Moses Surumen plugs Kenya’s skills gap with peer to peer learning

Moses Surumen, who graduated with a degree in EECS this week, has been sharing his knowledge with peers in Kenya for the past two years, helping them develop the skills to solve challenges back home.  Surumen, who has 10 siblings, grew up in Kajiado, a Masai area south of Nairobi.  In 2017, he implemented a program called M-Soma, running a six-week summer course for Kenyan high school graduates in computer science.  “We were building skills the way Berkeley does, providing the best skeletal code for setting up the platform and building onto that several features they wanted to use,” he explains.  Surumen has accepted a position at Qualcomm but plans to continue to explore how to scale his project to work in different African countries.

Hany Farid and Alexei Efros team up with Facebook to improve accountability

EECS Profs. Hany Farid and Alexei Efros will be working with Facebook to help develop new methods to improve detection of fake content, fake news and misinformation campaigns. Facebook has launched $7.5 million partnership with three universities, including UC Berkeley, to create the technology.  Farid is a long-time crusader for holding social media companies accountable for removing and preventing harmful content, and Efros specializes in artificial intelligence, graphics and computer vision.  Some immediate steps that can be taken include having the company hire more people to monitor the site, charging a nominal fee to use the service, redefining Facebook and other tech giants as publishers--rather than as platforms, and creating unambiguous rules.

Rikky Muller is building machines that heal

EE Assistant Prof. Rikky Muller is the subject of a Berkeley Engineering article titled "Machines that heal."  She is using her expertise in integrated circuits to build tiny, implantable devices that are intelligent, safe and so minimally invasive that they can last over the course of a patient’s lifetime.  “I’m absolutely passionate about finding treatments and maybe someday cures for neurological diseases,” says Muller. “Almost everyone knows someone impacted by neurological diseases like epilepsy, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. That’s why this is such an important area to invest time and resources into.”

Edward Lee and Sanjit Seshia win Cyber-Physical Systems (TCCPS) awards

Two EECS professors have won awards from the IEEE Technical Committee on Cyber-Physical Systems (TCCPS).  Edward Lee won the Technical Achievement Award, which recognizes significant contributions to the field sustained throughout the recipient's career, ‘‘for pioneering and fundamental contributions to the design, modeling and simulation of cyber-physical systems.’’  The previous winner was Prof. Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli in 2017.  Sanjit Seshia won the Mid-Career Award, which recognizes a mid-career researcher who has made outstanding contributions to the field, ‘‘for fundamental contributions to formal methods for cyber-physical systems design and to cyber-physical systems education.’’  The previous recipient was Prof. Alexandre Bayen in 2018.

With a hop, a skip and a jump, Salto leaps over obstacles with ease

Salto the robot, first unveiled in 2016 by the Biomimetic Millisystems Lab, is now equipped with a slew of new skills, giving it the ability to bounce in place like a pogo stick and jump through obstacle courses like an agility dog. Salto can even take short jaunts around campus, powered by a radio controller.  Salto creators Justin Yum, Eric Wang and Ronald S. Fearing will describe the robot’s new skills today (Tuesday, May 21) at the 2019 International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Montreal.

Jeff Bokor rises to position of EECS Chair

Prof. Jeffrey Bokor, the current Chair of the EE Division, will assume the post of EECS Department Chair on July 1, 2019.  Bokor earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 1975, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford in 1976 and 1980, respectively.  His research interests include physical electronics and nanotechnology.  He joined the Berkeley faculty in 1993 and served as Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering from 2012-2017.  He currently holds a joint appointment as a Senior Scientist in the Materials Science Division at LBNL.  He will replace outgoing EECS Chair James Demmel.

Chelsea Finn wins 2018 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award

Recent graduate Chelsea Finn (Ph.D. '18, advisors: Pieter Abbeel and Sergey Levine), has won the prestigious ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award. This award is presented annually to "the author(s) of the best doctoral dissertation(s) in computer science and engineering."  In her dissertation, "Learning to Learn with Gradients," Finn introduced algorithms for meta-learning that enable deep networks to solve new tasks from small datasets, and demonstrated how her algorithms can be applied in areas including computer vision, reinforcement learning and robotics.  Finn  is currently a research scientist at Google Brain, a post-doc at the Berkeley AI Research Lab (BAIR), and an acting assistant professor at Stanford.  Last year's recipient, Aviad Rubinstein, was also a Berkeley EECS alum.

John Canny named new CS Division Chair

Prof. John Canny will become the new Chair of the Computer Science Division on July 1, 2019.   Canny joined the Berkeley faculty in 1987.  He received a B.S. in CS and Theoretical Physics (1979) and a B.E. in EE (1980), both from Adelaide University in Australia, and an M.S. (1983) and a Ph.D. (1987) from MIT.   He has made significant contributions to various areas of CS and mathematics including AI, robotics, computer graphics, human-computer interaction, computer security, computational algebra, and computational geometry.   He will replace outgoing Chair James Demmel.

Introducing the New CS Faculty: Alvin Cheung, Hany Farid, Nilah Ioannidis, Jelani Nelson, and Aditya Parameswaran

Five new Computer Science faculty will be joining the EECS department in June:   Assistant Prof. Alvin Cheung, whose research interests include database management and programming systems; Prof. Hany Farid, who will have a joint appointment with the I-School; Assistant Prof. Nila Ioannidis, who will have a joint appointment with the Center for Computational Biology; Prof. Jelani Nelson in computing theory; and Assistant Prof. Aditya Parameswaran, who will also have a joint appointment with the I-School.

Soham Phade and Venkat Anantharam win GameNets Best Paper Award

Graduate student Soham Phade and his advisor, Venkat Anantharam, have won the Best Paper Award at the 9th EAI International Conference on Game Theory for Networks (GameNets 2019).  Their paper, titled "Optimal Resource Allocation over Networks via Lottery-Based Mechanisms," was in the Games for Economy and Resource Allocation category.  Phade's current focus is on "designing market-based mechanisms and algorithms on presumably more accurate models of human behavior from psychology and decision theory, for increasing human welfare and for building more efficient commercial systems that interact with humans."