This is the first CSE e-newsletter of the 2013-'14 academic year, in a new format, so we want to catch up on some of the top stories of the summer. The new year begins with this week's 25th Anniversary Celebration, a celebration that will continue throughout the year. Click here to read more about the Oct. 11 event program.
Looking back, the biggest story of the year happened in June: an anonymous $18.5 million gift from an alumnus, making it the largest gift ever made to the university by one of its alumni. The gift will fund new endowed chairs for faculty, top-of-the-line teaching labs, support for grad students, and expanded mentoring and tutoring programs for the next generation of undergrads.
Now here's a recap of the stories you may have missed over the summer...
A New Frontier for Learning Bioinformatics
He's wearing cowboy duds to reinforce how the field of bioinformatics is like the Wild West: CSE Prof. Pavel Pevzner says his upcoming online course, "Bioinformatics Algorithms (Part I)", will introduce students worldwide to a new frontier for students from math, computer science and biology. The course opened for registrations Sept. 30 on Coursera, the global online learning network. The course, which begins on Oct. 21, breaks ground on several fronts: it incorporates a substantial research component, provides a new e-book on bioinformatics algorithms, and uses the Rosalind online resource for learning bioinformatics through problem solving.
CSE Team Decodes Genetic Basis of Chronic Mountain Sickness
In the Sept. 5 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, CSEProf. Vineet Bafna and colleagues dissected the genetic mechanisms underlying high-altitude adaptation by comparing genetic variation between Peruvians from the Andes region suffering from chronic mountain sickness (CMS), or Monge's disease, and those adapted subjects without CMS. They did so using whole genome sequencing. Their study provides important information that validates the genetic basis of adaptation to high altitudes, and provides potential targets for CMS treatment. Bafna's co-authors on the paper include two Bioinformatics and Systems Biology students in his lab, Ph.D. student Roy Ronen and alumnus Nitin Udpa (Ph.D. '13), now at Illumina, Inc., in La Jolla.
Design at Large
CSE Prof. Scott Klemmer launched a new lecture series called "Design at Large" on Sept. 26, and it will run every Thursday from 5-6pm through the quarter in Room 4004 of Atkinson Hall. An interdisciplinary mix of invited speakers will share their research on design that engages the world, often leveraging scale in new and exciting ways. Topics will include online learning, social computing, civic engagement, crowdsourcing, and more. According to Klemmer, "all are welcome to attend: students, faculty, coaches, robots..." The full schedule will be posted here soon, and on Twitter @DesignAtLarge. Students also have the option to sign up for one unit of credit (cogs260/cse290).
Bitcoins May Not Be Anonymous, After All
Ph.D. student Sarah Meiklejohn is causing a major stir in the world of cryto-currency and black market transactions. She's part of a team of CSE faculty, grad students, undergrads and a former postdoc investigating the Bitcoin market and cybercrime. The team found a way to link transactions to Bitcoin merchants and services - potentially undermining one major use of Bitcoin: funding online purchases of illegal products. Meiklejohn's findings hit paydirt on Slashdot, and Bloomberg Businessweek previewed a new paper by Meiklejohn and her colleagues, which "argues that the network's increased reliance on a few large accounts makes user identities less secure." That paper, "A Fistful of Bitcoins: Characterizing Payments Among Men with No Names," will be presented Oct. 24 in Barcelona at the ACM Internet Measurement Conference. CSE professor Stefan Savage and Geoff Voelker are co-authors on the paper, as are undergrad Marjori Pomarole, grad student Grant Jordan, CSE alumnus Kirill Levchenko (now at the Center for Networked Systems) and former CSE postdoc Damon McCoy (now teaching at George Mason University).
CSE researchers have developed a new model to simulate with unprecedented accuracy the way cloth and light interact. The computer model can be used in animated movies and video games to make cloth look more realistic, according to CSE alumnus Iman Sadeghi (Ph.D. '11), who developed the model while working on his Ph.D. The model is based on a novel approach that simulates the interaction of light with cloth by simulating how each thread scatters light.
A Family Reunion for CSE Tutors
CSE tutors work in undergraduate labs, where they provide one-on-one and small-group mentoring, and both tutors and students can forge lifelong bonds. That was evident in June, when 170 alumni of the CSE Tutors program came back to UC San Diego for their second-ever reunion. "I come back to the people who made me who I am," said Anu Mupparthi (BS '08, MS '11), who now works in the Google+ photo group. The department also created the CSE Tutor Challenge in hopes of raising $250,000 for the tutor program. The department will match all gifts for the tutor program 1:1 up to a total of $125,000. Many former tutors have already stepped up, including Taner Halicioglu (BS '96), who recently made a $25,000 gift to the program.
CSE Prof. Bill Griswold (right), along with a team of colleagues, has been awarded the 2013 Impact Paper Award from ACM's Special Interest Group on Software Engineering. The award was announced in late July. Griswold and his co-authors were cited for their paper on "Dynamically Discovering Likely Program Invariants to Support Program Evolution," published in the proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE) in 1999. The paper initiated a revolutionary and important line of research that is still very active and relevant today: extracting models of software and reasoning about its behavior. The approach it defined - analyzing runtime traces to detect consistent properties at key points in the program text - has significantly influenced both the state of the art and the state of the practice.
Lecturer Christine Alvarado (left), who joined CSE in Fall 2012, has been awarded theABIE A. Richard Newton Educator Award. She was singled out for her amazing success story at Harvey Mudd College, where she spearheaded a change in the culture that resulted in dramatic increases in the participation of women studying and pursuing careers in the field of computing. As a result, today over 40% of Harvey Mudd's computer science students are women! Look for Alvarado to shake up the culture in CSE as well.
CSE jumped several notches in a widely-reported international ranking of top universities by discipline, and the increase occurred prior to expansion now under way in the wake of the anonymous $18.5 million gift to CSE. The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), released in late August, put UCSD computer science at #11 in 2013, up sharply from #14 in the 2012 ranking, and from #16 in 2011. Scientific publications and highly-cited researchers represent the bulk of the indicators used for the ARWU rankings.
How affordable is computer science at UC San Diego? The Web-based rankings by AffordableCollegesOnlinereleased its survey Aug. 27 of the top 20 computer science program in the U.S. based on their lifetime return on investment (ROI). They compare the cost of a four-year undergraduate degree with the expected income in the 30 years after graduation. CSE ranked #13, with a cost of $115,500 yielding a 30-year ROI topping $1.9 million. UCSD was one of six UC campuses to make the top 20 for most affordable -- or most valuable -- Bachelor's degree in computer science.
CSE students with a Bachelor's degree ranked 9th for salary earning potential in the 2013-14 PayScale report, which measures top schools across the nation based on mid-career pay of $115,000 per year. But the survey also shows that starting pay averaging $70,000 a year for UCSD computer science majors with two years of experience means that CSE is doing better than all but four schools, public or private: UC Berkeley, Stanford, MIT and Carnegie Mellon. Looking at the numbers another way: the starting salary of $70,000 for CSE grads is well above the average for all students leaving UCSD with a Bachelor's degree, which is just $49,300 per year. Keep studying!
Pass the Mustard... Gary Cottrell is in Dijon, France, on sabattical. That's where his coincidentally-named colleague, Bob French, is a research director in the National Center for Science Research at the University of Burgundy. Cottrell was also recently in Tuebingen, Germany, for the Bernstein Conference on Computational Neuroscience. He presented a poster by his student Ben Cipollini from UCSD's Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA) on how connectivity between hemispheres of the brain endures across species.
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!