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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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  • NSF Gives Green Light to Pacific Research Platform under CSE's Smarr

    UC San Diego , UC Berkeley lead creation of West Coast big data freeway system

    For the last three years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has made a series of competitive grants to over 100 U.S. universities to aggressively upgrade their campus network capacity for greatly enhanced science data access. NSF is now building on that distributed investment by funding a $5 million, five-year award to UC San Diego and UC Berkeley to establish a Pacific Research Platform (PRP), a science-driven high-capacity data-centric “freeway system” on a large regional scale. Within a few years, the PRP will give participating universities and other research institutions the ability to move data 1,000 times faster compared to speeds on today’s inter-campus shared Internet.

    The PRP’s data sharing architecture, with end-to-end 10-100 gigabits per second (Gb/s) connections, will enable region-wide virtual co-location of data with computing resources and enhanced security options. PRP links most of the research universities on the West Coast (the 10 University of California campuses, San Diego State University, Caltech, USC, Stanford, University of Washington) via the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC)/Pacific Wave’s 100G infrastructure. To demonstrate extensibility PRP also connects the University of Hawaii System, Montana State University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern, and the University of Amsterdam. Other research institutions in the PRP include Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and four national supercomputer centers (SDSC-UC San Diego, NERSC-LBNL, NAS-NASA Ames, and NCAR).  In addition, the PRP will interconnect with the NSF-funded Chameleon NSFCloud research testbed and the Chicago StarLight/MREN community.

    “Research in data-intensive fields is increasingly multi-investigator and multi-institutional, depending on ever more rapid access to ultra-large heterogeneous and widely distributed datasets,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “The Pacific Research Platform will make it possible for PRP researchers to transfer large datasets to where they work from their collaborators’ labs or from remote data centers.” (Pictured l-r: PI Larry Smarr, co-PIs Camille Crittenden, Phil Papadopoulos, Tom DeFanti, and Frank Würthwein.)

    Fifteen existing multi-campus data-intensive application teams act as drivers of the PRP, providing feedback over the five years to the technical design staff. These application areas include accelerator particle physics, astronomical telescope survey data, gravitational wave detector data analysis, galaxy formation and evolution, cancer genomics, human and microbiome ‘omics integration, biomolecular structure modeling, natural disaster, climate, CO2 sequestration simulations, as well as scalable visualization, virtual reality, and ultra-resolution video. The PRP will be extensible both across other data-rich research domains as well as to other national and international networks, potentially leading to a national and eventually global data-intensive research cyberinfrastructure.

    “To accelerate the rate of scientific discovery, researchers must get the data they need, where they need it, and when they need it,” said UC San Diego computer science and engineering professor Larry Smarr (right), principal investigator of the PRP and director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). “This requires a high-performance data freeway system in which we use optical lightpaths to connect data generators and users of that data.”

    The leadership team includes faculty from two of the multi-campus Gray Davis Institutes of Science and Innovation created by the State of California in the year 2000: Calit2, and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), led by UC Berkeley. “The Pacific Research Platform is an ideal vehicle for collaboration between CITRIS and Calit2 given the growing importance of universities working together for the benefit of society,” said CITRIS Deputy Director Camille Crittenden, co-PI on the PRP award. “The project also received strong support from members of the UC Information Technology Leadership Council, which includes chief information officers [CIOs] from the 10 UC campuses, five medical schools, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and the Office of the President.” Crittenden will manage the science engagement team and the enabling relationships with CIOs on participating campuses and labs.

    Read the full news release.

  • Startup with CSE Roots to Present at First-Ever White House Demo Day

    On Tuesday, Aug. 4, CSE will be represented by at least one startup company selected to showcase  their technology at the first Demo Day organized by the White House, with President Obama in attendance. The company's name is Wearless Tech Inc., and its first product is the Cocoon Cam, an "intelligent video baby monitor."

    Then-CSE graduate student Pavan Kumar (MS '15) co-founded the company and led software development on the Cocoon Cam. Kumar (at left) is now Wearless Tech's Chief Technology Officer, but he is not the only CSE person involved in the company. Recent graduate John Chou (BS '15) is the company's iOS developer, and CSE research scientist and lecturer Nadir Weibel was an early mentor and adviser to the team, an advisory position he continues as "health research scientist."

    Cocoon Cam originated at a couple of hackathons, notably MedHack 2014, where their proof-of-concept for the system was voted "most practical solution."

    Demo Day is designed to bring innovators from across the country and to give young technology companies an opportunity to reach media attending the event in the East Room of the White House. Unlike a regular pitch session, the Demo Day innovators will share their unique stories during the event, which will be broadcast August 4 at whitehouse.gov/live at 3:40 p.m. ET/12:40 PT.

    Founded in 2014 and now based in San Francisco, Wearless Tech has developed a unique patent-pending solution that uses computer vision and cloud-based data analytics to continuously monitor a baby’s condition. The intelligent software, coupled with a digital video camera and infrared technology, offers an easy and completely non-invasive method for tracking heart rate, respiration, and skin temperature from a distance. The company sees Cocoon Cam as being the start of a transition from so-called wearables to technologies that can be just as effective from a couple of feet away -- like when the Cocoon Cam is fixed on a baby's crib, but it can still monitor vital signs and activity of the baby in a simple and secure way.

    Unlike other baby monitors on the market, Cocoon Cam continuously checks the baby’s condition without the need for uncomfortable wired, clip-on sensors. Parents can view video and receive custom notifications via their smartphone -- without compromising safety.

    Wearless Tech is currently collaborating with UC San Diego to conduct field patient studies in both clinical and in-home environments. In the future, the company plans to develop intelligent video camera systems that provide continuous, non-contact and non-invasive vital sign monitoring for Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care Units (NICUs/PICUs) and Emergency Rooms (ERs). The technology promises to reduce false alarms and alarm fatigue in critical care environments. Other areas under development include post-surgery and eldercare monitoring as well as enhanced screening for security applications.

  • 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. 



by Dr. Radut