News

Mike Stonebraker wins 2020 C&C Prize

EECS Prof. Emeritus Michael Stonebraker has won the prestigious NEC Computers and Communications (C&C) Prize "For Pioneering Contributions to Relational Database Systems." The prize is awarded "to distinguished persons in recognition of outstanding contributions to research and development and/or pioneering work in the fields of semiconductors, computers, and/or telecommunications and in their integrated technologies."  In the early 1970's, Stonebraker and Prof. Eugene Wong began researching Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS), which culminated in the creation of the Interactive Graphics and Retrieval System (INGRES), a practical and efficient implementation of the relational model running on Unix-based DEC machines.  It included a number of key ideas still widely used today, including B-trees, primary-copy replication, the query rewrite approach to views and integrity constraints, and the idea of rules/triggers for integrity checking in an RDBMS.  Stonebraker, Wong, and Prof. Larry Rowe, founded a startup called Relational Technology, Inc. (renamed Ingres Corporation), which they sold to Computer Associates in the early 1990's for $311M.  Stonebraker's student, Robert Epstein (Ph.D. '80), founded the startup Sybase, which created the code used as a basis for the Microsoft SQL Server.  Stonebraker also created Postgres in the late 1980's, which made it easier for programmers to modify or add to the optimizer, query language, runtime, and indexing frameworks.  It broadened the commercial database market by improving both database programmability and performance, making it possible to push large portions of a number of applications inside the database, including geographic information systems and time series processing.  Stonebraker retired from Berkeley in 2000 to found more companies and become an adjunct professor at MIT.  His achievements have been recognized with an IEEE John von Neumann Medal in 2005, ACM A.M. Turing Award in 2014, and ACM SIGMOD Systems Award in 2015.

Sheila Humphreys to join Carol Christ for Campus Conversation on 150W History Project

EECS Director Emerita of Diversity, Sheila Humphreys, will be joining Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and Prof. Emerita Catherine Gallagher for a Campus Conversation about the 150 Years of Women at Berkeley (150W) History Project, which Humphreys and Gallagher currently co-chair.  October marks the 150th anniversary of the UC Regents’ unanimous approval of a resolution by Regent Samuel F. Butterworth: “That young ladies be admitted into the University on equal terms in all respects with young men.” This conversation on the 150W History Project will be the highlight of a year celebrating watershed moments of the remarkable women who have made immeasurable contributions to our campus and beyond.

Berkeley Turing laureates take stand to protest immigration policies

CS Prof. Emeritus David Patterson has organized 24 fellow winners of the prestigious ACM A.M. Turing Award, including EECS Prof. Shafi Goldwasser and Profs. Emeritus Manuel Blum, Richard Karp, and Michael Stonebraker, to collectively endorse a presidential candidate as a protest against current government policies that restrict Chinese nationals from studying at American universities. The time allotment on Chinese student visas was reduced from five years to one in 2018 in response to National Intelligence that the nature of collaborative academic environments made institutions vulnerable to espionage by giving foreign powers open access to sensitive research and vanguard technologies.  The laureates penned an open letter in which they asserted that these immigration policies threaten the future of computer research in the United States and could do long-term damage to the tech industry, a critical pillar of America’s economy.  A number of large tech companies, including Google and Facebook, have also spoken out against these immigration policies.  “The most brilliant people in the world want to come here and be grad students,” said Patterson during a group interview with the New York Times in which he stated that he was speaking as a private citizen.  “But now they are being discouraged from coming here, and many are going elsewhere.”

Dorsa Sadigh wins 2020 IEEE TCCPS Early Career Award

EECS alumna Dorsa Sadigh (BS '12 / PhD '17, advisors: Shankar Sastry and Sanjit Seshia) has been recognized with the IEEE Technical Committee on Cyber-Physical Systems (TCCPS) Early Career Award ‘‘for contributions to the theory, design, and implementation of human cyber-physical systems.’’ She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Departments of both Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University.  Her research interests lie at the intersection of robotics, machine learning, and control theory, and she is currently working on developing efficient algorithms for safe, reliable, and adaptive human-robot and generally multi-agent interactions.

Kathy Yelick wins 2020 Berkeley Lab Citation for Exceptional Achievement

EECS Prof. Katherine Yelick has won The Berkeley Lab Citation, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) Director's Award for Exceptional Achievement which "honors extraordinary achievement(s) in broad categories of science and operations, with special focus on service to the Lab and/or the DOE National Lab Complex."  Yelick was cited for "extraordinary leadership both within the Lab and at the national level, including her significant role in developing DOE strategy in Exascale and Quantum Computing, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence."  Yelick is the Senior Advisor on Computing at LBNL and the Associate Dean for Research in UC Berkeley's new Division of Computing, Data Science and Society (CDSS).  She was the Associate Laboratory Director for Computing Sciences at LBNL from 2010 through 2019, and led the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) prior to that.  Her research focuses on high performance computing, programming languages, compilers, parallel algorithms, and automatic performance tuning. She currently leads the ExaBiome project on scalable tools for analyzing microbial data and co-leads the Berkeley Benchmarking and Optimization (Bebop) group.

Sophia Shao and Alp Sipahigil win Berkeley Engineering faculty fellowships

New EECS Assistant Profs. Sophia Shao and Alp Sipahigil have received Engineering faculty fellowships, which will help fund the first five years of their projects and labs at Berkeley.   The fellowships are sponsored by Berkeley Engineering alumni and friends as part of a $1.25M program that will be shared among five new faculty.  Shao, who began teaching at Berkeley in 2019, studies computer architecture with a special focus on specialized accelerator, heterogeneous architecture and agile VLSI design methodology.  Sipahigil, who will arrive in spring 2021 from Caltech, has been focused on using nanoscale phononic and photonic structures to bring new functionalities to superconducting quantum circuits.

Alessandro Chiesa receives 2020 Okawa Research Grant

CS Assistant Prof. Alessandro Chiesa has been selected as a 2020 Okawa Foundation Research Grant recipient for his work on the "Foundations of Quantum and Non-Signaling Proofs (Post-Quantum Zero-Knowledge Proofs for Secure Distributed Systems)."  Okawa Research Grants are awarded to Asian and American scholars for studies and analyses in the fields of information and telecommunications.  Winners receive a $10K prize which is usually awarded in an autumn ceremony in San Francisco, but the event has been cancelled this year because of COVID-19.

Cecilia Aragon: Flying Free

CS alumna Cecilia Aragon (Ph.D. '04, advisors: Shankar Sastry and Marti Hearst) has written a memoir titled "Flying Free," which describes how she shook off the tethers of discrimination and her debilitating fear of heights to become the first Latina pilot to win a spot on the United States Unlimited Aerobatic Team, which represented the U.S. at the World Aerobatic Championships in 1991.  The daughter of a Chilean father and Filipina mother, Aragon earned her B.S. in Mathematics at Caltech before coming to Berkeley.  She was president of the student organization Women in Computer Science and Engineering (WICSE) in 1985 before dropping out.  After conquering her fears, she returned to Berkeley to complete her dissertation, "Improving Aviation Safety with Information Visualization:  Airflow Hazard Display for Helicopter Pilots," in 2004.  Aragon then spent nine years at the NASA Ames Research Center designing software for projects that included missions to Mars, before leaving to be a staff scientist/visiting faculty at LBNL for another 15 years. She then became the first Latina full professor at the University of Washington (UW), where has worked for the past ten years in the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering, founding and co-directing the UW Data Science Masters Degree program.  Aragon was named Berkeley Computer Science Distinguished Alumna in 2013.  She co-authored a previous book, "Writers in the Secret Garden:  Fanfiction, Youth, and New Forms of Mentoring," released by MIT Press in 2019.

Michael Jordan and the implications of algorithmic thinking

CS Prof. Michael I. Jordan is featured in This Week in Machine Learning & AI (TWIML AI) Podcast episode #407 titled "What are the Implications of Algorithmic Thinking? with Michael I. Jordan."   He discusses his current exploration into the intersection of economics and AI, and how machine learning systems could be used to create value and empowerment across many industries through “markets.”  The interview also touches on the potential of “interacting learning systems” at scale, the valuation of data, and the commoditization of human knowledge into computational systems.  Jordan's career, and the ways it has been influenced by other fields like philosophy, is also explored.  Jordan received the 2020 IEEE John von Neumann Medal for "outstanding achievements in computer-related science and technology" earlier this year.

John Davis to participate in BESAC panel on "Black in STEM - in the face of two pandemics"

EECS alumnus John S. Davis II (Ph.D. '00, advisor: Edward Lee) will be participating in the Black Engineering and Science Alumni Club (BESAC)'s homecoming week panel on "Black in STEM -  in the face of two pandemics."  This virtual moderated panel, which will be held on October 17th,  will discuss the impact that both the CoVID-19 pandemic and the events underlying the Black Lives Matter movement have had on the Black community.   Davis is a senior privacy engineer at Google where he has published work to aid CoVID-19 researchers in datamining symptom search terms in Google while simultaneously protecting user privacy.  He joined Google in 2019 after eight years as a senior information scientist at the Rand Corporation, and seven years as a staff researcher at IBM’s Watson Research Center.  The panel will discuss topics ranging from engineering projects by UC Berkeley alumni and faculty to meet the moment of the CoVID-19 pandemic, efforts to address the disparate effects of CoVID-19 on the Black community, and wide-ranging initiatives to redress the impacts of systemic racism.   Registration is required to receive the Zoom log-in.