RISELab Kicks Off

The CS Division has launched RISELab (Real-time Intelligence with Secure Execution Laboratory), the latest in its series of five-year intensive research labs in computer science. RISELab’s mission is to improve how machines make intelligent decisions based on real-time input.  It is the successor of AMPLab,  a pioneering Big Data effort, which launched widely used open source projects including Apache Spark, Apache Mesos and Alluxio.  RISELab is supported by sponsors that include Amazon Web Services, Ant Financial, Capital One, Ericsson, GE Digital, Google, Huawei, Intel, IBM, Microsoft and VMWare.

Tobias Boelter finds vulnerability in WhatsApp

Computer Science graduate student Tobias Boelter has found a security loophole in the popular messaging app WhatsApp that could allow encrypted messages to be read and  intercepted.  Facebook, which acquired WhatsApp in 2014, had emphasized security and end-to-end encryption as a primary selling point.  This flaw may be an inadvertent error or a deliberate backdoor.  Tobias writes "Facebook does not deny that there is a vulnerability that can be used to 'wiretap' targeted conversations by, for example, governments with access to WhatsApp’s servers. And despite WhatsApp’s recent public statements, the vulnerability cannot be avoided by verifying fingerprints or checking a checkbox in the WhatsApp settings."

The search is on for interim dean of new Division of Data Science

Although it is too early to know the candidates, interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ has announced that a member of faculty will be appointed interim dean of the new Division of Data Science at UC Berkeley.   Cathryn Carson, co-chair of the faculty advisory board, said the appointment of an interim dean is an important initial step in advancing the research and education of data science on campus.  CS Prof. David Culler said UC Berkeley has already been developing the foundations of the new field, which lies at the intersection of computer science and statistics.  Culler said the purpose of the new division is not only to distinguish the field with importance but also to integrate data science with all other divisions in the school. He added that the faculty advisory board hopes to include the division in the College of Letters and Sciences as well as the College of Engineering and that the position will give data science “a seat at the table” when deans are discussing on-campus issues.

Silvio Micali's new public ledger: ALGORAND

Alumnus Silvio Micali (CS PhD '82, CS Distinguished Alumni 2006) has published a paper called ALGORAND The Efficient and Democratic Ledger where he lays out a groundbreaking new vision of a decentralized and secure way to manage a shared ledger that provides a beautifully elegant solution to the Byzantine General’s problem.  Micali, the Ford Professor of Engineering at MIT, is the recipient of the Turing Award,  the Goedel Prize, and the RSA prize in cryptography.  His new research is profiled in an article titled "Move over Bitcoin - MIT Cryptographer Silvio Micali and his Public Ledger ALGORAND...The Future of Blockchain?

Algorithm probes how AIs reason

Quartz  explores an algorithm devised by CS Prof. Trevor Darrell, L&S CS undergraduate student Dong Huk Park, CS grad student Lisa Anne Hendricks, and postdoc Marcus Rohrbach, along with researchers in the Max Planck Institute for Informatics,  in an article titled "We don’t understand how AI make most decisions, so now algorithms are explaining themselves." Engineers have developed deep learning systems that ‘work’ without necessarily knowing why they work or being able to show the logic behind a system’s decision.   The algorithm uses a “pointing and justification” system, to point to the data used to make a decision and justify why it was used that way.

Jun-Yan Zhu creates algorithms for the artistically challenged

CS graduate student Jun-Yan Zhu (adviser: Alexei Efros) is the subject of an article in California Magazine titled "Paint by Numbers: Algorithms for the Artistically Challenged."  Zhu and his team apply the tools of machine learning to computer graphics.  For example, in the team's most recent project, they developed software that lets users easily create realistic images from the crudest brushstrokes.  Their research projects have yielded potential applications from improving online searching and e-commerce to art and fashion.

Computational Imaging proposal accepted for collaborative research initiative

A Computational Imaging research proposal submitted by EE Associate Prof. Laura Waller, EE Associate Prof. Michael Lustig, CS Assistant Prof. Ren Ng, CS Assistant Prof. Jonathan Ragan-Kelley, and CS Associate Prof. Benjamin Rechts has been accepted as part of a set of cross-disciplinary activities planned for development by Berkeley Research.  Berkeley Research ran eight faculty forums on a wide range of topics and received 30 proposals which were reviewed by a faculty panel and discussed with the Deans.  The selected projects "hold great promise for Berkeley to be at the forefront of developing a positive vision for the future."

Berkeley AI Research Lab logo

NVIDIA Delivers AI Supercomputer to Berkeley

Earlier this year NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang delivered a NVIDIA DGX-1 AI supercomputer in a box to the Berkeley AI Research Lab (BAIR). BAIR’s research is at the cutting edge of multi-modal deep learning, human-compatible AI and connecting AI with other scientific disciplines and the humanities. According to Prof. Pieter Abbeel, “More compute power directly translates into more ideas being investigated, tried out, tuned to actually get them to work.”

Paul Debevec: A Name You Absolutely Need to Know in CG, VFX, Animation, and VR

Alumnus Paul Debevec (Ph.D. 1996) is the subject of a Cartoon Brew interview titled "Paul Debevec: A Name You Absolutely Need to Know in CG, VFX, Animation, and VR." Paul's insights into virtual cinematography, image-based lighting (IBL), and the crafting of photoreal virtual humans inspired several films, including The Matrix, Spider-Man 2, and Avatar, along with games and real-time rendered content.   Paul is now an adjunct research professor at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies (USC ICT) and just began as a senior staff engineer in the GoogleVR Daydream team, working at the intersection of virtual reality and real-time rendering.  The interview explores why his research has had such a major influence on computer graphics, animation, vfx, and vr.