News

Kevin Wang tackles technology with TEALS program

Alumnus Kevin Wang (B.S. '02) is mentioned in an Observer Reporter article titled "Trinity tackles technology with TEALS program."  Wang, who went on to earn an M.Ed. in Technology, Innovation, and Education (TIE) from Harvard, created a Microsoft Philanthropies program called Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) to showcase technology's influence to students .  TEALS is a grassroots program designed to help high schools teach computer science by recruiting, training, and mentoring teams of high tech professionals who partner with classroom teachers.  It is currently being implemented at Trinity High School in Washington County, Pennsylvania.

Aviad Rubinstein wins 2017 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award

CS alumnus Aviad Rubinstein (Ph.D. ' 17, advisor: Christos Papadimitriou) is the recipient of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) 2017 Doctoral Dissertation Award for his dissertation “Hardness of Approximation Between P and NP.”  In his thesis, Rubinstein established the intractability of the approximate Nash equilibrium problem and several other important problems between P and NP-completeness—an enduring problem in theoretical computer science.  His work was featured in a Quanta Magazine article titled "In Game Theory, No Clear Path to Equilibrium" in July. After graduating, Rubinstein became a Rabin Postdoc at Harvard and will join Stanford as an Assistant Professor in the fall.

Luke Strgar thinks that Blockchain can be used to track gun sales in America

Graduating CS senior Luke Strgar thinks he might have a solution for the fraught issue of guns in America: Use blockchain to track gun sales.  Strgar thinks that Blockchain offers the perfect balance between security, anonymity and scale that could please people on all sides of the gun-control debate.  He spent two days in Washington, D.C. this month pitching the idea of a centralized, ultra-secure, online gun-sale database to legislative aides and think-tank analysts.  A database like this could be monitored by everyone and could not be abused by the government.  “The goal here is to find a solution that both parties can agree on,” Strgar said. “I am not interested in developing something for one side of the discussion, that people try to force down the throat of parties coming from the other side. One of the nice things about technology is that you can develop systems that work for people.”

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.

Tony DeRose to speak at Blk Shp STEAM event

CS alumnus Tony DeRose (Ph.D. '85), currently a senior scientist and lead researcher at Pixar, will speak at Indiana University on Saturday for a STEAM event sponsored by Blk Shp, a "loose guild" of socially conscious innovators.  DeRose works with a Young Makers Program that supports youth in "building ambitious, hand-on projects" and is also involved with “Pixar in a Box,” a collaboration with Khan Academy designed to show students how creative challenges at Pixar are addressed using concepts they are learning in classrooms.  DeRose received the ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award in 1999 and won a Scientific and Technical Academy Award for his work on surface representations in 2006.

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.

Jacque Garcia graduates a champion

Graduating CS senior Jacque Garcia, the president of Cal Boxing, is the focus of a Berkeley News article titled "Longtime fighter graduates as a champion."  Garcia, who grew up in Compton and is known for her “mental toughness, determination, dedication and positive attitude,” won the 2018 132-pound National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) championship belt, an Outstanding Boxer Award, and a Cal Boxing women's third-place team award.  She was also both a Code2040 Fellow and CircleCI software engineering intern in 2017, and worked at the Hybrid Ecologies Lab in 2016 to help Ph.D. grad student Cesar Torres develop some features of a 2.5D Computer Aided Design (CAD) tool to reduce complexity of digital modeling by using grey-scale height maps.  Garcia credits the student organization Code the Change for her decision to eventually major in Computer Science. “Graduation is going to be very emotional,” says Garcia. “I didn’t start thinking about college until I was in the eighth grade. I didn’t know if I was going to go to college, I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it. It’s going to be a surreal moment. I can’t believe it’s happening.”

Silvio Micali to speak at AiDecentralized summit

CS alumnus Silvio Micali (Ph.D. '82) will speak at the AiDecentralized summit in Toronto, Canada on May 22.  The first in a series of global summits initiated by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), it aims to bring AI practitioners together with cryptographers.  Micali, who is currently a professor at MIT, is a pioneer in cryptography, zero knowledge, pseudorandom generation, and secure protocols.  He  won  the Turing Award in 2012, the Gödel Prize in 1993, and the RSA Prize in 2004.

Kristin Stephens-Martinez is new assistant professor of practice at Duke

CS alumna Kristin Stephens-Martinez (M.S. '13/Ph.D. '17 advisors: Vern Paxson/Armando Fox) is a new Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Department of Computer Science at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.  Her research interests lie at the intersection of education and computer science, focusing on using data available in large classrooms--both local and MOOCs.  She received the Outstanding GSI (OGSI) Award from the UC Berkeley Graduate Division in 2013 and began her career at Duke in the spring  where she co-taught CompSci 101: Introduction to Computer Science.  She was profiled for a Duke Computer Science article titled "New Faculty: Kristin Stephens-Martinez Takes a 'Meaning-full' Approach to Data Science" in March.

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.