News

Courtney Brousseau has passed away

Alumnus Courtney Brousseau (B.A. CS/Econ '19) has died after  being injured as a bystander in a drive-by shooting in the Mission District of San Francisco.  Brousseau was an active member of the Berkeley community while a student, serving as a CS tutor and acting as chair of the ASUC Student Union.  After graduation, he worked as a Civic Digital Fellow at Coding it Forward in Washington, D.C.,  and was hired as an Associate Product Manager at Twitter last fall.  He also founded an advocy group called Gay for Transit in an effort to improve conditions for bicyclists and make San Francisco streets safer.

Daniel Fremont wins ACM SIGBED Dissertation Award

Freshly-graduate CS Ph.D. student Daniel J. Fremont (advisor: Sanjit Seshia) has won the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Embedded Systems (SIGBED) Paul Caspi Memorial Dissertation Award for his thesis on "Algorithmic Improvisation."  The award, which was established in 2013, recognizes outstanding doctoral dissertations that significantly advance the state of the art in the science of embedded systems.  Fremont's thesis proposes a theory of algorithmic improvisation to enable the correct-by-construction synthesis of randomized systems, and explores its applications to safe autonomy.

professor ruzena bajcsy

Ruzena Bajcsy wins 2020 NCWIT Pioneer in Tech Award

EECS Prof. Ruzena Bajcsy has won the 2020 NCWIT Pioneer in Tech Award which "recognizes technical women whose lifetime contributions have significantly impacted the landscape of technological innovation, amplifying the importance of capitalizing on the diverse perspectives that girls and women can bring to the table. "   Bajcsy pioneered a new area of study within the field of robotics called Active Perception and was the first to argue that robots should be able to autonomously control the movements of their own sensors and other apparatus for interacting with their environment. She  is known for creating the  first 3D computer atlas of the human brain, which revolutionized brain surgery by allowing doctors to more accurately locate tumors.  Bajcsy also pioneered the process of elastic matching "in which computers match defined points in the human body with standardized medical images, enabling non-invasive diagnostics of the brain and other organs."  Like other winners of the award, Bajcsy serves as a role model whose legacy continues "to inspire generations of young women to pursue computing and make history in their own right."

Hany Farid is fighting back against coronavirus misinformation

CS Prof. Hany Farid is launching a major survey of people in the United States and Western Europe to determine how far COVID-19 misinformation has penetrated the population. Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk survey software, he and his research team hope to interview thousands of people in an effort to better understand how misinformation is being distributed, consumed, and spread.  Farid will work with other researchers and social media platforms to develop strategies on how to stop misinformation before it can take hold.

Enabling robots to learn from past experiences

EECS Prof. Pieter Abbeel and Assistant Prof. Sergey Levine are developing algorithms that enable robots to learn from past experiences — and even from other robots.  They use deep reinforcement learning to bring robots past a crucial threshold in demonstrating human-like intelligence: the ability to independently solve problems and master new tasks in a quicker, more efficient manner.  An article in the Berkeley Engineer delves into the innovations and advances that allow Abbeel and Levine help robots make "good" choices, generalize between tasks, improvise with objects, multi-task, and manage unexpected challenges in the world around them.

Using machine-learning to reinvent cybersecurity two ways: Song and Popa

EECS Prof. and alumna Dawn Song (Ph.D. '02, advisor: Doug Tygar) and Assistant Prof. Raluca Ada Popa are featured in the cover story for the Spring 2020 issue of the Berkeley Engineer titled "Reinventing Cybersecurity."  Faced with the challenge of protecting users' personal data while recognizing that sharing access to that data "has fueled the modern-day economy" and supports scientific research, Song has proposed a paradigm that involves "controlled use" and an open source approach utilizing a new set of principles based on game theory.  Her lab is creating a platform that applies cryptographic techniques to both machine-learning models and hardware solutions, allowing users to keep their data safe while also making it accessible.  Popa's work focuses on using machine-learning algorithms to keep data encrypted in cloud computing environments instead of just surrounding the data with firewalls.  "Sharing without showing" allows sensitive data to be made available for collaboration without decryption.  This approach is made practical by the creation of a machine-learning training system that is exponentially faster than other approaches. "So instead of training a model in three months, it takes us under three hours.”

Pieter Abbeel and Sergey Levine: teaching computers to teach themselves

EECS Prof. Pieter Abbeel and Assistant Prof. Sergey Levine both appear in a New York Times article titled "Computers Already Learn From Us. But Can They Teach Themselves?" which describes the work of scientists who "are exploring approaches that would help machines develop their own sort of common sense."  Abbeel, who runs the Berkeley Robot Learning Lab, uses reinforcement-learning systems that compete against themselves to learn faster in a method called self-play.  Levine, who runs the Robotic AI & Learning Lab, is using a form of self-supervised learning in which robots explore their environment to build a base of knowledge.

Susan Graham: the sole woman professor in Berkeley EECS for 17 years

CS Prof. Emerita Susan Graham, the first and only woman professor in the EECS department for 17 years,  is the subject of a profile in the Daily Cal in honor of the 150th anniversary of women at Berkeley.  Graham arrived in the CS department (then part of the College of Letters & Science) in 1971, became the first woman professor in the College of Engineering in 1973 when the CS department merged with the EECS department, and remained the only woman on the EECS faculty until the arrival of Avideh Zakhor in 1988.  Graham, who played a key role in the development of Berkeley Unix, is known for her work in software tools, programming language implementation, high-performance computing and software development environments.  She is the "Ace of Diamonds" in the "Notable Women in Computing" playing cards and appears in the "Notable Women in Tech" online solitaire game.

Arthur Gill has passed away

EECS Prof. Emeritus  and alumnus Arthur Gill (Ph.D. '59, advisor: Aram Thomasian) died on March 21, 2020, at the age of 90.  Gill joined the EECS faculty in 1960, just after earning his doctorate, and was one of the first professors at Berkeley to hold positions in both EE and CS before the formation of the EECS department in 1968.   His research focused on network analysis and synthesis, communication theory, system theory, and computer science.  He was an active member of the Electronics Research Laboratory for the duration of his 30 year career, and Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Affairs in the College of Engineering from 1981 to 1991.  He was the first faculty ‘supervisor’ of the Computer Science Reentry Program, an early, innovative, and successful effort to increase the number of women and minority students studying CS at Berkeley.  Gill is survived by his children, Jonathan and Leori Gill, their children and grandchildren, and his long-time partner in life and travel, Marijke Van Doorn (widow of EECS Prof. Eugene Lawler).

Students create online "Coronavirus Tracker" to keep average Americans informed

CS major Jason (XiangJun) Li and a few friends have developed a website designed to provide clear, reliable, up-to-date numbers and trends on the COVID-19 outbreak "for average Americans," particularly those on mobile phones.  LiveCoronaUpdates.org, which was launched last Tuesday, uses data released by the World Health Organization and official government websites, and provides "the simplest and most intuitive dashboard for people to quickly understand the trends and assess risks."  The site includes domestic and global numbers of patients confirmed/recovered/dead, simple graphics and tables, a headline feed, and text alerts using data that is updated every 3 hours.