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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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Incoming Freshmen

Prior to entering UC San Diego as first-year undergraduates in CSE, high school students prepare to graduate from CSE's month-long Summer Program for Incoming Students, a residential program with a heavy dose of programming. 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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  • Systems, Security and Programming Languages Expert Joins Computer Science Faculty at UC San Diego

    He won’t start work until next year, but Deian Stefan has accepted an appointment as assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) at the University of California, San Diego, effective in July. His research interests are in building principled and practical secure systems, and he will join CSE’s Security and Cryptography, Systems and Networking as well as Programming Languages groups.

    Stefan joins the CSE department with a Ph.D. fresh from Stanford University. His dissertation focused on “Principled and Practical Web Application Security,” under advisors David Mazières of Stanford’s Secure Computer Systems Lab and John C. Mitchell in the Security Lab.

    His delayed arrival on campus will allow Stefan to build up his startup, GitStar, where he currently serves as president and chief scientist. GitStar provides developers with tools for deploying web applications with minimal trust. The company builds on Stefan’s prior research on confinement and information flow control.

    Gitstar wants to change the way developers build and deploy web applications. “The company will be consuming his immediate cycles before he joins us in Fall 2016,” said CSE Chair Rajesh Gupta in announcing Stefan’s appointment. “A big thanks is due to our recruiting committee, led by Mohan Paturi, which continues to attract compelling talent to the department.”

    GitStar flips the traditional application security model from allow-by-default to deny-by-default. “With GitStar,” said Stefan, “you can use third-party modules and ensure they can only perform safe operations, as explicitly allowed by the application’s security policy. This is in contrast to today’s model where any code you use has unfettered access to the file system, database, network, etc.” The framework, now undergoing pilots, allows developers to not only secure their Node.js applications, but also be more productive. “By offloading security enforcement to GitStar, developers can build and deploy applications faster since, firstly, they don’t need to worry about getting subtle security checks right in their application code, and secondly, they can use the latest, hottest (and potentially unsafe) libraries,” added Stefan.

    At Stanford, Stefan worked in Programming Languages and Systems in addition to Security. He co-instructed two courses on Programming Languages, and was a teaching assistant for a graduate seminar on advanced topics in Operating Systems. Stefan said he wants to develop a course at UC San Diego on browser engines that could complement OS courses with a platform for exploring concepts such as resource management, concurrency, scheduling, security and interface design. “The course would cover the major subsystems of the browser, including the network stack, security architecture, JavaScript engine, the Document Object Model (DOM), and the renderer,” explained Stefan. “More importantly, it will explore the interaction between these subsystems and how fundamental concepts arise in such a large, real-world system.”

    On the systems side, Stefan has worked on a series of novel security systems:

    ●     COWL is a backwards-compatible browser confinement system designed for web developers to build secure, client-side applications such as mashups involving multiple distrusting  parties; 

    ●     Hails is a security-centric Haskell framework for building extensible web applications. It allows applications to integrate third-party code in a way that preserves data privacy and integrity; 

    ●     LIO is a programming environment for building applications that preserve privacy and integrity using a dynamic information-flow control system; and, 

    ●     ESpectro is a security architecture for Node.js that provides application-level virtualization for implementing different security mechanisms. 

    Looking to the future, Prof. Deian Stefan intends to continue his work on secure systems with particular focus on what he calls “least privileged systems,” i.e., applications where code operates using the least set of privileges necessary to complete its function.  “One example,” he noted, “is ESpectro, which provides developers with a way to execute untrusted JavaScript in lightweight, isolated compartments, similar to COWL’s browsing contexts.” ESpectro is already being used by Stefan’s startup, GitStar, to provide a framework similar to Hails for server-side JavaScript, and Stefan is investigating how this architecture could be generalized to other language runtimes such as PHP and Python.

    “I am generally interested in exploring security mechanisms and policy languages that can allow developers to build secure applications more easily,” said Stefan. “I am also interested in exploring a clean-slate approach to building secure, low-level systems and applications, especially because building secure systems applications is notoriously difficult today.” One possibility, he says, is to design a language that allows programmers to describe system components (e.g., the HTTP parser or logger in the case of a web server, etc.), typed interfaces between the components, and high-level security policies. “Given such a description,” he added, “a compiler can then generate the different isolated components, interfaces between them, and mechanisms to enforce the specified policies.”

  • CSE Hosts Inaugural New Computer Science Faculty Workshop

    CSE teaching faculty Beth Simon and Leo Porter, along with Mark Guzdial (Georgia Tech) and Cynthia Lee (Stanford), led a new annual workshop devised to help new faculty excel in teaching.  Starting with a keynote address from Ed Lazowska, who holds the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, participants plunged into a fast-paced series of activities and lessons on evidence-based teaching practices.

    Fundamentally, the goal of the workshop is to help newly-hired CS faculty be better and more efficient teachers. By providing new faculty with a small number of effective teaching practices before their first year, the workshop aims to:

    1. Make teaching more efficient for new faculty, so that they save time for research;
    2. Make their teaching more effective (e.g., improved student learning); and,
    3. Make teaching more enjoyable and increase teacher confidence.

    “I can't believe how much actionable knowledge I picked up about teaching in just a day and a half,” said one participant, speaking to the value of the workshop.

    Organizer Leo Porter was impressed with the level of engagement on the part of faculty. “Our participants could not have possibly given us better feedback,” said Porter. “That was precisely our goal.  We are very impressed by all our participants’ dedication to their students and willingness to adopt new practices for their students’ benefit.”

    The workshop aimed for a small audience in its first year and saw eight faculty from around the country come together for two intense days of activities.  CSE Assistant Professor Julian McAuley was among the attendees.  After the workshop, participants will receive continuing support from the organizers and their peers.

    The workshop is funded by the National Science Foundation and mirrors highly successful workshops in other STEM disciplines, many of which have been running for decades. 

  • UC San Diego Ranked #4 Among U.S. Public Universities

    New rankings name UC San Diego the fourth best public university in the U.S. and the 21st best university in the world. The rankings by the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) are based on quality of research, faculty, influence, enterprise and successful alumni.

    The fourth annual global rankings also list UC San Diego as the 16th best university in the U.S. among both private and public colleges. In the category of “influence,” which measures the number of research papers appearing in highly-influential journals, UC San Diego places as the fifth best university in the world.

    The methodology for CWUR’s 2015 rankings analyzed the world’s top 1,000 universities, measuring eight indicators designed to give the most accurate assessment of their quality of education and training of students as well as the prestige of faculty members and quality of their research. According to CWUR, the rankings do not rely on opinion-based surveys, but instead rely on a purely data-driven approach to measure academic and research excellence.

    In addition to its fifth-place finish for influence, UC San Diego also ranks highly in the categories of broad impact (15th), citations (15th), publications (16th), patents (17th) and quality of faculty (19th). The only area where UC San Diego fell among the bottom half of the 1,000 universities was in 'alumni employment', which is based on the number of alumni who have held CEO positions at the world's top companies relative to the university's size.

    Read the complete list of CWUR’s top 1,000 universities in the world.

  • Campus Supports CSE Initiative to Serve Students Interested in Computational Sciences

    In an era of restrictions on the number of freshman and transfer students accepted into computer science and engineering majors, the CSE department has embarked on what it calls a "targeted effort to build and disseminate resources for students interested in studying the computational sciences at UC San Diego." The project recently received a $75,000 grant following a highly competitive round of proposals submitted to the university's Academic Advising Innovation Grant Initiative.

    Principal investigators Mia Minnes (pictured at right), who is a CSE Assistant Teaching Professor, and CSE Student Affairs Director Lynne Keith-McMullin were notified of the selection committee's decision in late June. According to Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs Juan C. Gonzalez, the committee "awarded those proposals that most clearly demonstrated sustainability and impact on student retention and success."

    With the new grant, Minnes and Keith-McMullin will develop a brochure and online, interactive resource available to prospective and current students interested in computational sciences with information they should take into consideration before picking a major. They will also engage an interdepartmental group of UC San Diego faculty, advisers, current students and alumni to reach out to local community colleges and high schools to host informational events, while also staging community briefing sessions, e.g., on Triton Day and Transfer Admit Day.

    "The end goal of this initiative is to encourage students to consider their career goals and find the best majors to attain them," said Prof. Minnes. "We will engage advisers across campus to build the resources they need to advise their students who are interested in computational sciences. The colleges at UC San Diego are major advising partners and this project will strengthen the connection between them and departments.” 

    The most obvious alternate majors might include Biology (for computational biology or bioinformatics), and Cognitive Science, which has a specialization in computation. Roughly a dozen other alternatives range from Mathematics and Physics to Biology, Music and Visual Arts. They include the recently launched major in Speculative Design, and the pending Data Sciences majors proposed by CSE and Mathematics.

    Prior to submitting the grant proposal, CSE staged several information sessions to convey the new goals-based approach to advising students interested in computational sciences. "The feedback in assessments was very positive from those attendees who filled out the survey," added McMullin, "even from those students who came to the realization that another major was a better fit for their academic and long-term goals."

    Even as more students are channeled to other majors, CSE is making it possible for many more students from across campus to take classes offered by the department. "CSE is committed to serving all students, who can take computer science courses and study computer science material," noted Keith-McMullin. "Our class enrollments have tripled as we make room for everyone to explore the CSE major" in courses that in some cases require few or no pre-requisites.



by Dr. Radut