faculty

Dave Patterson's idea was “going to destroy the computing industry”

Prof. David Patterson is interviewed in the podcast Recode Decode for an episode titled "Meet John Hennessy and Dave Patterson, Silicon Valley’s first disruptors."  He and Hennessy won the 2018 Turing Award--the computer science equivalent of the Nobel Prize--in recognition of their development of RISC, a more efficient computer processor found today in billions of devices.   In the episode, hosted by Kara Swisher, they talk about how they overcame resistance from their peers and made RISC a reality.  “This year, there will be 20 billion microprocessors sold,” Patterson said. “And 99 percent of those will be RISC.”

Hany Farid leaves Dartmouth for Berkeley

CS Prof. Hany Farid is leaving Dartmouth, where he taught for 20 years, to take up a faculty position in the EECS department.  Farid specializes in digital forensics and image analysis. Some of his most well-known projects have applied computer science to test whether images have been doctored, using his expertise to tackle issues such as crime prevention, child pornography and scientific integrity.  “There are a lot of opportunities, given the scale of Berkeley, for things that I can do there that I’m really excited about,” he said.  Farid is best known to Dartmouth students as a favorite professor in the introductory computer science course, Computer Science 1: Introduction to Programming and Computation.  He sees teaching as his way of making a lasting impact.  “Do a good job in the classroom, inspire somebody, change the way they think, you’re affecting the next 50 years of their life.”

HäirIÖ: Human Hair as Interactive Material

CS Prof. Eric Paulos and his graduate students in the Hybrid Ecologies Lab, Sarah Sterman, Molly Nicholas, and Christine Dierk, have created a prototype of a wearable color- and shape-changing braid called HäirIÖ.  The hair extension is built from a custom circuit, an Arduino Nano, an Adafruit Bluetooth board, shape memory alloy, and thermochromic pigments.  The bluetooth chip allows devices such as phones and laptops to communicate with the hair, causing it to change shape and color, as well as respond when the hair is touched. Their paper "Human Hair as Interactive Material," was presented at the ACM International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction (TEI) last week. They have posted a how-to guide and instructable videos which include comprehensive hardware, software, and electronics documentation, as well as information about the design process. "Hair is a unique and little-explored material for new wearable technologies," the guide says.  "Its long history of cultural and individual expression make it a fruitful site for novel interactions."

Michael Jordan explains why the AI revolution hasn’t happened yet

In an Op-Ed piece for Medium, CS and Statistics Prof. Michael Jordan examines the limits of AI and argues for the creation of an engineering discipline encompassing data science, intelligent infrastructure (II), and intelligence augmentation (IA).   Principles of analysis and design must be applied when building planetary-scale inference-and-decision-making systems because they will have a profound effect on human lives.   "We need to realize that the current public dialog on AI — which focuses on a narrow subset of industry and a narrow subset of academia — risks blinding us to the challenges and opportunities that are presented by the full scope of AI, IA and II," he writes.

James Demmel and Eric Brewer elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

EECS Chair Prof. James Demmel (Ph.D. '83) and CS Prof. Emeritus Eric Brewer (B.S. '89) have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The academy is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States and serves the nation as a champion of scholarship, civil dialogue and useful knowledge.  Members are nominated and elected by peers, and membership has been considered a high honor of scholarly and societal merit ever since the academy was founded in 1780. Demmel, who holds joint appointments in the EECS Department and the Department of Mathematics, won the ACM Paris Kannelakis Theory and Practice Award in 2014 and the IEEE Computer Society Sydney Fernbach Award in 2010 for "computational science leadership in creating adaptive, innovative, high performance linear algebra software." Brewer, who now serves as VP of Infrastructure at Google, is one of the 2018 CS Distinguished Alumni as well as the 2009 recipient of the ACM Prize in Computing for his "design and development of highly scalable internet services and innovations in bringing information technology to developing regions"

Berkeley boosts female computing grads

Assistant Teaching Prof. John DeNero and CS major Tammy Nguyen are featured in a Mercury News article titled "Forget tech’s bad bros: Stanford, Berkeley boost female computing grads."   Between 2010 and 2017, UC Berkeley doubled the percentage of women receiving degrees in CS, from 11% to 22%, which runs counter to a national trend in which the proportion of women receiving degrees in computer and information sciences dropped from a high of 37% in 1984 to about 18% in 2016.  DeNero talks about some of the hurdles women must overcome if they are interested in pursuing careers in computer science.  The problems facing women in the tech industry, brought to light by the "Me Too" movement, is a concern. “It comes up even on the first day of class,” he said. “The students are very keen to talk about it, understand it. They really want to know, ‘Are all companies the same? Is this something I’m going to see everywhere?'”  Berkeley has taken a number of steps to improve the representation of women in the field.  “We have invested a lot of time and energy in figuring out what our introductory curriculum should look like, how we teach our courses, and in particular what kind of support mechanisms can we put in place to make sure that somebody who wants to study computer science has a good chance of being successful,” he said.

Making computer animation more agile, acrobatic — and realistic

Graduate student Xue Bin “Jason” Peng (advisors Pieter Abbeel and Sergey Levine) has made a major advance in realistic computer animation using deep reinforcement learning to recreate natural motions, even for acrobatic feats like break dancing and martial arts. The simulated characters can also respond naturally to changes in the environment, such as recovering from tripping or being pelted by projectiles.  “We developed more capable agents that behave in a natural manner,” Peng said. “If you compare our results to motion-capture recorded from humans, we are getting to the point where it is pretty difficult to distinguish the two, to tell what is simulation and what is real. We’re moving toward a virtual stuntman.”  Peng will present his paper at the 2018 SIGGRAPH conference in August.

Atomically thin light emitting device opens the possibility for ‘invisible’ displays

Prof. Ali Javey,  postdoc Der-Hsien Lien, and graduate students Matin Amani and Sujay Desai have built a bright-light emitting device that is millimeters wide and fully transparent when turned off.  The light emitting material in this device is a monolayer semiconductor, which is just three atoms thick.  It opens the door to invisible displays on walls and windows – displays that would be bright when turned on but see-through when turned off — or in futuristic applications such as light-emitting tattoos.  “The materials are so thin and flexible that the device can be made transparent and can conform to curved surfaces,” said  Lien. Their research was published in the journal Nature Communications on March 26.

5 questions for Randy Katz

EECS professor and UC Berkeley's new Vice Chair for Research, Randy Katz, is interviewed in Cal Alumni's California Magazine about his approach to his new job.  The article covers how one might go about creating a nurturing environment for pursuing innovative research, his predictions about future technologies, the integration of Big Data in new research, examples of some exciting projects,  and the problem of funding.

Research breakthrough StimDust is the smallest volume, most efficient wireless nerve stimulator to date

A research team led by Assistant Prof. Rikky Muller and Prof. Michel Maharbiz have created StimDust (stimulating neural dust), the smallest volume, most efficient wireless nerve stimulator to date.  The innovation adds more sophisticated electronics to neural dust (tiny, wireless sensors first implanted by Maharbiz and Prof. Jose Carmena in 2016) without sacrificing the technology’s size or safety, greatly expanding its range of applications.   Powered by ultrasound at an efficiency of 82%, and with a volume of 6.5 cubic millimeters, StimDust can be used to monitor and treat disease in a real-time, patient-specific approach.  “StimDust is the smallest deep-tissue stimulator that we are aware of that’s capable of stimulating almost all of the major therapeutic targets in the peripheral nervous system,” said Muller. “This device represents our vision of having tiny devices that can be implanted in minimally invasive ways to modulate or stimulate the peripheral nervous system, which has been shown to be efficacious in treating a number of diseases.” The research will be presented April 10 at the IEEE Custom Integrated Circuits Conference in San Diego.