2019 ACM SIGOPS Mark Weiser Award

Ion Stoica wins ACM SIGOPS Mark Weiser Award

Ion Stoica has won the ACM SIGOPS Mark Weiser Award. Created in 2001 by ACM SIGOPS, the award is named in honor of Mark Weiser, a computing visionary recognized for his research accomplishments during his career at Xerox PARC. Recipients are selected for “contributions that are highly creative, innovative, and possibly high-risk, in keeping with the visionary spirit of Mark Weiser.”

Prof. Raluca Ada Popa

Raluca Ada Popa named a visionary in MIT TR's list of 35 Innovators Under 35

Raluca Ada Popa has been named a Visionary in the MIT Technology Review's list of 35 Innovators Under 35.  Popa found a way to make computation on encrypted data practical.  Her systems secure computers by making data indecipherable to intruders instead of just relying on firewalls to keep them out.  She says her encryption techniques allow systems to operate as if they’ve been blindfolded. They’re able to compute on data without actually seeing it—which is opening the cybersecurity field to a host of new applications.  Her innovations are in use by companies like IBM.

Dawn Song and Hany Farid make WIRED25 list of innovators for 2019

CS Profs Dawn Song and Hany Farid are among Wired Magazine's list of 25 People Who Are Racing to Save Us (WIRED25 list of innovators for 2019). Song is the co-founder and CEO of Oasis Labs, a startup built around differential privacy—cryptographic techniques that allow companies to incorporate data into their algorithms without seeing the individual data points.   Song believes blockchain technology can help offer a secure home for data that doesn’t require trusting any one company with the keys to it.   Her system would enable you to copy your medical data to a location where researchers who are working to cure diseases could access it without compromising your privacy.  Farid is a pioneer of image science, having been one of the first to develop methods to detect when digital photos have been manipulated. He is now one of the leading authorities on Deepfakes: images, videos, or audio files fabricated or altered by machine learning.  Lately, Deepfakes have been used to mislead and manipulate the public during politicial elections.  “This used to be a boutique little field, but now we’re defending democracy,” says Farid.

"Oracle-Guided Component-Based Program Synthesis" wins 2020 ICSE Most Influential Paper Award

The paper "Oracle-Guided Component-Based Program Synthesis," co-authored by alumnus Susmit Jha (M.S./Ph.D. '11), Sumit Gulwani (Ph.D. '05, advisor: George Necula), EECS Prof. Sanjit A. Seshia, and Ashish Tiwari--and part of Susmit Jha's Ph.D. dissertation advised by Sanjit Seshia--will receive the 2020 Most Influential Paper Award by the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE). ICSE is the premier conference on software engineering and this award recognizes the paper judged to have had the most influence on the theory or practice of software engineering during the 10 years since its original publication. The citation says, in part, that the paper: "...has made a significant impact in Software Engineering and beyond, inspiring subsequent work not only on program synthesis and learning, but also on automated program repair, controller synthesis, and interpretable artificial intelligence."

Using deep learning to expertly detect hemorrhages in brain scans

A computer algorithm co-developed by Vision Group alumnus Weicheng Kuo (Ph.D. '19), post doc Christian Hӓne, their advisor Prof. Jitendra Malik, and researchers at UCSF, bested two out of four expert radiologists at finding tiny brain hemorrhages in head scans, an advance that one day may help doctors treat patients with traumatic brain injuries, strokes and aneurysms.  The algorithm found some small abnormalities that the experts missed, noted their location within the brain, and classified them according to subtype.  The researchers used of a type of deep learning known as a fully convolutional neural network (FCN) to train the algorithm on a relatively small number of images that were packed with data.  Each small abnormality was manually delineated at the pixel level. The richness of this data — along with other steps that prevented the model from misinterpreting random variations, or “noise,” as meaningful — created an extremely accurate algorithm.

Corelight raises $50m for network traffic analysis in the cloud

Corelight, a start-up founded by CS Prof. Vern Paxson, has secured an additional $50 million in Series C financing for its network traffic analysis (NTA) solutions for cybersecurity.  The company has raised a total of $84 million to date, with investment from General Catalyst, Accel, Osage University Partners and Riverbed Technology Co-founder (and former Berkeley CS professor) Steve McCanne. It has more than doubled in size since its Series B in September 2018.  Corelight  is built on an open source framework called Zeek (formerly Bro), which Paxson began developing in 1995.  Zeek is now widely regarded as the gold standard for both network security management (NSM) and NTA, and has been deployed by thousands of organizations around the world.

Ren Ng weighs in on why your photos are about to get a lot better

CS Prof. Ren Ng is quoted in a New York Times article titled "The Reason Your Photos Are About to Get a Lot Better."  The article describes how computational photography is driving the future of phone cameras.  “Most photos you take these days are not a photo where you click the photo and get one shot,” said Ng. “These days it takes a burst of images and computes all of that data into a final photograph.”  He and his students are researching new techniques in computational photography, like applying portrait-mode effects to videos.  One type of effect could be to set the recorded footage to automatically focus on whomever is speaking.  “These are examples of capabilities that are completely new and emerging in research that could completely change what we think of that’s possible,” said Ng.

How to Stop Superhuman A.I. Before It Stops Us

EECS Prof. Stuart Russell has penned a New York Times Op-Ed titled "How to Stop Superhuman A.I. Before It Stops Us," in which he explains why we need to design artificial intelligence that is beneficial, not just smart.  "Instead of building machines that exist to achieve their objectives," he writes, we need to build "machines that have our objectives as their only guiding principle..."   This will make them "necessarily uncertain about what these objectives are, because they are in us — all eight billion of us, in all our glorious variety, and in generations yet unborn — not in the machines."  Russell has just published a book titled "Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control" (Viking , October 8, 2019).

Rod Brooks' EECS Colloquium lecture makes IEEE Spectrum Video Friday

A video of the lecture that MIT Prof. Emeritus Rodney Brooks gave at last week's EECS Joint Colloquium has made IEEE Spectrum's Video Friday,  a weekly selection of "awesome robot videos."  Brooks' talk,  titled "Steps Toward Super Intelligence and the Search for a New Path," examines what we might need to do over the next (few) hundred years  to give AI human level--or even super--intelligence.  He questions the assumptions on which the AI field has been built, and whether both AI and neuroscience will need a fundamental reboot in order to make real progress.  Brooks is known for giving "some of the best video talks ever."

Alvin Kao and Titan Yuan honored as Siebel Scholars

5th Year CS Master's students Alvin Kao (B.S. '19)  and Titan Yuan (B.S. '19) have been named to the Siebel Scholars Foundation’s 2020 class.  Kao is working on problems in the autonomous vehicle setting, like predicting the behavior of other agents and trajectory planning.  Yuan is working with the Swarm Lab on embedded software for some of the world’s tiniest wireless devices, so that they can be used as miniature temperature sensors and Bluetooth beacons.