News

Dan Garcia in his home studio

Dan Garcia's creative video lessons keep students engaged

CS Teaching Prof. Dan Garcia is featured in NBC Bay Area for his innovative teaching style which keep his students engaged in online learning.  He has "transformed his mancave into a studio," where he films and edits his creative virtual lessons, and then uploads them for students to watch.  Known for rapping his own lyrics to songs from the musical Hamilton in giant lecture halls, Garcia has adapted to using a green screen to film and edit his one hour video lessons, incorporating a variety of voices.  His extra efforts have been lauded by students stuck in their rooms during the fall semester.

Dawn Tilbury and Feng Zhou to present keynotes at BCS 2020

EECS alumni Dawn Tilbury (EE PhD '94, advisor: Shankar Sastry) and Feng Zhou (CS PhD '07, advisor: Eric Brewer) have been selected to present keynote addresses at the Berkeley China Summit (BCS) 2020 conference, which will be held virtually on September 18-19th.  BCS is  a full-day conference that aims to connect China’s businesses and investors with the technology, engineering, and business innovation expertise on the UC Berkeley campus and across the Bay Area.  This year's theme is "Redefine & Reconnect: Technology Empowering the World," which will a focus on the impact business, technology and culture have on "innovation in the Enterprise Service, Entrepreneurship, Healthcare and Senior Care sectors."  Tilbury is currently the head of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate of Engineering.  Zhou founded Youdao, Inc. (NYSE: DAO.US), a Chinese company that provides "learning services and products" for online courses, NetEase Cloud Classroom, and Chinese University MOOC, in addition to online marketing services.

Peter Bartlett and Bin Yu to lead $10M NSF/Simons Foundation program to investigate theoretical underpinnings of deep learning

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Simons Foundation Division of Mathematics and Physical Sciences are partnering to award $10 million to fund research in the Mathematical and Scientific Foundations of Deep Learning, led by CS Prof. Peter Bartlett and EECS Prof. Bin Yu.  Both professors hold joint appointments in the Department of Statistics.  The researchers hope to gain a better theoretical understanding of deep learning, which is part of a broader family of machine learning methods based on artificial neural networks that digest large amounts of raw data inputs and train AI systems with limited human supervision. Most of the research and education activities will be hosted by the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, in the form of structured programs of varying themes.  Other participating institutions will include Stanford, MIT, UCI, UCSD, Toyota Tech in Chicago, EPFL in Switzerland, and the Hebrew University in Israel.

Brian Harvey wins NTLS Education Technology Leadership Award

CS Teaching Prof. Emeritus Brian Harvey has been awarded the National Technology Leadership Summit (NTLS) Education Technology Leadership Award, which recognizes individuals who made a significant impact on the field of educational technology over the course of a lifetime.  The award is NTLS's highest honor.  Harvey wrote the "Computer Science Logo Style" textbook trilogy in the 1980s, which uses the Logo programming language (a subdialect of Lisp which had been created for elementary school children) to teach computer science concepts to more advanced students.   He designed UCBLogo in 1992, a free, open-source programming language that is now the de facto standard for Logo, and won the Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award in 1995.  He then collaborated with award co-recipient Jens Möenig to develop the block programming language Snap!, which makes advanced computational concepts accessible to nonprogrammers.  It is used in the highly successful class "Beauty and Joy of Computing," which was developed at Berkeley to introduce more diverse audiences to CS. The class is approved for AP credit and, with support from the NSF, has been provided to more than one thousand high school CS teachers nationwide.  Harvey says “Languages in the Logo family, including Scratch and Snap!, take the position that we’re not in the business of training professional computer programmers. Our mission is to bring programming to the masses.”

Rising Stars 2020, Berkley EECS, November 9-10, 2020

EECS to host Rising Stars 2020

UC Berkeley has been selected to host the Rising Stars 2020 Academic Career Workshop for Women in EECS, which will be held virtually on November 9-10, 2020.  Born at MIT in 2013 and last hosted by Berkeley in 2014, Rising Stars is an intensive workshop for women graduate students and postdocs who are interested in pursuing academic careers in computer science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering.  It will bring together senior-level PhD students, postdocs, faculty and special guests and  for a two-day intensive virtual workshop on the faculty search process.  Female-identifying EE and CS PhD graduate students who are within ~1-2 years of graduating, as well as postdocs who have obtained a PhD no earlier than 2017, are encouraged to apply.  The application deadline is deadline is September 7, 2020.

Dick White has passed away

Prof. Richard M. White, age 90, passed away this week from complications after a fall.  Born in Colorado and educated at Harvard, White joined the EECS department in 1962 after a stint doing research at General Electric.  He was a prolific researcher, publisher and inventor, who authored or co‐authored more than 90 research papers and two books. His research on micro‐sensors and actuators making use of Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) effects, earned him the UFFC Rayleigh Ultrasonics Award in 2003.  He founded the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center (BSAC) with Richard Muller in 1986, which led the creation of the field of Micro-Electromechanical Systems (MEMS), one of the key innovations pioneered in the EECS department.  BSAC currently hosts 12 faculty and more than 100 graduate students.  White and Muller earned the James Clerk Maxwell Award for their contributions to MEMS in 2013. Full of energy and ideas, White was also a passionate instructor whose forte was introducing students to electronics (he created and taught the introductory course EE 1 for many years).  He was also one of the founders of the Graduate Group in Science and Mathematics Education (SESAME), which was later absorbed into the School of Education. Just before his death, White was actively engaged in the creation of a new sensor to detect COVID-19. He leaves behind two sons, Rollie and Brendan.

Josephine Williamson celebrated as influential leader

EECS director of operations Josephine Williamson is one of 18 unsung heroines at UC Berkeley being honored this month as part of the Berkeley 150W project.  Williamson, whom Vice Provost Tsu-Jae King Liu describes as “an exemplary builder of positive working relationships,” knows the department inside and out.  She began her relationship with EECS as an undergraduate workstudy, helping students, faculty, staff and visitors, behind the Soda Hall front desk.  After graduating and exploring some other career options, she returned to campus as the manager of budget and planning in the College of Engineering, and was hired away two years later to serve as EECS's manager of financial services.   She has been in her current position as director of operations for almost ten years, and was recognized for her leadership skills with a Chancellor's Outstanding Staff Award (COSA) in 2017, the Berkeley Chancellor's highest staff honor.  Williamson is treasured by her staff  as a compassionate and positive leader who has created a supportive, nurturing work environment that has remained strong even during difficult times.  She has taken steps to make the department more welcoming to a greater diversity of people, and has created a more open, convivial, and respectful culture for everyone.  "During my years at Cal, I learned that it is not only important to recognize our strengths, but also to seek out areas where we need to change and further develop," she says.  "It’s important to create a safe place for people to share stories, listen and reflect in order to come together as a team."

Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing receives new $35.5M grant

The Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, under the direction of CS Prof. Shafi Goldwasser, has been awarded a $35.5 million grant by the Simons Foundation to fund a second decade of groundbreaking research and innovation. The grant, which will begin in 2022, will support the institute's mission and activities for another ten years, and bring the Foundation's support of the institute upf to $100 million.  Launched in 2012, the Simons Institute quickly established itself as the global center for collaborative research in theoretical computer science and its impact on science, mathematics, engineering, and society.  "We owe so much to the original leadership team," said Goldwasser, "Richard Karp, Alistair Sinclair, Christos Papadimitriou, and Luca Trevisan — as well as the current associate director, Peter Bartlett, and senior scientist Prasad Raghavendra, and the numerous brilliant scientists who have led and participated in programs over the years. The Institute was originally created to strengthen the computing theory community, and the community continually pays  this back in the form of excellent work."

Umesh Vazirani to help lead $25 million quantum computing center

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded UC Berkeley $25 million over five years to help lead the establishment of a multi-university institute focused on advancing quantum science and engineering.  EECS Prof. Umesh Vazirani, who is co-director of the Berkeley Quantum Computation Center (BQIC) and leads the quantum computing effort at the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing (SITC), will serve as co-director of the new institute.  Other participants from EECS will include Prof. Ming Wu, Prof. Shafi Goldwasser, Prof. John Kubiatowicz, and Associate Prof. Boubacar Kanté. The center will be one of three Quantum Leap Challenge Institutes (QLCI) designed as part of the federal government's effort to accelerate the development of quantum computers, train a future workforce to build and use them, and position them to be as ubiquitous as smart phones.  The new institute for Present and Future Quantum Computation will connect Berkeley, UCLA, UCSB, USC, Caltech, UT Austin, MIT, and UW, to combine the talents of top experimental and theoretical scientists in the fields of computer science, chemistry, physics, materials science, engineering and mathematics, to solve problems and devise strategies around this currently rudimentary technology.   Attaining a better understanding of its computational capabilities will require a major increase in the number of computer scientists involved in asking and answering questions.  “Realizing the full power of quantum computation requires development of efficient schemes for correction of errors during operation of quantum machines, as well as protocols for testing and benchmarking," said Vazirani. “Translating this remarkable ability of quantum computers into actually solving a computational problem is very challenging and requires a completely new way of thinking about algorithms.”

prof. david wagner

David Wagner testifies about remote voting security before Congress

Prof. David Wagner, whose area of expertise includes computer security and the security of electronic voting, testified before Congress at a hearing of the House Administration Committee on Friday, July 15, 2020. The hearing was called to investigate options for lawmakers in Congress to vote remotely during Covid-19. Wagner explained that while it is technologically feasible for the House to conduct roll-call votes remotely, it will come with some manageable risk.  He recommended securing the vote using "a combination of people, process, and technology," including making all votes public immediately, having the House establish policies to govern the process--including contingencies for technology failures, and specifically selecting technology to support cybersecurity.