Programming Systems Ph.D. Student Receives Microsoft Research Fellowship
Third-year CSE Ph.D. student Niki Vazou is one of only 12 graduate students selected to receive Microsoft Research Ph.D. Fellowships this year. The two-year fellowship (2014-16) will provide support in the form of tuition fees, living and travel expenses that will carry Vazou through to finishing her doctorate in 2015-'16. Her research interests include static program verification and type systems. While MSR Fellows are free to work on any topic, they are asked to submit a thesis proposal plan. Vazou, her Ph.D. advisor Ranjit Jhala, and colleagues in CSE's Programming Systems group have been working on LiquidHaskell, a static verifier for Haskell - a cutting-edge functional programming language - based on Liquid Types. According to Vazou, the goal of her research project is to combine a Haskell's-type system with the power of SMT solvers "to create a user-friendly, efficient, and sound tool so as to integrate formal verification, via LiquidHaskell, into the development chain of Haskell applications." Haskell enforces clean and concise code; its expressive type system leads to documented and correct programs; and it provides higher performance than many mainstream languages (such as Java or C++). "A key feature of this verifier is usability," says Vazou, who did her undergraduate work at Greece's National Technical University of Athens. "The specification language should be simple and verification should require minimum code modifications and annotations. Hopefully, since Haskell has been a prototype for mainstream programming languages, this type of verification could be integrated to standard application development chain." Visit Niki Vazou's web page. Read more about LiquidHaskell.
Kids Can Code Too
A s reported in the Winter issue of the Jacobs School of Engineering's Pulse magazine, "Kids shouldn't have to wait until college to learn programming-and to learn that it can be fun. That's the premise that led computer science Ph.D. students Sarah Esper (pictured at far right, testing game with students from Spreckels Elementary School) and Stephen Foster to develop CodeSpells, a first-person player video game designed to teach students in elementary through high school how to program in Java." CodeSpells is the only video game that completely immerses programming into the game play. The player is a wizard in a land populated by gnomes. The wizard writes spells in Java within the game.
The pair, along with biochemistry Ph.D. student Lindsey Handley, also launched ThoughtSTEM, a startup that provides computer science workshops, afterschool programs and camps for children ages 8 to 18. It now serves 150 children (two pictured at left) every week with programs ranging from Sundays at UC San Diego, to after-school programs at Gompers Prep and Notre Dame Academy, and even a course that Esper teaches in UC San Diego Extension. As Esper told Pulse: ""Seeing how much everybody wants this to be part of their life keeps us motivated." Read the Pulse article.Free CodeSpells download for Windows or Mac.Visit the ThoughtSTEM website.
GirlTECH San Diego Makes Coding Cool
In January a consortium of San Diego universities, led by the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), launched a program called GirlTECH San Diego. CSE lecturer Beth Simon and CSE Ph.D. candidate Sarah Esper are among the participants in the non-profit collaborative community program aimed at encouraging and educating young women to learn and apply computing skills. UCSD, SDSU, USD and Point Loma Nazarene are all involved. Initially, GirlTECH San Diego will be focused on providing afterschool computing clubs for secondary school girls in educational community settings at various levels. "Some young women lack interest because they don't realize that computing will empower them in any field they pursue, and those with an interest in computing don't necessarily pursue greater skill development because it's either not available at their school or because they lack self-confidence to participate in what is perceived as a male-oriented geek environment," said Diane Baxter, SDSC's education director. "GirlTECH San Diego creates opportunities for young women with an interest in computing to be empowered by that interest, and to share that interest with peers in a social, collaborative, positive, and directed learning environment." In January a consortium of San Diego universities, led by the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), launched a program called GirlTECH San Diego. CSE lecturer Beth Simon and CSE Ph.D. candidate Sarah Esper are among the participants in the non-profit collaborative community program aimed at encouraging and educating young women to learn and apply computing skills. UCSD, SDSU, USD and Point Loma Nazarene are all involved. Initially, GirlTECH San Diego will be focused on providing afterschool computing clubs for secondary school girls in educational community settings at various levels. "Some young women lack interest because they don't realize that computing will empower them in any field they pursue, and those with an interest in computing don't necessarily pursue greater skill development because it's either not available at their school or because they lack self-confidence to participate in what is perceived as a male-oriented geek environment," said Diane Baxter, SDSC's education director. "GirlTECH San Diego creates opportunities for young women with an interest in computing to be empowered by that interest, and to share that interest with peers in a social, collaborative, positive, and directed learning environment." Read the full news release.Learn more about GirlTECH San Diego.
The Winter 2013/14 issue of Pulse magazine, published by the Jacobs School of Engineering, is now out, and its features include an article on "Probing Bitcoins." The article focuses on the work of a team of CSE researchers, including Ph.D. student Sarah Meiklejohn (at right), undergrad Marjori Pomarole, research scientist Kirill Levchenko (Ph.D. '08), and others, including CSE professors Geoffrey Voelker and Stefan Savage. Bitcoins were introduced in 2009, and largely touted for their relative anonymity. But, as the Pulse article explains, "Bitcoin transactions may be anonymous, but they're also completely transparent. This makes stealing easier, but cashing in on the theft without getting caught a lot more difficult." As of April 13, 2013, the CSE researchers were able to document more than 16 million transactions and more than 12 million public keys (the addresses employed by Bitcoin users for their transactions). The one-year research expedition through the Bitcoin network was an experience for Meiklejohn. "It's a different world," the cryptography student told Pulse. "If someone steals your funds, you can see where they're going." Read the full story. Read the paper delivered at IMC 2013.
Smarr Diagnoses 'Takeoff' for Quantified Self Movement
CSE Prof. Larry Smarr (left) was one of the first scientists on the front lines of the Quantified Self movement. Four years after beginning to track his own health data, and three years after catching early his own onset of inflammatory bowel disease, the Calit2 director thinks "we can basically say we've reached takeoff." Smarr was speaking at a packed meeting Jan. 15 of the San Diego MIT Enterprise Forum. As recapped by writer Bruce Bigelow of Xconomy.com, Smarr traced a handful of developments that are evidence of health self-monitoring reaching "an inflection point." MyFitnessPal now has 40 million users of its calorie-tracking technology. Fitbit has raised close to $70 million in venture capital since 2007 based on its development and sale of activity and weight-tracking devices, and the maker of health-monitoring armbands, BodyMedia, was acquired last year by Jawbone - which paid more than $100 million. Even the collapse of sleep-monitoring company Zeo, has not made Smarr doubt the future of personal health monitoring. "It might seem counter-intuitive that Smarr would interpret [Zeo's shutdown] as a sign the industry is awakening," mused Xconomy's Bigelow. "But Zero's demise and big funding deals and mergers represent a healthy ecosystem to Smarr." For more than 350 people at the MIT Enterprise Forum, Smarr had an upbeat message. "We are going to see in our lifetime," he said, "a complete revolution in healthcare and wellness." Read the Xconomy article.
January 22, 2014 - 11am-Noon - Room 1202, CSE Building
University of Michigan professor H.V. Jagadish will talk about "Helping Humans Use Big Data." He argues that many experts define the problem of Big Data too narrowly. In his talk, Jagadish will offer a brief overview of the Big Data landscape and then describe some efforts aimed at addressing challenges that Big Data pose to humans, based on studies involving large result set sizes, large numbers of data sources, and high complexity of the data analysis process.
Austrian researcher Sasha Rubin (of TU Wien and IST Austria) will deliver a theory-based seminar on "Memoryless Determinacy of Cycle Games." In this work, Rubin studies some aspects of the memory requirements for winning strategies of finite cycle games (FCGs) and their infinite-duration counterparts.
January 22, 2014 - 3pm-4pm - Calit2 Room 4004, Atkinson Hall
This talk by UCLA professor Mihaela van der Schaar will focus on "Designing Optimal Resource Sharing in the Long Run." She will propose a novel, systematic and practical design framework for distributed resource sharing that is optimal (efficient), decentralized, requires minimal and imperfect feedback and monitoring, allows for dynamic entry and exit and for self-interested agents.
CSE Prof. Ryan Kastner (at left) is one of the speakers slated for the 2014 Computer Science and Engineering Day. He will talk about embedded computer vision. CSE Day is for students and anyone interested in the CSE department and potential future opportunities in computer science and computer engineering. Special panels will focus on how to create a startup, how to get a tech career, views of CSE from grad students and alumni, plus talks on topics including cloud computing and mobility. CSE Day 2014 will also bring back its annual Jeopardy event. To participate and potentially win prizes, be sure to register ahead of time.
January 27, 2014 - 2pm-3pm - Room 1202, CSE Building
In this CSE Colloquium and Distinguished Lecture, ETH Zurich professor Donald Kossmann will talk about "When Is A=B?" Sorting and computing joins are based on comparisons between two values. Traditional algorithms assume that machines do not make mistakes. This assumption holds in traditional computing environments; however, it does not hold in new emerging computing environments. One example is crowdsourcing in which humans carry out comparisons. Another example might be future hardware in which a new generation of low energy processor might fumble operations with a certain probability. In this work, we explore how to develop more resilient algorithms that take into account that the result of a computational operation might be wrong.
This roadshow workshop is free for UCSD faculty and students, providing access to FDA and other experts on managing mobile app development under new FDA guidelines. The event is co-sponsored by the von Liebig Entrepreneurship Center and the UCSD Institute of Engineering in Medicine (IEM).
January 31, 2014 - 11am-Noon - Room 1202, CSE Building
Princeton University computer science lecturer Josh Hug will explore "MOOC and Me: Development of the Princeton Algorithms MOOC and its On-Campus Counterpart." Hug will discuss his experience building a MOOC as well as a flipped lecture experiment conducted in Spring 2013, as well as plans to extend the experiment in Spring 2014.
Have a notice about upcoming travel to conferences, etc., for the Faculty GPS column in our weekly CSE Newsletter? Be sure to let us know! Email Doug Ramsey at firstname.lastname@example.org.