News

Beauty and Joy of Computing curriculum receives grant from InfoSys

The Beauty and Joy of Computing, an introductory computer science curriculum taught by Prof. Dan Garcia has received a $311,975 grant from InfoSys for a Professional Development week “BJCpalooza” for teachers to be held July 17-21, 2017 at UC Berkeley. Approximately 200 high school teachers from across the United States will be attending. Prof. Garcia will also be giving the keynote talk at the 2017 ACM TURC (SIGCSE) China, a new leading international forum at the intersection of computer science and the learning sciences, seeking to improve practice and theories of CS education.

Meet Ray, the Real-Time Machine-Learning Replacement for Spark

CS Prof. Michael Jordan, graduate students Philipp Moritz and Robert Nishihara, and research in the RISELab are featured in a Datanami article titled "Meet Ray, the Real-Time Machine-Learning Replacement for Spark."  Ray is one of the first technologies to emerge from RISELab, the successor to AMPLab and its host of influential distributed technologies including Spark, Mesos, and Tachyon. Ray is a new distributed framework designed to enable Python-based machine learning and deep learning workloads to execute in real-time with MPI-like power and granularity. This framework is ostensibly a replacement for Spark, which is seen as too slow for some real-world AI applications.

The Beauty & Joy of Computing featured in the New York Times

Dr. Daniel Garcia and his course "CS10: The Beauty and Joy of Computing" (BJC) are featured in a New York Times article about curricula designed to develop computational thinking in students.  The article, titled "Learning to Think Like a Computer," covers strategies at a number of top institutions and highlights BJC, a CS course for nonmajors which focuses on the abstract principles underpinning computing instead of just teaching students to code.  “The idea of abstraction,” Dan says, “is to hide the details.”  Concealing layers of information makes it possible to get at the intersections of things, improving aspects of a complicated system without understanding and grappling with each part.  The abstraction of computational thinking allows advances without having to redesign from scratch and offers a new language and orientation to tackle problems in many other areas of life.

Paper authored by EECS alumni receives 2017 NSDI Test-of-Time Award.

The paper “X-Trace: A Pervasive Network Tracing Framework”, authored by EECS alumi Rodrigo Fonseca (Ph.D. ’08) and George Porter (Ph.D. ’08) and Professors Randy Katz, Scott Shenker, and Ion Stoica, has received the 2017 Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI) Test-of-Time Award. X-Trace was not the first tracing framework, but it was influential given that it was effectively the first framework for end-to-end tracing to focus on generality and pervasiveness. The researchers implemented X-Trace in protocols and software systems, and in their prize-winning paper, they set out to explain three different use scenarios: domain name system (DNS) resolution; a three-tiered photo-hosting website; and a service accessed through an overlay network.

Matthias Vallentin and Vern Paxson take a “VAST” Step Forward in Cyber Security

Postdoctoral researcher Matthias Vallentin is developing VAST,  a  forensic analysis tool  designed to help prioritize the investigation of computer security breaches.  It complements Bro, a security tool  devised by Prof. Vern Paxson when he was a graduate student 22 years ago and which is now used worldwide, to instantly collect huge volumes of log data that a hack might compromise.  “Maybe the external machine also appeared in a phishing email, which contained a PDF attachment. Not only that, but the PDF also includes a malicious payload, which upon opening, sends sensitive information from the employee’s computer to a cyber criminal.  VAST supports this iterative process to reconstruct the complete picture and presents it on a platter” explains Vallentin.  The function, development, and industrial potential of these tools are discussed in a Berkeley Research article.

Dan Garcia's research group GameCrafters featured in PBS Newshour article

Prof. Dan Garcia was interviewed in a PBS Newshour article titled “This Pi Day, use math to beat your friends at classic toy games”. To celebrate Pi Day, mathematicians and physicists explored three classic toys, hula hoops, yo-yo’s and Connect Four on ways to be the most successful with each toy. To count how many possible ways a real game of Connect Four could end, Prof. Garcia’s  research group called GamesCrafters created a program to simulate all the moves. GamesCrafters “strongly solved” the game and found 4,531,985,219,092, or 4.53 trillion combinations to Connect Four are possible.

Student startup culture is in The House

A number of EECS alumni and faculty have been invited to guest lecture for a DeCal course called "Build the Future" (CS 198), designed in collaboration with startup institute The House, to get undergraduate students engaged with the Berkeley entrepreneurial ecosystem and to use their time on campus creatively.  CS majors Jimmy Liu and Zuhayeer Musa (who run a company called Bash) helped develop the course, CS Prof. Scott Shenker is the faculty advisor, and Cameron Baradar (B.S.’15 EECS) is executive director of The House.  Speakers will include CS Prof. Joe Hellerstein, EE Prof. Kurt Keutzer, co-founder of Oculus Jack McCauley (B.S.’86, EECS), and founder of inDinero Jessica Mah (B.S.’10 EECS).

Björn Hartmann is countering extremism with technology

Designing Technology to Counter Violent Extremism,” a course co-taught by CS Associate Prof. Björn Hartmann at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, is designed to develop technology-based solutions to ideologically motivated violence in the United States.  In the class, students seek to understand the roots of violent extremism and conceive of technological antidotes. “The Internet — from viral videos to hijacked hashtags to bot networks — has emerged as a key arena in which violent extremists engage with the public,” the course description reads. “But technology is also a key tool in the fight against extremism.”

Startup Trifacta gives customers an intuitive, agile new way of working with data

Trifacta, a data wrangling startup co-founded by Prof. Joe Hellerstein (also company CSO and CS alumnus--M.S. '92), is one of the companies profiled by Computer Weekly in an article titled "Silicon Valley startups aim to make big data capture and prep slicker."  Customers of Trifacta, which specializes in sorting out data and getting it into shape for analysis, includes the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, PepsiCo, Walmart, and soon Google (Cloud Dataprep). Other CS alumni on the Trifacta team include co-founder and CXO Jeffrey Heer (B.S. '01/M.S. '04/Ph.D. '08) and Vice President of Products Wei Zheng (B.A. '99).  

Anca Dragan wants more human-centered AI4ALL

At the Berkeley AI Research (BAIR) Camp this year, Assistant Prof. Anca Dragan will lead AI4ALL, a Berkeley education program designed to introduce high potential, low income high schoolers to humanistic AI.  In an article titled "The future of AI needs to have more people in it" she discusses the importance of creating AI with humans in mind and the value of diverse approaches to the field.