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Highlights

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…  

Kastner Underwater

Pacific Interlude

Four of the 10 UCSD undergraduates in the 2014 Pacific Rim Experiences for Undergraduates (PRIME) program are CSE majors. (L-r) Allen Nguyen and Lok Yi (Nicole) Wong did research in Japan, while Matthew Schwegler and Katerina Zorko spent the summer in Australia. 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…  

Girls Day Out

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...

Sneha Jayaprakash

Photo Finish

CSE alumna Brina Lee (M.S. ’13) was the first full-time female engineer hired at Instagram. Then Instagram was purchased by Facebook, and now Lee is spending much of her time talking to female students about opportunities in computer science. Read more… 

Brina Lee

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…

Internet of Things

Research Expo 2014

At the Jacobs School of Engineering’s Research Expo 2014, CSE Chair Rajesh Gupta (pictured) briefed industry and visitors, and Ph.D. student Matthew Jacobsen won best CSE poster for “Hardware-Accelerated Online Boosting for Tracking.” Read more…

Research Expo 2014

ParentGuardian

Ph.D. student Laura Pina won best paper with Microsoft colleagues at PervasiveHealth 2014 for developing ParentGuardian, a mobile app/sensor detecting stress in parents of children with ADHD. The system helps parents cope with stress in real time. Read more…  

ParentGuardian

New Faculty

Former UC Berkeley professor Ravi Ramamoorthi joined CSE’s visual computing faculty, and he is one of six new CSE faculty hires in 2014. Others include assistant teaching professors Mia Minnes and Leo Porter, and assistant professors George Porter, Daniel M. Kane and Julian McAuley. Read more…

Ravi Ramamoorthi

Fun and Functional

CSE 145 teaches students about embedded systems design, and they do capstone projects. For one team, that meant building Ruku, a robot and mobile app that solves a Rubik’s Cube in 30 seconds. (L-r): William Mutterspaugh, Daryl Stimm and Jonas Kabigting. Read more…

Ruku to solve Rubik's Cube

Overclocked Enthusiasts

CSE alumni, students, staff and faculty turned out in force to run, walk or just cheer on the Overclocked CSE Enthusiasts, the department's main team entered in the Chancellor’s 5K run in June. Prof. Christine Alvarado ranked #1 in her division. Read more…  

5K Race

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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  • Déjà Vu: CSE's Vianu Passes the Test of Time... Again

    For the second time in five years, CSE Prof. Victor Vianu is the recipient of the ACM PODS Alberto O. Mendelzon Test-of-Time Award. The annual award goes to the author or co-authors of a paper published in the proceedings of the Principles of Database Systems (PODS) ten years earlier. The award goes to the paper that had "the most impact in terms of research, methodology, or transfer to practice over the intervening decade." After winning the Test-of-Time Award in 2010, Vianu will be honored at the 2015 SIGMOD PODS conference in Australia this May, when he accepts his second Test-of-Time Award.

    The 2015 award will cite Vianu's influential 2005 paper, titled "Views and Queries: Determinacy and Rewriting." The paper explores a scenario that is not uncommon in query processing, security and privacy, data integration and query pricing. "The paper considers a seemingly simple question," explains Vianu, who will share the award with co-author Luc Segoufin from INRIA. "Suppose you know the answer to a query Q on a database and you wish to answer another query R. Does Q provide enough information to answer R? If so, how can the answer to R be obtained from Q?" According to Vianu, the problem turned out to be unexpectedly challenging even for the simplest queries used in relational database systems, and some of the basic questions raised in 2005 remain open today.

    [Editor's Note: Vianu is not the first CSE professor to receive two test-of-time awards from the same conference. For two years in a row, the International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA) gave its Influential Paper Award in 2010 and 2011 to simultaneous multithreading-related papers by Dean Tullsen and colleagues 15 years earlier. The papers originally appeared in ISCA proceedings for 1995 and 1996.] 

    There is little doubt that Vianu's paper from ten years ago had an out-sized impact in the research arena. "This first paper spawned a whole line of follow-up research on this and related problems," says Vianu, noting that this year's Best Student Paper awardee at the 18th International Conference on Database Theory (ICDT) contributed to the same line of research (and cited Vianu's 10-year-old paper). "I think our paper received the award because the questions it raised were novel and widely relevant, and some of the answers it provided challenged conventional wisdom by going against widely accepted 'folklore' assumptions."

    (The Best Student Paper Award at ICDT 2015 will be awarded this March to "Asymptotic Determinacy of Path Queries using Union-of-Paths Views," by Nadime Francis, a graduate student at France's École Normale Supérieure de Cachan. Francis is also a collaborator with Vianu's co-author, Luc Segoufin, from the PODS paper.)

    In 2010 Vianu and his co-authors Dan Suciu and Tova Milo won the Mendelzon Test-of-Time Award for their work a decade earlier on type-checking for XML transformation languages. Vianu's paper studied the problem of checking whether or not an XML transformation is well-typed -- which would be essential for manipulating XML documents. The paper proved that typechecking for k-pebble transducers is decidable and, consequently, it could be performed for a broad range of XML transformation languages.

    Victor Vianu received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Southern California in 1983 and joined UC San Diego in 1984. Aside from UCSD, he has taught at the Ecole Normale Superieure and Ecole Nationale Superieure des Telecommunications in Paris, as well as the Sorbonne. He has spent numerous sabbaticals as an invited professor at INRIA, where he now holds an International Chair. Vianu's interests include database theory, computational logic, and Web data. His most recent research focuses on specification and verification of data‐driven Web services and workflows. Vianu's publications include over 100 research articles and a graduate textbook on database theory.

  • Theory of Computation Expert to Speak at CSE Colloquium

    On Friday, Jan. 30 at 11am, CSE Profs. Mohan Paturi and Russell Impagliazzo will host computer scientist and mathematician Avi Wigderson, one of the most prolific and influential researchers in the theory of computation. Wigderson was invited to speak in the department's colloquium and Distinguished Lecture Series. His topic: "Lower bounds on Sum-of-Squares (SOS) proofs and algorithms for the Planted Clique problem." Wigderson is a professor in the School of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study, best known as the longtime intellectual home of Albert Einstein in the U.S. (from 1933 until his death in 1955), located in Princeton, NJ.

    According to the abstract for his two-hour presentation, Wigderson (at left) says "one of the most successful and powerful techniques for designing approximation algorithms for optimization problems is through relaxation to convex programming."  In this general technique, a discrete optimization problem is relaxed to a continuous optimization problem, hopefully one that is tractable. Then the relaxed, real-valued solution is rounded into a related discrete solution.  "One of the most powerful instantiations of this idea is through the Laserre Hierarchy, building on top of semi-definite programming," explains the mathematician. "This talk will explain how the ability of the Laserre Hierarchy to optimize can be characterized in terms of 'Sum of Squares proofs' of related tautologies."  In the first hour, Wigderson will explore the historical background for both the Planted Clique problem as well as the computational model (the powerful SOS/Lasserre Hierarchy of semi-definite programs). Then in the second hour of his lecture, Wigderson promises to "describe some of the mathematical techniques that are needed for proving that sum-of-squares algorithms require many rounds to find planted cliques in random graphs."

    Wigderson has made fundamental contributions to circuit complexity, parallel algorithms,cryptography (in particular, to zero-knowledge proofs and private multi-party computation), the role of randomness in computation, proof complexity, and connections between complexity and combinatorics. He earned his Ph.D. in computer science at Princeton University in 1983, studying with Prof. Richard Lipton.  He was a professor at Hebrew University from 1986 to 2003, and has been on the faculty of the Institute for Advanced Study since 2003. Among many other honors, Wigderson is the recipient of the Nevanlinna Prize (1994), awarded every four years for outstanding contributions in mathematical aspects of information sciences; and the Gödel Prize (2009), jointly with Omer Reingold and Salil Vadhan, for their work on the zig-zag graph product. In 2013 Wigderson was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. 

  • CSE Society Stages CSE Day 2015

    The Computer Science and Engineering Society (CSES) and its members turned out in force on Thursday, Jan. 22, for the 2015 version of the society's annual CSE Day event. Organizers estimate that roughly 250 students consistently attend at least one of the day's events (depending on their class schedules). Talks, activities and panel discussions throughout the day aimed to "inform students about the paths available to them in the computer science field by having them interact with students, alumni and faculty in the CSE Department, and members from industry." Sponsors of the event included Qualcomm, Microsoft, Google, ViaSat, and Visa (which also supplied one of its forensic investigators, John Camacho, to deliver a Tech Talk on enterprise-wide, risk-based security).

    Computer security was also on display when Prof. Stefan Savage (pictured at right) delivered a talk on "Buying Drugs for Science: Addressing the Economics of Cybercrime." Savage focused on the social and economic forces driving today's Internet attacks and deconstructing the underlying value chain for attackers. He sketched a picture of "economically-motivated, advertising-based e-crime." Savage and his collaborators spent roughly a year getting permission to use research funds to purchase $50,000 worth of counterfeit drugs and other merchandise sold through a patchwork of entities that make up the cyber-criminal ecosystem. The study, which included 600 orders of illicit drugs, turned up amazing evidence of the role that one type of pharmaceutical plays in the ecosystem: "Erectile dysfunction counterfeit drugs account for 75 percent of e-crime demand," said Savage, "and 80 percent of revenues." Tellingly, he added, between 20 and 40 percent of all sales of Viagra are ordered from consumers' spam folders, i.e., those consumers had to go into their spam folder to click on an offer of Viagra (usually at 20 percent of the regular price in the U.S.). The professor, who also directs the Center for Networked Systems, showed CSE students an example of ingenuity in packaging: the researchers received a shipment from Bangladesh that was supposed to have been for counterfeit RU-486 abortion pills. Instead they received an ornate woven textile that looked like a miniature carpet. With a little effort, they split apart the textile at the seams, only to find the pills stitched into the fabric.

    Other activities during the day included Startup 101, a panel on the growing phenomenon of computer science and engineering-based startup companies. Speakers included Moxie Center executive director Jay Kunin, who mentors students in the 40 companies already admitted to the Moxie Incubator, as well as two student entrepreneurs: Chesong (Daniel) Lee, co-founder of the earphone company called Hush, which raised nearly $600,000 on Kickstarter versus the $100,000 they were seeking; and Joseph Le, a second-year computer science student whose company StudentHero connects high school students to summer internships.

    Another popular session was the Alumni Panel, which gaves current students an oppportunity to ask the alumni for tips on interviewing, presenting, seeking internships, and so on. Speakers included: Patrick Johnson (BS '07), now a software engineer at Google; Qualcomm staff engineer and CSE lecturer Garo Bournoutian (BS '05, PhD '14); McKenzie Velia (BS '13), who parlayed a summer internship to a year-long internship and most recently, a full-time job working on network security, all at ViaSat; and CSE Alumni Board member Justin Allen (BS '10), who recently joined WebAction, a Palo Alto-based company in the real-time data streaming space.

    Among their recommendations in response to student questions:
    - Go to career fairs.
    - Get involved in student organizations (and student government, as Garo Bournoutian did as president of the Graduate Student Association).
    - Make yourself known to faculty members; they are often asked to recommend a student for hire.
    - Participate in the Jacobs School's Team Internship Program (like McKenzie Velia did at ViaSat).
    - Attend any event where you can get feedback and critique of your resume.
    - Consider studying a year abroad, preferably as a sophomore. (Justin Allen spent his year abroad in Scotland, and it was invaluable.)
    - Become a CSE Tutor: it's rewarding and looks great on your resume.

  • UC San Diego, CSE Alumni See Value of their Education in Mid-Career

    According to a new survey of salaries earned by college graduates early in their careers and in mid-career, computer engineering and computer science are among the top-10 highest paying degrees for both undergraduate and graduate degree holders. But there is a big gap in earnings that clearly shows the value-added of a graduate degree. Nationwide, the average mid-career salary (roughly 15 years after graduation) for someone with a terminal bachelor's degree in computer science is $103,600 (but for UC San Diego computer science alumni it is $115,500). Meanwhile the average alum with a Ph.D. degree in computer science earns roughly 37 percent more, pulling down an average salary of $140,600 by mid-career. 

    The 2014-2015 College Salary Report from PayScale.com also lists UC San Diego as the 11th best public university in the U.S.for the average mid-career salary of alumni (the campus statistics are for all majors, not just computer science). The UCSD average is $102,100 per year. The same report also names UC San Diego the 15th best public university for its return on investment for alumni who are California residents (i.e., people who paid the lower in-state tuition when they were in school). Calculating the net gain in income over 20 years by a UC San Diego graduate versus a high school graduate, PayScale.com estimates the extra earnings to be nearly $550,000. The return on investment -- what students pay to attend versus what they get back in lifetime earnings -- is just over 9 percent.

    PayScale.com tabulated the earnings data based on information supplied by alumni who completed the company's salary questionnaire. Based on responses from recent graduates, the average starting salary of a UC San Diego alum with a bachelor's degree is $50,600, but for those with a computer science degree, it's closer to $70,000 within two years (their so-called early-career pay level).



by Dr. Radut