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Highlights

Triton 5K 2015

Over 140 CSE alumni, students, staff and faculty registered to run as part of Team Race Condition. As a result, the department took home the prize for the largest turnout and donation at the 2015 Chancellor’s 5K run in early June. Read more…  

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2015 Student Awards

CSE Chair Rajesh Gupta and Profs. Christine Alvarado and Sorin Lerner with graduate and undergraduate student recipients of the inaugural awards given by the department for graduating students.. Read more…

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Dissertation Medal

CSE alumna Sarah Meiklejohn (PhD '14) was singled out for her dissertation, "Flexible Models for Secure Systems", as the recipient of the 2015 Chancellor's Dissertation Medal. Meiklejohn is now a professor at University College London. Read more…

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Research Expo 2015

At the Jacobs School of Engineering’s Research Expo 2015, more than 25 CSE graduate students showcased their research during the poster session visited by hundreds of campus, industry and community members. Read more…

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Best Poster

Graduating M.S. student Narendran Thangarajan won the award for best Computer Science and Engineering poster at Research Expo 2015. He analyzed social media to characterize HIV at-risk populations in San Diego. Read more…  

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Computer Graphics on EdX

After announcing the launch of the Center for Visual Computing, the Center's director, CSE Prof. Ravi Ramamoorthi, announced that in August 2015 he will launch an online course on computer graphics over the edX online platform. Read more…

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$2 Million Alumni Gift

CSE alumnus Taner Halicioglu, an early employee at Facebook, is donating $2 million to the CSE department to recruit, retain and support the professors and lecturers whose primary mission is to teach and mentor students. Read more…

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Big Pixel Hackathon

Seventeen CSE students, most of them graduate students, participated in the first Bix Pixel Hackathon organized by the Qualcomm Institute to demonstrate how data science can be harnessed to tackle public policy issues. Read more...

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Paul Kube Tribute

CSE honored retiring lecturer Paul Kube with a tribute and the subsequent announcement that CSE is creating the Paul R. Kube Chair of Computer Science to be awarded to a teaching professor, the first chair of its kind in the department. Read more...

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Integrated Digital Infrastructure

CSE Prof. Larry Smarr leads a two-year initiative to deploy an Integrated Digital Infrastructure for the UC San Diego campus, including grants to apply advanced IT services to support disciplines that increasingly depend on digital data. Read more...

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Query Language for Big Data

CSE Prof. Yannis Papakonstantinou and Couchbase Inc., are collaborating on a next-generation query language for big data based on the UCSD-developed SQL++, which brings together the full power of SQL with the flexibility of JSON. Read more...

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Honoring Academic Integrity

At 5th annual Academic Integrity Awards, CSE lecturer Gary Gillespie (center, with Leo Porter and Rick Ord) accepted the faculty award in Apri. Then in May, he received the Outstanding Professor Award from the Panhellenic Association. Read more...

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Non-Volatile Memories

In March 2015, CSE Prof. Steven Swanson talks to 220 attendees at the 6th annual Non-Volatile Memories Workshop which he co-organized, and which he said was "moving onto deeper, more Interesting and more challenging problems." Read more...

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Frontiers of Innovation

At least five CSE graduate students and a similar number of undergraduates were selected to receive inaugural Frontiers of Innovation Scholarship Program (FISP) awards initiated for 2015-'16 by UC San Diego. Read more...

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Not-So-Safe Scanners

A team including CSE Prof. Hovav Shacham (right) and Ph.D. student Keaton Mowery released findings of a study pointing to serious flaws in the security of backscatter X-ray scanners used at many airports. Read more...

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Stereo Vision for Underwater Archaeology

As co-director of Engineers for Exploration, Prof. Ryan Kastner led expeditions to test an underwater stereo camera system for producing 3D reconstructions of underwater objects. Here Kastner is shown with the camera system in a UCSD pool. Read more…  

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Girls Day Out

The UCSD chapter of Women in Computing (WiC) held its second annual Girls Day Out in May, bringing roughly 100 girls from San Diego high schools to tour the campus and do hands-on experiments in electronics. Here, girls visit the Qualcomm Institute’s StarCAVE virtual reality room. Read more…  

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Coding for a Cause

Then-sophomore Sneha Jayaprakash's mobile app, Bystanders to Upstanders (B2U), matches students with opportunities to volunteer for social causes. Together with fellow CSE undergrads, she won a series of grants and awards, and is now doing a startup. Read more...

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Internet of Things

Computer scientists at UCSD developed a tool that allows hardware designers and system builders to test security. The tool tags then tracks critical pieces in a hardware’s security system. Pictured (l-r): Ph.D. student Jason Oberg, Prof. Ryan Kastner, postdoc Jonathan Valamehr. Read more…

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The Gift That Keeps on Giving

CSE capped the 2012-'13 academic year with the announcement of an anonymous $18.5 million gift from an alumnus – making it the largest-ever alumni gift to UC San Diego. Read more...

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  • Big Data Hub Gets a Spoke: NSF Funds Regional Approach to Big Data Challenges in the West

    Researchers at the University of California San Diego, UCLA, and Arizona State University are partnering on a regional effort in the western United States to enhance “knowledge discovery and real-time interventions from sensory data flows in urban spaces.” The MetroInsight project is one of 10 regional projects funded today by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish Big Data Spokes extending out from the four Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs (BD Hubs) established in 2015 in the northeastern, southern, midwestern, and western parts of the U.S.

    In addition to $10 million awarded to the 10 BD Spokes projects, NSF will make available another $1 million across all of them for planning efforts and Early-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) awards to support efforts targeted at the nation’s big data innovation ecosystem.

    “The West faces particular and compelling challenges such as wildfires and earthquakes,” said UC San Diego Computer Science and Engineering Professor Rajesh Gupta, principal investigator for the MetroInsight project. “In those and other critical areas, large-scale longitudinal data from environmental and other sensors can have life-or-death consequences. The NSF is counting on the Western Hub to pull together major data stakeholders across this region to produce targeted interventions and get on the same page for sharing critical data from environmental and other sources.”   

    Each BD Hub fosters multi­sector collaborations among academia, industry, and government, while also bringing together a wide range of big data stakeholders to solve regional challenges. Each Big Data Spoke (BD Spoke) announced September 28 will work on a challenge that requires big data innovations.

    "The BD Spokes advance the goals and regional priorities of each BD Hub, fusing the strengths of a range of institutions and investigators and applying them to problems that affect the communities and populations within their regions," said Jim Kurose, assistant director of NSF for Computer and Information Science and Engineering. “We are pleased to be making this substantial investment today to accelerate the nation’s big data R&D innovation ecosystem.”

    The total $11 million in funding to BD Spokes represents 10 percent of the amount NSF will invest in fiscal 2017 in Big Data research.

    Rather than directing research, the West’s MetroInsight and other BD Spokes will convene stakeholders, engage end-users and solution providers, and form multidisciplinary teams to tackle challenges no single field alone can solve. MetroInsight has a specific, goal-driven mission: to build an end-to-end system for knowledge discovery using highly-dimensional sensor time-series and real-time data streams to support the metropolitan infrastructure through data-driven analytics, effective workforce development and policy support.

    In short, MetroInsight aims to go beyond the deluge of all types of urban data from sensor by developing new models and methods to transform all of that information into population-level data suitable for “dynamic processing, real-time monitoring and visualization.” “We will also implement a workforce development plan by training the next generation of data scientists to analyze complex and subtle spatiotemporal dynamics of interdependent urban networks that are always changing,” explained co-PI Ilkay Altintas, Chief Data Science Officer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego.

    MetroInsight foresees developing online courses on sensor data analytics, and Altintas will be teaching the capstone class in the Computer Science and Engineering Department’s new Data Science M.S. program in the winter and spring quarters. “We envision at least two sets of capstone projects to be mentored by MetroInsight researchers,” added Altintas. “Training teams will have access to metropolitan sensor data and the predictive models to better understand the city infrastructure and sensitivity to hazards, population changes, and development.”

  • #1 Employer of Recent CNS-Affiliated Graduates? It's Google

    Most of the Ph.D. and M.S. students who worked in the labs of Center for Networked Systems (CNS) member faculty are well-positioned to land a great job after graduation. A few remain in academia, but the vast majority go to jobs in the technology industry, and not just any jobs. According to a survey of 16 CNS-affiliated graduate students who matriculated in 2015-2016, fully half of the mostly Computer Science and Engineering graduates now work for Google, with others going to fast-track jobs at Apple, Facebook, and other tech companies.

    Staying in academia

    Only a few graduating CNS students are staying in academic environments. According to CNS co-director George Porter, “that’s more than 18 percent of our 16 recent graduates, and that’s probably pretty standard among the top 20 schools.”

    After working with his advisor, CSE Prof. YY Zhou, Peng (Ryan) Huang (Ph.D. '16) was offered a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor in computer science at Johns Hopkins University. He was offered the job because the university is trying build a new area of strength in Huang's area – computer systems. “I’m particularly interested in understanding growing problems in real-world systems and reflecting that understanding in new techniques to improve system reliability,” says Huang. In his dissertation, Huang analyzed the distinctive characteristics of failures in industrial-strength cloud systems. (For more on Huang, see full news release here.) 

    [Pictured (l-r): Ryan Huang, Baris Aksanli, and Bharathan Balaji]

    Since graduating in June 2015, Baris Aksanli (Ph.D. ’15) remains affiliated with CNS as a postdoctoral researcher in Tajana Rosing’s lab. Then in August 2016, he became an Assistant Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department of San Diego State University (SDSU), where Aksanli teaches embedded-systems courses and real-time operating systems. On the research side he continues to work on energy efficiency in various domains, including embedded systems, data centers, Internet of Things, and cyber-physical systems. Aksanli did two internships in graduate school, one at Intel (in 2012), the other at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2011).

    Bharathan Balaji (Ph.D. ’16), who previously received his M.S. in 2011 from the ECE department before transferring to CSE, is also remaining in academia. He recently joined UCLA as a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Prof. Mani Srivastava, a longtime collaborator of Balaji’s UCSD advisor Rajesh Gupta (and co-advisor Yuvraj Agarwal, now at Carnegie Mellon). Balaji’s research focused on improving energy efficiency of buildings by creating software applications that exploit existing infrastructure to provide services such as information organization, fault detection, personalized control, and sensing when an occupant is in the building. As a grad student, Balaji did an internship at Ericsson Research (working on a Wi-Fi-based occupancy sensing solution).

    Google hires 50% of CNS recent graduates

    Google may be the most sought-after employer of computer science Ph.D. graduates, so it’s perhaps no surprise that Google hired more CNS recent graduates than any other company (all of them armed with degrees from CSE at UC San Diego). Fully half of the graduates – eight of the 16 CNS recent alumni – are now employed at Google.

    On September 15, Wilson Wing-Soon Lian (M.S., Ph.D. ’13, ’16) defends his dissertation on “JIT Spraying Threats on ARM and Defense by Diversification”. Lian’s dissertation committee was co-chaired by his advisors, Stefan Savage and Hovav Shacham. Lian says his research interests are “broadly in security and privacy, but lately I’ve been looking at the security of Just-In-Time compilers.” As a graduate student from 2010 to 2016, he was hired and re-hired at Google for three summer internships in 2012, 2013 and 2015, so it’s no surprise that, with his Ph.D. in sight, Lian has already accepted a job at… Google. He’ll be a full-time software engineer.

    Jagannathan Venkatesh (Ph.D. ‘16) graduated in June after defending his dissertation on “A Context-Aware Approach to Residential Grid Automation.” In his thesis, Venkatesh proposed “using context – additional high-level information – about elements of the smart grid (sources, loads and storage) to improve the efficiency of its operations.” At the all-campus graduation ceremony, his advisor Tajana Rosing was on hand (pictured at right with Venkatesh). Today the CSE and CNS alumnus works at Google, where he had previously done three internships in 2011, 2012 and 2013, including the development of a testing framework for video ads, a tool to search, analyze and debug Google’s social back-end data, and designing user interfaces that are intuitive to users and reusable by developers.

    [Pictured at right (clockwise from top left): Wilson Lian, Jagannathan Venkatesh, Mike Conley, Tristan Halvorson, Rishi Kapoor, Lonnie Liu, Malveeka Tewari and Liqiong Yang.]

    Mike Conley (M.S., Ph.D. ’12, ’15) completed graduate school in computer science under George Porter and Amin Vahdat. His primary research interests were in the areas of big data, I/O-intensive computation, distributed systems, cloud computing, MapReduce, data centers and high-speed sorting. Conley’s doctoral dissertation on "Achieving Efficient I/O with High-Performance Data Center Technologies," focused on the performance of storage and network I/O in large-scale distributed systems (notably on TritonSort and Themis), and he demonstrated how to run such applications on a wide variety of hardware platforms, from solid-state disks to supercomputers. Since October 2015, Conley has been a software engineer at Google in Mountain View, CA, where he also did internships in 2010 and 2011.

    Tristan Halvorson (Ph.D. ’15) studied the domain name market, measuring the market with web and whois data to determine the goal of domain name registrants. Previously with his advisors Stefan Savage and Geoffrey Voelker, Halvorson investigated email spam from a monetary perspective by measuring many email spammers' costs and revenue. He also spent the summer of 2012 on an internship with Yahoo!’s email anti-spam team, with whom he analyzed data on Hadoop to look for compromised webmail accounts.) On graduation, he joined Google as a software engineer.

  • Pattern Recognition Laboratory to Boost Brain-Inspired Computing

    Powerful new “brain-inspired” computing capabilities are turning the scientific method on its head by accelerating a “data science” experimental method that detects patterns in data before generating a hypothesis. “Pattern recognition is a mode of epistemology, a way of knowing,” says CSE Prof. Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). “It’s taking the same data that’s available to everyone and trying to let the data talk to you instead of putting your preconceived notions onto it.”

    Smarr (far left, with futurist Mark Anderson) is one of the founders of a new Pattern Recognition Laboratory at UC San Diego, housed in Calit2's Qualcomm Institute. According to Smarr, the lab will explore important tradeoffs as machine learning techniques and novel computer architectures continue to develop rapidly.  One major challenge is how to optimize a variety of machine-learning algorithms on different architectures and discover which are fastest and most energy efficient for specific applications across a wide range of disciplines. The lab will also explore solutions involving flexibility to process both massive static arrays of data as well as myriad flows of data -- and to find the never-before-seen patterns in both.

    Under its first director, ECE Prof. Ken Kreutz-Delgado, the Pattern Recognition Lab is in the early stages of building a 'garden of architectures' capable of performing massive amounts of high-speed processing without consuming as much power as traditional chips. The architectures include both traditional von Neumann computing architectures such as graphics processing units (GPUs), as well as non-von Neumann architectures including high-density FPGAs, IBM's TrueNorth neuromorphic processor, and KnuEdge's LambdaFabricTM neural computing sytems.

    The Pattern Recognition Lab grew out of discussions between CSE's Smarr and futurist Mark Anderson, creator of the Future in Review (FiRe) conference series (whose 2016 meeting got underway on Sept. 27). Anderson sits on the Callit2 Advisory Board, while Smarr is a member of the FiRe Advisory Board.

  • Computer Scientist Participates in Cancer Genomes and Networks Program

    CSE and Pediatrics assistant professor Debashis Sahoo at UC San Diego has been selected as a participating member of the Cancer Genomes and Networks program in the university's Moores Cancer Center. Members of the Cancer Genomes and Networks research program focus upon three thematic areas: genome instability, human cancer genetics and systems biology. Sahoo, who will focus on the latter two, plans to develop computational models for human cancer and predict important biomarkers and therapeutic targets.

    "Working with the members of the Moores Cancer Center enables a computer scientist like me to develop lifesaving strategies for human cancer,” explained Sahoo (at left). “We have shown that Boolean analysis – a sophisticated data analysis method – provides a platform for such predictions. A part of this work is published in the New England Journal of Medicine. We will explore the application of this new method in many different types of human cancer. This appointment will provide me resources and numerous collaborative opportunities with cancer experts."

    Sahoo joined the UC San Diego School of Medicine in 2014 and received an additional appointment in CSE in 2016. His journey into the world of cancer genomics was borne from an initial curiosity not about cancer cells, but computers. He studied computer science as an undergraduate at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, initially focusing on theoretical computer science and, specifically, formal verification (FV), an area of computer science that has had a notable impact on hardware and software design. The goal of FV is to either prove or disprove, using formal methods of mathematics, whether or not an algorithm does exactly what it is supposed to do and nothing more, which can yield practical data with the hope of more efficiently solving problems in complex systems.

    Almost four years into his Ph.D. program at Stanford, Sahoo started doubting the real-world applicability of his work. "Deep into my Ph.D. program I decided to change my focus,” he said. “I wanted to focus on much more practical aspects. I was thinking, ‘How I can make an impact [on] society?’ If I just develop theories and no one implements them, it won’t work."

    Sahoo hoped to work on cancer biology, but as he knew nothing about cancer he needed to play some serious catch-up. Knowing it would be no small undertaking, he dove right in, enrolling in as many cancer-related courses as he could at Stanford, taking all of the undergraduate pre-medical requirements. He showed great promise in the field, even early on. “After one year, I taught cancer biology to undergrads,” he said. These experiences gave Sahoo the confidence to move forward with his goal of using computer science to more efficiently progress medical discovery. “Having both FV and cancer biology training gave me ideas about how to come up with algorithms.”