than most.”