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Award for Computer Systems Research

In November 2013 CSE Prof. Stefan Savage received the ACM SIGOPS Mark Weiser Award during the Symposium on Operating Systems Principles. The award is given to an individual no more than 20 years into his or her career, and Savage was singled out for his contributions to computer systems research in general, and cyber security in particular. Read more…


Students As Oracles

Ph.D. students David Vanoni (far right) and Vid Petrovic (second from left) were in Europe for most of the fall quarter, doing research and taking part in excavations in Calabria and Greece.  They were part of UCSD’s interdisciplinary NSF IGERT project on engineering for culture heritage diagnostics. Vanoni and Petrovic  delivered talks in three countries, starting in Delphi, Greece. Read more… 


Analyzing Network Failures

There is no single way to measure network failures or learn from them. Recent alumnus Daniel Turner (Ph.D. ’13) presented results of a new CSE study at the ACM International Measurement Conference in Barcelona, comparing two standard methods (syslog vs. IS-IS). Conclusion: the syslog approach fell short in identifying failures lasting more than 24 hours. Read paper…


A Knack for Making Apps

CSE undergrad  Dexin Qi produced Triton Pass, a virtual discount card, mainly for Price Center eateries. CSE junior Daniel Brim developed the iPhone app SimpleCard, a 21st-century version of flash cards. A team including junior Shayan Mahdavi created an app for ViaSat installers. Now junior Jesus Rios has coded an Android app for visitors to the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. Read more…


The Incredible Shrinking Data Center

Are racks-on-chip the future of data centers? According to an article in the journal Science co-authored by CNS research scientist George Porter (pictured), shrinking racks of servers, and eventually data centers, to fit on a chip will be critical to delivering increased density of computing, storage and networking. And to do so, says Porter, will require a radically new network design for data centers. Read more…


Countering Click Spam

When is a click not a click? How can advertisers be sure that a click on an online banner represents a real consumer, not a deceptive malware program? Click-spam has become a way of life on the Internet, and at the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security in Berlin in November, CSE postdoctoral researcher Vacha Dave (pictured) spelled out a new approach to attacking click-spam. Read more…


Event App Debuts at CSE25

A team of students and alumni led by CSE Prof. YY Zhou used the department’s 25th anniversary to do a ‘stress test’ for their brand-new mobile app. It’s the centerpiece of their startup company, Whova, a spinout from CSE’s Systems and Networking group. Over 280 attendees downloaded the app for iPhone or Android, and by all accounts, the app’s debut went off flawlessly. See web page…


New Frontier for Learning Bioinformatics

Prof. Pavel Pevzner dresses up as a cowboy to promote his new online course on Bioinformatics Algorithms (Part I). In a video on the sign-up page for the Coursera massive open online course, he calls bioinformatics a new frontier like the Wild West, and urges students from math, computer science and biology to take the course that begins Oct. 21. Read more...


Bitcoins: Not So Anonymous, After All

Ph.D. student Sarah Meiklejohn will present "A Fistful of Bitcoins" Oct. 24, which has already caused a stir in cryto-currency circles. Investigating the Bitcoin market and the anonymity of users, she and colleagues found a way to link transactions to Bitcoin merchants and services, potentially undermining a major use of Bitcoin – for online purchases of illegal products. Read more...


Finding a Silver Lining in the Sometimes Dark 'Cloud'

The Center for Networked Systems (CNS) held its summer research review, demonstrated its role as a major player in the cloud, and in designing, managing and improving data center and wide-area networks. Read more...


Decoding the Genetic Basis of Chronic Mountain Sickness

Using whole genome sequencing, CSE researchers dissected the genetic mechanisms underlying high-altitude adaptation based on variations in the genes of Peruvians from the Andes who suffer from chronic mountain sickness, and those who don't. Read more...


Nice Threads!

A new computer model developed by a CSE alumnus and Prof. Henrik Wann Jensen simulates with unprecedented accuracy the way light and cloth interact, with implications for animated movies and video games. Read more...


Family Reunion

In June 2013, roughly 170 former CSE tutors held their second-ever reunion in San Diego. The department also launched the CSE Tutor Challenge with a $25,000 inaugural gift from alumnus Taner Halicioglu (BS '96). Read more...


The Gift That Will Keep 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...

  • Computer Software Accurately Predicts Student Test Performance

    Results of a new study led by CSE alumnus Jacob Whitehill (Ph.D., '12) demonstrates that a real-time, automatic method for identifying and analyzing facial expressions can perform with an accuracy comparable to that of human observers when tracking how engaged students are in the classroom. (Pictured at left: Student engagement levels are tracked in real time by the automatic system for recognizing facial expressions; photo copyright 2014 IEEE.) The study also revealed that engagement levels were a better predictor of students' post-test performance that the students' pre-test scores.

    Whitehill is the first author on the paper "The Faces of Engagement: Automatic Recognition of Student Engagement," which was published April 15 in the early online edition of the journal IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing. Whitehill -- who now works at Emotient, Inc., a startup he co-founded with the paper's senior author, Javier Movellan -- did much of his work on the study while part of the Machine Perception Laboratory in Calit2's Qualcomm Institute (co-directed by Movellan). The project was funded, in part, by the UCSD-based Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center (TDLC), led by CSE Prof. Gary Cottrell. TDLC also enabled the key partnership between Movellan and another co-author on the paper, Virginia Commonwealth professor of developmental psychology Zewelanji Serpell, because both are PIs on TDLC's Social Interaction Network. In addition to Movellan, Whitehill and Serpell, the study’s co-authors include  Yi-Ching Lin and Aysha Foster from the department of psychology at Virginia State.

    “Automatic recognition of student engagement could revolutionize education by increasing understanding of when and why students get disengaged,” said Whitehill (pictured below right). “Automatic engagement detection provides an opportunity for educators to adjust their curriculum for higher impact, either in real time or in subsequent lessons. Automatic engagement detection could be a valuable asset for developing adaptive educational games, improving intelligent tutoring systems and tailoring massive open online courses, or MOOCs.” 

    The study consisted of training an automatic detector, which measures how engaged a student appears in a webcam video while undergoing cognitive skills training on an iPad®. The study used automatic expression recognition technology to analyze students’ facial expressions on a frame-by-frame basis and estimate their engagement level. “This study is one of the most thorough to date in the application of computer vision and machine learning technologies for automatic student engagement detection,” said Javier Movellan. “The possibilities for its application in education and beyond are tremendous. By understanding what parts of a lecture, conversation, game, advertisement or promotion produced different levels of engagement, an individual or business can obtain valuable feedback to fine-tune the material to something more impactful.”

    Read the full news release.
    Read  "The Faces of Engagement" article on the Machine Perception Laboratory website.
    Visit the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center website.

  • Computer Scientist Has Underwater (3D) Vision

    In its April 14 edition, the UTSanDiego featured an article about "Scientists set to roam the world" this summer. "If you toss a dart at a map of the world, there's a good chance it'll land in a region where scientists from San Diego County will do research this summer," wrote science editor Gary Robbins, adding that "summer field research is a cherished part of science." Case in point: the first researcher featured in the article was CSE Prof. Ryan Kastner, who is photographed (at right) displaying an underwater stereo camera system that he developed for producing 3D reconstructions of underwater objects. Kastner "will use high-resolution imaging tools in June to help archaeologists map Mayan ruins in Guatemala and a sunken ship in Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay Underwater Park," according to the article. Kastner will be joined on the Lake Tahoe expedition by undergraduate participants in the Engineers for Exploration program, which is co-directed by Kastner.
  • Professor Zhou: "Inventor and Mentor"

    CSE Prof. Yuanyuan (YY) Zhou (at left) took time out to attend the first-ever Celebration of Women in Computing in Southern California April 5-6 in Carlsbad. And according to a profile in the UCSD Guardian by Raquel Calderon, Zhou spent Saturday afternoon "standing before an audience full of young, aspiring female engineers to share her experiences."
    "With a doctorate in computer science from Princeton, three startups and volumes of research to her name, Zhou is intimidating in description but humble and talkative in person," wrote Calderon. "Her relentless energy serves her research, her company, her students and her desire to increse the pesence of women in computing."
    Explaining why she likes to teach and coach students in computer science, Zhou is quoted as saying, "I like how in a 30-minute conversation, you can really help them: you can change their career."
    “A really interesting observation I made is that many of the event organizers are women,” added Zhou, whose latest venture, Whova, a mobile app for attendees at professional conferences. “Especially in a startup [where] the most important thing is for you to understand your customer... you truly need to listen to the user.”
    According to the Guardian, "Zhou’s participation in CWIC-SoCal shows her belief in the power of community. She, like many well-established women in her field, believes technology and science need more women."
  • Designing a New Design Education

    An article co-written by Cognitive Scientist and CSE Prof. Scott Klemmer (at right) has been read by nearly 30,000 people since it was first posted in late March on LinkedIn. The article, titled "State of Design: How Design Education Must Change," was written with Don Norman of the Nielsen Norman Group (and emeritus professor in Cognitive Science at UC San Diego). They argue that "if design is to live up to its promise it must create new, enduring curricula for design education that merge science and technology, art and business, and indeed, all the knowledge of the university." A major focus of their article is on the university. "To meet the challenges of the 21st century, design and design education must change," they write. "So too must universities." They add that "it would not be difficult for universities to change their evaluation process to encourage both specialists and generalists, in part by valuing broad synthesis, integration, and real-world impact when appropriate. This shift can enable world-class programs that celebrate both craft and theory, and trains students to augment depth with breadth to tackle the multifarious challenges we face."

    Read the full article at LinkedIn.

Upcoming Events


  1. Faculty Candidate: Stefanie Jegelka (UC Berkeley)
    • Start time: 11:00am
    • End date: Wednesday, April 16th
    • End time: 12:00pm
    • Where: CSE 1202
    • Description:

      Efficient learning with combinatorial structure

      Learning from complex data such as images, text or biological measurements invariably relies on capturing long-range, latent structure. But the combinatorial structure inherent in real-world data can pose significant computational challenges for modeling, learning and inference.

      In this talk, I will view these challenges through the lens of submodular set functions. Considered a "discrete analog of convexity", the combinatorial concept of submodularity captures intuitive yet nontrivial dependencies between variables and underlies many widely used concepts in machine learning. Practical use of submodularity, however, requires care. My first example illustrates how to efficiently handle the important class of submodular composite models. The second example combines submodularity and graphs for a new family of combinatorial models that express long-range interactions while still admitting very efficient inference procedures. As a concrete application, our results enable effective realization of combinatorial sparsity priors on real data, significantly improving image segmentation results in settings where state-of-the-art methods fail.

      Motivated by good empirical results, we provide a detailed theoretical analysis and identify practically relevant properties that affect complexity and approximation quality of submodular optimization and learning problems.


      Stefanie Jegelka is a postdoc at UC Berkeley, working with Michael Jordan and Trevor Darrell. She is also a visitor at the International Computer Science Institute. Before coming to Berkeley, she did her PhD in Bernhard Schölkopf's group at the Max Planck Institutes in beautiful Tübingen and graduated from ETH Zurich. During her PhD, she worked with Jeff Bilmes, and before that with Ulrike von Luxburg and Arthur Gretton.

      She likes to spend her brain cycles thinking about combinatorial problems in Machine Learning, in particular efficient (approximation) algorithms. Her interests include submodularity and discrete optimization, graph problems, graphical models, kernel methods and clustering, distributed machine learning, and applications e.g. in computer vision and biology.

by Dr. Radut