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Natacha Crooks is an assistant professor in UC Berkeley's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. (Photo/ Natacha Crooks)

Berkeley EECS team wins $5M to advance blockchain research and education

A team of UC Berkeley researchers led by Assistant Prof. Natacha Crooks has won $5M to advance blockchain research and education programs. The team, which includes CS Profs. Sanjam Garg, Dawn Song, and Shafi Goldwasser, along with members of Berkeley Haas, Berkeley Law, and Imperial College London will launch a new center that advances decentralization technology. The international, interdisciplinary center aims to help democratize access to data and ensure that data remains secure. “Decentralization technology facilitates the egalitarian exchange of data between people who don’t trust each other," said Prof. Crooks. “We have to build decentralized technology that is truly scalable, private and secure.” The funding is provided by the Algorand Foundation as part of the Algorand Centres of Excellence (ACEs) Program, which has awarded a total of $50M to 10 universities from around the world.

CS Grad Xin Lyu

Xin Lyu wins CCC 2022 Best Student Paper Award

CS graduate student Xin Lyu (advisors: Jelani Nelson and Avishay Tal) has won the Best Student Paper Award at the Computational Complexity Conference (CCC) 2022. The solo-authored paper titled “Improve Pseudorandom Generators for AC^0 Circuits” was one of two co-winners of the Best Student Paper Award at CCC, which is an annual conference on the inherent difficulty of computational problems in terms of the resources they require. Organized by the Computational Complexity Foundation, CCC is the premier specialized publication venue for research in complexity theory.

Berkeley EECS paper wins 2022 ACM SIGPLAN Distinguished Paper Award

A paper co-authored by CS Prof. Alvin Cheung has won the ACM SIGPLAN Distinguished Paper at the 43rd Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI) 2022. The paper titled, “Synthesizing Analytical SQL queries from Computation Demonstration,” introduces a tool called Sickle, a new end-user specification, programming by computation demonstration, for greater efficiency in analytical SQL queries. PLDI is the premier forum in the field of programming languages and programming systems research, covering the areas of design, implementation, theory, applications, and performance.

Sophia Shao wins the 2022 IEEE TCCA Young Computer Architect Award

Assistant Prof. Sophia Shao has won the IEEE Technical Committee on Computer Architecture (TCCA) Young Computer Architect Award, which recognizes outstanding research contributions by an individual in the field of Computer Architecture, and who received their Ph.D. within the last six years. Shao's work focuses on specialized accelerators, heterogeneous architecture, and agile VLSI design methodology. The award was presented last week at the 49th edition of the International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA '22) in New York City, New York. 

Dan Klein and Angjoo Kanazawa win 2022 Bakar Fellows Spark Awards

EECS Prof. Dan Klein and Assistant Prof. Angjoo Kanazawa have won 2022 Bakar Fellows Spark Awards.  These awards are designed to accelerate Berkeley faculty-led research "to tangible, positive societal impact through commercialization."  Bakar Fellows become part of a campus ecosystem that provides support and programs to assist them in introducing discoveries to the market.  Klein is developing a device that will allow users to communicate through computers by "silent speech"--that is, mouthing words without vocalizations. This technology, which may take the form of a headset that can track a user's facial muscles and translate it into sound, would benefit people with special needs as well as make it easier for everyone to hold private phone conversations in public.  Kanazawa plans to build 360 consumer cameras that can capture 4K video at 90 frames per second using an artificial intelligence framework and the latest volumetric neural rendering techniques.

Jelani Nelson Awarded Best Paper at SIGMOD-SIGACT-SIGAI PODS 2022

CS Prof. Jelani Nelson has won the Best Paper Award at the 2022 ACM Symposium on Principles of Database Systems (PODS) on June 13th.  The symposium is a collaboration between three ACM Special Interest Groups: Management of Data (SIGMOD), Algorithms and Computation Theory (SIGACT), and Artificial Intelligence (SIGAI).  Nelson's award is for a paper he co-wrote with Huacheng Yu titled "Optimal Bounds for Approximate Counting," in which they describe research on the asymptotic space complexity of maintaining an approximate counter as it is dynamically incremented, proving both new upper and lower bounds that for the first time match up to a constant factor, completely resolving a problem that was first studied in the late 1970s.

Christos Papadimitriou wins 2022 IEEE CS Computer Pioneer Award

CS Prof. Emeritus Christos Papadimitriou has won the 2022 IEEE Computer Society Women of ENIAC Computer Pioneer Award.  This award was created "to recognize and honor the vision of those people whose efforts resulted in the creation or expansion and continued vitality of the computer industry. The award is presented to outstanding individuals whose main contribution to the concepts and development of the computer field was made at least fifteen years earlier."  Papadimitriou was cited "for fundamental contributions to Computer Science, via the development of the theory of algorithms and complexity, and its application to the natural and social sciences."  He has written five textbooks and many articles on algorithms and complexity, and their applications to optimization, databases, control, AI, robotics, economics and game theory, the Internet, evolution, and the brain.  He has also published three novels: “Turing,” “Logicomix” and “Independence.”  Papadimitriou is currently teaching at Columbia University.

Jitendra Malik named 2023 Martin Meyerson Berkeley Faculty Research Lecturer

CS Prof. Jitendra Malik has been selected as one of two 2023 Martin Meyerson Berkeley Faculty Research Lecturers (FRL). This Lectureship is bestowed by the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate to recognize faculty “whose research has changed the shape of their discipline” and invite them “to share their innovative work with the broader campus community and the public.”  Each lecturer will present a talk on a topic of their choice in April 2023. Malik, who also holds appointments in vision science, cognitive science, and bioengineering, is known for his research in computer vision, computational modeling of biological vision, computer graphics, and machine learning.  Several well-known concepts and algorithms arose in this work, such as anisotropic diffusion, normalized cuts, high dynamic range imaging, shape contexts and R-CNN. He has won numerous awards including an IEEE CS Computer Pioneer Award in 2019.

Pravin Varaiya has died

EECS Prof. Emeritus and alumnus Pravin Varaiya (Ph.D. 1966, advisor: Lotfi Zadeh) passed away on June 10th from injuries sustained when a truck hit him as he was walking in his neighborhood on April 1.  He was 81 years old.  A Professor in the Graduate School at the time of his death, he was known for his pioneering work in sensing and controls in intelligent transportation systems, and is credited with spearheading the self-driving car revolution in the 1990s.  Pravin Pratap Varaiya was born in India in 1940 and received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Bombay in 1960.  He moved to Berkeley to attend graduate school and married Ruth Kosh, a fellow social activist, in 1963. In addition to teaching EE, he was a Professor of Economics from 1975 to 1992.  As the visionary director of the California Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH) project at Berkeley from 1994 to 1997, he led the construction of the National Automated Highway System (NAHSC) and the development of the first generation of modern self-driving cars.  These were the first autonomous vehicles tested live on California freeways.  His group also built the PeMS system, which revolutionized sensor networks for transportation, and which remains the largest sensor network for highways in the US.  PeMS enabled the California Department of Transportation and dozens of other agencies to finally see, measure, and assess traffic congestion in real-time.  He won the the IEEE Simon Ramo Medal (2022),  AACC O. Hugo Schuck Award (2020), IEEE ITS Lifetime Achievement Award (2018), IEEE Outstanding Research Award (2009), Bellman Control Heritage Award (2008), IEEE CSS Hendrik W. Bode Lecture Prize (2005), IEEE Control Systems Award (2002), and was a fellow of the IEEE and IFAC, and a member of both the AAAS and the NAE.  Varaiya was known for his calm and gentle demeanor, and his passionate and elegant approach to algorithms, control problems, games and strategies. He will be deeply missed.

Rod Bayliss and Vivek Nair win 2022 Hertz Fellowships

EECS graduate students Roderick Bayliss III (advisor: Robert Pilawa-Podgurski) and Vivek Nair (advisor: Dawn Song) have been selected to receive 2022 Hertz Fellowships.  One of the most prestigious awards of its kind, Hertz Fellowships support PhD students whose research show "the greatest potential to tackle society's most urgent problems." Bayliss is developing more efficient and power-dense types of power converters—devices that change the current, voltage or frequency of electrical energy—and inductors, which store energy, to help reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. He earned his B.S. and M.Eng. in Electrical Engineering from MIT.  Nair is developing cutting-edge cryptographic techniques to defend digital infrastructure against sophisticated cyberthreats. He was the youngest-ever recipient of a B.A. and Master's in computer science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and is the founder of Multifactor.com.  Their fellowships will fund up to five years of graduate research with "the freedom to pursue innovative ideas wherever they may lead."  Hertz Fellows also receive lifelong professional support, including mentoring and networking with a powerful community of more than 1,200 researchers.