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.

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).

Students create online "Coronavirus Tracker" to keep average Americans informed

CS major Jason (XiangJun) Li and a few friends have developed a website designed to provide clear, reliable, up-to-date numbers and trends on the COVID-19 outbreak "for average Americans," particularly those on mobile phones., which was launched last Tuesday, uses data released by the World Health Organization and official government websites, and provides "the simplest and most intuitive dashboard for people to quickly understand the trends and assess risks."  The site includes domestic and global numbers of patients confirmed/recovered/dead, simple graphics and tables, a headline feed, and text alerts using data that is updated every 3 hours.

Covariant-enabled robots go live

Pieter Abbeel, the co-founder, president and chief scientist of the start-up Covariant, is featured in a number of articles appearing in major publications this week.  The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine, the Verge, the MIT Technology Review, and the IEEE Spectrum all feature articles about robots trained using Covariant's AI technologies that will be deployed  to perform complex tasks in live warehouse environments in the next few years.  Covariant uses deep reinforcement learning techniques to train robots to distinguish between materials that are particularly difficult to discern through a lens, like highly reflective metallic surfaces, transparent plastics, and easily deformable surfaces like cloth and polypropylene, with an unparalleled 99% accuracy.

RISC-V grows globally as an alternative to Arm

RISC-V, a royalty-free microprocessor architecture first developed at Berkeley, is emerging as a rival to Arm, the most successful microchip architecture in the world.   The first RISC-V chip was built in 2011 as part of the open source Peer Lab Project by CS Prof. and alumnus Krste Asanović (Ph.D. '98, advisor: John Wawrzynek), CS Prof. Emeritus David Patterson, and CS alumni Andrew Waterman (M.S. 11/Ph.D. '16, advisors: David Patterson/Krste Asanović) and Yunsup Lee (M.S. '11/Ph.D. '16, advisor: Krste Asanović).  Asanović, Waterman and Lee went on to found SiFive, "the first fabless semiconductor company to build customized silicon on RISC-V."   Asanović explains that the architecture has gained momentum "not because it's 10% faster. It's because it's a new business model."  Chip designers traditionally have to find a seller to make their microprocessors, but now designers can select RISC-V and "all suppliers compete for your business.  You can add your own extensions without obtaining permission" or paying license fees.

Robot BLUE named one of 100 greatest innovations of 2019

An affordable, human-friendly robot developed by EECS Prof. Pieter Abbeel and Project Blue is among Popular Science’s “Best of What’s New” innovations for 2019.  BLUE (Berkeley robot for Learning in Unstructured Environments) uses artificial intelligence and deep reinforcement learning algorithms to adapt to and operate safely in unpredictable settings, including the common household.  The list is  Popular Science's ranking of the year’s top 100 technologies and products, which highlight feats of engineering, breakthrough software and other acclaim-worthy discoveries from the past year.  BLUE is projected to ship to consumers in the next few years,

Dawn Song named 2019 ACM Fellow

EECS Prof. and alumna Dawn Song (Ph.D. '02, advisor: Doug Tygar) has been  selected as a 2019 Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).    Song was cited "For contributions to security and privacy" and is now part of an elite group that represents less than 1% of the Association’s global membership.  As one of the world’s foremost experts in computer security and trustworthy artificial intelligence, Song founded a startup to build a new platform based on a paradigm in which people control their data and are compensated for its use by corporations. She was named to both the 2019 WIRED25 list of innovators and's list of the 100 most innovative businesswomen in 2019.   Fellows will be honored at an awards banquet in June.

Trevor Darrell joins checkout-free company Grabango

EECS Prof. Trevor Darrell has been appointed chief scientist at Grabango, a provider of checkout-free technology for brick-and-mortar stores.  Darrell is an expert in computer vision, machine learning and perception-based human computer interfaces, and leads the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (BAIR).  He helped develop Convolutional Architecture for Fast Feature Embedding (Caffe), a deep-learning framework used by computer vision researchers around the world.  Grabango announced earlier this year that it had signed four separate agreements with multibillion-dollar retail partners, presiding over a combined 29-million square feet of shopping space.

Dawn Song is building a world where data privacy exists online

CS alumna and Prof. Down Song (Ph.D. '02, advisor: Doug Tygar) is the subject of a New York Times article titled "Building a World Where Data Privacy Exists Online."  One of the world’s foremost experts in computer security and trustworthy artificial intelligence, Song founded a startup called Oasis Labs to build a new platform based a paradigm in which people control their data and are compensated for its use by corporations.  She and her colleagues believe that by marrying specialized computer chips and blockchain technology, they can build a system that provides greater scalability and privacy protection.  This year, Song made the Wired25  list top 25 innovators as well as Inc.'s second annual Female Founders 100 list as a "Money Mover."

Dawn Song and Hany Farid make WIRED25 list of innovators for 2019

CS Profs Dawn Song and Hany Farid are among Wired Magazine's list of 25 People Who Are Racing to Save Us (WIRED25 list of innovators for 2019). Song is the co-founder and CEO of Oasis Labs, a startup built around differential privacy—cryptographic techniques that allow companies to incorporate data into their algorithms without seeing the individual data points.   Song believes blockchain technology can help offer a secure home for data that doesn’t require trusting any one company with the keys to it.   Her system would enable you to copy your medical data to a location where researchers who are working to cure diseases could access it without compromising your privacy.  Farid is a pioneer of image science, having been one of the first to develop methods to detect when digital photos have been manipulated. He is now one of the leading authorities on Deepfakes: images, videos, or audio files fabricated or altered by machine learning.  Lately, Deepfakes have been used to mislead and manipulate the public during politicial elections.  “This used to be a boutique little field, but now we’re defending democracy,” says Farid.