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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

Pacific Interlude

Four of the 10 UCSD undergraduates in the 2014 Pacific Rim Experiences for Undergraduates (PRIME) program are CSE majors. (L-r) Allen Nguyen and Lok Yi (Nicole) Wong did research in Japan, while Matthew Schwegler and Katerina Zorko spent the summer in Australia. Read more…


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

Photo Finish

CSE alumna Brina Lee (M.S. ’13) was the first full-time female engineer hired at Instagram. Then Instagram was purchased by Facebook, and now Lee is spending much of her time talking to female students about opportunities in computer science. Read more… 

Brina Lee

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

Research Expo 2014

At the Jacobs School of Engineering’s Research Expo 2014, CSE Chair Rajesh Gupta (pictured) briefed industry and visitors, and Ph.D. student Matthew Jacobsen won best CSE poster for “Hardware-Accelerated Online Boosting for Tracking.” Read more…

Research Expo 2014


Ph.D. student Laura Pina won best paper with Microsoft colleagues at PervasiveHealth 2014 for developing ParentGuardian, a mobile app/sensor detecting stress in parents of children with ADHD. The system helps parents cope with stress in real time. Read more…  


New Faculty

Former UC Berkeley professor Ravi Ramamoorthi joined CSE’s visual computing faculty, and he is one of six new CSE faculty hires in 2014. Others include assistant teaching professors Mia Minnes and Leo Porter, and assistant professors George Porter, Daniel M. Kane and Julian McAuley. Read more…

Ravi Ramamoorthi

Fun and Functional

CSE 145 teaches students about embedded systems design, and they do capstone projects. For one team, that meant building Ruku, a robot and mobile app that solves a Rubik’s Cube in 30 seconds. (L-r): William Mutterspaugh, Daryl Stimm and Jonas Kabigting. Read more…

Ruku to solve Rubik's Cube

Overclocked Enthusiasts

CSE alumni, students, staff and faculty turned out in force to run, walk or just cheer on the Overclocked CSE Enthusiasts, the department's main team entered in the Chancellor’s 5K run in June. Prof. Christine Alvarado ranked #1 in her division. Read more…  

5K Race

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...

  • Lovett Lecture on (Log Rank) Conjecture

    CSE Prof. Shachar Lovett was at MIT on Tuesday, Sept. 16, to give a talk on "New Advances on the Log Rank Conjecture." His colloquium was part of MIT's Theory of Computation lecture series. The log rank conjecture is one of the fundamental open problems in communication complexity. According to Lovett, the conjecture speculates that the simplest lower bound for deterministic protocols, the log-rank lower bound, is in fact tight up to polynomial factors.

    "A simple argument shows that there is always a deterministic protocol which uses r bits of communication, and until recently the best known bounds improved on this only by a constant factor," said Lovett (at right) in his abstract for the talk. "Recently, two new approaches allowed for improved bounds." One new approach was determined jointly by Lovett with Technion's Eli Ben-Sasson and Noga Ron-Zewi, a Technion-trained computer scientist now at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study. They related it to a central conjecture in additive number theory, showing that "if it holds, then there are protocols which use O(r / log(r)) bits," i.e., at most a constant times (or factor) more than r/log r bits. The second approach outlined in Lovett's talk was based on discrepancy theory, giving an unconditional, upper bound of O(\sqrt{r} \log(r)) bits of communication. In addition to explaining the approaches and background, Lovett sketched the proofs and outlined "intriguing connections" to other central problems in complexity theory, including matrix rigidity, and two-source extractors. The Theory of Computation group, which organizes the colloquium, is part of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), which spans two departments: Mathematics, as well as Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

    Read the complete abstract for Prof. Lovett's colloquium.

  • SoCal Theory Day 2014

    Be sure to mark Friday, October 17, 2014 on your calendar. Prof. Shachar Lovett is organizing SoCal Theory Day 2014. Reviving a tradition from long ago in CSE, SoCal Theory Day will host a series of external speakers in Theoretical Computer Science, as well as "ample time for mingling and networking." External speakers from Stanford, UCLA and Caltech will include: 

    • Amit Sahai, UCLA. Advances in Obfuscation.
    • Luca Trevisan, Stanford. Spectral graph algorithms for partitioning problems.
    • Chris Umans, Caltech. Approaches to bounding the exponent of matrix multiplication.
    • Ryan Williams, Stanford. Algorithms for circuits and circuits for algorithms: connecting the tractable and intractable

    The external speakers are pictured above right, l-r: Amit Sahai, Luca Trevisan, Chris Umans and Ryan Williams. Registration is required but free of charge (including free lunch for registered participants). 

    Click here to register for SoCal Theory Day.

  • Single Model to Explain Visual and Auditory Precortical Coding

    CSE Prof. Gary Cottrell, Director of the multi-campus and interdisciplinary Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center (TDLC), will be the next speaker in a new lecture series sponsored by Dart NeuroScience. On Sept. 24 at 3pm in the Duane Roth Auditorium of the Sanford Consortium, Cottrell will explore how "a single model explains both visual and auditory precortical coding." It's part of a year-long dialogue on "the role of time and timing in learning, across multiple time scales, brain systems and social systems." According to TDLC, the Dart Neuroscience-TDLC Seminar Series is "a means of sharing a body of excellent science with the larger UCSD scientific and educational community" as well as the communities of both TDLC and Dart NeuroScience.

    According to Cottrell's seminar abstract, "precortical neural systems encode information collected by the senses, but the driving principles of the encoding used have remained a subject of debate. We present a model of retinal coding that is based on three constraints: information preservation, minimization of the neural wiring, and response equalization. The resulting novel version of sparse principal components analysis successfully captures a number of known characteristics of the retinal coding system, such as center-surround receptive fields, color opponency channels, and spatiotemporal responses that correspond to magnocellular and parvocellular pathways." Cottrell (at left) also notes that, "when trained on auditory data, the same model learns receptive fields well fit by gammatone filters, commonly used to model precortical auditory coding. This suggests that efficient coding may be a unifying principle of precortical encoding across modalities."

    The Sanford Consortium is located at 2880 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive in La Jolla. All of the seminars in the Dart NeuroScience-TDLC series in the 2014-2015 academic year will be available as live streaming webcasts for those unable to attend in person.

    Click here to watch the live webcast of Prof. Cottrell's seminar at 3pm on Sept. 24. 
    Keep track of future seminars in this series on the TDLC website. 
    Learn more about TDLC.

  • CSE Alumna Participates in Visit of Obama Cabinet Member to UC San Diego

    CSE alumna Sarah Esper (Ph.D. '14) was front and center when the administrator of the Small Business Administration, Maria Contreras-Sweet (pictured at left, with Esper), visited the UC San Diego campus to announce a $50,000 grant to The von Liebig Center and Rady School of Management for their joint mystartupXX program. The program nurtures the next generation of female company founders and female-led technology startups through mentorship, education and funding. The SBA administrator announced mystartupXX is one of 50 winners of the SBA's Growth Accelerator Fund competition.

    Sarah Esper is one of the female entrepreneurs (and CSE students) who have benefited from the mystartupXX program. “The funding from mystartupXX was the first money we put into our bank account,” remembers Esper, co-founder of ThoughtSTEM, a computer science education startup. The support from mystartupXX came at a critical moment, helping Esper and her co-founders launch the company as ThoughtSTEM and getting their first game-based computer science courses for kids up and running. In the last two years, ThoughtSTEM has expanded from one location on the UC San Diego campus to two dozen locations spread across San Diego, the Bay Area and Boston.

    Read the full news release. 
    Learn more about the mystartupXX program.

Upcoming Events


  1. (Theory) Pranjal Awasthi, Princeton: Learning Halfspaces With Noise
    • Start time: 2:00pm
    • End date: Monday, September 29th
    • End time: 3:00pm
    • Where: CSE 4258
    • Description:

      Title: Learning Halfspaces with Noise
      Speaker: Pranjal Awasthi (Princeton University)
      Place: CSE 4258
      Time: 2 PM, October 6th, 2014

      Abstract: We study the problem of learning halfspaces in the malicious noise model of Valiant. In this model, an adversary can corrupt an η fraction of both the label part and the feature part of an example. We design a polynomial-time algorithm for learning halfspaces in R^d under the uniform distribution with near optimal noise tolerance.
      Our results also imply the first active learning algorithm for learning halfspaces that can handle malicious noise.

      Joint work with Nina Balcan and Phil Long.

Monday, October 6th

  1. DLS Speaker: Paul Debevec
    • Start time: 11:00am
    • End date: Monday, October 6th
    • End time: 12:00pm
    • Where: CSE 1202
    • Description:

      Title: Advances in Photoreal Digital Humans in Film and in Real-Time


      Amazingly, we have entered an age where even the human actors in a movie can be created as computer generated imagery. Somewhere between "Final Fantasy" in 2001 and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" in 2008, digital actors crossed the "Uncanny Valley" from looking strangely synthetic to believably real. This talk describes how the Light Stage scanning systems and HDRI lighting techniques developed at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies have helped create digital actors in a wide range of recent films. For in‐depth examples, the talk describes how high‐resolution face scanning, advanced character rigging, and performance‐driven facial animation were combined to create "Digital Emily", a collaboration with Image Metrics (now Faceware) yielding one of the first photoreal digital actors, and 2013’s “Digital Ira”, a collaboration with Activision Inc., yielding the most realistic real‐time digital actor to date. The talk includes recent developments in HDRI lighting, polarization difference imaging, and skin reflectance measurement, 3D object scanning, and concludes with advances in autostereoscopic 3D displays enabling 3D teleconferencing, holographic characters, and cultural preservation.


      Paul Debevec is a Research Professor in the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering and the Chief Visual Officer at USC's Institute for Creative Technologies where he leads the Graphics Laboratory. Since his 1996 UC Berkeley Ph.D. Thesis, Paul has helped develop data‐driven techniques for photorealistic computer graphics including image‐based modeling and rendering, high dynamic range imaging, image‐based lighting, appearance capture, and 3D displays. His short films, including The Campanile Movie, Rendering with Natural Light and Fiat Lux provided early examples of the virtual cinematography and HDR lighting techniques seen in The Matrix trilogy and have become standard practice in visual effects. Debevec’s Light Stage systems for photoreal facial scanning have contributed to groundbreaking digital character work in movies such as Spider‐Man 2, Superman Returns, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Avatar, The Avengers, Oblivion, Gravity, and Maleficent and earned him and his colleagues a 2010 Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). He currently serves as Co-Chair of the AMPAS Science and Technology Council and is also a member of the Visual Effects Society.

Tuesday, October 28th

  1. CNS Lecture: "Resource Virtualization for Software-defined Networks"
    • Start time: 11:00am
    • End date: Tuesday, October 28th
    • End time: 12:00pm
    • Where: CSE Room 1202
    • Description:

      Title: Resource Virtualization for Software-defined Networks
      Abstract: Software defined networking centralizes control plane functionality, separating it from the data plane which is responsible for packet forwarding. Many management tasks such as finding heavy hitters for multi-path routing may run using SDN in a network with limited resources. However, by abstracting them from resources at individual switches, a resource manager at the controller can optimize their resource usage. As management tasks often have a measurement-control loop, my projects, DREAM and vCRIB, work on measurement and control tasks, respectively: First, Dream ensures a minimum user-specified level of accuracy for tasks instead of allocating a fixed amount of resources to each task. Therefore, it dynamically allocates resources across tasks in reaction to traffic dynamics and task dynamics, which allows resource multiplexing. DREAM is 2x better at the tail of minimum accuracy satisfaction comparing to current practice even in cases with moderate load. Next, vCRIB automatically distributes control rules on all switches in the network giving the abstraction of a centralized rule repository with resources equal to the combined resources of all switches. vCRIB can find feasible rule placement with less than 10% traffic overhead in cases where traffic-optimal rule placement is not feasible with respect to CPU and memory constraints.

      Bio: Masoud Moshref is a 5th year PhD candidate in University of Southern California. He works on resource virtualization in Software-Defined Networks in Networked Systems Lab under supervision of Ramesh Govindan and Minlan Yu. He got MSc and BSc in Information Technology Engineering from Sharif University of Technology in Iran.

by Dr. Radut