News

EECS 150W: Sheila Humphreys and WiCSE

In celebration of 150 Years of Women at Berkeley, the EECS Director Emerita of Diversity (and Berkeley 150W History Project co-chair) Sheila Humphreys tells the story of  Women in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (WiCSE), the first student group at an American university created to support and increase the number of women in those fields.   WiCSE was born when the political foment of 1970s Berkeley met the burgeoning field of computer science in Evans Hall.  Humphreys charts WiCSE's path from the formation of the first women's clubs at Berkeley one hundred years before, to its 40th reunion in 2018.  WICSE has established itself as a permanent force in EECS: a powerful voice for women students, a model of peer engagement and support, and a pipeline for women into the fields of EE and CS.  Humphreys' life-long mission to diversify the global population of computer scientists and engineers is the subject of July's Notable Women of EECS profile.

Stuart Russell answers 3+ questions in wake of Turing Lecture

In May 2020, CS Prof. Stuart Russell delivered the most highly attended Turing Lecture yet,  to a virtual audience of over 700 people from around the world, on the subject of provably beneficial AI.  In a follow-up article, "Three (plus) questions with Turing Lecturer Stuart Russell," he answers some of the many questions not covered during the live Q&A.  In his talk, Russell argues that "it is useful to imbue systems with explicit uncertainty concerning the true objectives of the humans they are designed to help. This uncertainty causes machine and human behaviour to be inextricably (and game-theoretically) linked, while opening up many new avenues for research."  The top three questions address how AI should make immediate choices, how to address changing preferences as society evolves, and how AI can be controlled to minimize bias.  The ideas discussed are explored in his most recent book, "Human Compatible: AI and the Problem of Control" (Viking/Penguin, 2019).  The Turing Lectures are hosted by The Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence, and should not be confused with the Turing Talks sponsored by BCS and IET.

Tijana Zrnic wins Apple PhD fellowship in AI/ML

Graduate student Tijana Zrnic (advisors:  Moritz Hardt and Michael Jordan) has won an Apple PhD fellowship in Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML).  Scholars from invited institutions are selected for this program based on their "innovative research, record as thought leaders and collaborators in their fields, and unique commitment to take risks and push the envelope in machine learning and AI."  Zrnic, who is affiliated with BAIR, the Statistical AI Learning group, and RISELab, was selected for "Fundamentals of Machine Learning."  Winners receive financial support for their research and academic travel for two years, internship opportunities, and a two-year mentorship with an Apple researcher in their field.   Apple says these scholars are "advancing the field of machine learning and AI to push the boundaries of what’s possible, and Apple is committed to supporting the academic research community and their invaluable contributions to the world."

Barbara Simons Receives 2019 ACM Policy Award

CS alumna Barbara Simons (PhD 1981, advisor: Richard Karp) has won the 2019 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Policy Award for long-standing, high-impact leadership.  The award recognizes "an individual or small group that had a significant positive impact on the formation or execution of public policy affecting computing or the computing community."  Over several decades, Simons has advanced technology policy by founding and leading organizations, authoring influential publications, and effecting change through lobbying and public education.  She was president of ACM from 1998-2008 and the founding Chair of ACM's US Public Policy Committee (USACM, now USTPC), which was envisioned "to provide cogent advice and analysis to legislators and policymakers about a wide range of issues including cryptography, computer security, privacy, and intellectual property."  She is internationally known as an expert on voting technology and reform, and is a key player in persuading election officials to shift to paper-based voting systems.  Simons currently chairs the Board of Directors of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that advocates for legislation and regulation of elections to improve accuracy, transparency and verifiability.

Two EECS projects awarded Berkeley Changemaker Technology Innovation Grants

CS Prof. Eric Paulos and Associate Prof. Bjoern Hartmann have both won 2020 Berkeley Changemaker Technology Innovation Grants to support projects involving "transformative ideas with real applications that benefit the Berkeley campus."  Paulos's project is Lucid Learning, a suite of tools to help students in disciplines like architecture, art practice, theater, dance and performance studies, to incorporate augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) into their iterative processes of collaboration, design and feedback.  There are currently online tools that can help assess work in quantitative courses but few available for more open-ended, studio-based teamwork courses.  Hartmann's project, VRTutor, aims to both allow students to interact with an instructional 3D video pre-recorded by their professor in VR, and also allow instructors to view a live feed of students working in VR to give them guidance.  Tutorial feedback can be offered by drawing on the student's video feed on a tablet, then re-projecting the drawings into the student’s VR scene in 3D.

Two projects led by EECS faculty win funding to combat COVID-19

Projects led by CS Prof. Jennifer Listgarten and EE Prof. Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli have been awarded funding from the C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute to harness the power of AI to combat the spread of COVID-19 and other emerging diseases.  Listgarten's project will draw upon techniques such as reinforcement learning, robust uncertainty estimation and probabilistic modeling to develop new and trustworthy methods for therapeutic drug discovery for COVID-19.  Sangiovanni-Vincentelli's project will develop algorithms for AI that will help health care institutions better detect and contain emerging diseases.  These projects are two of six awarded to UC Berkeley, and among 26 projects world-wide, which will share $5.4M to accelerate AI research for COVID-19 mitigation through advances in medicine, urban planning and public policy.

Margo Seltzer, Keith Bostic and Mike Olson

BerkeleyDB wins 2020 SIGMOD Systems Award

The creators of BerkeleyDB (BDB) have won the 2020 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Management of Data (SIGMOD) Systems Award for their "seminal work in embodying simplicity, quality, and elegance in a high-performance key-value store that has impacted many systems and applications over the last 25 years."   BDB is a software library that originated as an effort to free up the user space utilities in BSD, UC Berkeley's free version of the Unix operating system.  It used revolutionarily simple function-call APIs for data access and management, which allowed developers to create custom solutions at a fraction of the usual cost.  Keith Bostic, a member of Berkeley's Computer Science Research Group (CSRG), and his wife, graduate student Margo Seltzer (Ph.D. '92, advisor: Michael Stonebraker), co-founded Sleepycat Software, Inc. to provide commercial support for BDB.  Seltzer served as CTO, Bostic as VP Eng and Product Architect, and former Berkeley student and BDB co-developer Mike Olson (who later co-founded Cloudera) was the first full-time employee and later served as CEO.  Seltzer, Bostic, and Olson are among the 16 developers cited for the award. BDB ships in every copy of Linux and BSD; drove most LDAP servers, and powered a large portion of the Web 1.0.

Monday, June 15: Celebrate the 2020 Computer Science Graduates

We invite all graduates, their families and friends, and the university community to join us remotely on Monday, June 15th, for a Celebration of the Computer Science 2020 Graduates. The online celebration is intended to acknowledge and celebrate our graduate’s accomplishments, but its format is not intended to replace a live commencement ceremony. The self-guided program will include recorded video remarks from the CS Division Chair, the Departmental Citation recipient, and faculty, as well as personalized slides for each graduate. The site will go live on June 15th and visitors will be allowed to engage with the content as they wish. This includes deciding which video greetings and slides they view at their convenience. If you have any questions regarding the postponed ceremony or the online celebration, please contact Antoine Davis (antoined@eecs.berkeley.edu).  We look forward to having you join us when the celebratory site debuts on June 15th. Congratulations to the Class of 2020! Go Bears!

Ming Lin elected to 2020 ACM SIGGRAPH Academy

EECS alumna Ming C. Lin (B.S./M.S./Ph.D. '93, advisor: John Canny) has been elected to the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH) Academy.  She is one of six scholars selected for membership this year, an honor which is reserved for individuals who have made "substantial contributions to the field."  Lin was cited "for contributions in collision detection, physics simulation, natural phenomena, crowd animation, haptics, and sound rendering."  She became an ACM Fellow in 2011 and IEEE Fellow in 2012, and is currently chair of the Computer Science department at the University Maryland.  An expert in virtual reality, computer graphics and robotics, Lin's particular focus is on multimodal interaction, physically based animations and simulations, as well as algorithmic robotics and their use in physical and virtual environments.  Her research has applications in medical simulations, cancer screening, urban computing, as well as supporting city-scale planning, human-centric computing, intelligent transportation and traffic management.

Paper by Peter Mattis to be presented at ACM SIGMOD conference

A paper co-written by EECS alumnus Peter Mattis (B.S. '97) is being presented at the 2020 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Management of Data (SIGMOD) International Conference on Management of Data this month.  The paper, titled "CockroachDB: The Resilient Geo-Distributed SQL Database," describes a cloud-native, distributed SQL database called CockroachDB, that is designed to store copies of data in multiple locations in order to deliver speedy access.  The database is being developed at Cockroach Labs, a company co-founded in 2015 by a team of former Google employees that included Mattis, who is also the current CTO, and fellow-alumnus Spencer Kimball (CS B.A. '97), currently the company CEO.  Cockroach Labs employs a number of Cal alumni including Ceilia La (CS B.A. '00) and Yahor Yuzefovich (CS B.A. '18).