research

Armando Solar-Lezama: Academic success despite an inauspicious start

Alumnus and Mexican immigrant Armando Solar-Lezama (CS Ph.D. '08) is the subject of an MIT News article describing some of the academic obstacles he had to overcome on his path to becoming a tenured professor at MIT.  Armando's creative  approaches to his class assignments were discouraged in Mexico and despite self-educating to narrow the gap, he experienced systematic repression in high school when he moved to Texas with his family in 1997.  After he graduated from Texas A&M, he was welcomed into the Berkeley EECS graduate program.  Under the mentorship of Prof. Ras Bodik, Armando discovered the nascent area of "program synethesis," which has since blossomed into a popular field of research.  Read about Armando's challenging and inspiring journey.

Meet the most nimble-fingered robot yet

Many researchers are working on ways for robots to learn to grasp and manipulate things by practicing over and over, but the process is very time-consuming. The research work on robotic deep learning by Prof. Ken Goldberg is featured on the cover of MIT Review in an article titled "Meet the Most Nimble-Fingered Robot Yet".  Instead of practicing in the real world, Prof. Ken Goldberg and colleagues have developed a robot that learns by feeding on a data set of more than a thousand objects that includes their 3-D shape, visual appearance, and the physics of grasping them. This data set was used to train the robot’s deep-learning system. Advances in control algorithms and machine-learning approaches, together with new hardware, are steadily building a foundation on which a new generation of robots will operate.

David Culler named Interim Dean for the Division of Data Sciences

Prof. David Culler has been appointed the Interim Dean for the newly created Division of Data Sciences.  The purpose of the new division is to bring techniques to bear in statistics, mathematics, and computer science on new sources of data.  One of their goals is the creation of an undergraduate data science major and data science minor.   Prof. Culler's duties will include fostering a cooperative atmosphere among the relevant faculties; working with the administration to form an advisory board with representation of key external constituencies; advancing fundraising efforts in concert with broader campus fundraising objectives; and enlisting a team of Berkeley faculty members who will work with him to develop the initiative. He will begin his new role on July 1, 2017 for a two-year term.

Two sophomores are using AI to fight fake news on Facebook

EECS sophomore Rohan Phadte and Interdisciplinary Studies major Ash Bhat have built a Messenger bot called NewsBot to help users discern whether articles are "fake news" on Facebook. Besides determining the validity of an article, it also offers a barometer that shows where an article might fit on the left-right bias spectrum, and is one of the only tools of its kind.  The idea for the algorithm first came to them during machine-learning classes.  Although it still has some bugs, they are making updates every day and the tool will improve as more users provide feedback.   "We want people to read more than just the headline. We want them to understand what the news they see says and who it's coming from." Bhat says.  Read the article on Mic.

Stuart Russell TED talk: 3 principles for creating safer AI

CS Prof. Stuart Russell gave an engaging TED talk in April describing some of the problems in, and possible solutions for, creating a species that is smarter than humans.  He argues that building provably altruistic,  humble, and humanitarian machines might help us avoid some of the pitfalls inevitable in a future with superintelligent AI.

Avideh Zakhor: the brains behind Google Earth and Street View

Computer vision pioneer Prof. Avideh Zakhor is the subject of a Mercury News profile titled "Avideh Zakhor: the brains behind Google Earth and Street View,"  which touches on her emigration from Iran,  the creation of the 3-D city modeling technology for a Defense Department-funded start-up which she ultimately sold to Google, and her current research on indoor mapping.  She also discusses the value of encouraging skilled immigrant workers to come to the U.S and the importance of getting more women into STEM fields.  "Maybe then we wouldn’t in Silicon Valley have a shortage of STEM workers — it makes it very hard for tech companies to operate; the labor market is very tight." she says.

David Patterson is leading one of Google's most crucial projects

Prof. Emeritus David Patterson is profiled in a CNBC article which describes how he postponed retirement to conduct research at Google into the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), an ambitious new chip that's designed to run at least 10 times faster than today's processors and is sophisticated enough to handle the intensive computations required for artificial intelligence.  Without it, it is estimated that Google would have to double its data centers to support even a limited amount of voice processing.  Prof. Patterson described his work on the TPU when he returned to Berkeley as a Colloquium speaker on May 3rd.

Berkeley CS faculty among the most influential in their fields

U.C. Berkeley has the top ten most AMiner Most Influential Scholar Award winners across all fields of computer science in 2016 and the top five most award winners in the fields of Computer Vision, Database, Machine Learning, Multimedia, Security, Computer Networking, and System.  The 28 CS faculty members included in the rankings were among the 100 most-cited authors in 12 of the 15 research areas evaluated. Two were among the 100 most-cited authors in 3 different areas each: Scott Shenker ranked #1 in Computer Networking, #51 in System, and #99 in Theory; and Trevor Darrell ranked #8 in Mulitmedia, #18 in Computer Vision, and #100 in Machine Learning.  Out of the 700,000 researchers indexed, only 16 appeared on three or more area top 100 lists.  See a more detailed breakdown of our influential faculty scholars.

Harry Huskey and the Bendix G-15 in 1988 (Dan Coyro -- Santa Cruz Sentinel file)

Harry Huskey is dead at age 101

Computer pioneer Harry Huskey, who designed the G15--which might be called the first "personal computer"--at Berkeley in 1954, has died.  He taught and conducted research into computer language in the EE department from 1954 to 1967, when he left to found and direct the computer center at U.C. Santa Cruz.  Starting in the 1940s, he worked on the Eniac (the country’s first general-purpose programmable electronic computer), the Automatic Computing Engine, and the SWAC, before designing the G-15.  It was manufactured and sold by Bendix Aviation Corporation as the first computer designed to be used by a single person without the intervention of other operators.  At 950 lbs and the size of a refrigerator, it was much smaller than the other room-sized computers at the time, and cost just under $50,000 (or could be rented for about $1,500 a month),  a fraction of the millions of dollars that other systems cost.  At 101 years old, he was one of the last surviving scientists in the vanguard of the computer revolution.

Tomás Vega Gálvez and Corten Singer chosen Lemelson-MIT “Drive it!” Undergraduate Team Winners

CS undergraduates Tomás Vega Gálvez and Corten Singer have been chosen the $10,000 Lemelson-MIT “Drive it!” Undergraduate Team Winner for an open-source smart add-on system for wheelchairs. Vega and Singer created WheelSense, a modular, customizable add-on system for wheelchairs that provides spatial awareness for visually impaired users to identify obstacles and ease their navigation. It has three features: frontal staircase detection through auditory feedback, backward obstacle-avoidance assistance through auditory feedback, and lateral ramp-edge detection through haptic feedback. They hope to disrupt the expensive market for assistive technologies for the disabled community by making their technology open source.  The “Drive it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize rewards students working on technology-based inventions that can improve transportation.