Ben Recht wins NIPS Test of Time Award

Prof. Ben Recht has won the Neural Information Processing System (NIPS) 2017 Test of Time Award for a paper he co-wrote with Ali Rahimi in 2007 titled "Random Features for Large-Scale Kernel Machines."   Deep learning, which involves stacking many neural networks on top of one another to learn the features of giant databases and develop clever algorithms, is being used to carry out more and more tasks in an expanding number of areas.  In their acceptance speech at the NIPS conference, Recht and Rahimi posited that more theory is needed to understand the state-of-the-art empirical performance of deep learning, and called for simple theorems and simple, easily reproducible experiments.  "We are building systems that govern healthcare and mediate our civic dialogue, we influence elections," said Rahimi. "I would like to live in a society where systems are built on top of verifiable, rigorous thorough knowledge and not alchemy."

Four EECS undergraduate researchers recognized by CRA

All four EECS students nominated for this year's Computing Research Association (CRA) Undergraduate Researcher Award were recognized by the selection committee.  Senior CS/Math major Garrett Thomas (nominated by Pieter Abbeel) and EECS junior Peter Manohar (nominated by Alessandro Chiesa) were named as finalists.  Senior CS major Siqi Liu (nominated by Sanjam Garg) and CS/Statistics/Math senior Tianhe Yu (nominated by Sergey Levine and Pieter Abbeel) merited honorable mentions.  This award program recognizes undergraduate students in North American universities who show outstanding research potential in an area of computing research.

Claire Tomlin and Kris Pister win Berkeley Outstanding Advising Faculty Awards

EE Profs. Claire Tomlin and Kristofer Pister have won Outstanding Advising Faculty Awards from Berkeley Advising Matters.  These awards are presented to administrators, directors, managers, faculty advisors or deans who are making a significant positive impact on the students and programs they support.  The selection criteria includes "advising excellence and creativity consistent with the Berkeley vision for advising in that they promote student learning, performance, achievement, progress and success, expand opportunities, support engagement, growth and discovery, wellness and connectedness."  Recipients will be honored at an annual ceremony on December 18th at the Alumni House.

Stuart Russell's Slaughterbots video gains political traction

In response to the video Slaughterbots, created by Prof. Stuart Russell and Autonomousweapons.org,  San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa has introduced a resolution to ban autonomous weapons.  If the resolution is adopted, San Mateo County would be the first in the United States to urge Congress and the United Nations to restrict the development of weaponized robotic technology.  Slaughterbots, which shows the damage autonomous drones could cause if they continue to be developed without regulation, went viral when it was released in November.  “As policy makers, for us to catch up with technology we ourselves have to be out in front of it,” said Canepa. “So that’s why we’re working on this issue.”

Arcak and Coogan

Murat Arcak and Sam Coogan win the 2017 IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems Outstanding Paper Award

Prof. Murat Arcak, alumnus Samuel Coogan (M.S. '12/Ph.D. '15), and their co-authors on the paper titled “Traffic network control from temporal logic specifications,” have won the 2017 IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems Outstanding Paper Award.  The award is presented annually by the IEEE Control Systems Society to recognize an outstanding paper published in the IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology.  Judging is based on originality, potential impact on the foundations of network systems, importance and practical significance in applications, and clarity.  Coogan, who is now an assistant professor at UCLA, received the EECS Eli Jury Award in 2016 for "outstanding achievement in the area of systems, communications, control, or signal processing," and the 2014 Leon O. Chua Award for "outstanding achievement in an area of nonlinear science."

Yi Ma and Shafi Goldwasser named 2017 ACM Fellows

Incoming EECS faculty Yi Ma and Shafi Goldwasser have been named 2017 Fellows by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).  “To be selected as a Fellow is to join our most renowned member grade and an elite group that represents less than 1 percent of ACM’s overall membership,” explains ACM President Vicki L. Hanson.  "The Fellows program allows us to shine a light on landmark contributions to computing, as well as the men and women whose tireless efforts, dedication, and inspiration are responsible for groundbreaking work that improves our lives in so many ways.  Goldwasser was selected "For transformative work that laid the complexity-theoretic foundations for the science of cryptography," and Ma was selected "For contributions to theory and application of low-dimensional models for computer vision and pattern recognition."

EECS FLIP alliance faculty & alumni

Berkeley FLIPs for Diversity

When Dan Garcia first attended UC Berkeley as a graduate student, he was amazed at the many different faces and key spaces that make up the world's top public research university.  “I can’t imagine being anywhere else," says Garcia, adding that part of what makes Berkeley special is the confluence of its diverse urban setting, large size, and a campus culture that fosters and celebrates diversity.  Today, as a professor, Garcia is passionate about broadening participation in computer science: “If you want to move the needle on diversity, come join us at UC Berkeley!” The university just announced its membership in the NSF-funded FLIP Alliance (Diversifying Future Leadership In the Professoriate), which consists  of eleven top Computer Science departments that produce over half of new URM CS faculty. FLIP aims to quickly and radically change the demographic diversity of the CS professoriate by sharing best practices for recruiting, retaining, and developing URM graduate students at member institutions. Current Berkeley faculty and students talk about the Department’s welcoming and collaborative atmosphere, and why Berkeley is eager to attract talented URM applicants and stop “leaving so much talent on the table,” in the words of Cuban-American professor Armando Fox.

Randy Katz named Berkeley’s next Vice Chancellor for Research

United Microelectronics Corporation Distinguished Prof. Randy Katz (also alumnus, Ph.D. '80) has been appointed Vice Chancellor for Research at UC Berkeley.  Katz helped pioneer many technologies that are ubiquitous today, like  wide-area wireless networks for mobile devices, cloud-based applications and cloud storage,  and ways of managing and protecting computer networks.  The vice chancellor for research search committee was impressed with Katz’s "vision, his ability to lead the campus in identifying new research and funding opportunities, and his dedication to providing outstanding research administration support to our community."  “Trust in higher education, the level of support for public higher education and belief in the importance of research to the excellence of an institution like ours are being undermined in the current social and political context,” he said. “I am very excited to be given the responsibility as vice chancellor for research, and hopefully I can make some positive advances in reversing that direction.”   He will begin his tenure on Jan. 1, 2018.

Vestri the robot playing and learning

New robots predict their future by learning like babies

Prof. Sergey Levine and grad students Chelsea Finn and Frederik Ebert have developed a robotic learning technology called visual foresight that enables robots to imagine the future of their actions so they can figure out how to manipulate objects they have never encountered before. “This can enable intelligent planning of highly flexible skills in complex real-world situations," Levine says.  In the future, this technology could help self-driving cars anticipate future events on the road and produce more intelligent robotic assistants in homes, but the initial prototype focuses on learning simple manual skills entirely from autonomous play--like children do.  

Justin Yim and Salto-IP (New Straits Times)

Biomimetic Millisystems: designs from nature

Prof. Ron Fearing, grad student Justin Yim, and the Biomimetic Millisystems Lab are featured in a New Straits Times article titled "Designs from nature," which explores the ways that lab scientists apply observations of animals in an attempt to mimic their motions over land, air and underwater to propel revolutionary technologies.  The article covers Salto-IP, a monopedal jumping robot inspired by the galago, and the VelociRoACH, a hexapedal robot inspired by the cockroach.  “Our team develops small-scale robots that are low-cost and light-weight, with masses below 100g and are disposable. We build things and test them out rapidly," Fearing says.