News

Jelani Nelson wins 2022 CRA-E Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentoring Award

CS Prof. Jelani Nelson has won the 2022 Computing Research Association Education (CRA-E) Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentoring Award.  This award recognizes "individual faculty members who have provided exceptional mentorship, undergraduate research experiences and, in parallel, guidance on admission and matriculation of these students to research-focused graduate programs in computing."  Nelson was cited for exceptional mentoring of undergraduate students at a time when "interest in graduate school and research careers is relatively low" and graduate students are crucially needed for "the health of the computing research pipeline."  The award will be presented at a conference later this year.

Tuff Pupil: A Hip Hop Series about Global STEM Issues

CS Profs. John Kubiatowicz and Ken Goldberg, along with Berkeley's Director of Research IT, Ken Lutz, have collaborated with the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) and the Lawrence Berkeley Lab (LBL) to create an animated series called "Tuff Pupil" which teaches children, ages 7 to 10,  about important cyber security concepts and other global STEM issues. Familiarizing children with these topics has become even more critical since the full-scale adoption of computers for remote learning in response to the pandemic.  Tuff Pupil has so far launched three 5-minute animated video episodes featuring "high school hip hop duo" Taye and Flori (Tommy Soulati Shepherd and Kaitlin McGaw of Grammy-nominated Alphabet Rock) who rap about data privacy in catchy ways that evoke the Schoolhouse Rock shorts of the 1970s and 80s. Parents, educators, librarians and community leaders are encouraged to share these videos with children in their "homes, schools and youth organizations to support conversations about how to safely and smartly use the internet."  New episodes are planned for 2022 which will demystify everyday phenomena related to "data science, climate disruption, contagion, clean energy, and artificial intelligence."

Laura Waller, Sarah Chasins and Nilah Ioannidis named Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Investigators

CS Associate Prof. Laura Waller, and Assistant Profs. Sarah Chasins and Nilah Ioannidis, are among the newest cohort of scientists to be named Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Investigators.  The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator Program, open to faculty from Stanford, UCSF, and UC Berkeley, funds "innovative, visionary research with the goal of building and sustaining an engaged, interactive, and collaborative community of researchers that spans across disciplines and across the three campuses to help solve critical challenges in biomedicine."  Waller leads the Computational Imaging Lab, which develops new methods for optical imaging designed jointly with optics and computational algorithms; Chasins' research focuses on programming languages and program synthesis, with an emphasis on work that brings together programming systems, HCI, and data science; and Ioannidis works on computational methods for personal genome interpretation, including machine learning tools to predict the clinical significance of rare genetic variants of unknown significance and statistical methods to link genetic variation with personal complex disease risks.  Recipients  receive $1M in unrestricted gift funds over a nonrenewable 5-year term ($200,000 per year).

Dave Patterson wins 2022 NAI Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering

CS Prof. Emeritus David Patterson has won the 2022 Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering from the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).  Recognized as one of the world's preeminent awards for engineering achievement, the prize "honors an engineer whose accomplishment has significantly impacted society by improving the quality of life, providing the ability to live freely and comfortably, and/or permitting the access to information."  Patterson, and his co-recipients, John Hennessy, Stephen Furber, and Sophie Wilson, were cited "for contributions to the invention, development, and implementation of reduced instruction set computer (RISC) chips."  Patterson began the seminal Berkeley RISC project in 1980 to design a basic, neutral, freely-available set of microprocessor instructions that could be used in different types of machines and which could be optimized for different characteristics, like efficiency, physical size, and monetary cost.  When different devices are capable of running the same machine code, a better quality, higher-performance machine can replace a less expensive, lower-performance machine without having to replace software.  The open-source Berkeley RISC design was later commercialized by Sun Microsystems as the SPARC architecture, and inspired the ARM architecture used in virtually all new computer chips in the world today.  The biennial Draper prize is open to both NAE members and non-members worldwide, and comes with a $500K cash award.

Alistair Sinclair and Shafi Goldwasser win inaugural STOC Test of Time awards

CS Profs. Alistair Sinclair and Shafi Goldwasser have won inaugural Test of Time awards at the 2021 Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC), sponsored by the ACM Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computation Theory (SIGACT).  Sinclair won the 20 Year award for his paper, “A polynomial-time approximation algorithm for the permanent of a matrix with non-negative entries," which solved a problem that had been open for decades. Goldwasser won the 30 Year award for "Completeness theorems for non-cryptographic fault-tolerant distributed computation," which showed how to compute a distributed function even if up to one-third of the participants may be failing, misbehaving, or malicious.  The awards were presented at the 2021 STOC conference in June.

Shafi Goldwasser wins 2021 FOCS Test of Time Award

CS alumna and Prof. Shafi Goldwasser (Ph.D. '84, advisor: Manuel Blum) has won the 2021 Foundations of Computer Science (FOCS) Test of Time Award.  This award "recognizes papers published in past Annual IEEE Symposia on Foundations of Computer Science (FOCS) for their substantial, lasting, broad, and currently relevant impact. Papers may be awarded for their impact on Theory of Computing, or on Computer Science in general, or on other disciplines of knowledge, or on practice."  Goldwasser is among five co-authors who won the award in the 30 year category for their groundbreaking complexity theory paper "Approximating Clique is Almost NP-Complete," which used the classification of approximation problems to show that some problems in NP remain hard even when only an approximate solution is needed. 

Stuart Russell to lead new Kavli Center for Ethics, Science, and the Public

EECS Prof. Stuart Russell is slated to direct the future Kavli Center for Ethics, Science, and the Public, which aims to make ethics and social equity more central to scientific decision-making, and which will try to ensure that the public has a greater say in future scientific advances.  The new center will combine forces with a sister center at the University of Cambridge, UK, to connect scientists, ethicists, and the public, in necessary and intentional discussions about the potential impacts of scientific discoveries.  “In addition to answering fundamental questions about the ethics of science, the Kavli Center is going to create a generation of scientific leaders who have seen how other scientific disciplines grapple with ethical problems and who have real training in the philosophical analysis of these questions,” said Russell. “It’s not just about changing public policy, it’s about changing what it means to be a good scientist in every discipline that can have an impact on the public.”

Google Doodle honors Lotfi Zadeh, father of fuzzy logic

EECS Prof. Emeritus Lotfi Zadeh (1921 - 2017) is being honored with a Google Doodle feature today.  In 1964, Zadeh conceived a new mathematical concept called fuzzy logic which offered an alternative to rigid yes-no logic in an effort to mimic how people see the world.  He proposed using imprecise data to solve problems that might have ambiguous or multiple solutions by creating sets where elements have a degree of membership. Considered controversial at the time, fuzzy logic has been hugely influential in both academia and industry, contributing to, among other things, "medicine, economic modelling and consumer products such as anti-lock braking, dishwashers and elevators."   Zadeh's seminal paper, "Fuzzy Sets -- Information and Control," was submitted for publication 57 years ago today.

Michael Jordan calls for a more practical and advantageous approach to AI

CS Prof. Michael Jordan has co-written an article in Wired titled "The Turing Test Is Bad for Business" in which he argues that now that "computers are able to learn from data and...interact, infer, and intervene in real-world problems, side by side with humans," humans should not try to compete with them but "focus on how computers can use data and machine learning to create new kinds of markets, new services, and new ways of connecting humans to each other in economically rewarding ways."  Jordan wrote the article because many AI investors are focusing on technologies with the goal of exceeding human performance on specific tasks, such as natural language translation or game-playing. “From an economic point of view, the goal of exceeding human performance raises the specter of massive unemployment,” he said. “An alternative goal for AI is to discover and support new kinds of interactions among humans that increase job possibilities.”

Pravin Varaiya wins 2022 IEEE Simon Ramo Medal

EECS Prof. Emeritus and alumnus Pravin Varaiya (Ph.D. 1966, advisor: Lotfi Zadeh), who is currently a Professor in the Graduate School, has won the 2022 IEEE Simon Ramo Medal.  This major IEEE Corporate Award recognizes "exceptional achievement in systems engineering and systems science." Varaiya, who is known for his contributions to stochastic control, hybrid systems and the unification of theories of control and computation, was cited “for seminal contributions to the engineering, analysis, and design of complex energy, transportation, and communication systems.”