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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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  • CSE Professor Launches Online Courses in Interaction Design

    Learners around the world, regardless of background, will have the opportunity online to learn how to design great user experiences and what it takes to design technologies that “bring people joy rather than frustration.” The courses were developed by University of California, San Diego Professor Scott Klemmer, who will begin teaching the sequence of seven online courses on “Interaction Design” on the Coursera platform on June 24.

    CSE Prof. Klemmer (pictured) is also a professor of cognitive science in the UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences.The sequence of courses is the first offered by UC San Diego on Coursera since the platform began offering specializations in 2014 for closely related courses – allowing students to master a skill and apply it to a capstone project. Although the courses do not count for credit at UC San Diego, students passing all the courses and getting a Verified Certificate for each can complete a capstone project to earn a Specialization Certificate that demonstrates mastery over the broader skillset.

    “Design is a critical component of the development process in every industry, so we took this opportunity to create a sequence of courses open to everyone, with no particular background required,” said Klemmer, who is also associate director of the Design Lab at UC San Diego. “We are also delighted to be partnering with Instagram co-founder and Director of Engineering Mike Krieger.” Instagram’s Krieger helped Klemmer (his former professor) create the requirements for the final capstone project: to design a creative, end-to-end social user experience using professional interaction design and user-experience (UX) tools. Krieger and Klemmer will judge the projects and provide personalized feedback to the creators of the best designs.

    “Here you get to do an open-ended project where you get to show the world and yourself what you can do with all these design materials,” said Klemmer. “This is a great opportunity to put together a portfolio piece or something you can use to impress your family and friends, or get a job in the design field.”

    The full sequence of courses is geared to students who want to be designers or product managers, but it’s open to anyone. Klemmer covers key elements in the design process. “We start out with need-finding, go through rapid prototyping, make something that is higher fidelity, and test it both in-person and online,” explains Klemmer. “Then students can revise and iterate while polishing the design. Students will be able to experience the whole cycle in the specialization.”  Students learn techniques for brainstorming and generating ideas, how to prototype designs rapidly before implementing them, and how to gather meaningful feedback from users. Students also learn principles of effective visual design, perception and cognition, and how to organize a team’s design process to maximize creative output.

    The seven courses will cover: Human-Centered Design: An Introduction; Design Principles: An Introduction; Social Computing; input and Interaction; User Experience Design; Information Design; and Designing, Running and Analyzing Experiments. The courses are self-paced, with an estimated workload of 10-12 hours per week. The lectures are pre-recorded and they don’t have to be taken in order, although initially only the first two courses are available. Course three is due in July, course four in August, and the remaining courses in the fall.

  • Adjunct CSE Professor Divulges Google's Network Strategy

    This week Google partially lifted the curtain of secrecy surrounding the homegrown network architecture it built over the past decade to handle the massive amount of Internet traffic through the search giant's servers. To divulge the details, Google selected an adjunct CSE professor to go public. Amin Vahdat, who started advising Google while he was still teaching at UC San Diego and leading the university's Center for Networked Systems (CNS), is now a full-time Google Fellow and Technical Lead for Networking at the company, and he remains an adjunct member of the CSE faculty. [Vahdat is pictured below during the 2013 CNS Research Review.]

    Vahdat gave a presentation at the 2015 Open Network Summit on June 17, "revealing for the first time the details of five generations of our in-house network technology," according to Google. While Vahdat was careful about not divulging too many proprietary details, he presented a first look into Google's data center network design and implementation, focusing on the data, control and management plane principles underpinning five generations of our network architecture." Vahdat told the conference that around 2005, the hardware didn't exist that Google required to build a network of the size and speed the company needed. So  instead of buying networking from companies such as Cisco Systems, Google designed its own equipment and had it made to order in Asia and elsewhere. Today, he said, Google designs 100 percent of the networking hardware used inside its data centers. As a result, the company has been able to boost the capacity of a single datacenter network more than 100-fold in 10 years. The current generation of cluster switches, called Jupiter, provide about 40 terabits of bandwidth per second, the equivalent of 40 million home Internet connections. That capability, Vahdat said, is critical to meeting Google's bandwidth and scale demands that are growing exponentially -- doubling approximately every year.

    Timed to coincide with his talk, Vahdat posted an article on the Google Cloud Platform blog. "Our datacenter networks are shared infrastructure," he wrote. "This means that the same networks that power all of Google's internal infrastructure and services also power Google Cloud Platform. We are most excited about opening this capability up to developers across the world so that the next great Internet service or platform can leverage world-class network infrastructure without having to invent it."

    The hallmark of Google's network approach involved moving the complexity out of the hardware and into the software -- so-called software-defined networking -- which allowed the company to build complex networks on top of relatively cheap and abundant microchips. "Taken together, our network control stack has more in common with Google's distributed computing architectures than traditional router-centric Internet protocols," added Vahdat. "Some might even say that we've been deploying and enjoying the benefits of software-defined networking at Google for a decade... these systems come from our early work in datacenter networking." While Vahdat was talking about Google's early work specifically, it's clear that his own early work in CSE and the Center for Networked Systems pointed to the importance of software-defined networking for datacenters -- and he put theory into practice when given the opportunity to create what may be the largest computer network in the world... giving CSE some bragging rights by association. 

  • CSE Student Turn Satellite Images into Policy Analysis

    Recently, over 50 students – 17 of them from CSE – showed up for the day-long Big Pixel Hackathon organized by the Qualcomm Institute's Big Pixel Initiative (BPI) to showcase what can happen when you let students loose on the largest private collection of high-resolution satellite imagery on earth. The three interdisciplinary winning teams each had at least one member from the CSE department, and students tackled subjects ranging from urban slums and natural disasters to human traficking and illegal fishing.

    UC San Diego is one of only two universities offered free access to the entire DigitalGlobe Basemap archive for one year. In addition to nine faculty projects approved so far, the BPI staged a May 23 hackathon that was unlike most hackathons. The teams were not asked to come up with a finished app or clean-cut solution, but rather, to ask big policy questions that might be addressed with satellite imagery that is accurate down to a resolution of half a meter (about 16 inches). Depending on the research question resolved by each team, they were given access to download specific image tiles from the earth database, covering areas including Tijuana and San Diego, French Polynesia, Gujarat and Mumbai in India, oil and gas regions in Texas and Alberta, Canada, Brazil, and so on.

    CSE’s graduate and undergraduate students accounted for the largest number in the hackathon. The next largest contingent after CSE's 17 came from Economics, with eight students. The hackathon distributed $1,500 in cash prizes to the 13 members of the three winning teams.

    In the first category, teams competed to come up with the Best Research Question. The diverse group included CSE sophomore Liz Izhikevich. The team looked at whether satellite images can help predict the impact of small-scale fisheries on the environment. The team came up with a neat computer vision-based solution for detecting hotspots of activity by small fishing boats, often in places where fishing is supposed to be restricted.

    The Most Compelling Visualization/Strategy award went to a five-member team including CSE Master's student Dev Agarwal.  The team set out to track unregistered (i.e., possibly illegitimate) global sea traffic. In principle, this would include the identification of ships carrying migrants (they showed one example of a ship in the Mediterranean crowded with passengers – visible even from a satellite in space).

    Finally, the prize for Most Insightful Discovery went to a team including graduating senior Kevin Hung, a double major in CSE and Mathematics (who is also co-founder of the relatively new Data Science Student Society at UC San Diego). Hung and colleagues asked why some areas recover from natural disaster more quickly than others. The team looked at before-and-after satellite images for differences in color and shape, particularly focusing on the rate at which vegetation grows back. Looking at satellite images of hard-hit Tacloban City before and after Typhoon Haiyan battered the Philippines in November 2013, they came up with a “compute disaster damage” index applied to the before-and-after images. They also looked at other factors that are likely to have an impact on the speed of recovery, ranging from median incomes (which spell faster recovery) to census data.

    On June 17-18, experts from the Big Pixel Initiative including Jessica Block and Ran Goldblatt will visit Digital Globe headquarters in Colorado Springs, CO, to deliver a preliminary report on the UCSD projects that are using Basemap imagery. By next March, Digital Globe will decide whether to continue, expand or disband the university's free access to the Basemap.

  • $2 Million Gift from Alumnus Supports Computer Science Undergraduate Engineering Education at UC San Diego

    A $2 million gift from a University of California, San Diego alumnus will provide critical support for undergraduate education in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. The funds will help recruit, retain and support the professors and lecturers whose primary mission is to teach and mentor students.   

    “This gift goes to the heart of our mission: to transform the lives of our students through an exceptional educational experience provided in the classrooms and laboratories at UC San Diego. It’s extremely gratifying when an alumnus draws on the success achieved after graduation to ensure that the next generation of leaders and innovators will share all that we have to offer,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla.

    “Today, we are celebrating our ability —thanks to this gift— to make a financial commitment to recognize the educators who engage and inspire our students,” said Rajesh Gupta, chair of computer science and engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

    [Watch a video on YouTube about the $2M gift.]

    The gift comes at a time of tremendous growth for the computer science department, now the largest in the University of California system, with close to 2,200 undergraduates enrolled as of fall 2014. The department is currently ranked 7th in the United States and 11th in the word, according to U.S. News and World Report.

    “I want to give the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego the resources it needs to teach students and the ability to serve as many aspiring students as possible,” said Taner Halicioglu (far left, with CSE chair Rajesh Gupta), the computer science alumnus who gave the generous $2 million gift. “These teachers truly inspire students.”

    Half of the gift will go to establish UC San Diego’s first-ever endowed chair for a teaching professor. The other half will go to attract and retain the best lecturers, allowing them to engage more with students, mentor them and develop new courses and programs.

    “We are working hard to engage all of our undergraduate computer science and engineering students in hands-on or experiential education, starting in their very first year,” said Albert P. Pisano, Dean of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. “I am sincerely grateful for this gift. It will help our computer science educators innovate in their classrooms and teaching labs.”

    Giving Opportunities

    The Jacobs School of Engineering offers a variety of ways to support the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Please consider giving online to the CSE Engineering Tutor Program or the Paul R. Kube Chair of Computer Science. Honor your favorite teacher when you donate to the CSE Teaching Endowment Fund.

    Gift from an alumnus

    It was a lecturer who left the greatest impression on Halicioglu when he was an undergraduate majoring in computer science. He graduated from UC San Diego in 1996 with a bachelor of science and a passion for systems and data science. The lecturer was Keith Muller and he was working at ATT Labs while teaching here on campus. “He always had an anecdote from his work life about why you wanted to know what he was teaching you,” Halicioglu recalled. “I remember a good portion of the students stayed after class and talked to him.”

    Muller, who is now a Fellow and lead architect at Teradata, inspired Halicioglu to come back and teach in the department. Halicioglu currently teaches an undergraduate seminar in computer operations and production engineering, where he imparts some of the wisdom he’s gained over the years working in the tech industry. His resume includes stints at eBay, Facebook and Blizzard Entertainment, the popular video game company that created World of Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo.

    The purpose of the gift

    The Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego is home to 51 faculty, including four teaching professors, whose research focuses on computer science education rather than on a specific discipline of computer science. The gift funds a new $1 million endowed chair, named after retired teaching professor Paul Kube, to add a fifth teaching professor. It will be used as a recruiting tool to hire a teaching superstar, Gupta said. (Read more about the Kube teaching chair here.)

    “This gift allows us to attract phenomenal teachers to our ranks—excellent teachers from anywhere in the world,” Gupta said. “The market for teaching talent is extremely competitive. With the distinction that this new endowed chair affords, we hope we can tip the scales in our favor in attracting that talent.”

    In addition, Halicioglu said he wanted to give renowned and well-liked lecturers the ability to devote part of their time to activities beyond classroom teaching, such as mentoring students, training tutors, and developing new courses and programs. The gift establishes a $1 million endowment fund that will pay for at least two distinguished lecturerships each year. The lecturerships will be named at a later date. The lecturerships will relieve their recipients of teaching one course per quarter. The recipients will then have more time to focus on mentoring students and refining innovative teaching techniques in their classrooms.



by Dr. Radut