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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…  

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…


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


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…  


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...

  • Computer Vision + Brain-Computer Interface = Faster Mine Detection

    Computer scientists in UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering have combined sophisticated computer vision algorithms and a brain-computer interface to find mines in sonar images of the ocean floor. The study shows that the new method speeds detection up considerably, when compared to existing methods—mainly visual inspection by a mine detection expert.

    “Computer vision and human vision each have their specific strengths, which combine to work well together,” said CSE Prof. Ryan Kastner (pictured at right). “For instance, computers are very good at finding subtle, but mathematically precise patterns while people have the ability to reason about things in a more holistic manner, to see the big picture. We show here that there is great potential to combine these approaches to improve performance.”

    Researchers worked with the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) in San Diego to collect a dataset of 450 sonar images containing 150 inert, bright-orange mines placed in test fields in San Diego Bay. An image dataset was collected with an underwater vehicle equipped with sonar. In addition, researchers trained their computer vision algorithms on a data set of 975 images of mine-like objects.

    In the study, researchers first showed six subjects a complete dataset, before it had been screened by computer vision algorithms. Then they ran the image dataset through mine-detection computer vision algorithms they developed, which flagged images that most likely included mines. They then showed the results to subjects outfitted with an electroencephalogram (EEG) system, programmed to detect brain activity that showed subjects reacted to an image because it contained a salient feature—likely a mine. Subjects detected mines much faster when the images had already been processed by the algorithms. Computer scientists published their results recently in the IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering.

    The algorithms are what’s known as a series of classifiers, working in succession to improve speed and accuracy. The classifiers are designed to capture changes in pixel intensity between neighboring regions of an image. The system’s goal is to detect 99.5 percent of true positives and only generate 50 percent of false positives during each pass through a classifier. As a result, true positives remain high, while false positives decrease with each pass.

    Researchers took several versions of the dataset generated by the classifier and ran it by six subjects outfitted with the EEG gear, which had been first calibrated for each subject. It turns out that subjects performed best on the data set containing the most conservative results generated by the computer vision algorithms. They sifted through a total of 3,400 image chips sized at 100 by 50 pixels. Each chip was shown to the subject for only 1/5 of a second (0.2 seconds) —just enough for the EEG-related algorithms to determine whether subject’s brain signals showed that they saw anything of interest.

    All subjects performed better than when shown the full set of images without the benefit of prescreening by computer vision algorithms. Some subjects also performed better than the computer vision algorithms on their own.

    “Human perception can do things that we can’t come close to doing with computer vision,” said Chris Barngrover, who earned a computer science Ph.D. in Kastner’s research group and is currently working at SSC Pacific. “But computer vision doesn’t get tired or stressed. So it seemed natural for us to combine the two.” CSE Ph.D. student Alric Althoff also participated in the study.

  • CSE Students Explore Platform to See World Through Others' Eyes

    The Basement is the campus-wide incubator operated by the Alumni & Community Engagement office, and an article in the Jacobs School of Engineering blog showcased four of the ventures now using the facility to expand on their entrepreneurial ambitions.

    Among the students profiled in the article: Ryan Hill (left), a computer engineering sophomore, who is part of a CSE-heavy team focusing on "providing a platform that allows users to explore the world and share their adventures via a Google map-like interface that results in a photo/video map of the world," Hill told the blog. "We want you to see breaking news, historical wonders, local celebrations and much more, all through the eyes of those who are there to experience them live." Hill's teammates on the project include Thomas Chang (human computer interaction), Mike Shi (math and computer science), and Joseph Le (computer science). "The concept is brand new and we are only a recent admit to The Basement, so it's hard to tell exactly where my team and I will end up," admitted Hill. "However, I know our entrepreneurial spirit will push us to continue working, even if the idea doesn't." Hill is also juggling duties as an officer of the Triton Engineering Student Council and as professional development chair for the Computer Science and Engineering Society. But he has talked with a few large venture capital firms in the Bay Area, "and the idea really found traction with two of them," added Hill.

  • Business Plan Contest Offers $100,000 in Prizes

    The UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge has set the deadline for submissions in one of its most lucrative contests for students. The organization announced the 2015 $100,000 Business Plan Competition, and set Monday, May 18 as the deadline for registering to compete in this year's competition. The semi-finals are scheduled to begin at 5pm on Friday, May 22.

    In previous competitions, the Entrepreneur Challenge has awarded more than $800,000 in cash awards and pro-bono professional services to winners of Business Plan competitions, and the winners have chalked up a strong record of funding and other awards following success in the UC San Diego challenge. Two startups -- Cognionics (the 2010 winner) and DevaCell (2014) -- went on to win prestigious innovation awards from the San Diego Business Journal, and other past winners including Nasseo and Biological Dynamics followed up their wins with significant rounds of private funding. Any team can compete in the $100,000 Business Plan Competition as long as they have at least one full-time UCSD student, postdoctoral researcher or recent graduate (as long as it has been less than a year since graduation).

  • Savage Comments on Possible Spear Phishing Attack by Russian Hackers

    There is a new type of cyberwar that goes beyond phishing scams. A security firm reports that in so-called "spear phishing", a group of hackers get hold of confidential "lure" documents that can be dangled in front of officials to get them to open emails with malicious attachments. The first large-scale case of spear phishing was the attack on Sony Pictures, but now the security firm Lookingglass says a dedicated group of hackers -- probably on behalf of Russia -- was successful in getting Ukrainians military, counterintelligence, border patrol and local police to open the attachments, making it possible for the hackers to place malware on Ukrainian computer systems to gather confidential documents. In a report on National Public Radio, CSE Prof. Stefan Savage warned that in cyber attacks such as this one, the evidence is usually circumstantial because "researchers have the digital version of tire tracks and gun casings --- not DNA and fingerprints," reported NPR. Savage noted that anyone could have carried out the attack technically. "The question as to be, 'who else would have the motivation to do it?", because this is a significant piece of work," said Savage. "It's effort."

    Read or listen to the full NPR article on spear phisphing.

by Dr. Radut