News

Bhat and Phadte (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)

Students help debunk fake news surrounding Texas shooting

EECS junior Rohan Phadte and fellow student Ash Bhat launched their Chrome browser extension, Botcheck.me, on Halloween and it is already proving invaluable.   The app determines whether news posts on Twitter likely came from real people or were generated by a bot.  When an armed gunman attacked the congregants of a Texas church this weekend, all legitmate news accounts agreed that neither race nor religion appeared to play a role.  But a barrage of bots immediately started spreading rumors that the shooter had recently converted to Islam or was a member of Antifa.   According to a simple random sample of 1,500 political propaganda Twitter bots the students posted on their site, #texaschurchmassacre was the bot world’s third favorite hashtag on Monday, after #maga and #antifa.

BRETT training with VR

EECS-affiliated startup uses virtual reality to show robots how to perform

The start-up Embodied Intelligence and its founders, Prof. Pieter Abbeel and grad students Peter Chen, Rocky Duan, and Tianhao Zhang, are the focus of two news articles: one from the New York Times titled "A.I. Researchers Leave Elon Musk Lab to Begin Robotics Start-Up," and one from Berkeley News titled "Berkeley startup to train robots like puppets."  The start-up is backed by $7 million in funding from Amplify Partners and other investors and will specialize in complex algorithms that allow machines to learn new tasks on their own through extreme trial and error.  The researchers are augmenting the algorithms with a wide range of techniques, like using virtual reality tools to show a robot how to perform a task--translating the movements into digital data.  “With our advances in machine learning, we can write a piece of software once — machine learning code that enables the robot to learn — and then when the robot needs to be equipped with a new skill, we simply provide new data.” Abbeel explains.

Musa and Liu (photo: Mujahid Zaman)

Jimmy Liu and Zuhayeer Musa build the future

CS majors Jimmy Liu and Zuhayeer Musa are featured in a Berkeley News article titled "In undergrad startup class, students learn to build the future."  Liu and Musa co-founded a startup called Bash while still in high school.  When they came to Cal, they partnered with CS Prof. Scott Shenker to launch a student-run DeCal class on Berkeley's startup ecosystem last spring, called "How to Build the Future."  The course gives students direct experience with world-renowned entrepreneurs and faculty founders.

Arvind Sridhar

Arvind Sridhar awarded Davidson Fellows scholarship

Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology Program (M.E.T.) student Arvind Sridhar (CS/Business) has been awarded a $25,000 Davidson Fellows scholarship.  The award is presented annually by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development to 20 students based on “significant work” in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, literature, music and philosophy. Sridhar’s scholarship was granted based on a study he undertook at the Stanford University School of Medicine over the summer.  He sought to create algorithms and computational models that would allow doctors to diagnose the health of cardiac tissue using only images and videos of a tissue sample, and then use an injectable hydrogel, which mimics the heart’s micro-environment, to anchor and nourish stem cells to parts of the heart, allowing them to enable cardiac regeneration.

CS Prof. Scott Shenker

Scott Shenker wins 2017 Berkeley Visionary Award

CS Prof. Scott Shenker has won a  2017 Visionary Award from the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce.  The award was created to acknowledge entrepreneurs and "celebrate people with the imagination and persistence to innovate in the City of Berkeley."  Shenker co-founded Nicira,  a company focused on software-defined networking (SDN) and network virtualization, which was sold to VMware in 2012 for $1.26 billion.   The award will be presented at ceremony at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre on September 11th.

Startup institute, The House (Joshua Jordan/Daily Cal)

Berkeley ranks second in most venture capital-backed entrepreneurs in 2017

For the second year in a row, U.C. Berkeley has ranked No. 2 among the 50 undergraduate programs that produce the most venture capital-backed entrepreneurs, according to PitchBook’s 2017-18 report.  The report distinguishes undergraduate and MBA programs, compares Ivy League colleges to other universities and analyzes numbers such as companies per sector, female founders and total capital raised by founders’ companies. This year, UC Berkeley produced 1,089 entrepreneurs and 961 companies.

3rd place winners of the 2017 Greylock Hackfest

Berkeley team takes 3rd place in Greylock Hackfest

Undergraduate students Jian Lu (EECS junior), Walt Leung (CS sophomore), Jiayi Chen (CS junior), and Malhar Patel (EECS junior) placed 3rd at the Greylock Hackfest in July.  Their platform, BeAR, allows multiple users to connect to the same #AR (augmented reality) session.  The Hackfest, sponsored by Greylock Partners, allows 45 teams of up to four university students the opportunity to show what they can build to a panel of tech industry  judges.  Hacks are judged based on five different criteria: level of difficulty, aesthetics, originality, usefulness, and your project’s “WOW factor.”

Andrew Ng is one of the world's leading authorities on AI

Andrew Ng is one of 7 leaders shaping the AI revolution

CS alumnus Andrew Ng (Ph.D. '02, adviser: Michael Jordan) has been singled out by NewsCenter.io as one of 7 leaders shaping the AI revolution.  Ng founded the “Google Brain” project, which developed massive-scale deep learning algorithms.  He led the AI group at Baidu, China’s largest search engine company, which directed research into advertising, maps, take-out delivery, voice and internet searching, security, consumer finance, among others. Ng also co-founded Coursera, an online education company that has raised more than $200 million venture capital funding.  He is also currently an adjuct professor at Stanford.

Yannis Ioannidis and the Greek spin-off that will become the voice of Samsung

CS alumnus Yannis Ioannidis (Ph.D. '86) is featured in an article about Samsung's purchase of Greek text-to-speech company Innoetics for close to 50 million euros.  Ioannidis is president of the ATHENA Research & Innovation Center, which nurtured the startup and provided critical support during its evolution and the development of its technology. Innoetics' text-to-speech software learns languages by listening to native speakers, whose voices it can then mimic with great accuracy.  It is currently fluent in 19 languages. Samsung plans to use the technology across a wide range of its product ecosystem.  Ioannidis says that, as a result of the purchase, “any voice emanating from a Samsung device in the years to come will be ‘Greek,’ the product of Greek technology.”  Ioannidis is currently a professor of Informatics and Telecommunications at the University of Athens.

Vern Paxson's cybersecurity startup Corelight raises $9.2M in Series A funding

Corelight, a cybersecurity startup co-founded by CS Prof. Vern Paxson, has raised $9.2 million in Series A funding from Accel Partners, with participation from Osage University Partners and Riverbed Technology Co-founder (and former Berkeley CS professor) Dr. Steve McCanne.  Corelight provides powerful network visibility solutions for cybersecurity built on a widely-used open source framework called Bro, which was developed by Paxson while working at LBNL in 1995.   The Corelight Sensor, which enables wide-ranging real-time understanding of network traffic, is already being used by many of the world’s most capable security operations including Amazon and five other Fortune 100 companies.