(Photo by Adam Lau/Berkeley Engineering)

Berkeley EECS faculty to join NSF-backed AI cybersecurity institute

Five Berkeley EECS faculty members have joined the newly formed AI Institute for Agent-based Cyber Threat Intelligence and Operation (ACTION), which is backed by the National Science Foundation (NSF). NSF will invest $140 million into seven new National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes, of which ACTION is a key institute that will use AI to address risks in cybersecurity. The UC Berkeley team will be led by CS Professor Dawn Song, as well as Professors Stuart Russell, Pieter Abbeel, David Wagner, and Bin Yu. “UC Berkeley’s team aims to develop both new foundational technologies in learning and reasoning, as well as their novel applications in the cybersecurity domain, to significantly improve state-of-the-art technologies throughout the life cycle of cyber defense,” said Song.


Gireeja Ranade and Sophia Shao win NSF CAREER Awards

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded two EECS assistant professors, Gireeja Ranade and Sophia Shao, with Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards. The awards are part of NSF's prestigious CAREER Program, which supports early-career faculty “who have the potential to serve as academic role models” and leaders in their field. Ranade received a grant of $422,181 to explore new non-linear control strategies, while Shao received a grant of $600,000 to fund her work on improving the performance of computing platforms.

William Kahan raising a glass in celebration of IEEE Standard 754
(Photo: Berkeley EECS)

IEEE Standard 754 Milestone Dedication honors William Kahan

A dedication ceremony was held to honor EECS Emeritus Professor William Kahan for his contribution to the development of IEEE Standard 754. The ceremony, which took place on Wednesday, May 3rd, included remarks from Dean Liu, Chair Tomlin, and CS Professor Jim Demmel. A new commemorative plaque was unveiled in Soda Hall, next to the IEEE plaque that celebrates Berkeley EECS’ contribution to RISC. The new plaque celebrates Kahan and others’ work in the development of IEEE Standard 754, which was originally conceived in 1978. Kahan and his colleagues revolutionized numerical computing, creating arithmetic and standard data types that improved software reliability and portability. The IEEE 754 standard is widely used for numerical computing and is still being improved today.


EECS Alumna Leslie Field featured in The New Yorker

EECS Alumna Leslie Field (Ph.D. ‘91, M.S. ‘89) was featured in The New Yorker, highlighting a novel approach to combating one of the most proximate effects of climate change: the melting of polar ice caps and mountain glaciers. In work formalized in Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, Field and her colleagues applied a thin layer of glass microspheres on top of a frozen lake and demonstrated that such materials can slow the melting of ice over the thawing season by absorbing additional solar radiation. These methods proposed by Field and promoted by her non-profit organization, Ice911, aim to address the near-term effects of climate change by delaying melting ice and therefore sea level rise, knowing “that their approach [is] not a substitute for the larger undertaking of cutting climate pollution to near-zero. … ” The article further raised probing and vexing questions about the costs, benefits, and complex moral calculus of this and other proposed large-scale geoengineering projects aimed at the climate crisis, such as whether those efforts may unfairly burden indigenous communities in the Arctic or inadvertently deprioritize other environmental concerns brought on by introducing new substances into delicate ecosystems. “Action is risky, but so is inaction; geoengineering highlights the tension between speed and safety […] meanwhile, the climate crisis will grow more urgent with every day that passes—until, one day, the melting of the cryosphere makes our questions moot.”


Berkeley EECS graduate programs lead US News Rankings

The U.S. News & World Report ranked both the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science graduate programs at Berkeley EECS among the top three graduate programs in the nation for 2023. Computer Science is ranked #1, tied with MIT and Stanford. Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering are ranked #2, tied with Stanford. The magazine based its rankings on responses from 202 engineering schools across the country, including data from fall 2022 and early 2023. This year, U.S. News included non-responders from the 220 schools surveyed, so long as they reported enough data to be eligible in 2022.


NSF-IUSE awards Narges Nourozi $4M in research grants

Two proposals led by CS Assistant Teaching Professor Narges Nourozi have won $4M in funding from the National Science Foundation Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) and Directorate for STEM Education (EDU). The proposals, “Transforming Introductory Computer Science Instruction with an AI-Driven Classroom Assistant” and “CUE-P: Establishing Servingness in Computing through Baskin Engineering Excellence Scholars Program” have been awarded approximately $2M over four years, and $1.93M over five years, respectively. The first proposal, INSIGHT, is a collaboration between North Carolina State University and UC Berkeley focusing on an AI-driven classroom assistant that holds significant transformative potential for yielding a deeper understanding of how students learn computer science with AI-driven classroom assistants and producing a set of practical instructional support principles for coding-enriched classroom interactions. The second proposal is a CUE Pathways project, wherein researchers from the Universities of California collaborate with eight California community colleges to study the effects of operationalizing servingness and transfer pathways between two- and four-year institutions to increase persistence, knowledge attainment, belongingness, graduation, and post-graduation outcomes.


Venkatesan Guruswami wins 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship

CS Professor Venkatesan Guruswami has won the 2023 Guggenheim Fellowship for his research proposal on mathematical computer science titled, “Mathematical Structure and Efficient Algorithms:  The Polymorphic Gateway.” The fellowship is awarded by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation on the basis of "prior achievement and exceptional promise." Professor Guruswami is a Chancellor’s Professor and a senior scientist at the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing. “I’m really delighted and grateful to be chosen for this Fellowship, and honored to join its distinguished roster of past recipients,” said Guruswami.

(Photo by Michael Ball)

Berkeley EECS leads strong showing at SIGCSE

Berkeley EECS led a strong showing at the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) Technical Symposium. SIGCSE, held last week in Toronto, Canada, is the premier venue for innovations in CS education and pedagogy. The event boasts attendance of over 1000 computer scientists from around the world, representing CS education research in all levels of CS teaching, including K-12, higher education and professional education. This year, EECS faculty and students contributed four papers, two posters, two workshops, and two panels, led by faculty members such as Michael Ball, Armando Fox, Dan Garcia, Peyrin Kao, Narges Norouzi, Gireeja Ranade, and Lisa Yan. Professor Ranade and her group presented their work on inclusive group formation. Dan Garcia’s presentation, “A’s for All” detailed how Berkeley EECS is pivoting toward mastery learning. Professor Fox and graduate student Victor Huang presented their use of a “climate-first lens” to train first-time TAs in CS teaching techniques. “I'm proud to be among such a high-powered group that is advancing the state of the art in the theory and practice of CS pedagogy,” said Fox.


EECS Faculty to explore implications of ChatGPT in new AI lecture series

EECS Faculty will headline a new AI lecture series to explore the “paradigm shift” that ChatGPT and other large language models (LLMs) have catalyzed. CS Professors Jitendra Malik, Stuart Russell and Michael Jordan are among the seven speakers scheduled this spring to address the sensation that is ChatGPT and other related LLMs. CS Professor Ken Goldberg, who organized the lecture series on behalf of Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research (BAIR), said, “Something changed very dramatically with the performance of ChatGPT, compared with previous large language models, and everyone, including experts, is asking, ‘What does it mean? Where do we go from here?’” The series will also feature John Schulman (Ph.D. ‘16; advisor: Pieter Abbeel), a co-founder of OpenAI and the primary architect of ChatGPT. “Everyone wants to hear from the experts,” Goldberg said. “There are so many misconceptions out there. In the series, we’ll hear from those who have been working in the field for many years who can provide valuable perspectives on the importance of ChatGPT.”


Bin Yu wins 2023 COPSS Distinguished Achievement Award and Lectureship

The Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) has selected Bin Yu, Professor of EECS and Statistics, for the 2023 Distinguished Achievement Award and Lectureship (DAAL). Formerly known as the R. A. Fisher Award and Lectureship, the DAAL recognizes meritorious achievement and scholarship in statistical science and recognizes the highly significant impact of statistical methods on scientific investigations. She will deliver the DAAL Lecture at JSM in 2023 on veridical data science. Yu’s research focuses on practice, algorithm, and theory of statistical machine learning, interpretable machine learning, and causal inference. Her group is engaged in interdisciplinary research with scientists from genomics, neuroscience, and precision medicine. She and her group have developed the predictability, computability, and stability (PCS) framework for veridical data science toward responsible, reliable, and transparent data analysis and decision-making.