News

David Wang and Samantha Wathugala named 2019 Siebel Scholars

CS graduate students David Wang and Samantha Wathugala have been named to the Siebel Scholars Foundation’s 2019 class.  The Siebel Scholars program recognizes top students at the world’s leading graduate schools of bioengineering, business, computer science and energy science, and comes with a $35,000 award.  Wathugala applies state-of-the-art deep learning techniques to object detection, grasping and manipulation in an unstructured domain, using a toy-collecting robot.  Wang uses deep learning to build accurate, reliable systems for precision irrigation and autonomous driving.


K. Shankari warns that Google is tracking you

CS graduate student K.Shankari (advisors: Randy Katz and David Culler) is featured in an AP News article titled "AP Exclusive: Google tracks your movements, like it or not."  Shankari, who studies the commuting patterns of volunteers in order to help urban planners,  noticed that her Android phone prompted her to rate a shopping trip to Kohl’s, even though she had turned Location History off.  When Location History is turned off,  iPhones and Androids display pop-ups which say "None of your Google apps will be able to store location data in Location History" and “places you go with your devices will stop being added to your Location History map," respectively.  However, the Google account web page admits that “some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other Google services, like Search and Maps.”  “I am not opposed to background location tracking in principle,” said Shankari. “It just really bothers me that it is not explicitly stated.”

Explore UC Berkeley’s culture of entrepreneurship with Hriday Kemburu

CS alumnus Hriday Kemburu (B.A. '16) is featured in a Daily Cal article about UC Berkeley’s start up ecosystem titled "‘Dream, build and start up’: Exploring UC Berkeley’s culture of entrepreneurship.'   Kemburu is the CEO of Wildfire,  which began as a UC Berkeley-specific safety app during Kemburu's senior year and branched out into a communications platform spanning more than 30 campuses.  Wildfire is used for spreading the word about anything from crimes to celebrity sightings.  Berkeley's network of startup incubators, accelerators, investors and classes have helped launch hundreds of companies.

Jun-Yan Zhu wins ACM SIGGRAPH Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award

CS alumnus Jun-Yan Zhu (Ph.D. '17, advisor: Alexei Efros) has won the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH) Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award. Zhu is a pioneer in the use of modern machine learning in computer graphics. His dissertation is arguably the first to systematically attack the problem of natural image synthesis using deep neural networks. As such, his work has already had an enormous impact on the field, with several of his contributions, most notably CycleGAN, becoming widely-used tools not just for researchers in computer graphics and beyond, but also for visual artists.

Panamanian Hackers Unite!

The inaugural edition of PanamaHackea, an educational hackathon for the peoples of Panama, will be held on Saturday, September 29, 2018, in Torre de Las Américas, Panama City.  This event is the brainchild of 6 students from 4 schools, including Berkeley CS junior Rafael Félix, who hope to inspire and empower "a new generation of Panamanian designers, entrepreneurs, and engineers" by making new technologies more available and accessible to everyone.  In the months leading up to the event, they will create and share tutorials, workshops, tools and resources covering topics from the basics of programming to the latest in Machine Learning.  Participants will enjoy space, food, comaraderie, challenges, and prizes, in a supportive and collaborative environment.

Maxim Rabinovich named 2018 Hertz-Gates Fellow

CS Ph.D. student Maxim Rabinovich (joint advisors: Michael Jordan and Daniel Klein) has received a 2018 Fannie and John Hertz Foundation Hertz-Gates Fellowship in Global Health and Development.  Rabinovich is currently researching machine learning and natural language processing, and is interested in developing artificial intelligence tools that support and extend human reasoning. Recent work in this direction includes projects on minimax theory for multiple testing, code generation from natural language specifications, fine-grained entity typing, and function-specific mixing rates for MCMC.  Rabinovich's work has been supported by the Hertz Foundation since 2015.

Chelsea Finn is one of MIT TR's 2018 35 Innovators Under 35

CS PhD student Chelsea Finn (advisers: Pieter Abbeel and Sergey Levine) has been named to MIT Technology Review's 2018 list of "35 Innovators Under 35," an honor which recognizes "exceptionally talented young innovators whose work we believe has the greatest potential to transform the world."  Finn is cited in the Pioneers category because "her robots act like toddlers—watching adults, copying them in order to learn."  She works in the Berkeley AI Research Lab (BAIR) developing robots that can learn just by observing and exploring their environment. Her algorithms require much less data than is usually needed to train an AI—so little that robots running her software can learn how to manipulate an object just by watching one video of a human doing it. “In many ways, the capabilities of robotic systems are still in their infancy,” she says. “The goal is to have them gain common sense.”

Tiffany Perumpail wins Teaching Effectiveness Award

EECS undergraduate Tiffany Perumpail has won a Teaching Effectiveness Award (TEA) from the UC Berkeley Graduate Division.  This very competitive award is bestowed annually by the Graduate Council’s Faculty Advisory Committee for GSI Affairs.  Applicants submit essays in which they identify a problem they encountered in teaching, explain their strategy and rationale in devising a solution, and assess the effectiveness of the solution. Perumpail's essay, about her experience TAing CS61A, is titled "Improvement of Academic Intern Experience and Performance in Introductory Computer Science."  

PerfFuzz wins ISSTA18 Distinguished Paper Award

"PerfFuzz: Automatically Generating Pathological Inputs," written by graduate students Caroline Lemieux and Rohan Padhye, and Profs. Koushik Sen and Dawn Song, will receive a Distinguished Paper Award from the ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Software Testing and Analysis (ISSTA) 2018 in Amsterdam in July.  PerfFuzz is a method to automatically generate inputs for software programs via feedback-directed mutational fuzzing.  These inputs exercise pathological behavior across program locations, without any domain knowledge.   The authors found that PerfFuzz outperforms prior work by generating inputs that exercise the most-hit program branch 5x to 69x times more, and result in 1.9x to 24.7x longer total execution paths.

Microsoft acquires Semantic Machines

Semantic Machines, an artificial intelligence startup co-founded by Prof. Dan Klein and staffed by a number of EECS alumni, has been acquired by Microsoft to help Cortana hold more natural dialog with users.  The team has built a number of machine learning components which work together for a smarter AI, and move beyond the more basic back-and-forth currently supported by the Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Amazon’s Alexa.

In addition to Klein, the team includes Percy Liang (Ph.D. '11), David Hall (Ph.D. '12), Adam Pauls (Ph.D. '12), David Burkett (Ph.D. '12), Jason Wolfe (Ph.D. '11 adviser: Stuart Russell), Yuchen Zhang (Ph.D. '16), Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick (B.A. '08/Ph.D. '15), Greg Durrett (Ph.D. '16), Alex Nisnevich (M.S. '14), current grad student Jacob Andreas, Charles Chen (B.A. CS/Math '11), Andrew Nguyen (B.A. CS/Linguistics '12), Chuck Wooters (Ph.D. Speech Recognition '93), and consultant Prof. Michael Jordan.