News

Joseph Gonzalez wins 2018 Okawa Research Grant

CS Assistant Prof. Joey Gonzalez has won a 2018 Okawa Research Foundation Grant.  Okawa Research Grants are bestowed for "studies and analyses in the fields of information and telecommunications."  Gonzalez's research interests are at the intersection of machine learning and data systems. The award will be presented in San Francisco in the fall.

Oasis Labs ICO is raising funds for Ekiden

The Oasis Labs ICO is raising funds for Ekiden, a next generation blockchain built to address the issues of scalability and security in a low cost manner. Ekiden's decoupled architecture addresses the issues of throughput and security by combining the blockchain with an offchain EVM-scaling solution.  The Oasis Labs team, which is led by Prof. Dawn Song (the co-director of the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts), and includes post-doctoral researcher Raymond Cheng and graduate student Noah Johnson, brings a unique combination of both theoretical and applied expertise to the table--as well as experience founding successful tech start-ups.  Oasis Labs is rated in the top 5% of ICOs by Crypto Briefing.

PerfFuzz wins ISSTA18 Distinguished Paper Award

"PerfFuzz: Automatically Generating Pathological Inputs," written by graduate students Caroline Lemieux and Rohan Padhye, and Profs. Koushik Sen and Dawn Song, will receive a Distinguished Paper Award from the ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Software Testing and Analysis (ISSTA) 2018 in Amsterdam in July.  PerfFuzz is a method to automatically generate inputs for software programs via feedback-directed mutational fuzzing.  These inputs exercise pathological behavior across program locations, without any domain knowledge.   The authors found that PerfFuzz outperforms prior work by generating inputs that exercise the most-hit program branch 5x to 69x times more, and result in 1.9x to 24.7x longer total execution paths.

Raluca Ada Popa and Sanjam Garg awarded Hellman Fellowships

CS Assistant Professors Raluca Ada Popa and Sanjam Garg have been selected to receive Hellman Fellowships.  The Hellman Fellows Fund substantially supports "research of promising assistant professors who show capacity for great distinction in their research." Popa's interests include security, systems, and applied cryptography.  She has developed practical systems that protect data confidentiality by computing over encrypted data, as well as designed new encryption schemes that underlie these systems.  Garg's research interests are in cryptography and security, and more broadly in theoretical computer science.  His work on multilinear maps and obfuscation has found extensive applications in cryptography. Other recent EECS faculty recipients of this award include Thomas Courtade, Tapan Parikh, Michael Lustig, and Pieter Abbeel.

Explainable AI could reduce the impact of biased algorithms

CS Assistant Prof. Joseph Gonzalez is quoted in an article for VentureBeat titled "Explainable AI could reduce the impact of biased algorithms."   The article discusses the ways human bias could potentially be introduced into machine learning-enabled systems and how General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) might help. Collecting data from the past is a common starting point for data science projects — but historical “data is often biased in ways that we don’t want to transfer to the future,” said Gonzalez.  “It is an incredibly hard problem...but by getting very smart people thinking about this problem and trying to codify a better approach or at least state what the approach is, I think that will help make progress.”

Microsoft acquires Semantic Machines

Semantic Machines, an artificial intelligence startup co-founded by Prof. Dan Klein and staffed by a number of EECS alumni, has been acquired by Microsoft to help Cortana hold more natural dialog with users.  The team has built a number of machine learning components which work together for a smarter AI, and move beyond the more basic back-and-forth currently supported by the Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Amazon’s Alexa.

In addition to Klein, the team includes Percy Liang (Ph.D. '11), David Hall (Ph.D. '12), Adam Pauls (Ph.D. '12), David Burkett (Ph.D. '12), Jason Wolfe (Ph.D. '11 adviser: Stuart Russell), Yuchen Zhang (Ph.D. '16), Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick (B.A. '08/Ph.D. '15), Greg Durrett (Ph.D. '16), Alex Nisnevich (M.S. '14), current grad student Jacob Andreas, Charles Chen (B.A. CS/Math '11), Andrew Nguyen (B.A. CS/Linguistics '12), Chuck Wooters (Ph.D. Speech Recognition '93), and consultant Prof. Michael Jordan.

SiFive receives $50.6M in series C funding

SiFive, a fabless provider of customized semiconductors built on research by alumnus Yunsup Lee (MS '11/Ph.D. '16), alumnus Andrew Waterman (M.S. '11/Ph.D. '16), and Prof. Krste Asanović, received $50.6M in series C funding in April.  Lee is Chief Technology Officer,  Waterman is Chief Engineer, and Asanović is Chief Architect at SiFive. The funding round was co-led by Osage University Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures, Spark Capital, and Intel Capital.  SiFive's semiconductors are built on Risc-V, an instruction set architecture (ISA), which acts as the conduit between a computer's software and hardware.  The series C round is being used to commercialize additional products based on Risc-V.  The company has raised $64.1M in funding to date.

Nick Carlini embeds hidden commands to Alexa and Siri in recordings of music and spoken text

CS graduate student Nicholas Carlini  is featured in a New York Times article titled "Alexa and Siri Can Hear This Hidden Command. You Can’t." He and his advisor, David Wagner, have published a paper showing they can embed audio instructions, undectable by human beings, directly into recordings of music or spoken text. They can secretly activate the artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, making them dial phone numbers or open websites. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, wire money or buy stuff online — simply with music playing over the radio.  “We want to demonstrate that it’s possible,” he said, “and then hope that other people will say, ‘O.K. this is possible, now let’s try and fix it.’ ”  Carlini was among a group of researchers who showed in 2016 that they could hide commands in white noise played over loudspeakers and through YouTube videos to get smart devices to turn on airplane mode or open a website.

Laura Waller on the appeal of working at the intersection of two fields

EE and CS Associate Prof. Laura Waller was interviewed by Computer Vision News in advance of her keynote address to the IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging (ISBI) in April.  She describes the appeal of working at the intersection of two fields:  design of optical systems and computational algorithms.  She also talks about breakthroughs in computational imaging and industry/academia, and offers advice to conference attendees.

Scott Shenker wins 2017 ACM Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award

Prof. Scott Shenker has been named the 2017 ACM Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award recipient.   The award honors specific theoretical accomplishments that have had a significant and demonstrable effect on the practice of computing.   Shenker is honored for pioneering contributions to fair queueing in packet-switching networks, which had a major impact on modern practice in computer communication. His work was fundamental to helping the internet grow from a tool used by a small community of researchers to a staple of daily life used by billions.   Previous winners of this award include EECS Chair Prof. James Demmel and Prof. Emeritus Robert Brayton.