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CSE News

  • SimpleCard App for iPhone Developed by CSE Junior

    Mobile app development also led to the creation of another CSE student-run startup, Swipe Development. The undergraduate, Daniel Brim, developed a service called SimpleCard, and put simply, it offers a new way for students to use flashcards. As stated on their website, "most other flashcard apps are geared towards students who are studying material that doesn't take up a lot of space on a flashcard. SimpleCard was made originally for college students who want to study lots of complicated material that can't be boiled down into a couple of sentences. It is also one of the few flashcard apps that focuses first and foremost on user experience and design, instead of providing unnecessarily bloated features." According to Brim, who is a junior majoring in computer science with a minor in business, "Studying should be straightforward and simple. Our app gets straight to the point." The flashcard app and website are targeted at students who deal with large data sets which require implementing memory recycling concepts to present the flashcards dynamically when needed. For the moment, SimpleCard is only available for the iPhone. Click here to learn more about the SimpleCard app.

  • CSE Students Join Interdisciplinary Team Documenting Ancient Sites in Calabria

    An interdisciplinary team of Ph.D. students from UC San Diego, including two CSE Ph.D. students, visited Calabria in the boot of Italy Oct. 8-15 to participate in several excavations. But David Vanoni and Vid Petrovic (pictured deploying thermal imaging equipment) weren’t using picks or shovels. Instead, they were documenting progress at each site as the excavation season came to an end. The visit coincided with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between UC San Diego’s Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3) and the Department of Archaeology and Art History of Italy’s University of Calabria (UNICAL). “This is an important partnership because the two sides have interests that are closely aligned,” said CISA3 Director Falko Kuester. “Calabria is the location of some of the most important archaeological finds in Europe going back many civilizations, and UC San Diego is developing technologies and new methodologies that will enhance our ability to uncover the secrets of our past.”

    In addition to Vanoni and Petrovic (pictured at left with structural engineering student Michael Hess at the Murgie di Santa Caterina site), other UC San Diego grad students on the expedition came from structural engineering, materials science, and anthropological archaeology. At an early medieval monastery, the CSE students brainstormed with Italian counterparts on ways to improve data collection, processing and analysis, and to build a virtual model of the site. Technologies used at the Castello Svevo high above the medieval city of Rocca Imperiale included photogrammetry, laser scanning, Structure-from-Motion imaging, thermal imaging and stereoscopic (3D) photography. At another site, they also used x-ray fluorescence to determine the structural health of an 11th century church. CSE’s Vanoni and Petrovic also briefed archaeologists from the University of Calabria on topics including data management, visualization of archaeological data, and user interfaces. Read full news release here.

  • An "Uncanny Ability": Stefan Savage Honored with SIGOPS Mark Weiser Award

    On Nov. 5, CSE Prof. Stefan Savage received the 2013 ACM SIGOPS Mark Weiser Award during the Symposium on Operating Systems Principles (SOSP) in Farmington, PA. “Professor Savage’s work crosses the boundaries from technology challenges to public policy implications of cybersecurity,” says CSE Chair Rajesh Gupta. “His work is a prime example of how computer science is catalyzing scientific advances and solving societal problems.” Nominees must be less than 20 years into their careers; Savage (at right and below giving thumbs-up) earned his Ph.D. and joined CSE in 2001 – the same year as the award itself was launched to honor Mark Weiser’s long career at Xerox PARC. The Weiser Award goes to individual researchers who are chosen based on contributions to computer systems research that are “highly creative, innovative, and possibly high-risk.”

    “Stefan Savage is, by far, the most creative person working in the hugely important fields of network security, privacy and reliability,” according to materials submitted as part of his nomination. “He has an uncanny ability to ask exactly the right question, propose exactly the right solution, and see that solution through to impact.”

    Savage’s reputation was not built on a single contribution. Nominating materials credit him with “a collection of individually high-impact contributions that point in a single, critically important direction: analyzing Internet attacks and attackers as elements of an integrated technological, societal, and economic system, and recognizing that no one-dimensional intervention has a prayer of succeeding… Our inability to select a single ‘greatest hit’ does not make The Beatles a lesser band; rather, we recognize that any one of their better songs would have been sufficient to catapult a lesser band into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.” Savage’s Ph.D. advisors at the University of Washington are previous winners of the Weiser Award: Brian Bershad in 2004, and Tom Anderson in 2005. “This recognition of Stefan’s work underlines the department's success in identifying compelling junior talent and cultivating them to reach heights in their research careers,” observed CSE’s Gupta. “Stefan is also an extraordinarily pleasant colleague to work with, one who is solidly at the core of the collegial culture of this department.” Savage is a member of the Systems and Networking  Currently Savage is the Director of the Center for Networked Systems (CNS) and Co-Director of the Collaborative Center for Internet Epidemiology and Defenses (CCIED).  Read the full news release.

  • Amazon Cloud Services for Student Startups

    The Moxie Center's mission is to educate student entrepreneurs and encourage them to "dream, design, develop" their ideas into businesses. To further that mission, the center has announced a partnership with that will provide Moxie Center-based student startups with free access to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) new  AWS Activate program for early-stage companies. The Amazon program will provide each eligible Moxie Center startup with a substantial grant for use of the AWS cloud computing platform, including servers, databases, payment services, etc.  These resources will allow for support of online applications ranging from simple websites to complex software as a service (SaaS) applications.  Moxie Center startups will also receive free training, one year of free AWS Business Support, access to Startup Forums, and other AWS Activate services. 

    Jacobs School alumni and others interested in the Moxie Center and its programs have the opportunity to network and learn about them this Wednesday, November 6 from 5:30-7:30PM in the Qualcomm Conference Center of Jacobs Hall. Attendees will be able to see first-hand how students develop product prototypes, learn about entrepreneurship and live the Moxie Incubator Experience, as well as explore mentoring opportunities. 

  • Videos, Timelines from CSE 25th Anniversary Now Online

    For anyone who was unable to attend CSE’s 25th Anniversary event on Oct. 11, the event website has now been transformed into an archive of the day’s events. On the Agenda/Videos page, watch the 10-minute video about the “History of CSE” and the early days of computer science at UCSD. Also watch replays of the introductory talks by CSE Chair Rajesh Gupta, Calit2 Director (and CSE Professor) Larry Smarr, and UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla (who is also on the CSE faculty!)  All but one of the CSE Chairs participated in a panel discussion and Q&A (pictured at right), which is also available as video for on-demand viewing. Click on the “Watch Video” links to take another look at the highlight lectures given by current and former CSE faculty: Yoav Freund on computer intelligence; Fran Berman on data-driven innovation; and Christos Papadimitriou on evolution inspired and informed by computational insights. The video archive also includes closing remarks by Jacobs School of Engineering Dean Al Pisano.

    Also in the archive: nearly 100 images in the Photo Gallery, including documentation of the research poster session (pictured at left) that followed Chancellor Khosla’s remarks. The archive also includes a Timeline page, providing access to large PDFs of four timeline panels that allow readers to follow the history of computer science at UCSD from “The Early Years (1965-1986)” to “A Code of Excellence (2007-2013).” Finally, on the App page, learn about the Whova Event – CSE25 app used by attendees on Oct. 11; it was the first large-scale demonstration by Whova, a company spun off and led by CSE Prof. YY Zhou out of CSE’s Systems and Networking group.

    Click here to recapture the magic of CSE’s 25th Anniversary celebration


  • Are Racks-on-Chip the Future of Data Centers?

    Increasing the scale and decreasing the cost and power of data centers requires greatly boosting the density of computing, storage and networking within those centers. That is the hard truth spelled out in the journal Science by CSE and Center for Networked Systems (CNS) research scientist George Porter (at right) and ECE chair Shaya Fainman. Writing in the Oct. 11 edition of Science, they argue that one promising avenue to deliver increased density involves “racks on a chip.” These devices would contain many individual computer processing cores integrated with sufficient network capability to fully utilize those cores by supporting massive amounts of data transfer into and out of them. However, in order to shrink racks of servers - and eventually data centers - down to the size of a chip, a new data center network design is needed. According to the article, “Directing Data Center Traffic,” the large-scale data centers supporting the growth of cloud computing must transmit data from server to server within the data center at bandwidths that are “orders of magnitude greater than their connections to end users.”

    Industry is looking for ways to integrate optical networks densely within multicore processors, but Porter and Fainman argue that there are other challenges to overcome before that will be possible. “Next-generation data center designs built with rack-on-chip designs will need to support both circuit and packet switching,” according to the Science article. Furthermore, each processor in the rack-on-chip design must have a transceiver, which converts the electrical signals in the processing core with the optical photons that travel through fiber-optic cables – which would require shrinking them small enough to integrate with the rack-on-chip. To prevent overheating, the transceivers need to be “low-power and highly efficient,” so that only a small number of photons traveling a short distance should be needed to represent a bit of information. For all the recent advances in nanophotonics and silicon photonics, “the efficient generation of light on a silicon chip is still in its infancy,” noted the researchers, adding however that the technology could eventually deliver online applications to hundreds of millions of users, and enable big-data applications such as computational climate modeling. How soon? Asked after the Science article’s publication, CNS’s Porter - who is a member of CSE's Systems and Networking group - was realistic: “We’re excited about the potential of using cutting-edge photonic devices in data center networks, but the process of determining just what capabilities those devices should have, and then working with physics and engineers to actually build and integrate them, is a decade-long undertaking.” Read the full news release.

  • Countering Click Spam

    When is a click not a click? When an advertising network registers a click on one of their online advertisements, how can it be sure that a single consumer – a “pair of eyeballs” in Madison Avenue jargon – and not a malware computer program, is behind that one click? Or that the viewer’s click was intentional, not induced by deceptive or misleading advertising? Click-spam has become a little-known way of life on the Internet. Little known, compared to other types of spam, because much of the fraud is targeted at the advertising networks, rather than at consumers directly. So what happens when an automated system can “click” on hundreds of ads in less than a second? “Hundreds of millions of dollars are siphoned off in ad revenues based on illicit click-spam schemes,” said CSE postdoctoral researcher Vacha Dave (right), who works closely with CSE Prof. Geoff Voelker on security issues. “We knew click-spam was out there, but the hard part was how to prove the fraud scientifically. So we came up with an approach based on what the most frequent scams have in common.”

    In a paper to be presented November 7 in the “Web Attacks” session of the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security in Berlin, Germany, Dave (pronounced dah-veh) will spell out a new approach to fighting click-spam. (Pictured at left: the anatomy of a click.) She and her co-authors Yin Zhang at the University of Texas at Austin and Saikat Guha at Microsoft Research India came up with a catchy name for the algorithm they created to catch click-spam in search ad networks. They call it ViceROI, and it’s designed to be deployed at the ad network where it has visibility into all ad clicks. “We designed ViceROI based on the intuition that click-spam is a profit-making business that needs to deliver higher return on investment – ROI – for click-spammers than other ethical business models in order to offset the downside risk of getting caught,” said the researcher. “Click-spam publishers should therefore have inordinately high return on investment.” Figuring out actual ROI can be difficult because ad networks jealously guard their data, so the researchers employed revenue-per-user estimates as a close proxy for ROI. The result: the “simple-but-general ViceROI approach” was put in place with real-world data from a large ad network, and it had an immediate major impact.  Read the full news release.

  • CSE Ph.D. Alumnus with Manifesto on Computing for New Forms of Cultural Expression

    2013 is turning out to be a banner year for CSE alumnus D. Fox Harrell (Ph.D. Computer Science and Cognitive Science, ’07). In July he received tenure at MIT, where he is an associate professor of digital media. He juggles an appointment in Comparative Media Studies and in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). Now Harrell is coming to a bookstore near you with the publication this week of “Phantasmal Media: An Approach to Imagination, Computation, and Expression” (MIT Press).  Carefully grounded in computer science, cognitive linguistics, and media studies, and using illustrative multicultural references ranging from classic cinema to science fiction, from Ralph Ellison to Franz Kafka, Harrell’s work has been called a manifesto on how computing can create powerful new forms of cultural expression. 

    The title of the book derives from Harrell’s definition of phantasms as cognitive “blends of cultural ideas and sensory imagination.” “The book provides an argument that the great expressive power of computational media arises from the construction of phantasms,” Harrell explains, “It provides an approach to analyzing how particular worldviews are built into not only computational media such as social media, e-commerce sites, and videogames, but the book provides a structured approach useful for analyzing media more generally.” Harrell credits CSE with helping to inform his own worldview, from the mentoring by faculty including CSE professors Victor Vianu, Geoff Voelker and the late Joseph Goguen (his advisor), while working toward his dissertation on the “Theory and Technology for Computational Narrative.” Harrell views chapter four of “Phantasmal Media” as a tribute to Goguen’s pioneering theory of algebraic semiotics, which brought him to UCSD in the first place. After Goguen’s passing, Harrell’s Ph.D. committee was co-chaired by Geoff Voelker and Gilles Fauconnier (UCSD Cognitive Science), and also included professors Simon Penny (UC Irvine Arts and Engineering) and Lev Manovich (formerly of UCSD Visual Arts). “I was able to lay the foundation for my current research in CSE at UCSD,” Harrell wrote to Vianu in June after receiving news he was awarded tenure at MIT, adding that he viewed the honor as “more broadly a nice endorsement of interdisciplinary possibilities in computer science.” Harrell now directs MIT’s Imagination, Computation and Expression (ICE) Laboratory. Read the full news release.

  • Students As Oracles: CSE Students Present Research from Delphi to Marseille

    Several CSE graduate students are spending much of the fall quarter in glamorous locations such as Greece, France and Italy. As part of the NSF-funded IGERT graduate training program in cultural heritage diagnostics at UCSD, grad students David Vanoni, John Mangan and Andrew Huynh will present their research at Digital Heritage 2013 Oct. 29-30 in Marseille, France. All three are affiliated with Calit2’s Qualcomm Institute and its Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3), where the IGERT project is based. Vanoni (pictured at far right, in ancient Delphi) and fellow CSE Ph.D. student Vid Petrovic (second from left, with CISA3 archaeology students Aliya Hoff and Ashley Richter) were recently in Greece to give talks at conferences in Delphi, Crete and Athens. At the Workshop on Virtual Archaeology, Museums and Cultural Tourism in Delphi, they presented work on visualization of archaeological data, notably for collaborative analysis and dissemination to the public through museums and other cultural outreach. Vid Petrovic described the development and refinement of a navigable, point-buffered environment, which allows multimedia and data sets to be layered over a digital point-cloud scaffold for annotated visualizations. The technology has been tested at CISA3 sites in San Diego, Florence and southern Jordan. David Vanoni works in augmented reality, and in his Delphi talk, Vanoni described using object recognition to cross-reference artifacts and site landscapes. “If you utilize the application on an artifact in a museum, you can access information about the archaeological site it came from,” he explained. “Conversely, if you are at the archaeological site, it will access information about the artifacts collected from there as they are subsequently displayed in museums.” A paper by CSE lecturer Jurgen Schulze -- on visualizing 3D archaeological data using the CalVR middleware he developed in Calit2 for virtual-reality environments known as CAVEs -- was presented in Schulze’s absence by CISA3 grad student Matthew Vincent. Later, David Vanoni participated in Structure-from-Motion 3D modeling and CAVEcam 3D photography at an ancient site in Corinth – the Fountain of Peirene, the favored watering hole of Pegasus, according to Greek mythology.

    Next stop: Marseille. At Digital Heritage 2013, Vanoni (pictured far left at Mochlos) and Petrovic have a paper on “digital archaeological landscapes and replicated artifacts,” and Vanoni will present a poster on his user-centered system design of an augmented -reality tablet application for cultural heritage sites, including museums. In the same poster session, John Mangan – who juggles CSE grad school and work in the Qualcomm Institute’s visualization group – will report on the use of Media Commons for displaying cyber-archaeology data. And CSE Ph.D. student Andrew Huynh, who worked on CISA3’s search for the lost tomb of Genghis Khan, will present a paper on “mobile analysis of large temporal datasets for exploration and discovery.” Read the full news release.

  • Ph.D. Student Awarded 2013 ARCS Foundation Fellowship

    On the same day recently when he was showing his research poster during CSE's 25th anniversary celebration, 5th-year Ph.D. student Jason Oberg's fellow awardees were across campus accepting fellowship checks from the San Diego chapter of the ARCS Foundation. Oberg is one of 31 UC San Diego students selected to receive fellowships for the 2013-'14 academic year. Campus-wide, ARCS provided over $222,000 in unrestricted funds to help Oberg and other students complete research, cover travel expenses to conferences, or fulfill other financial obligations. Since 1987, the local chapter has donated $3.9 million to benefit UCSD students. “These awards have enabled hundreds of students to conduct research that will ultimately help our community and transform lives,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “We thank the ARCS Foundation for their commitment to our students and their leadership in promoting research.”

    Oberg's research is focused on security related to embedded systems and reconfigurable devices, such as field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). "I am interested in computer architecture, embedded systems, high-level synthesis and security," says Oberg, whose advisor is CSE Prof. Ryan Kastner. “This support allows me the flexibility to focus completely on my research and dissertation this year. Rather than having to scramble for grants and other awards, it allows me to stay focused on finishing my Ph.D., which, if all goes well, I hope to receive by this time next year." The ARCS Foundation, a national non-profit led entirely by women, has been providing financial awards to scholars like Oberg since 1958, aiming to sustain and enhance research in science, engineering and medicine in the U.S. “We believe in your potential to be game changers in your area of expertise,” said Virginia Chasey, VP of university relations for the San Diego chapter of the ARCS Foundation, after presenting the fellowship checks on Oct. 11. For more information about the foundation, click here. For opportunities to support scholarships and fellowships at UC San Diego, visit the campus giving page

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