News

The Beauty & Joy of Computing featured in the New York Times

Dr. Daniel Garcia and his course "CS10: The Beauty and Joy of Computing" (BJC) are featured in a New York Times article about curricula designed to develop computational thinking in students.  The article, titled "Learning to Think Like a Computer," covers strategies at a number of top institutions and highlights BJC, a CS course for nonmajors which focuses on the abstract principles underpinning computing instead of just teaching students to code.  “The idea of abstraction,” Dan says, “is to hide the details.”  Concealing layers of information makes it possible to get at the intersections of things, improving aspects of a complicated system without understanding and grappling with each part.  The abstraction of computational thinking allows advances without having to redesign from scratch and offers a new language and orientation to tackle problems in many other areas of life.

Paper authored by EECS alumni receives 2017 NSDI Test-of-Time Award.

The paper “X-Trace: A Pervasive Network Tracing Framework”, authored by EECS alumi Rodrigo Fonseca (Ph.D. ’08) and George Porter (Ph.D. ’08) and Professors Randy Katz, Scott Shenker, and Ion Stoica, has received the 2017 Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI) Test-of-Time Award. X-Trace was not the first tracing framework, but it was influential given that it was effectively the first framework for end-to-end tracing to focus on generality and pervasiveness. The researchers implemented X-Trace in protocols and software systems, and in their prize-winning paper, they set out to explain three different use scenarios: domain name system (DNS) resolution; a three-tiered photo-hosting website; and a service accessed through an overlay network.

Matthias Vallentin and Vern Paxson take a “VAST” Step Forward in Cyber Security

Postdoctoral researcher Matthias Vallentin is developing VAST,  a  forensic analysis tool  designed to help prioritize the investigation of computer security breaches.  It complements Bro, a security tool  devised by Prof. Vern Paxson when he was a graduate student 22 years ago and which is now used worldwide, to instantly collect huge volumes of log data that a hack might compromise.  “Maybe the external machine also appeared in a phishing email, which contained a PDF attachment. Not only that, but the PDF also includes a malicious payload, which upon opening, sends sensitive information from the employee’s computer to a cyber criminal.  VAST supports this iterative process to reconstruct the complete picture and presents it on a platter” explains Vallentin.  The function, development, and industrial potential of these tools are discussed in a Berkeley Research article.

Dan Garcia's research group GameCrafters featured in PBS Newshour article

Prof. Dan Garcia was interviewed in a PBS Newshour article titled “This Pi Day, use math to beat your friends at classic toy games”. To celebrate Pi Day, mathematicians and physicists explored three classic toys, hula hoops, yo-yo’s and Connect Four on ways to be the most successful with each toy. To count how many possible ways a real game of Connect Four could end, Prof. Garcia’s  research group called GamesCrafters created a program to simulate all the moves. GamesCrafters “strongly solved” the game and found 4,531,985,219,092, or 4.53 trillion combinations to Connect Four are possible.

Student startup culture is in The House

A number of EECS alumni and faculty have been invited to guest lecture for a DeCal course called "Build the Future" (CS 198), designed in collaboration with startup institute The House, to get undergraduate students engaged with the Berkeley entrepreneurial ecosystem and to use their time on campus creatively.  CS majors Jimmy Liu and Zuhayeer Musa (who run a company called Bash) helped develop the course, CS Prof. Scott Shenker is the faculty advisor, and Cameron Baradar (B.S.’15 EECS) is executive director of The House.  Speakers will include CS Prof. Joe Hellerstein, EE Prof. Kurt Keutzer, co-founder of Oculus Jack McCauley (B.S.’86, EECS), and founder of inDinero Jessica Mah (B.S.’10 EECS).

Björn Hartmann is countering extremism with technology

Designing Technology to Counter Violent Extremism,” a course co-taught by CS Associate Prof. Björn Hartmann at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, is designed to develop technology-based solutions to ideologically motivated violence in the United States.  In the class, students seek to understand the roots of violent extremism and conceive of technological antidotes. “The Internet — from viral videos to hijacked hashtags to bot networks — has emerged as a key arena in which violent extremists engage with the public,” the course description reads. “But technology is also a key tool in the fight against extremism.”

Startup Trifacta gives customers an intuitive, agile new way of working with data

Trifacta, a data wrangling startup co-founded by Prof. Joe Hellerstein (also company CSO and CS alumnus--M.S. '92), is one of the companies profiled by Computer Weekly in an article titled "Silicon Valley startups aim to make big data capture and prep slicker."  Customers of Trifacta, which specializes in sorting out data and getting it into shape for analysis, includes the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, PepsiCo, Walmart, and soon Google (Cloud Dataprep). Other CS alumni on the Trifacta team include co-founder and CXO Jeffrey Heer (B.S. '01/M.S. '04/Ph.D. '08) and Vice President of Products Wei Zheng (B.A. '99).  

Anca Dragan wants more human-centered AI4ALL

At the Berkeley AI Research (BAIR) Camp this year, Assistant Prof. Anca Dragan will lead AI4ALL, a Berkeley education program designed to introduce high potential, low income high schoolers to humanistic AI.  In an article titled "The future of AI needs to have more people in it" she discusses the importance of creating AI with humans in mind and the value of diverse approaches to the field.

A new understanding of the world through grassroots Data Science education

Vani Mandava, the Director of Data Science at Microsoft Research, has written an article about the innovative course Foundations of Data Science taught by CS Assistant Teaching Prof. John DeNero and Ani Adhikari, a Teaching Professor in the Department of Statistics.  Mandava examines the motives and experiences of the students, and describes the aim of Berkeley’s Data Science Education Program (supported in part by Microsoft) to make data science an integral feature of a liberal education and a core interdisciplinary capacity available to all Berkeley undergraduates.

Anca Dragan and Yoky Matsuoka are taking charge in 2017

CS Assistant Prof. Anca Dragan and EECS alumna Yoky Matsuoka (B.S. '93) are among Interesting Engineering's "17 Awesome Women Engineers" who are revolutionizing the engineering field in 2017.  Anca is described as "one of the rising stars of the robotics scene" as the head of the InterACT Lab at UC Berkeley which specializes in human/robotics interactions, algorithms and compatible artificial intelligence systems."  Yoky is "a hot commodity among major tech companies" as the CTO of Alphabet Nest.