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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...


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... 


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...

  • This New Method Identifies Up to Twice as Many Proteins and Peptides in Mass Spectrometry Data

    By Ioana Patringenaru

    An international team of researchers developed a method that identifies up to twice as many proteins and peptides in mass spectrometry data than conventional approaches. The method can be applied to a range of fields, including clinical settings and fundamental biology research for cancer and other diseases. The key to the new method’s improved performance is its ability to compare data to so-called spectral libraries—essentially a pattern-matching exercise—rather than individual spectra or a database of sequences.

    The team describes their results in the Nov. 9 issue of Nature Methods. “You can integrate our method with existing pipelines to increase performance by up to three- to four-fold,” said Nuno Bandeira, the study's senior author. Bandeira is a professor in the Jacobs School of Engineering's Department of Computer Science and Engineering and in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy at UC San Diego.

  • UC San Diego Launches Robotics Institute

    By Daniel Kane

    San Diego, Calif., Oct. 29, 2015 — The Jacobs School of Engineering and Division of Social Sciences at the University of California, San Diego have launched the Contextual Robotics Institute to develop safe and useful robotics systems. These robotics systems will function in the real world based on the contextual information they perceive, in real time. Elder care and assisted living, disaster response, medicine, transportation and environmental sensing are just some of the helpful applications that could emerge from tomorrow’s human-friendly robots.

    Ph.D. students Benjamin Shih and Dylan Drotman monitor a computer while Ph.D. student Adriane Minori gets ready to remove a 3D-printed object from the soft robotic gripper.

    The Contextual Robotics Institute will leverage UC San Diego’s research strengths in engineering, computer science and cognitive science and work collaboratively across the campus and the region to establish San Diego as a leader in the research, development and production of human-friendly robotics systems.

    “This is an extremely exciting time for robotics researchers,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla, who is also a world-renowned roboticist. “Many robotics subfields have seen incredible advances in the last few years. The time is right for UC San Diego to step up and take a leadership role in the future of robotics.”

  • Computer Scientist Receives Prestigious Award for Operating Systems Research

    San Diego, Calif., Oct. 13, 2015 — Computer scientist Yuanyuan “YY” Zhou from the University of California, San Diego, received the prestigious SIGOPS Mark Weiser Award during a ceremony Oct. 5. She was recognized “for innovative and creative contributions to detecting and recovering from defects in complex computer systems.”

    "YY's research scales boundaries of systems and software engineering to produce solutions that strictly advance state of the art and find immediate use in practice," said Rajesh Gupta, chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego. "In her quiet certitude, YY encodes the best among our researchers. We are proud of her accomplishments."

    The Weiser Award, given by the ACM Special Interest Group on Operating Systems, goes to individual researchers in the first 20 years of their career, chosen based on contributions to computer systems research that are “highly creative, innovative, and possibly high-risk.”
    “This award reflects YY’s innovative work on finding software defects at a large scale by using data-mining techniques,” said Stefan Savage, a computer science professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering, who was the first UC San Diego to win the award back in 2013. “These techniques have been commercialized and are now widely used at companies like Cisco, Qualcomm and Intel.”
    Zhou also developed a system to automatically evolve fixes to software crashes as they occur. She employed virtualization, rollback and environmental mutation to do so. She is the second UC San Diego computer scientist to earn the accolade, putting the campus in the same league as MIT, Stanford and Google for the number of winners.
    “As rapid advances in computing hardware have led to dramatic improvement in computer performance, the issues of reliability, availability, maintainability and cost of ownership are becoming increasingly important,” said Zhou, who is the first holder of the Qualcomm Endowed Chair in Mobile Computing at UC San Diego and an affiliate of the Qualcomm Insitute, which is the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). “My research aims to address these challenge issues in designing the next generation of computing systems.”  
  • Mining Microbiomes: Chancellor Announces New Campus-wide Microbiome and Microbial Sciences Initiative

    By Heather Buschman

    San Diego, Calif., Oct. 29, 2015 — You are only 10 percent human. Ninety percent of the cells that make up our bodies are actually bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes. And researchers are now finding that these unique microbial communities — called microbiomes — can greatly influence human and environmental health. The human gut microbiome alone has now been linked to allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and many other conditions.

    Rob Knight, Ph.D., and Kit Pogliano, Ph.D. Photo by Ryan Parks.To advance studies of microbiomes found in the gut and everywhere else on earth, Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla today unveiled the UC San Diego Microbiome and Microbial Sciences Initiative, a concerted research and education effort that will leverage the university’s strengths in science, medicine, engineering and the humanities to produce a detailed understanding of microbiomes and methods for manipulating them for the benefit of human and environmental health.

    “Microbiome research and innovation have grown far beyond the interest or reach of a single laboratory, or even a single discipline,” Khosla said. “UC San Diego is extraordinarily well-positioned to meet the growing need for advanced tools, technologies and expertise to understand and harness the activities of our planet’s and our bodies’ microbial ecosystems. This new Initiative will place our faculty, researchers and students at the forefront of a rapidly emerging and diversifying field that holds great potential for widespread social and economic benefits.”

  • UC San Diego Develops Online Software Development Courses for Coursera

    Enrollment now open, classes to start Sept. 15

    Three members of the Computer Science and Engineering faculty at the University of California, San Diego are the brains behind a new online course series to teach intermediate software development to learners around the world, Java Programming: Object-Oriented Design of Data Structures. The four courses and a Capstone Project make up a Specialization mini-degree program commissioned by Coursera, a leading provider of open online courses with 15 million registered learners worldwide.

    Earlier this year, a UC San Diego team of teaching professors consisting of Christine Alvarado, Mia Minnes and Leo Porter (pictured l-r) was awarded the opportunity to work with Coursera to develop the intermediate level Specialization.  Google is contributing ideas for real-world projects and the involvement of its engineers as guest lecturers to the Specialization. The company is interested in learning how participants use and experience the courses and may benefit from them.  (Coursera is also working with Duke University to develop an introductory level software development Specialization, with similar involvement from Google.)

    Alvarado, Minnes and Porter are popular teachers, but they also share a passion for research about computer-science education. Most of that research has focused on learning in the classroom, and the new courses for Coursera give the lecturers an opportunity to adapt what they have learned about education in the classroom to improve how computer science is taught online.

    “This Specialization is truly a unique offering for computer science learners,” said Porter.  “All the courses feature novel approaches to online-based learning – approaches we have developed by adapting best practices from computer-science education research to this new context.” 

    When the Specialization launches on Sept. 15, it is expected to draw thousands of self-paced learners each month. The instructors recommend that students should already have a basic familiarity with Java programming, but there is no formal prerequisite. The first course in the series goes beyond coding, with students learning to design and build more complex Java software projects.

    “We’ll explore how to divide up a large project into a hierarchy of classes and how to increase the functionality of projects by importing existing libraries,” said Mia Minnes, speaking about the first course in the Specialization. “We’ll also look at some core algorithms for searching for and sorting data. Along the way, learners will develop an exciting, interactive application with a graphical user interface.”

    Given their research backgrounds, the instructional team at UC San Diego will be studying the courses’ impact on learners, and their findings will contribute to the still-nascent knowledge base about effective practices in online learning. 

    Minnes, Porter and Alvarado are sharing the teaching workload, and their topics include object-oriented programming, data structures, and performance analysis. Each course in the series runs approximately four weeks, and projects are an important part of the curriculum.

    “We want learners to be inspired to create,” said Alvarado. “They will dive into a course project right away, with each lesson designed around concepts that are directly applicable to extending the project’s functionality.”

    According to the instructors, the courses go beyond what existing online computer science courses offer by exploring topics that are often at the core of interviews for programming internships and full-time jobs. Indeed, the fourth course in the sequence hones in on problem-solving and interview skills.

    Video modules include lectures with core content as well as testimonials and stories from real-world software engineers (for example, discussing the frontiers of the software development industry), together with help videos to rescue learners who get stuck. The courses also offer recorded conversations between on-campus students who are learning the material (pictured l-r: Jahaziel Aguilera, Julia Kapich and Monica Hung) ew– leveraging the UC San Diego professors’ previous research findings on the value of ‘peer instruction’, particularly when it comes to learning computer science.

    There is a growing body of research that peer instruction can play a critical role in improved learning outcomes in computer science education. Students tend to relate better to other students, but it’s also because they are more likely to model their study behaviors to those of learners who appear to have gained a mastery of the subject.

    Each course in the Specialization can be taken independently, or they can be taken in sequence, ultimately culminating in a Capstone Project using intermediate programming and software design skills. Learners who pay for the Specialization and complete the four courses are then invited to undertake the Capstone Project.

  • CSE Lecturer Organizes Conference on Future of Virtual Reality

    Experts from academia and industry will share their insights into the future of virtual-reality technologies and content at the first annual Future of Virtual Reality Conference. The 2015 event takes place Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 8-9, in Atkinson Hall, and it is organized by Qualcomm Institute research scientist Jurgen Schulze, a part-time lecturer in the Computer Science and Engineering department.

    In addition to the conference, the Future of Virtual Reality will also showcase the latest technologies – from large-scale 3D displays to personalized VR systems such as the Oculus Rift – in a demonstration room next to the conference venue. The latest products and prototypes of VR gear will be on display and demonstrated during breaks in the conference schedule to give attendees an opportunity to see and use the newest systems and VR software.

    “Most conferences about virtual reality tend to be either focused on the industry, or the more academic side that looks where the technology is going in the medium to long term,” said conference organizer Schulze. “We decided to merge the two interested audiences, because we see that there is a lot that the two sides can learn from each other – especially when it comes to envisaging how far the technology can take us over the next decade.”

    Funding for the Future of Virtual Reality Conference is provided, in part, by a grant from the Calit2 Strategic Research Opportunities (CSRO) program.

    The institute is uniquely positioned to be a partner for companies wanting to enter the virtual-reality marketplace because of its cutting-­edge visualization and virtual reality laboratories, and its world­-class research activities in real-­time graphics and 3D user interaction. The Qualcomm Institute houses a variety of unique, gold­-standard 3D visualization systems, such as the StarCAVE, NexCAVE, TourCAVE, and WAVE (pictured), all of which are equipped with 3D tracking systems to allow for the prototyping of immersive VR software applications.

    The CSRO grant also provided funds to further develop applications around VR head-mounted displays and see-through augmented-reality displays.   Much of the research at UC San Diego in this area involves user control and 3D interaction as researchers develop strategies for how to best run applications on head-mounted consumer displays such as the Oculus Rift and Sony Morpheus.       

    The conference sessions reflect the breadth of open topics in the VR field, including display hardware, panoramic cameras, content generation, spatialized audio, user interaction, social applications of VR, and so on.   For university researchers one of the underlying issues is that VR applications can be very hardware dependent because they depend on the existence of specific types of input devices or display devices. Although VR applications are designed at the Qualcomm Institute to run on a variety of graphics cluster-based systems, including the StarCAVE, WAVE and even head-mounted devices such as Oculus Rift, they do not run on mobile devices.

    “There are obstacles to deploying our applications on mobile devices, in terms of the operating system, programming language and middleware software,” noted Schulze. “But we believe these obstacles can be overcome so that VR applications can run on the entire range of VR-capable devices, from mobile phones to large, immersive walk-in systems.”

    Indeed, Schulze and his colleagues in the Immersive Visualization Laboratory have already created a batch of software applications bringing traditional elements of virtual reality to mobile devices, including a viewer for archaeological dig sites, a 3D sketching tool, and a cell phone-based data viewer that works in conjunction with a large tiled display wall.

    One of the keynote presentations at the conference will be given by scientist, futurist, author and UC San Diego alumnus David Brin, an acclaimed author of science fiction works that have explored themes of virtual reality. Other speakers at the conference will include academics (Ruth West from the University of North Texas, Sheldon Brown from UC San Diego, and others) as well as industry experts, including Jared Sandrew of Legend 3D, Amir Rubin of Sixense, and Jeffrey Johnson from Aero Glass.

by Dr. Radut