Campus Shutdown Notice

In light of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, we have decided to close our administrative offices starting Monday, March 16, 2020 until further notice.  Cory and Soda Hall are closed.  Classes are being held remotely.  All events in Cory and Soda Halls will either be cancelled or held remotely, and staff will be working remotely during this time.

Maryann Simmons and Hayley Iben win Academy Awards

CS alumnae Maryann Simmons (B.A. / M.S./ Ph.D. '01, advisor: Carlo Séquin) and Hayley Iben (M.S. '05/Ph.D. '07, advisor: James O'Brien) have won 2020 Technical Achievement Awards (SciTech Oscars) from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for hair simulation systems.

Simmons is now a senior staff software engineer and the technical lead for Hair & Cloth at Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS).  She was part of the team responsible for the WDAS Hair Simulation System, which the citation describes as "a robust, predictable, fast and highly art-directable system built on the mathematics of discrete elastic rods. This has provided Disney artists the flexibility to manipulate hair in hyper-realistic ways to create the strong silhouettes required for character animation and has enabled a wide range of complex hairstyles in animated feature films." According to The Hollywood Reporter, the WDAS System was "used in animated features such as Tangled, to manage Rapunzel’s ultra-long waves."  While at Berkeley, Simmons was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Golden Key Honor Society.

Iben, who is now the director of engineering at Pixar Animation Studios, was part of the team responsible for the Taz Hair Simulation System.  The citation describes Taz as "a robust, predictable and efficient mass-spring hair simulation system with novel formulations of hair shape, bending springs and hair-to-hair collisions. It has enabled Pixar artists to bring to life animated digital characters with a wide variety of stylized hair, from straight to wavy to curly."  While at Berkeley, Iben was president of Women in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (WiCSE) from 2004-2007, and a member CSGSA.

EECS celebrates International Women's History Month

In an effort to facilitate the conversation about diversity and inclusion in the field of EECS, undergraduate students Neha Hudait and Prachi Deo have put together a web page and calendar of events for March 2021 and beyond.  The web page will feature a series of profiles, the first of which is of EECS graduate student Xinyun Chen, who is working with Prof. Dawn Song at the intersection of deep learning, programming languages, and security.  Their events are organized around a different theme every week, and will encompass community building, the tech industry, academia, personal projects, and achievements in tech.  They will also host daily giveaways and social media challenges, and encourage everyone in the community to join in the celebration.

Rediet Abebe to participate in NSF/CEME Decentralization 2021

CS Assistant Prof. Rediet Abebe will be moderating a problem solving session at the 2021 NSF/CEME Decentralization Conference.  The theme of this year's conference is "Mechanism Design for Vulnerable Populations." Abebe's session will be designed to help academics understand the challenges facing refugees and practitioners working on refugee issues globally, and to facilitate a dialog between these practitioners and experts in the academic community. Abebe is co-founder and co-organizer of the multi-institutional, interdisciplinary research initiative Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG).  The 2021 conference will be hosted in April by the Center for Analytical Approaches to Social Innovation (CAASI) in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh.  The conference series is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in support of Conferences on Econometrics and Mathematical Economics (CEME), and administered through the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

New method of harnessing light waves radically increases amount of data transmitted

EECS Associate Prof. Boubacar Kanté and his research team have found a new way to harness properties of light waves that can radically increase the amount of data they carry.  They demonstrated the emission of discrete twisting laser beams from antennas made up of concentric rings roughly equal to the diameter of a human hair, small enough to be placed on computer chips.  Described in a paper published in Nature Physics, this new technology overcomes current data capacity limits through a characteristic of light called orbital angular momentum (OAM). Potential applications include biological imaging, quantum cryptography, high-capacity communications and sensors.   “Having a larger quantum number is like having more letters to use in the alphabet,” said Kanté. “We’re allowing light to expand its vocabulary. In our study, we demonstrated this capability at telecommunication wavelengths, but in principle, it can be adapted to other frequency bands. Even though we created three lasers, multiplying the data rate by three, there is no limit to the possible number of beams and data capacity.”

Anne-Louise Radimsky has passsed away

CS alumna Anne-Louise Guichard Radimsky (M.S. '67/Ph.D. 1973, advisor: Philip Spira), one of the first women to earn an EECS doctorate from Berkeley, died in July 2020 at the age of 79.  She was born in France during WWII and earned a B.S. in systems theory with a specialization in avionics from the École Nationale Superieure de l’Aeronautique in 1963.  She spent three years working as an aerospace engineer at the Centre d’Études et de Rechershes en Automatisme, and taught systems theory to engineers in both Paris and Spain, before earning a scholarship to pursue graduate studies at Berkeley.  She founded the Foreign Student Association at Berkeley and met her husband, Jan, while still a student.  Radimsky was the first woman hired to the computer science faculty at UC Davis.  She transferred to California State University, Sacramento, six years later, where she spent the remainder of her 30-year career.   She was a Senior Member of the IEEE and Vice-Chair of the Sacramento chapter of ACM.  She spent 20 years as a program evaluator and later a commissioner of the executive committee for the Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Alvin Cheung and Jonathan Ragan-Kelley win 2020 Intel Outstanding Researcher Award

EECS Assistant Profs. Alvin Cheung and Jonathan Ragan-Kelley are among 18 winners of Intel's 2020 Outstanding Research Awards (ORA). These awards recognize exceptional contributions made through Intel university-sponsored research.  Cheung and Ragan-Kelley are developing ARION, a system for compiling programs onto heterogeneous platforms. The team will use verified lifting, which rewrites legacy code into a clean specification, stripping away optimizations that target legacy architectures. This spec, written in a DSL, can then be compiled to new platforms, sometimes with orders of magnitude of speedup in resulting code performance.

Anca Dragan wins 2021 IEEE RAS Early Career Award

Anca Dragan has won the 2021 IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Career Award - Academic "For pioneering algorithmic human-robot interaction."  This award is bestowed on current members of IEEE who are in the early stage of their career, and who have made an identifiable contribution or contributions which have had a major impact on the robotics and/or automation fields.  Dragan runs the InterACT lab and is the principal investigator for the Center for Human-Compatible AI.  Her research explores ways to enable robots to work with, around and in support of people, autonomously generating behavior in a way that formally accounts for their interactions with humans.

Groundbreaking EECS alumnae honored during Black History Month

Three amazing EECS alumnae are featured on the Berkeley 150W website in celebration of Black History Month:  Arlene Cole-Rhodes (Ph.D. '89, advisor: Shankar Sastry), the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Berkeley; Melody Ivory (M.S. '96/Ph.D. '01, advisor: Marti Hearst), the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in Computer Science from Berkeley; and Valerie Taylor (Ph.D. '92, advisor: David Messerschmitt), the first Black Chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University.

Cole-Rhodes was born in Sierra Leone and moved to England to earn her B.S. in Applied Mathematics at the University of Warwick, and an M.S. in Control Engineering from Cambridge.  She is currently a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the associate dean of Graduate Studies and Research in the School of Engineering, at Morgan State University, an Historically Black University in Maryland. 

Ivory earned her B.S. in Computer Science from Purdue, where she was an inaugural Bill and Melinda Gates Scholar.  After Berkeley, she earned an M.B.A. in Operations and Marketing from The Wharton School and spent a number of years as a product manager at GE and Google. She is currently a founder and Technologist at Thrivafy, a professional development platform focusing on Black, Indigenous, and Latinx women in tech.   She is a keynote speaker at the 2021 Women in Tech Symposium, which will be hosted by CITRIS at UC Berkeley in March.

Taylor also earned her B.S. at Purdue, in CEE, followed by an M.S in EE.  As a graduate student at Berkeley, she co-founded the Summer Undergraduate Program in Engineering Research at Berkeley (SUPERB).  She became a professor at Northwestern before joining Texas A&M in 2003, and is currently the director of the MCS Division of Argonne National Laboratory.  She was named Berkeley EE Distinguished Alumna in 2020.

Sheila Humphreys, who authored these profiles, will be publishing an essay on “Early Scholars of Color at Berkeley” later this year.

Scott Aaronson, Manuel Blum, Shafi Goldwasser and Stuart Russell among Top 20 Influential Computer Scientists

CS alumnus Scott Aaronson (Ph.D. '04, advisor: Umesh Vazirani) ranked #4, Prof. Emeritus Manuel Blum ranked #11, alumna and Prof. Shafi Goldwasser (M.S. '81/Ph.D. '84, advisor: Manuel Blum) ranked #12, and Prof. Stuart Russell ranked #14 on Academic Influence's list of the Top Influential Computer Scientists from 2010 to 2020.  Scholars are ranked using a methodology that includes the number of citations, as well as their web presence,  to determine their impact and influence over society in the past 10 years: "Some have had revolutionary ideas, some may have climbed by popularity, but all are academicians primarily working in computer science."  Aaronson, now at the University of Texas, Austin, is one of the world's leading experts in quantum computing; Blum, now at Carnegie Mellon, works on the theoretical underpinnings of programming and algorithms, notably computational complexity theory, cryptography, and program verification; Goldwasser is an expert in computational complexity theory, cryptography, and number theory; and Russell, the author of the most popular textbook on Artificial Intelligence, is an expert in machine learning and reasoning, and a major proponent of provably beneficial AI.

Cloud startup Databricks raises $1 billion in Series G funding

Databricks, a cloud startup founded by CS Adjunct Assistant Prof. Ali Ghodsi, CS Prof. Scott Shenker, CS Prof. Ion Stoica, and alumni Andrew Konwinski (M.S. '09/Ph.D. 12, advisor: Randy Katz), Reynold Xin (Ph.D. '13, advisor: Ion Stoica), Patrick Wendell (M.S. '13, advisor: Ion Stoica), and Matei Zaharia (Ph.D. '13, advisors: Scott Shenker & Ion Stoica), has received $1 billion in a Series G funding round.  Franklin Templeton led the round and now values the company at $28 billion.  Amazon Web Services, CapitalG, the growth equity arm of Google parent Alphabet, and Salesforce Ventures are backing Databricks for the first time, while Microsoft joins a group of existing investors including BlackRock, Coatue, T. Rowe Price and Tiger Global.  Ghodsi, who is CEO of the company, says Databricks plans to use the funds to accelerate its international presence. “This lets us really hit the gas and go aggressive in these big markets. It’s almost like starting the company all over again,” he says.  Databricks grew out of the AMPLab project and is built on top of Apache Spark, an open-source analytics tool developed at Berkeley.  The company provides data analytics and AI tools to businesses.  It has grown more than 75% year-over-year, with the majority of its revenue coming from enterprises like Comcast, Credit Suisse, Starbucks and T-Mobile, who use it as a "data lake house"--a place to store structured and unstructured data, then layer business intelligence or machine-learning tools easily on top.