research

Nir Shavit
Visiting Professor, Nir Shavit

Nir Shavit Appointed as Visiting Professor

The Department of EECS is pleased to announce the appointment of Nir Shavit as Visiting Professor, effective July 1, 2018. Shavit is a leading researcher in the field of distributed and parallel computation. The central issue in this area is managing a shared memory across a number of processors while maintaining consistency and avoiding conflicts. Shavit has made foundational contributions to this field, ranging from abstract theorems introducing a topological framework for analyzing these issues to providing a practical, and widely used, realization of a transactional memory technique for multiprocessor synchronization. A recent focus of Shavit’s work has been the application of parallel computation to “connectomics”: the creation of detailed maps of the connections in the brain.

Shavit received the M.Sc. in 1985 from Technion and the Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1990 from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is on the faculty of  Tel Aviv University, where he began as a Lecturer in 1992 and rose through the ranks to full professor in 2007. Since 2011, he has also been a full professor at MIT .

 Two of Shavit’s co-authored papers have received distinguished prizes from the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science and the Association for Computing Machinery: The Gödel Prize in 2004 for the paper “The Topological Structure  of Asynchronous Computation”  and the Dijkstra Prize in 2012 for the paper “Software Transactional Memory.” The massive textbook, The Art of Multiprocessor Programming,” by Maurice Herlihy and Shavit (2008) is the most authoritative treatment of this subject.

 In view of his outstanding conceptual and practical achievements and his exceptional skills as an expositor Shavit will be a major contributor to Berkeley’s efforts in parallel and distributed computing.

NexGen 7T fMRI scanner

NIH bestows $13.4 million grant to build NexGen 7T fMRI brain scanner

A team of U.C. Berkeley researchers including Associate Prof. Chunlei Liu, Prof. Ana Arias, and Associate Prof. Michael Lustig, has been awarded a $13.43 million grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as part of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative.  The team will use the money to build the NexGen 7T, an innovative functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner designed to provide the highest resolution images of the brain ever obtained.  Liu, an MR imaging specialist,  is the project co-leader along with physicist David Feinberg of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute.  The new scanner, which will boost resolution by a factor of 20, will give neuroscientists the ability to focus on cortical layers where most neuronal circuitry resides as well as to better identify large-scale circuitry connecting different regions of the brain.   Arias is an expert on flexible electronics and Lustig has developed new ways to speed up MRI scanning. The researchers will collaborate with Siemens to insure that the design can be quickly ramped up to produce next-generation scanners for researchers around the world.

Alex Stamos (photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images)

Alex Stamos hunts down Russian political ads on Facebook

EECS alumnus and security expert Alex Stamos (B.S. '01) is profiled in an article in Recode about his role as Facebook's Chief Security Officer.  He is currently leading their internal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and co-authored a paper explaining how Russia carried out its misinformation campaign. The article describes Stamos's experiences as CSO of Yahoo and his efforts to protect the internet's rank-and-file users. “We’ve been asking people to pay attention to us for over 20 years. And they are,” he said. “We have the world’s attention. What are we going to do with it?”

Brett and Chelsea Finn

The education of Brett the robot

CS Prof. Pieter Abbeel, graduate student Chelsea Finn, and Brett the robot are featured in a Wired article titled "The Education of Brett the Robot" which delves into some of the nuts and bolts of machine learning.  Brett (short for Berkeley Robot for the Elimination of Tedious Tasks) is using a reinforcement learning algorithm to allow it to learn from its mistakes.  Abbeel will speak on "Deep Learning-to-Learn Robotic Control" at the EECS Colloquium on October 11th.

Dust in the Machine

Chancellor's Professor of Electrical Engineering and Neuroscience Jose Carmena, and Prof. Michel Maharbiz, are the subjects of a California Magazine article titled "Dust in the Machine," about brain-machine interface (BMI) research.  In 2013, Carmena, Maharbiz, then-graduate student Dongjin Seo (Ph.D. '16), Prof. Jan Rabaey, and Prof. Elad Alon published a paper on a new kind of implantable bioelectronics--a neural interface called "neural dust"--that was the size of a 1-millimeter cube, wireless, battery-less, and small enough to be placed in the peripheral nervous system and muscles.  The article describes BMI systems and subsequent technological advances and challenges.  Carmena is also co-director of the Center for Neural Engineering and Prostheses at Berkeley and UCSF.

Shahin Farshchi (Huffington Post)

Shahin Farshchi on making the ‘impossible’ possible through feats of engineering

EECS alumnus Shahin Farshchi (B.S. '02) is the subject of one of a series of Iranian Americans’ Contributions Project (IACP) interviews that explore the personal and professional backgrounds of prominent Iranian-Americans who have made seminal contributions to their fields. Farshchi is currently a Partner at Lux Capital Management where he has sourced many of the firm's investments in energy and technology.  In "Shahin Farshchi: Making the ‘Impossible’ Possible Through Feats of Engineering,"  he describes his intercultural childhood in the Bay Area and Iran, and discusses his philosophy, career, and outlook on developing technologies.  Before Lux, Farshchi held engineering positions at Aurorasoft, Telegenisys, General Motors, and Intelligent Control Systems.  He has published research on wireless biosignal telemetry.

Garth Gibson, Vector Institute (Matthew Plexman)

Garth Gibson named CEO of the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence

CS alumnus Garth Gibson  (M.S. '84/B.S. '91) has been named CEO of the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Toronto, Canada.  The newly-formed Vector has received $50-million funding from Ontario and $85-million-plus from more than 30 companies, including Shopify Inc., Magna International Inc., Canada's big banks and U.S. tech giants including Google Inc.  Gibson, who is a native of Canada, has held several senior positions at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University, where he is a computer-science professor and established the school's Parallel Data Lab and Petascale Data Storage Institute.

CS Prof. Lotfi Zadeh, 1921-2017

Lotfi Zadeh wins 2017 Golden Goose Award

CS Prof. Emeritus Lotfi Zadeh has posthumously won a 2017 Golden Goose Award for "Fuzzy Logic, Clear Impact," sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).  The award honors teams of scientists whose silly-sounding taxpayer-funded research has returned serious benefits to society.  "Zadeh proposed these revolutionary concepts in 1965 to deal with the mathematics and logic of imprecise information, receiving a skeptical response and howls of 'complete nonsense.' He even drew the attention of Senator William Proxmire and the infamous Golden Fleece Award. But since the concept's debut, the original research paper has become one of the most widely cited in history, used in more than 16,000 patents and applied to efficiency improvements for HVAC systems, healthcare devices and more."  The winners will be honored at a ceremony at the Library of Congress this evening."  Prof. Zadeh passed away earlier this month.

CS Assistant Prof. Anca Dragan

Anca Dragan wants autonomous cars to understand people

CS Assistant Prof. Anca Dragan is one of the subjects of a San Francisco Chronicle article titled "Humanizing cars, sensitizing humans,"  about how the rise of robot vehicles will require reprogramming our relationship with them.  Dragan was interviewed for the section on "emotional intelligence" and what a robot car sees.  She said driverless cars will need to predict what humans on the road will do — and figure out how to behave appropriately around them.  Dragan is testing a computer model of an autonomous vehicle which nudges toward the adjacent lane and detects whether the simulated human driver hits the brakes or the accelerator, fairly similar to how most people change lanes.  “Those reactions tell it about your driving style, so it can anticipate whether it should merge or let you go first,” she said. “We’re excited to see that the car can ‘reason’ properly about people.”

Arvind Sridhar

Arvind Sridhar awarded Davidson Fellows scholarship

Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology Program (M.E.T.) student Arvind Sridhar (CS/Business) has been awarded a $25,000 Davidson Fellows scholarship.  The award is presented annually by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development to 20 students based on “significant work” in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, literature, music and philosophy. Sridhar’s scholarship was granted based on a study he undertook at the Stanford University School of Medicine over the summer.  He sought to create algorithms and computational models that would allow doctors to diagnose the health of cardiac tissue using only images and videos of a tissue sample, and then use an injectable hydrogel, which mimics the heart’s micro-environment, to anchor and nourish stem cells to parts of the heart, allowing them to enable cardiac regeneration.