News

Tobias Boelter finds vulnerability in WhatsApp

Computer Science graduate student Tobias Boelter has found a security loophole in the popular messaging app WhatsApp that could allow encrypted messages to be read and  intercepted.  Facebook, which acquired WhatsApp in 2014, had emphasized security and end-to-end encryption as a primary selling point.  This flaw may be an inadvertent error or a deliberate backdoor.  Tobias writes "Facebook does not deny that there is a vulnerability that can be used to 'wiretap' targeted conversations by, for example, governments with access to WhatsApp’s servers. And despite WhatsApp’s recent public statements, the vulnerability cannot be avoided by verifying fingerprints or checking a checkbox in the WhatsApp settings."

The search is on for interim dean of new Division of Data Science

Although it is too early to know the candidates, interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ has announced that a member of faculty will be appointed interim dean of the new Division of Data Science at UC Berkeley.   Cathryn Carson, co-chair of the faculty advisory board, said the appointment of an interim dean is an important initial step in advancing the research and education of data science on campus.  CS Prof. David Culler said UC Berkeley has already been developing the foundations of the new field, which lies at the intersection of computer science and statistics.  Culler said the purpose of the new division is not only to distinguish the field with importance but also to integrate data science with all other divisions in the school. He added that the faculty advisory board hopes to include the division in the College of Letters and Sciences as well as the College of Engineering and that the position will give data science “a seat at the table” when deans are discussing on-campus issues.

Silvio Micali's new public ledger: ALGORAND

Alumnus Silvio Micali (CS PhD '82, CS Distinguished Alumni 2006) has published a paper called ALGORAND The Efficient and Democratic Ledger where he lays out a groundbreaking new vision of a decentralized and secure way to manage a shared ledger that provides a beautifully elegant solution to the Byzantine General’s problem.  Micali, the Ford Professor of Engineering at MIT, is the recipient of the Turing Award,  the Goedel Prize, and the RSA prize in cryptography.  His new research is profiled in an article titled "Move over Bitcoin - MIT Cryptographer Silvio Micali and his Public Ledger ALGORAND...The Future of Blockchain?

Kylan Nieh makes Forbes 30 Under 30 in enterprise technology

Alumnus Kylan Nieh (CS BA/Business BS 2014) has made the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30: Enterprise Technology list.  While still a student, Kylan started his own public speaking and leadership course at the Haas School of Business and became the youngest recipient of the Business Teacher of the Year Award in 2014.  After graduation, Kylan became the youngest Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn Students.

Imperva names Roger Sippl to board of directors

Imperva has named alumnus Roger Sippl (CS BS '77 ) to its board of directors.  Sippl is a Silicon Valley software pioneer, entrepreneur and innovator.  He founded Informix Software (now part of IBM) in 1980, when he was just 24, to develop and commercialize SQL relational database software.  He subsequently took two more companies through IPO: The Vantive Corporation, which became part of PeopleSoft/Oracle, and Visigenic Software, which was acquired by Borland.  Sippl received the CS Distinguished Alumni award in 1995.

Algorithm probes how AIs reason

Quartz  explores an algorithm devised by CS Prof. Trevor Darrell, L&S CS undergraduate student Dong Huk Park, CS grad student Lisa Anne Hendricks, and postdoc Marcus Rohrbach, along with researchers in the Max Planck Institute for Informatics,  in an article titled "We don’t understand how AI make most decisions, so now algorithms are explaining themselves." Engineers have developed deep learning systems that ‘work’ without necessarily knowing why they work or being able to show the logic behind a system’s decision.   The algorithm uses a “pointing and justification” system, to point to the data used to make a decision and justify why it was used that way.

Nicholas Weaver concludes "the Russians stole the data"

Alumnus Nicholas Weaver (CS B.A. '95/ Ph.D. '03), who now works at the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) as a security expert, was interviewed by Leandra Bernstein of ABC 33/40 for an in-depth article titled Questions remain over Russian responsibility for passing stolen DNC emails to WikiLeaks.  "All the evidence, both public and still secret, points towards the Russians having stolen the emails, while there is effectively no evidence for any competing hypothesis," Nicholas said.

Jacobs Hall receives LEED Platinum certification for sustainability

Jacobs Hall, home of the  Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation has received a Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.  LEED scores buildings on how well they meet various measures of sustainability and Platinum is the highest level of certification possible. Jacobs Hall is the first UC Berkeley facility to achieve platinum status.

Jun-Yan Zhu creates algorithms for the artistically challenged

CS graduate student Jun-Yan Zhu (adviser: Alexei Efros) is the subject of an article in California Magazine titled "Paint by Numbers: Algorithms for the Artistically Challenged."  Zhu and his team apply the tools of machine learning to computer graphics.  For example, in the team's most recent project, they developed software that lets users easily create realistic images from the crudest brushstrokes.  Their research projects have yielded potential applications from improving online searching and e-commerce to art and fashion.