News

Umesh Vazirani to help lead $25 million quantum computing center

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded UC Berkeley $25 million over five years to help lead the establishment of a multi-university institute focused on advancing quantum science and engineering.  EECS Prof. Umesh Vazirani, who is co-director of the Berkeley Quantum Computation Center (BQIC) and leads the quantum computing effort at the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing (SITC), will serve as co-director of the new institute.  Other participants from EECS will include Prof. Ming Wu, Prof. Shafi Goldwasser, Prof. John Kubiatowicz, and Associate Prof. Boubacar Kanté. The center will be one of three Quantum Leap Challenge Institutes (QLCI) designed as part of the federal government's effort to accelerate the development of quantum computers, train a future workforce to build and use them, and position them to be as ubiquitous as smart phones.  The new institute for Present and Future Quantum Computation will connect Berkeley, UCLA, UCSB, USC, Caltech, UT Austin, MIT, and UW, to combine the talents of top experimental and theoretical scientists in the fields of computer science, chemistry, physics, materials science, engineering and mathematics, to solve problems and devise strategies around this currently rudimentary technology.   Attaining a better understanding of its computational capabilities will require a major increase in the number of computer scientists involved in asking and answering questions.  “Realizing the full power of quantum computation requires development of efficient schemes for correction of errors during operation of quantum machines, as well as protocols for testing and benchmarking," said Vazirani. “Translating this remarkable ability of quantum computers into actually solving a computational problem is very challenging and requires a completely new way of thinking about algorithms.”

prof. david wagner

David Wagner testifies about remote voting security before Congress

Prof. David Wagner, whose area of expertise includes computer security and the security of electronic voting, testified before Congress at a hearing of the House Administration Committee on Friday, July 15, 2020. The hearing was called to investigate options for lawmakers in Congress to vote remotely during Covid-19. Wagner explained that while it is technologically feasible for the House to conduct roll-call votes remotely, it will come with some manageable risk.  He recommended securing the vote using "a combination of people, process, and technology," including making all votes public immediately, having the House establish policies to govern the process--including contingencies for technology failures, and specifically selecting technology to support cybersecurity. 

Stuart Russell answers 3+ questions in wake of Turing Lecture

In May 2020, CS Prof. Stuart Russell delivered the most highly attended Turing Lecture yet,  to a virtual audience of over 700 people from around the world, on the subject of provably beneficial AI.  In a follow-up article, "Three (plus) questions with Turing Lecturer Stuart Russell," he answers some of the many questions not covered during the live Q&A.  In his talk, Russell argues that "it is useful to imbue systems with explicit uncertainty concerning the true objectives of the humans they are designed to help. This uncertainty causes machine and human behaviour to be inextricably (and game-theoretically) linked, while opening up many new avenues for research."  The top three questions address how AI should make immediate choices, how to address changing preferences as society evolves, and how AI can be controlled to minimize bias.  The ideas discussed are explored in his most recent book, "Human Compatible: AI and the Problem of Control" (Viking/Penguin, 2019).  The Turing Lectures are hosted by The Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence, and should not be confused with the Turing Talks sponsored by BCS and IET.

Two EECS projects awarded Berkeley Changemaker Technology Innovation Grants

CS Prof. Eric Paulos and Associate Prof. Bjoern Hartmann have both won 2020 Berkeley Changemaker Technology Innovation Grants to support projects involving "transformative ideas with real applications that benefit the Berkeley campus."  Paulos's project is Lucid Learning, a suite of tools to help students in disciplines like architecture, art practice, theater, dance and performance studies, to incorporate augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) into their iterative processes of collaboration, design and feedback.  There are currently online tools that can help assess work in quantitative courses but few available for more open-ended, studio-based teamwork courses.  Hartmann's project, VRTutor, aims to both allow students to interact with an instructional 3D video pre-recorded by their professor in VR, and also allow instructors to view a live feed of students working in VR to give them guidance.  Tutorial feedback can be offered by drawing on the student's video feed on a tablet, then re-projecting the drawings into the student’s VR scene in 3D.

Two projects led by EECS faculty win funding to combat COVID-19

Projects led by CS Prof. Jennifer Listgarten and EE Prof. Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli have been awarded funding from the C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute to harness the power of AI to combat the spread of COVID-19 and other emerging diseases.  Listgarten's project will draw upon techniques such as reinforcement learning, robust uncertainty estimation and probabilistic modeling to develop new and trustworthy methods for therapeutic drug discovery for COVID-19.  Sangiovanni-Vincentelli's project will develop algorithms for AI that will help health care institutions better detect and contain emerging diseases.  These projects are two of six awarded to UC Berkeley, and among 26 projects world-wide, which will share $5.4M to accelerate AI research for COVID-19 mitigation through advances in medicine, urban planning and public policy.

Margo Seltzer, Keith Bostic and Mike Olson

BerkeleyDB wins 2020 SIGMOD Systems Award

The creators of BerkeleyDB (BDB) have won the 2020 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Management of Data (SIGMOD) Systems Award for their "seminal work in embodying simplicity, quality, and elegance in a high-performance key-value store that has impacted many systems and applications over the last 25 years."   BDB is a software library that originated as an effort to free up the user space utilities in BSD, UC Berkeley's free version of the Unix operating system.  It used revolutionarily simple function-call APIs for data access and management, which allowed developers to create custom solutions at a fraction of the usual cost.  Keith Bostic, a member of Berkeley's Computer Science Research Group (CSRG), and his wife, graduate student Margo Seltzer (Ph.D. '92, advisor: Michael Stonebraker), co-founded Sleepycat Software, Inc. to provide commercial support for BDB.  Seltzer served as CTO, Bostic as VP Eng and Product Architect, and former Berkeley student and BDB co-developer Mike Olson (who later co-founded Cloudera) was the first full-time employee and later served as CEO.  Seltzer, Bostic, and Olson are among the 16 developers cited for the award. BDB ships in every copy of Linux and BSD; drove most LDAP servers, and powered a large portion of the Web 1.0.

Ming Lin elected to 2020 ACM SIGGRAPH Academy

EECS alumna Ming C. Lin (B.S./M.S./Ph.D. '93, advisor: John Canny) has been elected to the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH) Academy.  She is one of six scholars selected for membership this year, an honor which is reserved for individuals who have made "substantial contributions to the field."  Lin was cited "for contributions in collision detection, physics simulation, natural phenomena, crowd animation, haptics, and sound rendering."  She became an ACM Fellow in 2011 and IEEE Fellow in 2012, and is currently chair of the Computer Science department at the University Maryland.  An expert in virtual reality, computer graphics and robotics, Lin's particular focus is on multimodal interaction, physically based animations and simulations, as well as algorithmic robotics and their use in physical and virtual environments.  Her research has applications in medical simulations, cancer screening, urban computing, as well as supporting city-scale planning, human-centric computing, intelligent transportation and traffic management.

Paper by Peter Mattis to be presented at ACM SIGMOD conference

A paper co-written by EECS alumnus Peter Mattis (B.S. '97) is being presented at the 2020 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Management of Data (SIGMOD) International Conference on Management of Data this month.  The paper, titled "CockroachDB: The Resilient Geo-Distributed SQL Database," describes a cloud-native, distributed SQL database called CockroachDB, that is designed to store copies of data in multiple locations in order to deliver speedy access.  The database is being developed at Cockroach Labs, a company co-founded in 2015 by a team of former Google employees that included Mattis, who is also the current CTO, and fellow-alumnus Spencer Kimball (CS B.A. '97), currently the company CEO.  Cockroach Labs employs a number of Cal alumni including Ceilia La (CS B.A. '00) and Yahor Yuzefovich (CS B.A. '18).

Eden McEwen awarded SPIE 2020 Optics and Photonics Education Scholarship

Eden McEwen, a fourth year undergraduate double-majoring in Computer Science and Physics, has been awarded a 2020 Optics and Photonics Education Scholarship by the international Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE), for her potential contributions to the field of optics and photonics.  McEwen's research interests focus on predictive control and hardware design of adaptive optics systems for ground based astronomical observing in the optical and near-infrared. She has worked with groups at Berkeley, Keck II Observatory, NASA JPL, Caltech, and the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy. McEwen is a 2020 Goldwater Scholar and hopes to continue her studies in optics with a graduate degree in astrophysics.

Aditya Parameswaran Awarded Best Paper at SIGMOD/PODS 2020

CS Assistant Prof. Aditya Parameswaran has been awarded the Best Paper Award at the 2020 ACM Special Interest Group on Management of Data (SIGMOD)/Symposium on Principles of Database Systems (PODS) for his joint paper: “ShapeSearch: A Flexible and Efficient System for Shape-based Exploration of Trendlines.”  The paper proposes the implementation of ShapeSearch, a tool that mitigates issues with existing visual analytics tools, such as limited flexibility, expressiveness, and scalability.  The paper was one of two that received the top award out of over 144 accepted research papers and 450 submissions to ACM SIGMOD/PODS, the premiere international conference on the theoretical aspects of database systems.