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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…  


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…


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…


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…


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…  


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…


$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…


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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

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

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

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...

  • Graduate Student Community Awards to CSE Support Staff and Community Leader

    Jessica Gross is the TA and Graduate Admissions Coordinator in the CSE Student Affairs, and she is one of two winners for the department at the Graduate Student Association (GSA) Community Awards. Meanwhile, Ph.D. candidate Dustin Richmond -- who expects to graduate this June -- was also singled out for an award: the GSA Community Award for Outstanding Community Leader.

    Gross (at right) won the Community Award for Graduate Student Support Staff. She oversees the TA and tutor programs in CSE as well as graduate admissions and recruitment for the Ph.D. program. The Support Staff Award honors UC San Diego staff who go "above and beyond" their job requirements in assisting graduate students. According to CSE Prof. Sorin Lerner, Gross works "tirelessly on TA-assignments, Ph.D. admission and Ph.D. Visit Day, this year organizing the visit of over 40 prospective Ph.D. students, including assisting them with travel and accommodations," said CSE Prof. Sorin Lerner. She was also involved with the renovation of the graduate student lounge (Chez Bob) and regularly helps with Social Hour. Gross also attends and contributes to many meetings of the Graduate Community Council, a department group dedicated to improving graduate community in the CSE department. Gross is a UC San Diego alumna, having received her B.A. in Linguistics in 2012. She began working as a graduate program assistant in CSE while still an undergraduates, and began working as an intake advisor in Student Affairs, also in the CSE department.

    In awarding the Outstanding Community Leader honor to Dustin Richmond (at left), the GSA cited his role for several years in a row in leading graduate-student volunteers for Visit Day. In 2015-16, he also led the student-faculty candidate meetings and evaluations, which resulted in very thoughtful and well-organized comments. Richmond was the key instigator for the re-do of the Chez Bob graduate lounge and he played a huge leadership role in making those renovations happen. As the recipient of an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2012, Richmond was also cited for having taken upon himself the responsibility of organizing several workshops to help fellow CSE graduate students learn how to apply successfully for NSF fellowships. He has been pursuing his Ph.D. in CSE since 2012, prior to which he did simultaneous undergraduate degrees in Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington. Under his advisor, CSE Prof. Ryan Kastner, Richmond is designing an ultra-high-speed image processing pipeline for active 3D scanners using compressive-sensing techniques. He is also the lead designer for an FPGA system to decompress and process 20,000-plus images per second.

  • CSE Neuroengineer Tackles Consciousness, Neuromorphic Engineering and Machine Learning

    Computer scientists are not often invited to present their research at The Science of Consciousness annual conference, but University of California San Diego development engineer Stephen Deiss did just that. He spoke to the meeting in Tucson, AZ, in late April on the subject of "Romancing the Oxymoron: The 'Hardware Problem' of Machine Consciousness."

    "I presented my view that our preconceptions – about causality and mechanisms – bias us against accepting the possibility that machines can be conscious," said Deiss (at left), who earned his M.S. in computer science at Purdue University. "It leaves us believing that there is something spooky and unnatural about our own awareness, but I argue that consciousness is fundamental and scale-free in nature."

    Supported by CSE since 2013, Deiss first worked with the Non-Volatile Systems Laboratory of CSE Prof. Steven Swanson, but now splits his time between the Integrated Systems Neuroengineering Lab of Bioengineering professor Gert Cauwenberghs, and the new Pattern Recognition Laboratory of the Qualcomm Institute (both with CSE support). "We are focused on neurally-inspired or otherwise non-von Neumann computing paradigms," said Deiss, referring to new architectures that, unlike most of today’s computers, are not based on executing instructions sequentially. The scientist is looking particularly for neural applications to neuromorphic engineering and machine learning.

    In his presentation, Deiss noted that the "presumption that engineers cannot give [qualitative sensory and cognitive] sensations to machines is a reason many refuse to entertain the possibility of machine consciousness." He added that theories of consciousness have grown more sophisticated and quantitative. "I have maintained for over a decade that the crux of the problem is the assumption that there are laws operating on nature from a higher mathematical or divine realm," explained Deiss. "If one is able to abandon this view for a radically secular view of nature, the question becomes how natural systems do what they do from intrinsic principles and constraints rather than as externally directed."

    The computer scientist argues that neuromorphic engineering, deep learning and other methods, as well as models based on free-energy theory and Bayesian inference, inevitably lead to the engineering of machines that can do more than we can. "I argue that all manner of systems, from atoms to brains and beyond, are conscious, with highly variable perceptual skills and a spectrum of self-reference," said Deiss. "Natural systems sense, detect and interpret when they interact and thereby assign meaning, but that is the same process that goes on in our predictive brains. I also argue that causal modeling is a heuristic that works, but it leads us astray in thinking about consciousness."

    Deiss's ruminations on machine (and human) consciousness have deep roots, starting with dual undergraduate majors in psychology and philosophy at the University of Michigan. His first job out of graduate school involved applications of artificial intelligence, cognitive and computer science to computer-aided instruction. He went on to do hardware and software engineering in satellite communications, then high-energy physics, before beginning a 16-year career designing platforms for artificial neural networking. Ultimately, he gravitated to neuromorphic engineering (he calls himself a neuroengineer), and Deiss admits that his viewpoint on consciousness is a radical one: "A paradigm shift regarding consciousness is ultimately required -- and it's on the way."

    Read the abstract for Stephen Deiss's presentation at The Science of Consciousness 2016.

  • Interested in UX Design? CSE's Klemmer Has Two of the Top Three MOOCs in New List

    According to a feature article in the British online publication Digital Arts, an online course developed and taught by CSE (and Cognitive Science) Prof. Scott Klemmer is one of the best in the world for learning user experience (UX) design.

    The survey noted that "UX design is all about improving the user experience through creating easy-to-use products that are a pleasure to use, and customizing a product or service to take into account exactly how the user interacts with" that product. The article breaks down available UX design courses between massive open online courses (MOOCs), and at-your-own-pace software packages from the likes of (owned by LinkedIn), Udemy, Treehouse, Pluralsight and Skillshare (where you can choose to be either a teacher or a student).

    The Digital Arts review focuses on Coursera as the primary MOOC platform for both paid and free online courses. At the top of the list was the popular Interaction Design Specialization, a series of seven courses taught by Klemmer and a capstone design project that, taken together, promise to help students "learn how to design great user experiences." "These courses are a brilliant overview on a wide range of UX aspects, and include quizzes and assignments to keep you engaged, as well as great teachers such as Scott Klemmer," writes Mimi Launder in "The 11 Best Paid and Free UX Design Courses". "These are resource-rich, tough courses that -- if you complete them -- you will gain a lot from." The article also singles out Klemmer's Human-Computer Interaction course on Coursera as one of the best free online UX courses. Klemmer's former employer, Stanford, still offers his original MOOC on Coursera free of charge. According to the reviewer, "it may not look quite as sleek as the paid course [from UC San Diego], but, well, it is free. And it offers brilliant video lectures, though none of the assignments or quizzes, unlike the paid version" available on Coursera from UC San Diego.

  • CSE Sophomores Take VR Skills to Santa Barbara Hackathon

    UC San Diego computer science sophomores Connor Smith, Kristin Agcaoili and Anish Kannan were on hand April 22-24 when UC Santa Barbara hosted the second annual Santa Barbara Hackathon. The campus group SB Hacks hosted the 36-hour marathon coding competition, which was open to college students from around California, including community college students.

    CSE was represented by (pictured l-r) Smith, Agcaoili and Kannan, all members of the Virtual Reality Club at UC San Diego. The team created Chemistry Lab VR, an educational virtual-reality experience that teaches students lab procedure and safety. It could be used in chemistry classrooms to simulate real-life lab procedures to reduce the risks of working with potentially harmful chemicals. This was not the first time that the VR Club team developed a program to improve scientific instruction: at the HackingEDU hackathon in October 2015, Smith, Agcaoili and Kannan successfully coded a Cell VR program to teach cell biology and interact with a virtual human cell. They finished in third place at HackingEDU. The same team of three students also competed in November 2015 at HackSC in Los Angeles, where their application Diver -- to spread awareness about ocean pollution -- was awarded the Best VR/Game Hack of the USC-organized hackathon.

    As Smith told the UC Santa Barbara campus newspaper in an interview, the team traveled from San Diego to make a statement. "There are prizes, but we don't really do it competitively," he said. "We're just trying to do something that has impact beyond this space." The team arrived at UCSB with an HTC Vive system that Smith described as a "new, room-scale virtual reality, where you can actually walk, move and duck, all within the given boundaries."  Vive users are outfitted with a headset, headphones and two handheld controllers, and they interact with a programmable interface that allows "free movement between two lighthouse motion trackers that define a 16-square-foot space." (In 2015, Smith was an HTC Brand Ambassador, which paid him to demonstrate the VR system to fellow students.)

    Smith told the campus newspaper that he couldn't have asked for more support from hackathon organizers. "It's just a really supportive environment," he noted. "There are mentors, there's free food, great energy and just a lot of people working on something really cool. These events output so many cool projects as well, things that maybe people wouldn't have time to do otherwise.