News

Berkeley computer theorists show path to verifying that quantum beats classical

UC Berkeley computer theorists led by CS Prof. Umesh Vazirani,  published a proof of random circuit sampling (RCS) as a verification method to prove quantum supremacy in a paper published Monday, Oct. 29, in the journal Nature Physics.  Quantum supremacy is the term that describes a quantum computer’s ability to solve a computational task that would be prohibitively difficult for any classical algorithm.  “Besides being a milestone on the way to useful quantum computers, quantum supremacy is a new kind of physics experiment to test quantum mechanics in a new regime. The basic question that must be answered for any such experiment is how confident can we be that the observed behavior is truly quantum and could not have been replicated by classical means. That is what our results address,” said Vazirani.

IP paper wins 2018 ACM SenSys Test of Time Award

A paper written by CS Prof. David Culler and alumnus Jonathan Hui (M.S. '05/Ph.D. '08) in 2008 titled "IP is Dead, Long Live IP for Wireless Sensor Networks" has won the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems (SenSys) 2018 Test of Time Award.  The paper dispelled the notion that IP cannot run on wireless embedded sensors and made a long term impact  on standards like 6LoWPAN and platforms like Thread.  The award recognizes papers that are at least 10 years old and have had long lasting impact on networked embedded sensing system science and engineering.  Culler previously won this award in both 2014 and 2015.

"Graphical Lasso and Thresholding" wins 2018 Data Mining Best Paper Award

A paper titled “Graphical Lasso and Thresholding: Equivalence and Closed-form Solutions” by IEOR PhD candidate Salar Fattahi and EE Assistant Prof. Somayeh Sojoudi has won the 2018 Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) Data Mining (DM) Best Paper Award.   The paper compares the computationally-heavy Graphical Lasso (GL) technique, a popular method for learning the structure of an undirected graphical model, with a numerically-cheap heuristic method that is based on simply thresholding the sample covariance matrix.  By analyzing the properties of this conic optimization problem, the paper shows that its true complexity is indeed linear (both in time and in memory) for sparse graphical models and solves instance as large as 80,000×80,000 (more than 3.2 billion variables) in less than 30 minutes on a standard laptop computer, while other state-of-the-art methods do not converge within 4 hours.  The award recognizes excellence among DM members, particularly its student members, and was announced at the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, on November 5th.

Machine Learning to Help Optimize Traffic and Reduce Pollution

CS Prof. Alexandre Bayen, the director of the Institute of Transportation Studies,  is leading a traffic-smoothing project dubbed CIRCLES (Congestion Impact Reduction via CAV-in-the-loop Lagrangian Energy Smoothing) that applies deep reinforcement learning to self-driving cars to smooth traffic, reduce fuel consumption, and improve air quality.  The potential for cities is enormous,” said Bayen. “Experiments have shown that the energy savings with just a small percentage of vehicles on the road being autonomous can be huge. And we can improve it even further with our algorithms.”

Stuart Russell named Honorary Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford

Prof. Stuart Russell has been elected as an Honorary Fellow of Wadham College at Oxford University, his alma mater.  Warden of Wadham College, Ken Macdonald QC praised Russell for his scholarship in the field of Artificial Intelligence, his work with the United Nations and with former US President, Barack Obama.  Russell has devoted his career to the study of AI, including such topics as the interaction of knowledge and machine learning, the unification of logic and probability, and metareasoning (reasoning about reasoning).   Other Wadham Fellows include the late Jeremy Knowles, chemist and former Dean of Arts and Sciences at Harvard, and Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Anglican communion.

Berkeley’s SkyDeck Offers Chip Design Support Worth Millions to Startups

Chip Track, the microchip design innovation segment of Berkeley startup accelerator SkyDeck, is profiled in an Xconomy article titled "Berkeley’s SkyDeck Offers Chip Design Support Worth Millions to Startups."  Unlike software developers, chip inventors need cash up front to produce prototypes to show how they run.  “We’re talking about many millions of dollars,” says SkyDeck's Chong Tang. “Very few investors are willing to give you many millions of dollars just to hit run.”  SkyDeck has enlisted two companies that will give its chip startups access to an array of services that would ordinarily cost customers as much as $2 million.  Advisors to Chip Track's startups include CS Profs. Krste Asanović and David Patterson (emeritus).

EECS grad students, faculty, and alumni to participate in 2018 Rising Stars

CS graduate students Sarah Chasins (advisor: Ras Bodik), Orianna DeMasi (BIDS), Sandy Huang (advisors: Anca Dragan/Pieter Abbeel), and postdoc Angjoo Kanazawa (advisors: Jitendra Malik/Alyosha Efros/Trevor Darrell) will be participating in the Rising Stars career-building workshop for women in EECS, which will be held from Oct. 28-30, 2018 at MIT in Cambridge, Massachussetts.    Chasin's topic is “Helena: A Web Automation Language for End Users,” DeMasi's is " Developing a Dialog System to Augment SMS Helpline Counselor Training,” Huang's is “Enabling Robot Transparency with Informative Actions,” and Kanazawa's is “Perceiving Deformable Shapes: Humans, Animals, and Birds.”  Speakers include EECS Profs. Laura Waller and Katherine Yelick, as well as postdoc Farnaz Niroui and alumnus Anantha Chandrakasan (B.S. '89/M.S. '90/Ph.D. '94).

prof. david wagner

Data is "the coin of the realm"

Prof. David Wagner is at the center of an article in the San Francisco Chronicle titled "Data science, the ‘new Latin’ for students, in demand in Silicon Valley."  Data science is one of the fastest-growing fields of study at Berkeley, but the field is in such demand that jobs far outstrip the supply of graduates in the Bay Area.  “Data science is the new Latin for university students,” said Wagner.  At one time, to be a college-educated person, “you had to learn Latin because that was the language of scholarly study,” Wagner said. “Now, data is the coin of the realm.”

Dawn Song leads team to develop trusted AI

CS Prof. Dawn Song and her team are part of the new Center for Trustworthy Machine Learning funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF center, led by Pennsylvania State University and announced today, will focus on developing secure systems in the era of machine learning models. The center will receive $10 million over five years.

Randy Katz reflects on Berkeley's Nobelists

EE Prof. Randy Katz, the current U.C. Berkeley Vice Chancellor for Research, reflects on how the use-inspired research of Berkeley Nobel Prize winners exemplifies the importance of that approach to scientific inquiry.   He illustrates the strength of use-inspired research by comparing it to basic (curiosity-driven) and applied (goal-driven) research, defining it as the "search for fundamental knowledge" with selected "questions and methods based on their relevance to real-world issues."  "One of our great aims is to bring together a broad set of the world’s brightest minds to work on the pressing problems of the day," he says.