News

Alessandro Chiesa named 2021 Sloan Research Fellow

EECS Assistant Prof. Alessandro Chiesa has been selected as a 2021 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Computer Science.  Awarded annually since 1955, the Sloan fellowships honor "the most promising scientific researchers working today...extraordinary U.S. and Canadian researchers whose creativity, innovation, and research accomplishments make them stand out as the next generation of scientific leaders."  Chiesa conducts research in the areas of complexity theory, cryptography, and security, focusing on the theoretical foundations and practical implementations of zero knowledge proofs that are short and easy to verify. He is an author of libsnark, a C++ library for zkSNARKs, which is the leading open-source library for succinct zero knowledge proofs. He is also a co-inventor of Zerocash, a new protocol that provides a privacy-preserving version of a cryptocurrency, and a co-founder of Zcash, a digital currency with strong privacy features.  Sloan Fellows receive $75,000, which may be spent over a two-year term on any expense supportive of their research.

Melody Ivory to speak at Women in Tech Symposium

EECS alumna Melody Ivory (M.S. 1996/Ph.D. 2001, advisor: Marti Hearst), the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in Computer Science at UC Berkeley, has been chosen as the keynote speaker who will close the 5th Annual Women in Tech Symposium, hosted at Berkeley on March 12, 2021.  This year's symposium has the theme "The New Era in Human-Computer Interaction, and will be sponsored by CITRIS and the Banatao Institute."  Ivory has been a Google innovation facilitator, a consumer electronics and software product manager, and is now a founder and Technologist at Thrivafy, a professional development platform focusing on Black, Indigenous, and Latinx women in tech.  The symposium will kick-off with a fireside chat between EECS Prof. and Dean of Berkeley Engineering, Tsu-Jae King Liu, and UCSC Computational Media Prof. Leila Takayama, and will close with a talk by Ivory titled, “Sustainable Disruption: Ensuring an #InclusiveHCI Future Is Not Enough.”

Shafi Goldwasser wins L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award

CS alumna and Prof. Shafi Goldwasser (Ph.D. '84, advisor: Manuel Blum) has won the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Award in the field of Computer Science. The award is one of five bestowed on International Day for Women and Girls in Science to honor five women researchers around the world who have made contributions to the fields of astrophysics, mathematics, chemistry and informatics.  Goldwasser, who is currently the Director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, was recognized "for her pioneering and fundamental work in computer science and cryptography, essential for secure communication over the internet as well as for shared computation on private data. Her research has a significant impact on our understanding of large classes of problems for which computers cannot efficiently find even approximate solutions."  The awards are part of the 23rd International Prize for Women in Science Awards.

David Patterson wins Frontiers of Knowledge Award

CS Prof. Emeritus David Patterson has won the 13th BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Information and Communication Technologies.  He shares the award with John Hennessy of Stanford University "for taking computer architecture, the discipline behind the central processor or 'brain' of every computer system, and launching it as a new scientific area."  The citation says that Patterson and Hennessy "are synonymous with the inception and formalization of this field.  Before their work, the design of computers – and in particular the measurement of computer performance – was more of an art than a science, and practitioners lacked a set of repeatable principles to conceptualize and evaluate computer designs. Patterson and Hennessy provided, for the first time, a conceptual framework that gave the field a grounded approach towards measuring a computer’s performance, energy efficiency, and complexity.”  They jointly created RISC, an architecture that underpins the design of central processors and is at the heart of virtually every data center server, desktop, laptop, smartphone, and computer embedded in an Internet of Things device.  Their landmark textbook, Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach, was first published in 1989 and is still considered “the bible” of computer architecture.  The pair won the ACM A.M. Turing Award for their achievements in 2017.  Patterson participated in a Frontiers of Knowledge Award interview video.

Rediet Abebe and Jelani Nelson to participate in U-M Africa Week

CS Prof. Jelani Nelson and Assistant Prof. Rediet Abebe will be participating on a panel about the "Role of Computing in Africa's Economic Future" at the University of Michigan Africa Week conference on Tuesday, February 16th, from 9:30 am to 10:45 (EST).  U-M Africa Week brings together "thought leaders in higher education, industry, and government for a series of discussions on the key issues and opportunities that will shape Africa in the coming decades."  Nelson is a member of the UC Berkeley Theory Group and is the founder and co-organizer of AddisCoder, a free intensive 4-week summer program which introduces Ethiopian high schoolers to programming and algorithms.  Abebe studies artificial intelligence and algorithms, with a focus on equity and justice concerns.  She is co-founder and co-organizer of the multi-institutional, interdisciplinary research initiative Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG).  The conference will run from February 15 to 19, 2021.

Gloria Tumushabe offers young Ugandan women a chance to code during the pandemic

EECS 5th Year Master's student Gloria Tumushabe is the subject of a Berkeley News article titled "COVID Stories: The chance to teach young Ugandan women to code."  A MasterCard Foundation Scholar from Uganda, Tumushabe had always wanted to teach.   When the Coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020, she realized that many Ugandan schools were closed, remote learning opportunities would be scarce, and there would be even fewer programs to motivate and empower young women to learn code in her native country.  So she created a pilot program called Afro Femm Coders, which targeted promising 19- and 20-year-olds who had finished high school but whose educational opportunities had evaporated because of the pandemic.   Overcoming challenges, like a shortage of laptops and poor Wi-Fi connectivity, and drafting other graduate students to help as tutors, she began teaching 13 young women the skills that would allow them to create computer software, apps and websites, free from the intimidation and danger that they would usually have to face.

Fung Feature: Liaowang Zou

Liaowang (Zoey) Zou, an EECS Master of Engineering (MEng) candidate with a concentration in Data Science and Systems, is the subject of a Coleman Fung Institute interview.  Zou, who grew up in China, describes how she became interested in STEM as a child, what drove her to EECS, her experience working as a consultant for a tech company after graduating from Duke, why she decided to come back to school, and her capstone project on detecting incipient disease using artificial intelligence (AI) models.

New wearable device detects intended hand gestures before they're made

A team of researchers, including EECS graduate students Ali Moin, Andy Zhou, Alisha Menon, George Alexandrov, Jonathan Ting and Yasser Khan, Profs. Ana Arias and Jan Rabaey, postdocs Abbas Rahimi and Natasha Yamamoto, visiting scholar Simone Benatti, and BWRC research engineer Fred Burghardt, have created a new flexible armband that combines wearable biosensors with artificial intelligence software to help recognize what hand gesture a person intends to make based on electrical signal patterns in the forearm.  The device, which was described in a paper published in Nature Electronics in December, can read the electrical signals at 64 different points on the forearm.  These signals are then fed into an electrical chip, which is programmed with an AI algorithm capable of associating these signal patterns in the forearm with 21 specific hand gestures, including a thumbs-up, a fist, a flat hand, holding up individual fingers and counting numbers. The device paves the way for better prosthetic control and seamless interaction with electronic devices.

Rediet Abebe and Shafi Goldwasser to speak at Women in Data Science 2021

Computer Science Assistant Prof. Rediet Abebe and Prof. and alumna Shafi Goldwasser (M.S. '81/Ph.D. '84, advisor: Manuel Blum) are slated to speak at the inaugural  24-hour virtual Women in Data Science (WiDS) conference, hosted by Stanford University on International Women's Day, March 8th.  WiDS first took shape at Stanford in 2015 as a way to inspire and educate data scientists worldwide, regardless of gender, and to support women in the field.  Abebe, who began at Berkeley this spring, is a specialist in artificial intelligence and algorithms, with a focus on equity and justice concerns.  Goldwasser, currently the Director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, is a pioneer in probabilistic encryption, interactive zero knowledge protocols, elliptic curve primality and combinatorial property testings, and hardness of approximation proofs for combinatorial problems.   Andrea Goldsmith (B.A. '86/M.S. '91/Ph.D. '94, advisor: Pravin Varaiya), the 2018 Berkeley EE Distinguished Alumna and Dean of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University, and Meredith Lee, the Berkeley CDSS Chief Technical Advisor, will also be speaking.  The WiDS Berkeley regional event will follow the WiDS Worldwide event, featuring additional speakers on March 9-10.   Register for the WiDS conference now!

Steven Cao and Stephen Tian

Steven Cao wins CRA 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award

Senior EECS student Steven Cao has won a Computing Research Association (CRA) 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award, and senior Stephen Tian was named runner-up.    The award recognizes significant contributions to computing research projects.  Cao (nominated by Prof. Dan Klein)  worked with the Berkeley Natural Language Processing group, where he developed new methods in syntactic parsing for one project, and contributed to the development and testing of new methods to provide more accurate translations between languages in another.  He also worked on developing new and provably correct blockchain protocols and on several projects related to medical imaging.  He co-authored seven papers, including first authorship on papers at three conferences.  He served as Teaching Assistant for two courses while also acting as a research mentor for the group.  Tian (nominated by Prof. Sergey Levine) demonstrated how a robotic finger with a touch sensor could perform myriad tasks using the same reinforcement learning algorithm in one project, and proposed a novel algorithm to allow a robot to achieve a variety of goals indicated as goal images in another.  He co-authored several papers at at least three conferences,  and served as a TA, while also volunteering at events for local high school students.   Ryan Lehmkuhl  (nominated by Prof. Raluca Ada Popa)a was a finalist, and Joey Hejna (nominated by Prof. Pieter Abbeel) received an honorable mention.