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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...

  • CSE Alumnus, Lead Engineer for Pokémon GO, Back on Campus

    Next time you see someone playing Pokémon GO, the popular mobile phone-based game, keep in mind that a Computer Science and Engineering alumnus, Edward Wu (B.S. '04) leads the groundbreaking game’s technical team.

    Wu is a senior product manager at Niantic, the company that makes Pokémon GO and was spun off in October 2015 from Google, where Wu worked previously.  He earned a dual bachelor’s degree in computer science and physics, and what he learned at UC San Diego is the basis of his success as an engineer, he said during a talk on campus Oct. 13 organized by the Center for Networked Systems (CNS). “I learned the core algorithms, the core fundamentals here,” Wu said. “There is no substitute for that.”

    Wu stayed in touch with CSE Prof. Geoffrey Voelker on and off since 2004, and it was Voelker who invited Wu to speak on campus as part of CNS's Fall 2016 research review. “Ed is an example for all our students to show that what they’re learning prepares you to go out into the world and make a difference,” said Voelker. “The world is now a different place because of Pokémon GO.”

    In his talk, Wu gave an overview of all the engineering and troubleshooting that has to happen for users to catch Pokémon, get supplies, and battle in gyms on their smartphones, at any time and in any place from the United States to France, to Australia. “The key element is overlaying a single, consistent reality over the real world,” Wu explained.

    This is all the more challenging because the game has been downloaded by more than 500 million people. Making Pokémon GO work for even a small fraction of these users is no small feat. Wu and his team spent most of July 2016 in a sleepless state while they were launching the game around the world. Demand was 50 times more than Niantic projected.

    But Pokémon GO is more than just a game, Wu said. “It’s about going outside, going on walks and meeting people in the real world,” he said. The game requires players to walk around and hit up designed spots, called Pokéstops, to get supplies. Players need to physically be near the gym where they want to do battle. Players have logged more than 4.6 billion kilometers (about 2.8 billion miles) between the game’s launch in July and August of this year—that’s half the distance between Earth and Pluto.

    Niantic also recently introduced a feature that allows players to get rewards to power up and evolve Pokémon for every kilometer (about 0.6 miles) they walk with their favorite Pokémon. Wu’s walking buddy is Psyduck, which looks like a cross between a yellow duck and a platypus, walks upright and has psychic powers.

    During his CNS talk, Wu recalled how he tried his hand at developing a multiplayer game for the first time in CSE 125, a computer science class taught by Voelker. Wu and the rest of a student team created a real-time tactical combat game they called “Geteilte Stadt,” German for “a city divided.” During the class, he learned how to collaborate and work with others on complex technical problems, he said. He learned how to code, by himself and with others, and how to resolve disagreements around technical issues. “It was invaluable,” he said. Wu wore a tuxedo during the CSE 125 final presentations, when all teams demonstrated their games.

    Wu was a Jacobs Scholar as an undergraduate at UC San Diego—a select group chosen for their academic achievements, leadership potential and commitment to community service. Jacobs Scholars receive full tuition and living expenses, as well invitations to cultural and other social events hosted by Joan and Irwin Jacobs, and access to a network of current and former Jacobs Scholars. In 2003, he was also a Calit2 Summer Undergraduate Scholar.

  • CSE Highlights Research at Frontiers of Innovation Symposium

    The second annual UC San Diego Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program (FISP) Symposium will take place on October 18 from 8am to 5:45pm at the Price Center. The symposium will showcase interdisciplilnary research carried out by postdocs, graduate and undergraduate student researchers with funding from the campus itself. Two types of presentations are scheduled: oral presentations, and poster sessions (for one-on-one interaction with the student researchers). The oral presentations will run 15 minutes each for undergraduates, 25 minutes for grad students and postdoctoral researchers (in both cases, leaving 5 minutes for Q&A at the end of each talk). 

    CSE students set to deliver oral presentations at the FISP Symposium include Sharad Vikram, a first-year graduate student specializing in machine learning under his mentor, CSE Prof. Sanjoy Dasgupta. His topic: "Air Quality Monitoring with Cheap Hardware."  Vikram designed a cheap air-quality sensor that monitors CO, NO and other pollutants with the goal of better understanding and eventually improving air pollution patterns over a large area (e.g. San Diego County). "We are currently collecting a dataset of sensor measurements from some select locations in Los Angeles," said Vikram. "Current sensors are expensive and immobile, but will produce more reliable and precise measurements than those from a sensor with commodity hardware. Future challenges include remote calibration of sensors to produce robust measurements and inference of air pollution in areas without sensors." Using machine learning and statistical inference, Vikram aims to solve such problems.

    Dual computer science and mathematics major Carolyn Breeze and two other undergraduates in anthropology, Rosemary Elliott Smith and Taylor Harman, worked together on the interdisciplinary At-Risk Cultural Heritage project funded by a University of California Catalyst award. The students were mentored by principal investigator Tom Levy, who directs the new Center for Cyber-Archaeology and Sustainability (CCAS), based in the Qualcomm Institute. The joint FISP project was presented as part of an all-themes session because of its broad applicability to all FISP target areas. The project, "At-Risk Cultural Heritage and Archaeological Data Management: The ArchaeoSTOR Solution," involves a web-based database (above left) called ArchaeoSTOR that helps researchers safely store artifact metadata, location data, photographs, and even point-cloud data (produced using LIDAR laser scans). The students traveled to Greece this past summer with Levy to participate in excavation of a looted Mycenaean tomb at the site of Kastrouli near Delphi. According to their abstract, "the Kastrouli excavations proved to be a perfect field test for the applications of ArchaeoSTOR that our team developed [because it allowed them to] dramatically improve the functionality of the database and preserve vast amounts of precious data associated with the cultural heritage site." 

    Given the inherently interdisciplinary nature of FISP research projects, not all the students working under CSE mentors were computer science students themselves. For instance, CSE Prof. Gary Cottrell mentored nanoengineering Ph.D. student Chen Zhang (right), who was developing "Small Molecule Accurate Recognition Technology" (SMART) while also working in the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine in the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The tool itself was developed to speed up marine natural products discovery, i.e., natural products found in the ocean. "By testing different spectra using this algorithm," says Zhang, "we can rapidly generate hypotheses about the relationship of new molecules to those used for the training -- based entirely on their nuclear magnetic resonance properties."

    CSE professors Ryan Kastner, faculty-affiate Falko Kuester and Scripps Prof. Stuart Sandin together mentored Clinton Edwards, a Scripps grad student. Edwards (left) will present on a "Platform for Ocean Imaging: Building Capacity for Visualizing, Analyzing and Communicating Underwater Ecological Data." The project targets documentation of large plots of seafloor habitats -- measuring hundreds of square meters -- by speeding up the post-processing that is so time-consuming and computationally intensive. "We have begun to develop and test platforms to address the intensive collection, storage and processing steps required to facilitate rapid extraction of key metrics from 3D digital maps of the seafloor," writes Edwards in his abstract. "These maps will enable new insights in community ecology by increasing the scale of observation by over an order-of-magnitude [scale] larger than what is currently available."

    Kuester is also the moderator of an undergraduate panel on enriching human life and society, and he mentored the first speaker of the session: UC San Diego media studies major and newly-minted alumna, Emily Zheng (B.A. '16). Her talk will be on "Media in the Field". Zheng (right) is a media intern in Kuester's CISA3-CHEI (Cultural Heritage Engineering Initiative). She was responsible for producing content based on CISA3-CHEI expeditions. In her presentation, Zheng will focus on media produced on expeditions to San Marino and Chaco Canyon. "As a part of CHEI, my team collects data for the purposes of 3D reconstructions. This is done through techniques such as LIDAR scanning, SFM [Structure from Motion], CaveCams, and UAV imaging," notes Zheng. "My work concerns the recording of the labor behind data collection as it happens in the field to show the techniques and challenges of working in variable and changing situations." (Zheng was also peer-mentored by Dominique Meyer, a previous recipient of a FISP scholarship to work  with Kuester.)  

    "What I found impressive is that our FISP students applied their research at not just one, but two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, conducting fieldwork at home and abroad, in San Marino and Italy," observed CISA3-CHEI director Kuester. "They also presented their work at national and international conferences, and they leveraged opportunities with two other NSF and National Geographic-funded archaeology projects outside of UC San Diego. These undergraduate trainees left quite a legacy over just the past year." 

    CSE lecturer and Qualcomm Institute (QI) research scientist Jurgen Schulze and ECE Prof. Truong Nguyen jointly mentored ECE second-year Ph.D. student Ji Dai on a study of "Stereo Panorama Generation from Point-Cloud Re-projection." Dai (left) will propose an "algorithm that can produce stereo panoramas with minimized vertical disparity and parallax error. The algorithm only needs input stereo image pairs and the camera positions at which the image pairs were captured. The algorithm also provides users the freedom of choosing desired viewing location and angle." They can also choose a preferred baseline.

    For information on CSE involvement in the FISP poster sessions, see separate article.

    Download the complete program PDF with abstracts for all presentations.

  • Dual Poster Sessions Showcase CSE Research at FISP Symposium 2016

    At least 72 posters will be on display when UC San Diego students share their research results during two poster sessions during the Frontiers of Innovation Scholarship Program (FISP) Symposium on Tuesday, October 18 in the Price Center. (Click link at bottom to read a preview of oral presentations at the symposium.)  Hour-long poster sessions are scheduled to start at 12:30pm and 4:45pm, respectively, in Price Center Ballroom A. Posters are only on view during one session not both. (Consult the FISP program for details.)

    The presenters will include CSE fourth-year Ph.D. student Mohsen Malmir (right), who will present "Music Generation by Deep Recurrent Neural Networks."  He was mentored by CSE Prof. Gary Cottrell and Music Prof. Shlomo Dubnov. Malmir developed algorithms that learn to generate new music by learning from annotated music. The student trained "deep recursive neural networks (DRNNs) to generate sequences of tones along with their temporal information," says Malmir, adding that he aimed to "analyze the structure of the trained network and the learned sequences to find relations with higher level structures in music." Subsequent to the project, Malmir proposes to make the music dataset and relevant codes available to the research community for further development.

    CSE computer science junior Allan Yeh (left) will present a poster on "Interacting with Chemical Software." Yeh has been developing a molecular database in which new molecules can be uploaded for users to download and use in their own molecular simulations. Says Yeh: "The FISP scholarship has helped give me a better understanding of how my knowledge of computer science can be applied to the world at large."

    Structural Engineering professor and CSE faculty-affiliate Falko Kuester mentored multiple poster presenters and speakers from different majors, including electrical and computer engineering as well as visual arts.

    ECE senior and Qualcomm Institute intern Dimitri Schreiber (right) will present a poster on "CAVECamX: Autonomous Stereo Spherical Panorama System."  CAVECamX is a small, binocular, two-axis gimbal system used for creating high-resolution 3D photospheres, combined with GPS and inertial measurement unit (IMU) data, enabling better coregistration internally within a single photosphere, and externally between heterogeneous datasets, including fusion with point clouds generated from photogrammetry and LIDAR" laser scanning. "This decreases human processing time by automatically recording location and orientation of the dataset, which would previously be recorded manually and therefore likely left out or lost," says Schreiber. "The attitude data will help fully automatic stitching of stereoscopic datasets without the commonly associated motion sickness by constraining the system." Noting that CAVECamX is small and consumes little energy, the student adds that it "enables remote visualization of archaeological sites, allowing researchers to be virtually immersed in the captured scene without having to travel across the globe."

    Kuester also mentored two Visual Arts majors -- Samuel Balatbat (below left), and Bertha Yue (below right) -- both working on 3D visualization projects involving the Chaco canyon archaeological site in New Mexico.

    Balatbat's project, "Stereoscopic Photospheres of the Historical Site of Chaco in New Mexico," involves stereoscopic photospheres, i.e., pairs of images captured by either a CAVEcam or CAVECamX. "These images have full 360-degree depth coverage, making it possible for archaeologists and viewers to be virtually present at sites," according to Balatbat's abstract. The visualization can happen through either head-mounted displays (such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive) or through the Qualcomm Institute's large-scale CAVE display systems (WAVE, StarCAVE, NexCAVE, etc.). Balatbat will showcase some of the stereoscopic photospheres captured at the Chaco site and processed for 3D viewing.

    Bertha Yue's research also focused on the New Mexico site. Her poster will explore "Using Photogrammetry to Create a 3D Model of the Chaco Pueblos in the American Southwest." (Her research abstract was deleted from the FISP Symposium program "owing to proprietary information.")

    Read more about oral presentations on the FISP Symposium agenda.

  • Computer Vision Papers Presented at ECCV 2016 in Amsterdam

    The European Conference on Computer Vision runs Oct. 8-16 in Amsterdam, and UC San Diego's Center for Visual Computing (VisComp) is heavily represented at the international forum that is among the premier academic gatherings on computer vision. Two CSE professors -- VisComp director Ravi Ramamoorthi and Manmohan Chandraker -- were among the authors of eight VisComp papers presented at ECCV 2016.

    Professor Ramamoorthi was the senior author on "A 4D Light-Field Dataset and CNN Architectures for Material Recognition." The paper was joint with colleagues from UC Berkeley as well as recent CSE faculty arrival Manmohan Chandraker and visiting industrial fellow Ebi Hiroaki from Sony, one of VisComp's founding industry partners.) The paper focused on the use of deep learning for recognizing materials using 4D light-field (LF) photography taken with a Lytro Illum 4D LF digital camera. Pictured at right: In recognizing materials, top grids show 4D light-field predicts more accurately than 2D inputs, while bottom grids show 2D more accurate. Conclusion: light-field recognition performs best when object information is missing or vague, so must rely on local texture, viewpoint change or reflectance information available with 4D light-field imagery.
    "Our main goal [was] to investigate whether the additional information in a light-field (such as multiple sub-aperture views and view-dependent reflectance effects) can aid material recognition," noted the authors, who reported a seven percent boost with the best-performing convolutional neural network (CNN) architecture compared with standard 2D image classification. "Our dataset also enables other novel applications of light-fields, including object detection, image segmentation and view interpolation."
    Another of Ramamoorthi's papers was co-authored by colleagues at the University of York (UK), and Sapienza-University of Rome (Italy). University of York's Will Smith was a sabbatical visitor at UC San Diego from York in Winter 2016 when the research took place. The collaborators presented a method for estimating surface height directly from a single polarization image simply by solving a large, sparse system of linear equations. The paper, "Linear depth estimation from an uncalibrated, monocular polarization image," is available online. 
    In addition to collaborating with Ramamoorthi, CSE Prof. Manmohan Chandraker had a paper at ECCV 2016 on a "Deep Deformation Network for Object Landmark Localization." The work was done while Chandraker was still a research scientist at NEC Laboratories America, before taking up his professorship in CSE earlier this year. His coauthors on the paper were also working in NEC Labs' Department of Media Analytics at the time.
    The Center for Visual Computing is an interdisciplinary research unit, and other faculty with papers at ECCV 2016 included Electrical and Computer Engineering's Nuno Vasconcelos and Cognitive Science professor Zhuowen Tu. Tu has an appointment in CSE as well, so he can supervise CSE Ph.D. students, as he did with first author and CSE Ph.D. student Saining Xie (at left) on a joint paper about "Top-Down Learning for Structured Labeling with Convolutional Pseudoprior."  The authors proposed a new method for structured labeling by developing convolutional pseudo-prior (ConvPP) on the ground-truth labels, and they reported "state-of-the-art results on sequential labeling and image labeling benchmarks."

    Learn more about VisComp papers presented at ECCV 2016 on the Jacobs School blog.