News

Dan Klein and Angjoo Kanazawa win 2022 Bakar Fellows Spark Awards

EECS Prof. Dan Klein and Assistant Prof. Angjoo Kanazawa have won 2022 Bakar Fellows Spark Awards.  These awards are designed to accelerate Berkeley faculty-led research "to tangible, positive societal impact through commercialization."  Bakar Fellows become part of a campus ecosystem that provides support and programs to assist them in introducing discoveries to the market.  Klein is developing a device that will allow users to communicate through computers by "silent speech"--that is, mouthing words without vocalizations. This technology, which may take the form of a headset that can track a user's facial muscles and translate it into sound, would benefit people with special needs as well as make it easier for everyone to hold private phone conversations in public.  Kanazawa plans to build 360 consumer cameras that can capture 4K video at 90 frames per second using an artificial intelligence framework and the latest volumetric neural rendering techniques.

Jelani Nelson Awarded Best Paper at SIGMOD-SIGACT-SIGAI PODS 2022

CS Prof. Jelani Nelson has won the Best Paper Award at the 2022 ACM Symposium on Principles of Database Systems (PODS) on June 13th.  The symposium is a collaboration between three ACM Special Interest Groups: Management of Data (SIGMOD), Algorithms and Computation Theory (SIGACT), and Artificial Intelligence (SIGAI).  Nelson's award is for a paper he co-wrote with Huacheng Yu titled "Optimal Bounds for Approximate Counting," in which they describe research on the asymptotic space complexity of maintaining an approximate counter as it is dynamically incremented, proving both new upper and lower bounds that for the first time match up to a constant factor, completely resolving a problem that was first studied in the late 1970s.

Christos Papadimitriou wins 2022 IEEE CS Computer Pioneer Award

CS Prof. Emeritus Christos Papadimitriou has won the 2022 IEEE Computer Society Women of ENIAC Computer Pioneer Award.  This award was created "to recognize and honor the vision of those people whose efforts resulted in the creation or expansion and continued vitality of the computer industry. The award is presented to outstanding individuals whose main contribution to the concepts and development of the computer field was made at least fifteen years earlier."  Papadimitriou was cited "for fundamental contributions to Computer Science, via the development of the theory of algorithms and complexity, and its application to the natural and social sciences."  He has written five textbooks and many articles on algorithms and complexity, and their applications to optimization, databases, control, AI, robotics, economics and game theory, the Internet, evolution, and the brain.  He has also published three novels: “Turing,” “Logicomix” and “Independence.”  Papadimitriou is currently teaching at Columbia University.

Jitendra Malik named 2023 Martin Meyerson Berkeley Faculty Research Lecturer

CS Prof. Jitendra Malik has been selected as one of two 2023 Martin Meyerson Berkeley Faculty Research Lecturers (FRL). This Lectureship is bestowed by the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate to recognize faculty “whose research has changed the shape of their discipline” and invite them “to share their innovative work with the broader campus community and the public.”  Each lecturer will present a talk on a topic of their choice in April 2023. Malik, who also holds appointments in vision science, cognitive science, and bioengineering, is known for his research in computer vision, computational modeling of biological vision, computer graphics, and machine learning.  Several well-known concepts and algorithms arose in this work, such as anisotropic diffusion, normalized cuts, high dynamic range imaging, shape contexts and R-CNN. He has won numerous awards including an IEEE CS Computer Pioneer Award in 2019.

Dave Smith, synthesizer and MIDI developer, dies at 72

Groundbreaking synthesizer designer and EECS alumnus Dave Smith (B.S. 1971),  died on May 31st at the age of 72.  As an undergraduate, Smith wrote a program to compose music as a class project.  "The computers were huge," he said. "You wrote programs on punched cards, and you had to turn them into the computer center and wait a few hours to get it back to see if it compiled or not. It was a slow process." He had to print out his scores on a plotter.  "I remember my senior year, one of my professors predicted that one day that the power of one of these [room-sized] computers would only cost $1000, and of course, everybody’s like, 'No, no way, it couldn’t be.'"  After graduation, Smith took a job developing microprocessors at Lockheed Martin and, in his spare time, built an analog sequencer for a Minimoog synthesizer, allowing it to play more than one note at a time. He founded the company Sequential Circuits in 1974 and introduced the first polyphonic and programmable synthesizer four years later, the Prophet-5.  Because it used microprocessors to control its functions, it could store settings in memory, play harmonies by generating five notes at once, and was portable.  It generated what is called "the signature sound of the 1980s" and shaped the music of bands like of Pink Floyd, Parliament, Genesis, Hall & Oates, Michael Jackson, the Cars, Madonna, the Talking Heads, and the Cure.  Smith co-developed the Universal Synthesizer Interface (USI) in 1981 which, for the first time, allowed musicians to communicate digitally with multiple instruments through a single interface.  He convinced four Japanese companies to cooperate on a shared standard, which became MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) 1.0 in 1982.  “We made it low-cost so that it was easy for companies to integrate into their products. It was given away license-free because we wanted everyone to use it.”  In 1997, as president of Seer Systems, Smith introduced the first professional software synthesizer, a Windows program called "Reality."  Over the decades, instruments designed by Smith were embraced by groups like Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Dr. Dre, and Arcade Fire.  MIDI 1.0 has remained ubiquitous for forty years.

Pravin Varaiya has died

EECS Prof. Emeritus and alumnus Pravin Varaiya (Ph.D. 1966, advisor: Lotfi Zadeh) passed away on June 10th from injuries sustained when a truck hit him as he was walking in his neighborhood on April 1.  He was 81 years old.  A Professor in the Graduate School at the time of his death, he was known for his pioneering work in sensing and controls in intelligent transportation systems, and is credited with spearheading the self-driving car revolution in the 1990s.  Pravin Pratap Varaiya was born in India in 1940 and received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Bombay in 1960.  He moved to Berkeley to attend graduate school and married Ruth Kosh, a fellow social activist, in 1963. In addition to teaching EE, he was a Professor of Economics from 1975 to 1992.  As the visionary director of the California Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH) project at Berkeley from 1994 to 1997, he led the construction of the National Automated Highway System (NAHSC) and the development of the first generation of modern self-driving cars.  These were the first autonomous vehicles tested live on California freeways.  His group also built the PeMS system, which revolutionized sensor networks for transportation, and which remains the largest sensor network for highways in the US.  PeMS enabled the California Department of Transportation and dozens of other agencies to finally see, measure, and assess traffic congestion in real-time.  He won the the IEEE Simon Ramo Medal (2022),  AACC O. Hugo Schuck Award (2020), IEEE ITS Lifetime Achievement Award (2018), IEEE Outstanding Research Award (2009), Bellman Control Heritage Award (2008), IEEE CSS Hendrik W. Bode Lecture Prize (2005), IEEE Control Systems Award (2002), and was a fellow of the IEEE and IFAC, and a member of both the AAAS and the NAE.  Varaiya was known for his calm and gentle demeanor, and his passionate and elegant approach to algorithms, control problems, games and strategies. He will be deeply missed.

Divya Periyakoil named Bloomberg Fellow

EECS alumna and former Regents Chancellor's Scholar Divya Periyakoil (B.S. 2020) has won a Bloomberg Fellowship from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Bloomberg fellows are awarded full scholarships to pursue a Master or Doctor of Public Health at Johns Hopkins to tackle one of five critical health issues: addiction and overdose, adolescent health, environmental challenges, obesity and the food system, or violence. Periyakoil's fellowship is in the area of Environmental Challenges. As an undergrad, she was a Population Health Data Science Researcher in a project that focused on developing and applying machine learning, deep learning, and other forms of advanced analytic techniques and methodologies to advance environmental health research and devise innovative solutions to overcome environmental challenges to promote health equity. The project was part of a collaboration between two Berkeley groups, the Research in Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Energy (RAISE) Lab, which develops and integrates tele-health, sensors, analytics, and smart device technologies to lower health costs and improve outcomes, and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health's Bixby Center for Population, Health, and Sustainability, which studies how environmental exposures, like those resulting from climate change, impact the most vulnerable members of our community, such as children, pregnant women, people of low socioeconomic status, and laborers.

Rod Bayliss and Vivek Nair win 2022 Hertz Fellowships

EECS graduate students Roderick Bayliss III (advisor: Robert Pilawa-Podgurski) and Vivek Nair (advisor: Dawn Song) have been selected to receive 2022 Hertz Fellowships.  One of the most prestigious awards of its kind, Hertz Fellowships support PhD students whose research show "the greatest potential to tackle society's most urgent problems." Bayliss is developing more efficient and power-dense types of power converters—devices that change the current, voltage or frequency of electrical energy—and inductors, which store energy, to help reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. He earned his B.S. and M.Eng. in Electrical Engineering from MIT.  Nair is developing cutting-edge cryptographic techniques to defend digital infrastructure against sophisticated cyberthreats. He was the youngest-ever recipient of a B.A. and Master's in computer science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and is the founder of Multifactor.com.  Their fellowships will fund up to five years of graduate research with "the freedom to pursue innovative ideas wherever they may lead."  Hertz Fellows also receive lifelong professional support, including mentoring and networking with a powerful community of more than 1,200 researchers.

BAIR Climate Initiative creates partnerships to fight climate change

Berkeley Artificial Intelligence researchers are joining forces with climate experts, government agencies, and industry, as part of the new Berkeley AI Research (BAIR) Climate Initiative, a multi-disciplinary student-led hub dedicated to fighting climate change.  The effort is being led by co-founding director CS Prof. Trevor Darrel and organized by three of his graduate students, Colorado Reed (co-advised by Kurt Keutzer), who will help lead the initiative, Medhini Narasimhan, and Ritwik Gupta (co-advised by Shankar Sastry).  Their objective is to develop AI techniques that address problems with data processing, particularly involving massive data sets. To maximize the benefit to other researchers studying the same problems around the world, all work done by the initiative will be openly published and available without exclusive or proprietary licensing.  One of their first projects, “The Fate of Snow,” will be a collaboration between BAIR Climate Initiative researchers and other scientists and policy experts on the Berkeley campus, Berkeley Lab (LBNL), Meta AI (which belongs to Meta Platforms, Inc.) and the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes. The researchers plan to apply AI methods to a multitude of openly available weather and satellite data sources to estimate how much water is in the Sierra Nevada snowpack and forecast what that will mean for streadmflow in the region.

Pratul Srinivasan and Benjamin Mildenhall jointly awarded honorable mention for 2021 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award

Two of EECS Prof. Ren Ng's former graduate students, Pratul Srinivasan and Benjamin Mildenhall, jointly received an honorable mention for the 2021 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Doctoral Dissertation Award.  This award is presented annually to the "author(s) of the best doctoral dissertation(s) in computer science and engineering."  Srinivasan and Mildenhall, who both currently work at Google Research,  were recognized "for their co-invention of the Neural Radiance Field (NeRF) representation, associated algorithms and theory, and their successful application to the view synthesis problem."  Srinivasan’s dissertation, "Scene Representations for View Synthesis with Deep Learning," and Mildenhall’s dissertation, “Neural Scene Representations for View Synthesis,” addressed a long-standing open problem in computer vision and computer graphics called the "view synthesis" problem:  If you provide a computer with just a few of photographs of a scene, how can you get it to predict new images from any intermediate viewpoint?  "NeRF has already inspired a remarkable volume of follow-on research, and the associated publications have received some of the fastest rates of citation in computer graphics literature—hundreds in the first year of post-publication."