Photo of Vivek Nair, left, and photo of Dawn Song, right.

EECS researchers explore unprecedented privacy risks of VR

An article produced by the College of Computing, Data Science, and Society highlighted the increasingly frought landscape of user privacy in the emerging world of Virtual Reality (VR) devices. The article cites two papers published by faculty, students, and visitors affiliated with the Berkeley Center for Responsible, Decentralized Intelligence. Led by CS Ph.D student Vivek Nair and Professor Dawn Song, the research showed that users of such devices can be identified using just minutes of their head and hand movements. Movement data, which is collected and shared with companies and other players to fuel these worlds, can be used to infer dozens of details from age to disability status. One paper demonstrates that body movements are as singular and reliable an identifier as fingerprints, which was accepted for publication at the USENIX Security Symposium. Another found that use of headset data could accurately identify or infer more than 25 characteristics, including location, age and height, which will be published for the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium. “We've done an extensive job of proving that there is a privacy risk here and that it is a different kind of privacy risk than what we have seen on the web,” Nair said. “These kinds of approaches for how to either transform the data or control who has access to it, that's going to be our main focus moving forward." Berkeley RDI is a multi-disciplinary initiative aimed at advancing the science, technology and education of decentralization and empowering a responsible digital economy. This work is part of the center’s Metaverse security and privacy research effort.

Photo of Professor Hellerstein

Joseph Hellerstein wins SIGMOD Edgar F. Codd Innovations Award

Professor Joseph Hellerstein was awarded the 2023 SIGMOD Edgar F. Codd Innovations Award, citing innovative contributions in extensible query processing, interactive data analytics, and declarative approaches to networking and distributed computing. The award is given for innovative and highly significant contributions of enduring value to the development, understanding, or use of database systems and databases. Until 2003, this award was known as the “SIGMOD Innovations Award.” In 2004, SIGMOD, with the unanimous approval of ACM Council, decided to rename the award to honor Dr. E.F. (Ted) Codd (1923 – 2003) who invented the relational data model and was responsible for the significant development of the database field as a scientific discipline. SIGMOD, otherwise known as the the ACM Special Interest Group on Management of Data, is concerned with the principles, techniques and applications of database management systems and data management technology. Its members include software developers, academic and industrial researchers, practitioners, users, and students. SIGMOD sponsors the annual SIGMOD/PODS conference, one of the most important and selective in the field.


Alane Suhr receives honorable mention for ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award

EECS Assistant Professor Alane Suhr has received an honorable mention for the 2022 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award. Suhr’s dissertation, “Reasoning and Learning in Interactive Natural Language Systems,” was honored “for formulating and designing algorithms for continual language learning in collaborative interactions, and designing methods to reason about context-dependent language meaning.” Suhr’s research is focused on natural language processing, machine learning, and computer vision. Suhr will be joining Berkeley EECS as an assistant professor in July 2023.


Miki Lustig wins Society of Pediatric Radiology Pioneer Award

EECS Professor Michael (Miki) Lustig has won the Society for Pediatric Radiology Pioneer Award. Lustig and longtime collaborator Stanford Radiology Professor Shreyas Vasanawala were recognized “for their collaborative  work in ushering in a new era of cardiovascular & body MR innovations designed for the pediatric patient, bringing us closer to a dedicated pediatric MR scanner system.” Since 1990, the Society of Pediatric Radiology has honored certain physicians who have made special contributions to the early development of the pediatric radiology field. Lustig’s research focuses on computational MRI methods. Lustig and Vasanawala have been collaborating for over 15 years with the aim of eliminating the need for anesthesia in pediatric MRI.


UC Regents vote to establish College of Computing, Data Science, and Society

The UC Board of Regents today voted to establish UC Berkeley’s College of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS), the campus’s first new college in more than 50 years. The vote is the result of a three-year process to transform the Division of Computing, Data Science and Society into a college, which, in its new organizational structure, will be able to more effectively form new programs and partnerships, support instruction and research and foster identity and community among faculty, students and alumni. The college includes the Data Science Undergraduate Studies program, the Department of Statistics, the Berkeley Institute for Data Science, the Center for Computational Biology and the Bakar Institute of Digital Materials for the Planet. CDSS shares the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences with the College of Engineering, the Social Science Data Lab (D-Lab) with the Social Sciences division, and the Computational Precision Health program with UC San Francisco (UCSF). “We are thrilled to announce a new college at Berkeley that connects our excellent research and education in computing, data science and statistics with the many data-intensive disciplines across our campus,” said Chancellor Christ. “Infusing the power of data science across multiple disciplines, from basic and applied sciences to the arts and humanities, will help us to fully realize its potential to benefit society, help address our world’s most intractable problems, and achieve our most visionary goals. At Berkeley, we have the opportunity and responsibility to educate data science students from diverse backgrounds to become the ethical leaders we need in private industry, the public service sector, and education.”

Jelani Nelson wins ACM Eugene L. Lawler Award

CS Professor Jelani Nelson has won the ACM Eugene L. Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science and Informatics. The biannual award is given to those who have made a “significant contribution through the use of computing technology.” Nelson is cited “for founding and developing AddisCoder, a nonprofit organization which teaches programming to underserved students from all over Ethiopia.” Founded in 2011, the program began as a free intensive summer program for high school students. The program’s student body is 40% female and includes students from each of the 11 regions of Ethiopia. AddisCoder alums have matriculated into top universities, including Harvard, MIT, and Princeton, and have joined companies like Google.


Shafi Goldwasser named Fellow of the Royal Society

CS Professor Shafi Goldwasser has been elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of sciences. Goldwasser joins a cohort of eighty researchers, innovators and communicators from around the world as the newest Fellows of the Royal Society. Fellows are selected “for their substantial contributions to the advancement of science … ” Goldwasser is known for her seminal work in cryptography, for which she won the Turing Award in 2012. Foreign Members of the Royal Society join the ranks of Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Lise Meitner, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and Dorothy Hodgkin.


Stuart Russell wins ACM’s AAAI Allen Newell Award

CS Professor Stuart Russell has won the AAAI Allen Newell Award from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). The award is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of artificial intelligence. Russell was cited “for a series of foundational contributions to Artificial Intelligence, spanning a wide range of areas such as logical and probabilistic reasoning, knowledge representation, machine learning, reinforcement learning, and the ethics of AI.” His 1995 textbook with Peter Norvig, “Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach” is considered the most popular textbook on the subject. Russell received the IJCAI Award for Research Excellence in 2022, and in 2021 he was named an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. He is an ACM Fellow, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), respectively.

(Photo: Sheila Humphreys)

9th Annual Berkeley-Stanford meetup celebrates the 45th anniversary of WiCSE

The 9th Annual Berkeley-Stanford Women in EECS research meetup took place on Saturday, April 29th in the Wozniak Lounge, Soda Hall. The meetup offers all female-identifying, transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming graduate students a chance to learn about each other’s research and to network with alums from industry and academia. The daylong event featured a panel of faculty from both Berkeley and Stanford, as well as recent alums in industry. Throughout the day graduate students presented their research highlights. Stanford EE Assistant Professor Dorsa Sadigh (EECS Ph.D. ‘17), gave a keynote speech. The meetup marked the 45th anniversary of Berkeley’s Women in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (WiCSE). Professor Susan Graham, the first woman appointed to the CS faculty in 1971, shared remarks on the history and value of WiCSE. “What a wonderful group of students!" said Graham. "I was impressed with the brief research talks, and with the conversations I had."

(Photo by Adam Lau/Berkeley Engineering)

Berkeley EECS faculty to join NSF-backed AI cybersecurity institute

Five Berkeley EECS faculty members have joined the newly formed AI Institute for Agent-based Cyber Threat Intelligence and Operation (ACTION), which is backed by the National Science Foundation (NSF). NSF will invest $140 million into seven new National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes, of which ACTION is a key institute that will use AI to address risks in cybersecurity. The UC Berkeley team will be led by CS Professor Dawn Song, as well as Professors Stuart Russell, Pieter Abbeel, David Wagner, and Bin Yu. “UC Berkeley’s team aims to develop both new foundational technologies in learning and reasoning, as well as their novel applications in the cybersecurity domain, to significantly improve state-of-the-art technologies throughout the life cycle of cyber defense,” said Song.