Paul Debevec: A Name You Absolutely Need to Know in CG, VFX, Animation, and VR

Alumnus Paul Debevec (Ph.D. 1996) is the subject of a Cartoon Brew interview titled "Paul Debevec: A Name You Absolutely Need to Know in CG, VFX, Animation, and VR." Paul's insights into virtual cinematography, image-based lighting (IBL), and the crafting of photoreal virtual humans inspired several films, including The Matrix, Spider-Man 2, and Avatar, along with games and real-time rendered content.   Paul is now an adjunct research professor at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies (USC ICT) and just began as a senior staff engineer in the GoogleVR Daydream team, working at the intersection of virtual reality and real-time rendering.  The interview explores why his research has had such a major influence on computer graphics, animation, vfx, and vr.

How Bill Marczak found spyware that could control anybody's iPhone

CS graduate student Bill Marczak (adviser: Vern Paxson) is the subject of a Vanity Fair article titled "How a grad stduent found spyware that could control anybody's iPhone from anywhere in the world."  Last summer, Bill stumbled across a program that could spy on your iPhone’s contact list and messages—and even record your calls. Illuminating shadowy firms that sell spyware to corrupt governments across the globe, Bill’s story reveals the new arena of cyber-warfare.

Bill just presented his dissertation talk and will likely stay on another year as a postdoc working with Prof. Paxson.

Scott Beamer receives 2016 SPEC Kaivalya Dixit Distinguished Dissertation Award

Dr. Scott Beamer's dissertation titled "Undertanding and Improving Graph Algorithm Performance" has been selected to receive the 2016 Standard Performance Evaluation Corp (SPEC) Kaivalya Dixit Distinguished Dissertation Award.  The award recognizes outstanding doctoral dissertations in the field of computer benchmarking, performance evaluation, and experimental system analysis in general.  Papers are evaluated on scientific originality, scientific significance, practical relevance, impact, and quality of the presentation.

Among other comments, the members of the committee were impressed with Beamer's deep understanding of open-source graphs, with the quality of the implementations, with the creation of a graph benchmark suite that is already been used, that is relevant for High Performance Computing, and that is likely to have further impact in the future. The committee also remarked on the clarity and simplicity of the ideas presented in the document.

The award will be presented at the International Conference on Performance Engineering (ICPE) in April.

Expanding Data Science Education

Student Jerry Lin has penned an Op-Ed in the Daily Cal titled "UC Berkeley should expand data science education" in which he describes why he supports the creation of  a College of Computing and Data Sciences, a cross-disciplinary program between EECS and statistics.  "This college would house associated majors that currently do not have an institutional home (such as Cognitive Science) while cross-listing existing courses across various departments into a logical, intuitive map, making it easy for students to navigate the data science landscape in a truly interdisciplinary fashion."  Lin discusses the difficulty non-CS students face when trying to enroll in data science classes vital to their fields of study.  "The interdisciplinary nature of data science demands accessibility," Lin writes, and this new college could be "a vision for the 21st century."

Researchers Develop New Parallel Computing Method

CS postdoctoral fellow Jeff Regier (adviser: Michael Jordan) along with researchers from Julia Computing, Intel,  NERSC, LBNL, and JuliaLabs@MIT have developed a new parallel computing method to dramatically scale up the process of cataloging astronomical objects. This major improvement leverages 8,192 Intel Xeon processors in Berkeley Lab’s Cori supercomputer and Julia, the high-performance, open-source scientific computing language to deliver a 225x increase in the speed of astronomical image analysis.

The code used for this analysis is called Celeste.  “Astronomical surveys are the primary source of data about the Universe beyond our solar system,” said Jeff. “Through Bayesian statistics, Celeste combines what we already know about stars and galaxies from previous surveys and from physics theories, with what can be learned from new data. Its output is a highly accurate catalog of galaxies’ locations, shapes and colors. Such catalogs let astronomers test hypotheses about the origin of the Universe, as well as about the nature of dark matter and dark energy.”

More detail can be found in an article on HPC Wire "Researchers Develop New Parallel Computing Method."

RISC-V (Five) is Alive!

RISC-V, an open-source instruction set architecture created at UC Berkeley is featured in an electronic design article titled “RICS-V (Five) is Alive!” RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) was originally designed in 1982 by students with the direction of Professors David Patterson and Carlo Sequin. Since then, iterations of RISC have been developed. In 2010 Prof. Krste Asanovic, with the help of Prof. Patterson, decided to develop another version of RISC to help both academic and industrial users and RISC-V was published.

Daniel Pok and Isabel Zhang on VR@Berkeley

EECS major Daniel Pok and CS major Isabel Zhang are featured in a Berkeley News article titled “Seeing is believing”. They are the co-founders of a student organization called VR@Berkeley. The club provides students access to virtual reality equipment and training and charters project teams to explore the applications and implications of virtual reality in diverse fields through research and development. The VR (virtual reality) club started with a handful of members in early 2015 and has grown to 200 members across campus who are working on a range of projects including an augmented 3-D virus model that pops off the page of a biology textbook and the use of virtual reality to play the Campanile’s carillon.

Ken Goldberg named Chair of IEOR

Effective January 1, 2017, Prof. Ken Goldberg will serve as Chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering & Operations Research (IEOR).  Ken is a professor of IEOR, with secondary appointments in EECS, Art Practice, the School of Information and Radiation Oncology at UCSF’s Medical School. Ken is Director of CITRIS’s People and Robots Initiative and UC Berkeley’s AUTOLAB, where he and his students pursue research in geometric algorithms and machine learning for robotics and automation in surgery, manufacturing and service applications.

Ruzena Bajcsy and Mike Stonebraker are among the "7 over 70"

A companion to Tech Review’s annual 35 Innovators Under 35 list features a list of seven innovators over 70. The new list includes EECS Professor Ruzena Bajcsy and professor emeritus Michael Stonebraker.  The 7 Over 70 list acknowledges innovators who are continuing to have sustained impacts in their field well after most of their colleagues have decided to retire.

Berkeley Blue team advances to World Finals

On Saturday, November 5, Berkeley hosted the 2016 Pacific Northwest Regional Programming Contest, part of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest.  In Division I, the Berkeley Blue team, comprising Keyhan Vakil, Evan Limanto, and Ruichao Chen, took second place, behind a team from the University of British Columbia (and ahead of the top Stanford team). In Division II, the Berkeley Ursi team, comprising Michael Luo, Larry Yang, and Eric Sheng, took first place.

The Berkeley Blue team now advances to the World Finals to be held in Rapid City, South Dakota in May 2017.