News

Michael Jordan wins 2021 AMS Ulf Grenander Prize

CS Prof. Michael I. Jordan has been awarded the 2021 American Mathematical Society (AMS) Ulf Grenander Prize in Stochastic Theory and Modeling.   The prize, which was established in 2016, recognizes "exceptional theoretical and applied contributions in stochastic theory and modeling." It is awarded for "seminal work, theoretical or applied, in the areas of probabilistic modeling, statistical inference, or related computational algorithms, especially for the analysis of complex or high-dimensional systems." Jordan, who has a split appointment in Statistics, was cited for "foundational contributions to machine learning, especially unsupervised learning, probabilistic computation, and core theory for balancing statistical fidelity with computation."  He is known for his work on recurrent neural networks as a cognitive model in the 1980s, formalizing various methods for approximate interference, and popularizing Bayesian networks and the expectation-maximization algorithm in machine learning.  The prize is awarded every three years, making Jordan the second recipient of the honor.

150W: Bin Yu's "most successful failure"

EECS Prof. Bin Yu is the subject of a 150W profile by the Department of Statistics, where she holds a joint appointment. Yu found refuge from the tumult of Mao Tse Tung's Cultural Revolution in the orderly tables of a math textbook.  Although she placed first in the math section of the graduate school entrance exam, she failed to be accepted as a pupil by the professor she hoped to work with at Peking University because she was a woman.  As a result of this difficult rejection, she switched to studying probability and statistics, where a new world of new opportunities opened to her.  The profile covers Bin Yu's journey from her childhood in China to her days as a graduate student at UC Berkeley,  a career in both academia and industry on the east coast, her return to Berkeley as a professor, and her important contributions to the field of data science.  150W is the year-long celebration of 150 years of women at UC Berkeley. 

Dawn Song wins 2020 ACM SIGSAC Outstanding Innovation Award

CS Prof. and alumna Dawn Song (Ph.D. '02, advisor: Doug Tygar) has won the 2020 ACM Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control (SIGSAC) Outstanding Innovation Award.  This award recognizes "outstanding and innovative technical contributions to the field of computer and communication security that have had lasting impact in furthering or understanding the theory and/or development of commercial systems."  Song was cited "for contributions to systems and software security, in particular, dynamic taint analysis for vulnerability discovery and malware detection."  She pioneered the BitBlaze Binary Analysis Infrastructure, a unified binary program analysis platform used to provide novel solutions to computer security problems, including automatic vulnerability discovery and defense, in-depth malware analysis, and automatic extraction of security models for analysis and verification.

Natacha Crooks wins 2020 ACM SIGOPS Dennis M. Ritchie dissertation award

CS Assistant Prof. Natacha Crooks has won the 2020 ACM Special Interest Group on Operating Systems (SIGOPS) Dennis M. Ritchie dissertation award for her thesis titled "A Client-Centric Approach to Transactional Datastores."  The award, which recognizes creative research in software systems, was bestowed upon a dissertation which a colleague described as "a landmark, with deep and beautiful results in transactions and distributed consistency, and systems that exploit them."  The award committee commented that "Natacha Crooks’ thesis achieves something rare: a new conceptual framework for client-centric consistency and two efficient systems built on those insights. The document for this attractive package is accessible (in part) to undergraduates and the advanced material is very clearly written. With the enduring popularity of consistency as a research topic in distributed systems for the past several decades it is surprising that a breakthrough as large as Natacha’s took as long as it did."  The work was done at the University of Texas, Austin, advised by Lorenzo Alvisi and Simon Peter.

"Extreme MRI" chosen as ISMRM Reproducible Research pick

"Extreme MRI: Large‐scale volumetric dynamic imaging from continuous non‐gated acquisitions,” a paper by EECS alumnus Frank Ong (B.S. '13, Ph.D. '18) and his advisor, Prof. Miki Lustig, has been chosen as October's Reproducible Research pick by the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM).  The paper, in which the researchers attempt to reconstruct a large-scale dynamic image dataset while pushing reconstruction resolution to the limit, was chosen "because, in addition to sharing their code, the authors also shared a demo of their work in a Google Colab notebook."  Lustig and Ong, now a research engineer at Stanford, participated in a Q&A in which they discussed how they became interested in MRI, what makes Extreme MRI "extreme," the culture and value of open science, and why Lustig's grad school paper on compressed sensing became the most cited paper in MRM.  ISMRM is an international nonprofit association that promotes research development in the field of magnetic resonance in medicine to help facilitate continuing education in the field.

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.

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.”

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.