Campus Reopening Notice

Starting June 16th, vaccinated EECS faculty, staff, and students can voluntarily return to their offices, labs and other research spaces in Cory and Soda Halls if they follow the procedures outlined in the EECS Safety Manual.  Building restrictions for non-affiliated collaborators, event attendees, and visitors will continue but be loosened over time. Cory and Soda Halls will open during the first week in August.  We are not hosting events or activities until we receive more clarity about regulatory requirements and are able to resume full operations. Most employees will return to campus on July 12th, and in-person instruction will resume for the Fall semester on August 25th, unless otherwise specified by campus. Please continue to check the University Coronavirus Updates and Resources for latest information.

NLP team helps a computer win the 2021 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament

A team at the Berkeley Natural Language Processing Group (NLP) helped augment an AI system named "Dr. Fill" that has won the 2021 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT).  This is the first time in the contest's history that an AI has trumped its human competitors.  The team, which included CS Prof. Dan Klein, graduate students Nicholas Tomlin, Eric Wallace, and Kevin Yang, and undergraduate students Albert Xu and Eshaan Pathak, approached Matthew Ginsberg, who created the Dr. Fill algorithm in 2012, and offered to join forces by contributing their machine learning system  called the Berkeley Crossword Solver (BCS).  BCS employs a neural network model to combine general language understanding with more "creative" crossword puzzle clues, then applies its knowledge to practice puzzles, improving as it learns.  “We had a state-of-the-art natural language understanding and question-answering component but a pretty basic crossword handler, while Matt had the best crossword system around and a bunch of domain expertise, so it was natural to join forces,” said Klein. “As we talked, we realized that our systems were designed in a way that made it very easy to interoperate because they both speak the language of probabilities.”  ACPT is the oldest and biggest tournament of its kind, consisting of seven qualifying puzzles and a final playoff puzzle; solvers are ranked using a formula that balances accuracy and speed. Although Dr. Fill made three errors, it completed most puzzles in well under a minute, and ultimately outscored its top human competitor, who made zero errors, by 15 points.  The contest was held online this year and attracted more than 1,100 contestants vying for the $3K grand prize. 

Tsu-Jae King Liu, Chenming Hu, and Leon Chua featured as luminaries on IEEE EDS podcast

Dean of Berkeley Engineering and EECS Prof. Tsu-Jae King Liu, and EECS Profs. Emeritus Leon Chua and Chenming Hu (also Professor in the Graduate School), are featured as luminaries in an IEEE Electron Devices Society (EDS) Podcast Series.  Considered among "the most successful members of the [Electron Devices] Society," these three professors share their insights and wisdom in interviews designed to provide "invaluable inspiration and knowledge for those in the engineering field."  Liu, the first and only woman to chair the EECS Department, leads a research team that explores the development of novel semiconductor devices, non-volatile memory devices, and M/NEMS technology for ultra-low power circuits.  Hu is considered a “microelectronics visionary" whose seminal work on metal-oxide semiconductor MOS reliability and device modeling has had enormous impact on the continued scaling of electronic devices.  Chua is an expert in nonlinear circuit theory and cellular neural network theory, the inventor of the eponymous Chua's circuit, and the first person to postulate the existence of the memristor.  Liu and Hu are among the co-inventors of the three-dimensional FinFET transistor, which is used in all leading microprocessor chips today.

Charles Dove EECS 2021 Hertz

Charles Dove named 2021 Hertz Fellow

EE graduate student Charles Dove (advisor: Laura Waller) has been named a 2021 Fellow by the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing groundbreaking applied science with real-world benefits for all humanity. Dove utilizes principles from machine learning and differentiable programming to create new methods for the simulation and fully automatic design of light-based technology. This capability would enable significant growth in the scale, scope, and capabilities of nearly all light-based technology, including biomedical imaging, cellular manipulation and characterization, optical telecommunications, photonic quantum computing, and LIDAR. Hertz Foundation awards allow fellows "the freedom to pursue innovative research wherever it may lead."

Michael I. Jordan elected 2021 Foreign Member of the Royal Society

CS Prof. Mike Jordan has been elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society.  The Royal Society began as an "'invisible college' of natural philosophers and physicians," which opened its first meeting in 1660 with a lecture by acclaimed scientist Christopher Wren.  Their mission is "to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity."  Jordan joins an elite group of 8,000 Fellows elected over the past 400 years that includes Isaac Newton (1672), Charles Darwin (1839), Albert Einstein (1921), Stephen Hawking (1974), and EECS Prof. Eli Yablonovitch (2013). Fellows and Foreign members must be nominated by at least two Fellows of the Royal Society, and must have made "a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science."  Jordan is known as one of the leading figures in machine learning, and one of the world's most influential computer scientists.  New Fellows are formally admitted to the Society at the Admission Day ceremony in July, when they sign the Charter Book and the Obligation of the Fellows of the Royal Society.

2-D semiconductor contact resistances approach the quantum limit

A paper co-authored by Berkeley EECS Prof. Jeffrey Bokor, his postdoc Yuxuan Lin, Berkeley Physics Prof. Alex Zettl, his postdoc Cong Su, and researchers at MIT, among others, describes a more efficient method of connecting atomically thin 2-D materials to other chip elements, making them a more promising alternative to 3-D silicon-based transistors.  The paper, which was published in Nature, is titled "Ultralow contact resistance between semimetal and monolayer semiconductors." It describes how using the element bismuth (in the place of ordinary metals) for connections in monolayer materials can create contact resistances that approach the quantum limit and make it possible to develop smaller devices.  “We resolved one of the biggest problems in miniaturizing semiconductor devices, the contact resistance between a metal electrode and a monolayer semiconductor material,” says Su. "Through this approach," the paper states, "we achieve zero Schottky barrier height, a contact resistance of 123 ohm micrometres and an on-state current density of 1,135 microamps per micrometre on monolayer MoS2; these two values are, to the best of our knowledge, the lowest and highest yet recorded, respectively."

Gloria Tumushabe cultivates women coders in Africa

EECS alumna and current Master's student Gloria Tumushabe (B.S. ’20) is the subject of an article in the Spring 2021 Berkeley Engineer titled "Cultivating female coders in Africa."  During the COVID pandemic shutdown, Tumushabe developed a program called Afro Fem Coders to allow her to remotely teach computer programming to girls in Uganda from her home in Walnut Creek.  Two weeks after reaching out by word-of-mouth and social media, she had heard back from more than 40 girls who were eager to participate.  She sent them money to pay for laptops and internet service, and formed an international network of women professionals to provide one-on-one mentoring.  In the year since the program began, it has grown to 120 girls from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana and Ethiopia. “The more of us women in this space, the better,” she said.  Tumushabe is leading the EECS Anti-Racism Committee meetings this semester, and was awarded the 2021 EECS Eugene L. Lawler Prize for her "amazing work and dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion, and improving the EECS Department for students who come after her."

Alvin Cheung and Somayeh Sojoudi named ONR 2021 Young Investigators

EECS Assistant Profs. Somayeh Sojoudi and Alvin Cheung have received Office of Naval Research (ONR) 2021 Young Investigator Program Awards (YIP). The ONR YIP is one of the nation’s oldest and most selective basic-research, early-career awards in science and technology. It recognizes new-career faculty—who obtained their Ph.D. on or after 2013—for prior academic achievement and their potential to make significant scientific contributions in the future. Sojoudi's award is for "High-performance Computational Methods for Nonlinear Machine Learning Problems" in the area of Machine Learning, Reasoning and Intelligence; Cheung's award is for "A Framework for Automatic Leveraging of Trusted Execution Environments" in the area of Cyber Security and Complex Software Systems. They are among 38 recipients who will share $20M in funding to provide laboratory equipment, postdocs, graduate student stipends/scholarships, and other expenses critical to conducting innovative scientific research that will benefit the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

Jiaheng Zhang wins 2021 Facebook Fellowship for Security & Privacy

Third-year EECS graduate student Jiaheng Zhang (advisor: Dawn Song) has won a 2021 Facebook Fellowship for Security & Privacy.   He is the only student from Berkeley this year to win one of these coveted fellowships, which are designed to support emerging scholars who are engaged in innovative research.  Zhang's focus is on computer security and cryptography, especially zero-knowledge proofs and their applications on blockchain and machine learning models.  He is a member of the RISE Lab, the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies & Contracts Lab (IC3), and the Berkeley AI Research (BAIR). 

Charles Dalziel's Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters still make plugging in safer

EE alumnus and Prof. Charles Dalziel (1904-1986, B.S./M.S./E.E. 1935 ), the inventor of the Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI),  is the subject of an article in the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Spring 2021 Consumer Connection.  Patented in 1965 by Dalziel, a professor in the department for 35 years (1932-1967), GFCIs are built into electrical systems and power cords to monitor the current flowing through them.  If the incoming current differs from the returning current, the GFCI interrupts the power "to prevent a lethal dose of electricity, specifically before the electricity can affect your heartbeat."  Besides protecting users against severe electrical shock, a particular hazard in wet environments, GFCIs prevent surges that can cause electrical fires.  The U.S. National Economic Council (NEC) now mandates GFCI protection in many areas of the home as part of their standards for modern building construction.  The article explores GFCI's importance, their California connection, and how to ensure one's home is up to current safety standards.

Anthony Joseph named Director of Fung Institute

EECS Prof. Anthony Joseph has been name the next Director of the Coleman Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership.  After earning his degrees at MIT, Joseph was hired as a professor of Computer Science at Berkeley in 1998. His primary research interests are in Genomics, Secure Machine Learning, Datacenters, mobile/distributed computing, and wireless communications (networking and telephony). His research also includes adaptive techniques for cloud computing, distributed network monitoring and triggering, cybersecurity, and datacenter architectures. He is the former Director of Berkeley Intel Lab, the co-founder of two startup companies, and a committed teacher who has experience developing and teaching five successful massive, open online courses (MOOC) on Big Data and Machine Learning offered through the BerkeleyX platform. Joseph is noted for his commitment to access and inclusion, and has worked to recruit and mentor a diversity of students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  He will begin his directorship on July 1st.