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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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  • Recent CSE Alumnus to Receive Dissertation Award at DATE 2016

    A recent graduate of CSE's doctoral program has won the top dissertation award in his category. The jury of the European Design and Automation Association (EDAA) selected Abbas Rahimi for the Outstanding Dissertations Award 2015 in the area of new directions in embedded system design and embedded software. Rahimi (M.S., Ph.D. '13,'15) was cited for his thesis, "From  Variability-Tolerance to Approximate Computing in Parallel Computing Architectures”. His advisor was CSE Chair Rajesh Gupta.

    Rahimi (at right) did his doctoral work on microelectronic variability and approximate computing, and he was part of the NSF-funded Variability Expedition as well as the Microelectronic Embedded Systems Laboratory, both led by Prof. Gupta. He also worked as Gupta's teaching assistant in Digital Logic Design in fall 2013. That same year he was a finalist for the best-paper award at the 50th IEEE/ACM Design Automation Conference (DAC).

    Rahimi moved to UC Berkeley last fall to work as a postdoctoral scholar on brain-inspired hyperdimensional computing under Prof. Jan Rabaey in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, as well as the Berkeley Wireless Research Center. His research interests include brain-inspired computing, massively parallel memory-centric architectures and interconnections, embedded systems and software with an emphasis on improving energy efficiency, and robustness in the presence of variability-induced errors and approximation opportunities. In these areas, Rahimi has published more than 30 papers in top-tier conferences and journals.

    Rahimi will accept his EDAA award and 1,000-euro prize on March 15 as part of the morning plenary session at the Design, Automation and Test in Europe (DATE) conference and exhibition. DATE 2016 takes place at the International Congress Center March 14-18 in Dresden, Germany. Rahimi is one of four winners in separate categories; the others were from Switzerland's EPFL, China's Tsinghua University, and Stanford University.

    Read Abbas Rahimi's Ph.D. dissertation.

  • Gravitational Wave Discovery Echoes CSE Professor's 1975 Dissertation

    In his doctoral dissertation at the University of Texas, Austin in 1975, CSE professor Larry Smarr developed a computational method for solving Albert Einstein’s equations of general relativity. Smarr’s PhD thesis, “The Structure of General Relativity with a Numerical Illustration: The Collision of Two Black Holes,” showed how computers could reveal the “generation of gravitational radiation from the formation of black holes,” he wrote in his dissertation. “The particular case of two non-rotating black holes colliding head-on is chosen as a test case for the computer.”

    Forty years later, Smarr – now director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) and the Harry E. Gruber professor of Computer Science and Engineering in the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego – was inundated with messages following a Feb. 11 announcement by the National Science Foundation at the National Press Club. A global consortium of more than 1,000 scientists had, for the first time, detected evidence of ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves. The waves were produced by the merger of two black holes in space some 1.3 billion years ago, but passed through the Earth only last September. The waves were recorded using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) barely one day after the observatory became operational following a major upgrade to make the detectors more sensitive. The devices – located in Louisiana and Washington State – are now referred to as Advanced LIGO. “These gravitational waves induced fluctuations in length of Advanced LIGO’s two 4-kilometer laser beams that are smaller than one-thousandth the diameter of a proton,” said Smarr.

    [Pictured above: Calit2 Director Larry Smarr holds his 1976 handmade model of the curved space caused by two black holes just before they collided. Each paper strip of the coordinate grid was printed out with its distorted shape accurately represented.  Then the strips were woven together by hand.  One could consider this an analog precursor to today’s digitally driven 3D printers.  Next to Smarr are his Golden Goose Award, his blue PhD dissertation, and the book he edited on the 1978 workshop on Sources of Gravitational Radiation. Photo by Alex Matthews/Qualcomm Institute.

    The power radiated in gravitational waves by the collision of the black holes (merging black holes estimated to be 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun, respectively) was 50 times larger than the power emitted by all the stars in the universe and yet would have been invisible to humans on Earth without LIGO.

    “It’s hard to overstate how historic the moment is,” Smarr told HPCwire yesterday. “Think about all of the amazing astronomical objects we’re studying with radio astronomy, x-ray astronomy, ultraviolet astronomy, infrared astronomy or optical. Those are all just parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. This is an entirely new spectrum, from end to end, with as diverse sources as the electromagnetic spectrum that we have been working on since Galileo.”

    The hard evidence of gravitational waves came almost exactly 100 years after Einstein’s general theory of relativity proposed the concept of space-time and distortions in what are now known as gravitational waves. Einstein believed, however, that the waves would be so small and fleeting that they would never be detected experimentally. “The National Science Foundation began funding development of LIGO some 30 years ago, even though they knew that the first version of the ‘telescope’ could not be powerful enough to make this observation,” said Calit2’s Smarr. “It cost more than a billion dollars to get this far over 30 years, and it demonstrates how important long-term research funding is to our understanding of physics and the universe.”

    [Pictured at left: Advanced LIGO detector in Livingston, Louisiana, registered the two-black-hole collision’s gravitational waves at 9:51 UTC (2:51 Pacific time) on September 14, 2015; seven milliseconds later the sister detector in Hanford, Washington, recorded the same signal. The signals at each site are depicted below.]

    Smarr recalls that after his Ph.D., as a Junior Fellow at Harvard, he organized an international workshop in Seattle in 1978. The workshop explored “Sources of Gravitational Radiation,” and Smarr edited a book based on the proceedings (still available on Amazon). The first article in the book was by Ray Weiss, the researcher at the NSF press conference yesterday who invented the gravitational-wave laser interferometer, and the third article was by Kip Thorne, who was also at the press conference (and with whom Smarr first met in 1970). 

    “We all knew in 1978 how difficult the problem was going to be – both to solve computationally the nonlinear coupled Einstein equations for the collision of the two black holes and the subsequent generation of gravitational radiation, as well as to build the most sensitive measuring instrument in human history,” noted Smarr on Thursday. “However, I was always confident that technology would eventually improve to where it would be sensitive enough to detect what was reported yesterday.”

    Smarr’s work on black holes made him realize how revolutionary supercomputers were going to be in a wide array of disciplines.  So he pulled together a team of pioneering researchers and submitted an unsolicited proposal to NSF in 1983 to create a university-based supercomputer center. “My research led me to understand that academics needed access to supercomputers,” he noted. His was the first proposal to the NSF, closely followed by one from Sid Karin at General Atomics in 1984. The eventual result: NSF funded the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where Smarr became the founding director.  Sid Karin became the founding director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). Karin is an emeritus professor of computer science at UC San Diego.

  • CSE Schedules Talks by Potential Faculty Hires, Part Two

    The hiring season for new CSE faculty is now in full swing, with 10 potential recruits invited to deliver talks on their areas of research expertise as part of the recruiting process. As we reported last week, half are women. Here we profile the five men who are competing for CSE faculty positions to begin during the 2016-2017 academic year.

    Monday, February 22, 11am:  Greg Durrett is finishing his Ph.D. in computer science at UC Berkeley (advised by Dan Klein), after earning undergraduate degrees from MIT in computer science and mathematics in 2010 (with a minor in music). He enrolled in the Berkeley program after being awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Durrett works on a range of topics in statistical natural language processing (NLP), including conference resolution, entity linking, and syntactic parsing. There are two broad thrusts in Durrett's work: designing joint models that combine information across different tasks; and building systems that strike a balance between being linguistically motivated and data driven. In 2012 Durrett did a research internship in software engineering at Google, where he worked on supervised morphological inflection as part of Google Translate. In his spare time, the NLP researcher plays clarinet in the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra.

    Wednesday, February 24, 11am:  Arun Kumar, a Ph.D. candidate in computer science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will talk about "Abstractions, Annotations, and Algorithms for Making Sense of Text." Kumar will talk about mitigating one pervasive bottleneck in the process of feature engineering for machine learning (ML): joins of multiple tables that often cause the output to blow up in size, which slows down ML, increases costs, and leads to data maintenance headaches. Kumar will show how it is possible to mitigate these issues by "avoiding joins physically," i.e., pushing ML down through joins. This reduces runtime without affecting accuracy. Going further, he will apply statistical learning theory to show how it is often possible to also "avoid joins logically," i.e., ignoring entire tables outright without losing much accuracy, but achieving significant runtime gains. Kumar's primary research interests are in data management and its intersection with machine learning. He shared in the Best Paper Award at ACM SIGMOD 2014.

    Monday, February 29, 11am: Stanford University postdoctoral researcher Ce Zhang will talk about the need to bring so-called "dark data" into the light. Dark data refers to available but inaccessible data (because they don't reside in structured formats such as relational tables in databases. Zhang works on Knowledge Base Constructon (KBC), which takes unstructured documents as input and constructs a knowledge base, ie., a relational database that stores factual information. For his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, awarded in 2015, Zhang created a data management system, DeepDive, which mines written text and pulls out facts. DeepDive aims to help non-computer scientists build high-quality KBC systems that provide data they need for their applications (e.g., for paleontologists, who were able to compare a human-curated database with the computer-generated analysis of paleontology research papers using PaleoDeepDive). He earned his B.S. in machine intelligence from Peking University in 2010.

    Wednesday, March 9, 11am:  MIT Ph.D. candidate Fadel Adib will present his talk. He designs and develops wireless systems and technologies that can see through walls (RF-Capture), track human motion, and monitor human vital signs (Vital-Radio) by relying purely on wireless signal reflections. His research has received widespread attention already: in 2014 he was named to Technology Review's 35 Innovators Under 35, and just recently he made the Forbes List of 30 Under 30 in Enterprise Technology for 2015 (which cited his involvement in creating WiTrack, "a spin on Wi-Fi that uses a radio signal -- just 1% as strong as Wi-Fi and 0.1% of your smartphone's signal -- to track movements with incredible accuracy.") Adib's best-of awards include the Best Demo at ACM MobiCom 2014, and an honorable mention award at ACM CHI 2015. He received his undergraduate degree at the American University of Beirut in 2011, and currently is based in MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL).

    Wednesday, March 30, 11am:  Immanuel Trummer is expected to complete his Ph.D. this February in computer and communication sciences at Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL). He did his undergraduate work at the University of Stuttgart (Germany) and the Ecole Centrale de Nantes (France). Trummer's research focuses on optimization problems that arise in the context of big data analytics, in particular generalizations of the classical Query Optimization problem. He also explores the potential of Quantum Computing for solving analytics-related optimization problems, and his first paper on quantum computing for analytics optimization will be presented at VLDB 2016. Beyond optimization, Trummer is interested in text mining and machine learning. Together with researchers from Google, he developed a system that mines billions of subjective property associations from the Web. He has been a TA for courses on Big Data, Intro to CS, C++ Programming, Artificial Intelligence and more, and Trummer received the EPFL Teaching Assistant Award for 2015.

  • CSE Team Targets Record Turnout for Triton 5K Race

    It's never too early to start planning for Alumni Weekend on the UC San Diego campus. One highlight is the 20th annual Triton 5K race, scheduled for 9am on Sunday, April 10. The starting line is at North Point Lane in front of the Spanos Athletic Training Facility. CSE students, staff, alumni and faculty are aiming to overtake the 149 runners and walkers who won last year's prize for fielding the "Largest Overall Team" at the event. The CSE team routinely places among the largest to run or walk the 3.1-mile scenic course through the heart of the UC San Diego campus.

    Runners can sign up as individuals or in teams of five or more. According to Cheryl Hile, who is again organizing CSE's official team entry in the Triton 5K, so far 77 people have registered to be members of "Team Race Condition", the CSE team moniker, and the informal goal is to push participation to 150 or more members in order to beat the team's record last year. "The team in second place last year trailed far behind our team with some 30 members compared to CSE's team with 149 members," says CSE fund manager Hile (pictured with team prize cup in 2015). "We crushed the competition last year and we're going to crush it again this year!"  The CSE team could also be competitive in two other prize categories: "Largest UC San Diego Department", and "Top Fundraising Team", because all runners' fees will go to support student scholarships.

    Anyone interested in being part of the CSE team should register at http://5k.ucsd.edu and select "Race Condition" in the team field. To receive the team shirt, you must first register, then fill in the Google Doc at http://bit.ly/1SErV6e with your name, email address, and shirt size (sizing guidance for men and women is on the second tab of the Google Doc). (Note: Staff, faculty, alumni and parents are recommended to register before 11:59pm on February 28 in order to take advantage of the Early Bird rate -- $25 per person -- versus $30 for those registering by April 3, and $35 for those registering on-site on the day of the race. Students get in for $10 no matter when they register.) Only those who have registered by noon on March 15 are eligible to receive a CSE team shirt. The high-quality New Balance "tech" shirt will be separate from the overall campus Triton 5K shirt, and it will look different from last year's team shirt. According to Cheryl Hile, the "2016 shirt will be a different color because I know people are starting a collection!"

    In addition to the team shirt, Race Condition participants in the race (sanctioned by USA Track and Field) will receive a gear bag. A strong turnout could also put CSE in contention for the "largest fundraiser" prize, since the runners' fees will benefit student scholarships. Since 1996, the race has raised more than $3.4 million that benefited over 1,000 students. The Triton 5K Festival also starts at 9am on April 10 at the Triton Track and Field Stadium. Activities will include entertainment, a Junior Triton Run, a play zone, and hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Design and Mathematics (STEAM) activities for children of all ages.



by Dr. Radut