EECS students win four CRA outstanding undergraduate research awards

All four EECS undergraduates nominated for 2017 Computing Research Association (CRA) research awards were recognized this year.  EECS undergraduate Smitha Milli won the CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award for the female category, Jingyi Li won 2nd place nationally, receiving Runner-up in the female category, Ashvin Nair received Finalist recognition for the male category, and L&S CS undergraduate Xinyang (Young) Geng received Honorable Mention for the male category.

UC Berkeley is ranked #1 school for coding in the US

According to Business Insider, most college computer science rankings only include factors like the number of research papers published, global reputation, etc., while ignoring practical coding skills. HackerRank, a free coding practice website that allows developers to hone their coding skills by solving challenges, launched a University Rankings Competition to figure out which schools produce the best coders.  Berkeley was ranked #1 in America and #4 internationally out of over 5,000 participants from 126 schools. 

Center for Advancing Women in Technology logo

Center for Advancing Women in Technology launches Technology Pathways Initiative

Center for Advancing Women in Technology (CAWIT) in collaboration with  U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University and San José State University, through $3M in investment from Intel Corporation, KLA-Tencor Foundation, and Salesforce, will launch the Technology Pathways Initiative (TPI), to increase participation of women in CS fields through the development of new interdisciplinary CS degree programs at three pilot campuses in 2017. Prof. Tsu-Jae King Liu has been developing the Women In Technology workshop at UC Berkeley.

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NVIDIA Delivers AI Supercomputer to Berkeley

Earlier this year NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang delivered a NVIDIA DGX-1 AI supercomputer in a box to the Berkeley AI Research Lab (BAIR). BAIR’s research is at the cutting edge of multi-modal deep learning, human-compatible AI and connecting AI with other scientific disciplines and the humanities. According to Prof. Pieter Abbeel, “More compute power directly translates into more ideas being investigated, tried out, tuned to actually get them to work.”

Paul Debevec: A Name You Absolutely Need to Know in CG, VFX, Animation, and VR

Alumnus Paul Debevec (Ph.D. 1996) is the subject of a Cartoon Brew interview titled "Paul Debevec: A Name You Absolutely Need to Know in CG, VFX, Animation, and VR." Paul's insights into virtual cinematography, image-based lighting (IBL), and the crafting of photoreal virtual humans inspired several films, including The Matrix, Spider-Man 2, and Avatar, along with games and real-time rendered content.   Paul is now an adjunct research professor at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies (USC ICT) and just began as a senior staff engineer in the GoogleVR Daydream team, working at the intersection of virtual reality and real-time rendering.  The interview explores why his research has had such a major influence on computer graphics, animation, vfx, and vr.

How Bill Marczak found spyware that could control anybody's iPhone

CS graduate student Bill Marczak (adviser: Vern Paxson) is the subject of a Vanity Fair article titled "How a grad stduent found spyware that could control anybody's iPhone from anywhere in the world."  Last summer, Bill stumbled across a program that could spy on your iPhone’s contact list and messages—and even record your calls. Illuminating shadowy firms that sell spyware to corrupt governments across the globe, Bill’s story reveals the new arena of cyber-warfare.

Bill just presented his dissertation talk and will likely stay on another year as a postdoc working with Prof. Paxson.

Scott Beamer receives 2016 SPEC Kaivalya Dixit Distinguished Dissertation Award

Dr. Scott Beamer's dissertation titled "Undertanding and Improving Graph Algorithm Performance" has been selected to receive the 2016 Standard Performance Evaluation Corp (SPEC) Kaivalya Dixit Distinguished Dissertation Award.  The award recognizes outstanding doctoral dissertations in the field of computer benchmarking, performance evaluation, and experimental system analysis in general.  Papers are evaluated on scientific originality, scientific significance, practical relevance, impact, and quality of the presentation.

Among other comments, the members of the committee were impressed with Beamer's deep understanding of open-source graphs, with the quality of the implementations, with the creation of a graph benchmark suite that is already been used, that is relevant for High Performance Computing, and that is likely to have further impact in the future. The committee also remarked on the clarity and simplicity of the ideas presented in the document.

The award will be presented at the International Conference on Performance Engineering (ICPE) in April.

Expanding Data Science Education

Student Jerry Lin has penned an Op-Ed in the Daily Cal titled "UC Berkeley should expand data science education" in which he describes why he supports the creation of  a College of Computing and Data Sciences, a cross-disciplinary program between EECS and statistics.  "This college would house associated majors that currently do not have an institutional home (such as Cognitive Science) while cross-listing existing courses across various departments into a logical, intuitive map, making it easy for students to navigate the data science landscape in a truly interdisciplinary fashion."  Lin discusses the difficulty non-CS students face when trying to enroll in data science classes vital to their fields of study.  "The interdisciplinary nature of data science demands accessibility," Lin writes, and this new college could be "a vision for the 21st century."

Researchers Develop New Parallel Computing Method

CS postdoctoral fellow Jeff Regier (adviser: Michael Jordan) along with researchers from Julia Computing, Intel,  NERSC, LBNL, and JuliaLabs@MIT have developed a new parallel computing method to dramatically scale up the process of cataloging astronomical objects. This major improvement leverages 8,192 Intel Xeon processors in Berkeley Lab’s Cori supercomputer and Julia, the high-performance, open-source scientific computing language to deliver a 225x increase in the speed of astronomical image analysis.

The code used for this analysis is called Celeste.  “Astronomical surveys are the primary source of data about the Universe beyond our solar system,” said Jeff. “Through Bayesian statistics, Celeste combines what we already know about stars and galaxies from previous surveys and from physics theories, with what can be learned from new data. Its output is a highly accurate catalog of galaxies’ locations, shapes and colors. Such catalogs let astronomers test hypotheses about the origin of the Universe, as well as about the nature of dark matter and dark energy.”

More detail can be found in an article on HPC Wire "Researchers Develop New Parallel Computing Method."

RISC-V (Five) is Alive!

RISC-V, an open-source instruction set architecture created at UC Berkeley is featured in an electronic design article titled “RICS-V (Five) is Alive!” RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) was originally designed in 1982 by students with the direction of Professors David Patterson and Carlo Sequin. Since then, iterations of RISC have been developed. In 2010 Prof. Krste Asanovic, with the help of Prof. Patterson, decided to develop another version of RISC to help both academic and industrial users and RISC-V was published.