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Highlights

Award for Computer Systems Research

In November 2013 CSE Prof. Stefan Savage received the ACM SIGOPS Mark Weiser Award during the Symposium on Operating Systems Principles. The award is given to an individual no more than 20 years into his or her career, and Savage was singled out for his contributions to computer systems research in general, and cyber security in particular. Read more…

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Students As Oracles

Ph.D. students David Vanoni (far right) and Vid Petrovic (second from left) were in Europe for most of the fall quarter, doing research and taking part in excavations in Calabria and Greece.  They were part of UCSD’s interdisciplinary NSF IGERT project on engineering for culture heritage diagnostics. Vanoni and Petrovic  delivered talks in three countries, starting in Delphi, Greece. Read more… 

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Analyzing Network Failures

There is no single way to measure network failures or learn from them. Recent alumnus Daniel Turner (Ph.D. ’13) presented results of a new CSE study at the ACM International Measurement Conference in Barcelona, comparing two standard methods (syslog vs. IS-IS). Conclusion: the syslog approach fell short in identifying failures lasting more than 24 hours. Read paper…

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A Knack for Making Apps

CSE undergrad  Dexin Qi produced Triton Pass, a virtual discount card, mainly for Price Center eateries. CSE junior Daniel Brim developed the iPhone app SimpleCard, a 21st-century version of flash cards. A team including junior Shayan Mahdavi created an app for ViaSat installers. Now junior Jesus Rios has coded an Android app for visitors to the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. Read more…

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The Incredible Shrinking Data Center

Are racks-on-chip the future of data centers? According to an article in the journal Science co-authored by CNS research scientist George Porter (pictured), shrinking racks of servers, and eventually data centers, to fit on a chip will be critical to delivering increased density of computing, storage and networking. And to do so, says Porter, will require a radically new network design for data centers. Read more…

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Countering Click Spam

When is a click not a click? How can advertisers be sure that a click on an online banner represents a real consumer, not a deceptive malware program? Click-spam has become a way of life on the Internet, and at the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security in Berlin in November, CSE postdoctoral researcher Vacha Dave (pictured) spelled out a new approach to attacking click-spam. Read more…

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Event App Debuts at CSE25

A team of students and alumni led by CSE Prof. YY Zhou used the department’s 25th anniversary to do a ‘stress test’ for their brand-new mobile app. It’s the centerpiece of their startup company, Whova, a spinout from CSE’s Systems and Networking group. Over 280 attendees downloaded the app for iPhone or Android, and by all accounts, the app’s debut went off flawlessly. See web page…

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New Frontier for Learning Bioinformatics

Prof. Pavel Pevzner dresses up as a cowboy to promote his new online course on Bioinformatics Algorithms (Part I). In a video on the sign-up page for the Coursera massive open online course, he calls bioinformatics a new frontier like the Wild West, and urges students from math, computer science and biology to take the course that begins Oct. 21. Read more...

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Bitcoins: Not So Anonymous, After All

Ph.D. student Sarah Meiklejohn will present "A Fistful of Bitcoins" Oct. 24, which has already caused a stir in cryto-currency circles. Investigating the Bitcoin market and the anonymity of users, she and colleagues found a way to link transactions to Bitcoin merchants and services, potentially undermining a major use of Bitcoin – for online purchases of illegal products. Read more...

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Finding a Silver Lining in the Sometimes Dark 'Cloud'

The Center for Networked Systems (CNS) held its summer research review, demonstrated its role as a major player in the cloud, and in designing, managing and improving data center and wide-area networks. Read more...

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Decoding the Genetic Basis of Chronic Mountain Sickness

Using whole genome sequencing, CSE researchers dissected the genetic mechanisms underlying high-altitude adaptation based on variations in the genes of Peruvians from the Andes who suffer from chronic mountain sickness, and those who don't. Read more...

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Nice Threads!

A new computer model developed by a CSE alumnus and Prof. Henrik Wann Jensen simulates with unprecedented accuracy the way light and cloth interact, with implications for animated movies and video games. Read more...

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Family Reunion

In June 2013, roughly 170 former CSE tutors held their second-ever reunion in San Diego. The department also launched the CSE Tutor Challenge with a $25,000 inaugural gift from alumnus Taner Halicioglu (BS '96). Read more...

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The Gift That Will Keep 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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  • Deciphering CSE's Upcoming Presence at Crypto 2014

    CSE professors Mihir Bellare and Daniele Micciancio will be in Santa Barbara August 17-21 for the 34th International Cryptology Conference at UC Santa Barbara. The conference is sponsored by the International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR), and the general chair of the conference is CSE alumna Alexandra (Sasha) Boldyreva (Ph.D. ’04), who worked in Bellare’s lab and is now an associate professor in Georgia Tech’s Information Security Center.

    This year’s IACR Distinguished Lecture will be given by UC San Diego’s Bellare (pictured at left). The title of his talk: “Caught in between theory and practice.”  “This talk explores the culture and motivations of the cryptographic research community,” explains Bellare. “I examine the tension between theory and practice through the lens of my own experience in moving between them. I examine the peer-review process through the lens of psychology and sociology. In both cases the aim is to go from critique to understanding and, eventually, change.”

    Bellare also has two other papers at Crypto 2014. In the August 18 opening session, he and colleagues Kenneth G. Paterson (University of London) and Phillip Rogaway (UC Davis) have a paper on "Security of Symmetric Encryption against Mass Surveillance." According to its authors, the research was “motivated by revelations concerning population-wide surveillance of encrypted communications.” In the paper, Bellare and colleagues formalize and investigate the resistance of symmetric encryption schemes to mass surveillance.

    Separately, Bellare and his postdoc (Viet Tung Hoang), and Ph.D. student Sriram Keelveedhi teamed on a paper called, "Cryptography from Compression Functions: The UCE Bridge to the ROM." UCE stands for Universal Computational Extractor, and ROM is the Random Oracle Model.

    Then on August 19, in a session on lattices, Micciancio (at right) and his French postdoc Léo Ducas have a paper on “Improved Short Lattice Signatures in the Standard Model.” They will present “a signature scheme provably secure in the standard model (no random oracles) based on the worst-case complexity of approximating the Shortest Vector Problem in ideal lattices within polynomial factors” – achieving short signatures (consisting of a single lattice vector), and “relatively short” public keys.

    CSE Alumni and Former Postdocs

    Crypto 2014 is also an opportunity to hear from CSE alumni and former postdocs in CSE’s Cryptography and Security Group. For example, CSE alumnus Michel Abdalla (Ph.D. ’01) has co-authored a paper on “Related Key Security for Pseudorandom Functions Beyond the Linear Barrier.” Since 2005 Abdalla (at left) has been a full-time researcher in the Computer Science department of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. (Note: Abdalla is also lead author on a July 2014 paper in the Journal of Cryptology on “Verifiable Random Functions: Relations to Identity-based Key Encapsulation and New Constructions.”) Another CSE alumnus, Bogdan Warinschi (Ph.D. ’04), is co-author of a Crypto paper on “Homomorphic Signatures with Efficient Verification for Polynomial Functions.” Warinschi is now a lecturer at the University of Bristol in the UK.

    Yi-Kai Liu (Ph.D. ’07) earned his doctorate under CSE Prof. Russell Impagliazzo and Math Prof. David Meyer. Now a staff scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Liu (at right) did postdocs at UC Berkeley and Caltech before joining NIST. At Crypto 2014, he has a presentation on “Single-shot security for one-time memories in the isolated qubits model.”

    Finally, Eike Kiltz (at left), a former postdoc working with Mihir Bellare, is now on the faculty at Germany’s Ruhr University Bochum. He spent 2004-05 at UCSD. For Crypto 2014, Kiltz has co-authored a paper on “(Hierarchical) Identity-based Encryption from Affine Message Authentication.” His co-authors, Olivier Blazy and Jiaxin Pan, are from the same university.

    Other CSE postdocs sit on the Crypto 2014 program committee. They include UC Santa Barbara professor Stefano Tessano, who worked with Bellare (2010-‘12), and Nadia Heninger, who worked with Micciancio (2011-12), who is now on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Visit the Crypto 2014 conference website.

  • Best-Paper Prize for Computational Cognitive Modeling

    At the 36th annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society which runs from July 24-26 in Quebec City, CSE Prof. Gary Cottrell (at right) and his Cognitive Science Ph.D. student Ben Cipollini will be honored with a best-paper award. This Thursday, July 24, they will receive the Computational Modeling Prize for Perception/Action. It awards the modeling paper in one of four categories of computational cognitive modeling. (The other three categories are Applied Cognition, Higher-Level Cognition, and Language.) The prize-winning research, “A Development Model of Hemispheric Asymmetry of Spatial Frequencies,” will be presented in a session on Cognitive Development—Reasoning that afternoon. In the paper, they put forward a “differential encoding (DE) model” which suggests that “lateralization in visual processing of spatial frequencies is the result of a postulated asymmetry in the spatial spread of connections with the retino-topic visual cortex.” The authors connected lateralized function to anatomical asymmetries, and the anatomical asymmetries to temporal asymmetries in development.

    The same day as he and Cipollini receive their $1,000 award, Cottrell will watch as one of his Ph.D. students, Panqu Wang, gives a talk on modeling the relationship between face and object recognition (a paper co-authored by Cottrell and Vanderbilt University’s Isabel Gauthier). On Thursday, Cottrell will also present a poster at the conference on some of the work he did during his year-long sabbatical in Dijon, France, with University of Burgundy professor Bob French. In it, they explain what Cottrell and French have dubbed TRACX 2.0, a “memory-based, biologically-plausible model of sequence segmentation and chunk extraction.”

  • CSE Faculty Win Qualcomm Institute Research Funding

    CSE professors Ryan Kastner and Steven Swanson (pictured l-r) are leading two projects awarded seed grants from the Qualcomm Institute’s Calit2 Strategic Research Opportunities (CSRO) program. It’s the third round of CSRO grants totaling $1,673,000 to 35 one-year projects that got underway effective July 1. In addition to the CSE-led projects, several Qualcomm Institute researchers who teach CSE courses made the final cut, including Jurgen Schulze, Albert Lin, Curt Schurgers and Falko Kuester.

    The awards to CSE’s Kastner and Swanson allocated support to graduate student researchers in the form of full or partial CSRO Fellowships. The projects now getting off the ground are:

    • Mapping and Visualizing Complex, Large Scale Underwater Archaeological Sites and Artifacts (PI Ryan Kastner): This project was awarded a partial CSRO Fellowship, in addition to cash for equipment and travel expenses – primarily for an expedition to a submerged archaeological site. The project will enhance a 3D underwater imaging platform, notably by integrating location information into existing structure-from-motion 3D modeling software.
    • Rapid Prototyping of Electronic Gadgets  (PI Steven Swanson): In addition to a CSRO Fellowship for recent CSE graduate, Devon Merrill (at right), who has been accepted into the Ph.D. program, Swanson was seeking substantial services from the Design and Prototyping Lab in the Qualcomm Institute. Swanson envisages a Gadgetron system that would “allow almost anyone to design and have manufactured simple electronic devices.” The CSRO project is specifically focused on the rapid prototyping aspects of the Gadgetron project.

    CSE’s Kastner is co-PI on another project getting the green light from the Qualcomm Institute. With “Aerial Sensing for the Maya Jungle,” led by Curt Schurgers, undergrads from the Engineers for Exploration program (including many CSE students) will work with aerial drones and LiDAR laser scanners to sense and map Mayan ruins in Central America and the Yucatan Peninsula. Separately, Albert Lin was funded to develop what he calls “The Location Lab” – a geospatial lab with tools and expertise for analysis and research to support UCSD and external partners who have expressed a growing need to use GIS in their projects. 

    Another CSE lecturer, Jurgen Schulze, is co-PI on The Location Lab, but also leads a separate CSRO team developing an Applied Virtual Reality Initiative that could eventually evolve into a full-fledged center using cutting-edge VR technology to help companies enter the VR marketplace. And CSE faculty-affiliate Falko Kuester leads a project on "Multi-Sensing Micro-Drone Swarms that Save Lives."

    Most of the funding for the CSRO program was earmarked from private support received by the Qualcomm Institute, notably from Qualcomm, Inc., the Qualcomm Foundation, and The Legler Benbough Foundation. 

    Read the full Qualcomm Institute news release.

  • New Hire in Computer Graphics and Vision

    Effective July 1, former UC Berkeley professor Ravi Ramamoorthi joined the Computer Science and Engineering department as its senior faculty hire this year. He joined professors David Kriegman (in computer vision) and Henrik Wann Jensen (in computer graphics) to form the nucleus of a combined group in visual computing. “Much of my research lies at the interface of computer graphics and computer vision,” says Ramamoorthi. “I have published and been active in both of these communities, so I have tried to build bridges between them.”

    The department expects to add at least two more faculty members in graphics and vision, and hopefully more. Also ahead, the group hopes to build a joint research center and to go after large-scale NSF and industry support, while also beefing up the range of courses available to students. “We want to have a full teaching program in graphics and vision to expose students to the full range of the field,” says Ramamoorthi. For his own part, Ramamoorthi will begin teaching a graduate course this winter at the intersection of graphics, vision and photography. Then next spring, he will launch a new Advanced Graphics course for upper-division undergraduates.

    When Ramamoorthi joined the Columbia University faculty in 2002, Columbia was just starting to build its Vision and Graphics Center. “We went from zero papers in SIGGRAPH four years earlier to having ten papers four years later – more than any other group that year,” he recalls. Then in January 2009, a young family in tow, Ramamoorthi moved back to California. He joined UC Berkeley to help rebuild their program in computer graphics. “There wasn’t that much activity in graphics at Berkeley the previous few years, but we built that into what you can argue is the best graphics group in the country,” he notes.

    Ramamoorthi did his undergraduate work at Caltech, where he completed a B.S. and dual M.S. degrees in computer science and physics in 1998. He then earned his Ph.D. in computer science at Stanford University in 2002 with a dissertation on spherical harmonic lighting (now widely used in videogames and movies – including for the production of “Avatar” and various animated films from Pixar, where he was a consultant for three years).

    Read the full news release.
    Visit Ravi Ramamoorthi's home page.



by Dr. Radut