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  • CSE Alumna Receives NSF Funding for Internet Topology Project

    CSE Faculty-Affiliate and alumna Kimberly Claffy (MS ‘91, PhD ‘94) is a PI on a new $1.2 million NSF grant to measure and quantify the changing nature of the Internet’s topology and what it means for the Internet’s future in terms of design, operations, scientific study and public policy. “From both the scientific and policy perspectives, much of the Internet’s evolving ecosystem is largely uncharted territory,” said Claffy, director of the Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA) at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). ““As the Internet expands to satisfy the demands and expectations of an ever-increasing percentage of the world's population, profound changes are occurring at myriad levels: from interconnection structure and traffic dynamics to creating new economic and political issues that need to be addressed.  These changes also pose broader challenges for technology investment and future network design, so a key goal of this project is to establish a baseline against which to evaluate future Internet architecture designs and implementations.” The project, joint with MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory,  is called e”NeTS: Large: Collaborative Research: Mapping Interconnection in the Internet: Colocation, Connectivity and Congestion.”

  • ‘Moving onto Deeper, More Interesting and More Challenging Problems’

    Industry, Academic Experts Flock to Annual Non-Volatile Memories Workshop

    Approximately 220 researchers from academic, industry and national labs were at UC San Diego in early March for the sixth annual Non-Volatile Memories Workshop. The annual event is co-organized by CSE’s Non-Volatile Systems Laboratory, Calit2’s Qualcomm Institute, and the Center for Magnetic Recording Research (CMRR). It took place in the Price Center March 1-3, culminating in a banquet at Mister A’s overlooking a dramatic downtown skyline. [Click here to view photos from the workshop and banquet]

    The workshop brought together scientists and engineers working on advanced, non-volatile storage devices and systems. “We expanded the program this year to reflect the strong set of submitted papers we received,” said CSE Prof. Steven Swanson (at right, with student), who co-founded the annual workshop and co-organized the 2015 event with ECE Prof. (and former CMRR director) Paul Siegel and Technion’s Eitan Yaakobi. “It’s been very exciting to see the community expand to tackle the wide range of challenges that non-volatile memories present. You can really see the evolution in the problems people are addressing.

    “As a community we have tackled many of the ‘low-hanging fruit’ and we are moving onto deeper, more interesting and more challenging problems,” he added.

    According to Swanson, high points of the 2015 NVM Workshop included industry participation in the form of keynote presentations by top people from Samsung, Intel and Seagate.

    Samsung senior vice-president Bob Brennan (at left), who leads the company’s Memory Solution Lab, addressed the conference on “How NAND-based Technology is Transforming the Data Center.”

    The March 2 afternoon speaker was Phil Brace, Executive VP of Electronic Solutions at Seagate Technology. His topic: “Storage – Moving Towards Tailored Solutions.”

    Then Intel’s Andy Rudoff opened the final day of the workshop, with the Principal Engineer musing on the subject, “In a World with Persistent Memory…”

    In addition to the industry keynotes and a half-day tutorial March 1 on the RAMCloud Storage System, the two parallel conference tracks packed more than 40 paper presentations by researchers from around the world – a substantial number of them working in industry, including at HP Labs, Sandisk, HGST San Jose Research Center, IBM Research in Zurich, Intel and Samsung. 

  • Why Heat May Spell Trouble for 3D Integrated Circuits

    In a recent article about how "3D stacking offers an extension for Moore's Law," Engineering & Technology Magazine suggests that a move to 3D integrated circuits could offer the closest thing to Moore's Law by reducing the average wire length, and therefore energy. But a computer scientist at UC San Diego cautions in the same article that heat produced by that energy could be a potential major problem. Transistors produce copious amounts of heat when they switch, resulting in big increases in heat production when running at high frequencies. "If you look at graphs of long-term growth in transistor performance," said CSE Prof. Michael Taylor, "you would think we would be able to operate them at 15GHz by now." Instead, even the processors in large servers do not run at more than 3GHz. Added Taylor: "Transistors have this inherent capability but we can't use it because the transistors can't use it becaause they have to stay within a power envelope." The article continues that the "situation has reached the point where, to be able to remove enough heat from the chip to stop individual transistors from cooking themselves to death, a large fraction of the overall device needs to be doing nothing."

  • Breakout on Center for Visual Computing at Research Expo 2015

    At the 2015 Jacobs School of Engineering ResearchExpo, the breakout session will showcase the latest and soon-to-be-announced Research Centers. While there are CSE faculty involved in other centers, only one such center -- the Center for Visual Computing (CVC) -- will be represented by a senior faculty member, Professor Ravi Ramamoorthi, from the Computer Science and Engineering department. Ramamoorthi will speak about "Visual Computing: Grand Opportunities" at 3:30pm  - 4:00pm on April 16 in the Price Center Forum on the 4th floor. Other faculty talks will focus on wearable sensors, extreme events engineering, as well as sustainable power and energy.
    In his talk, CSE's Ramamoorthi says "visual computing at the interface of computer vision and computer graphics is undergoing a major transformation that impacts our daily lives." He  points to key challenges that remain, notably how to create visual effects in real time and "integrating them with mobile augmented reality systems to extends human perception with mobile augmented realiity. Another major trend is the coming of age for computer vision, where tasks like scene comprehension and gesture recognitionwewew are now becoming commonplace on mobile devices."  Prof. Ramamoorthi will talk about the forthcoming Center for Visual Computing, which will be charged with developing the fundamental technologies needed to take full advantage of new opportunities to display and experience visual content.
  • Counter-Intuitive Technique to Put the Brakes on Liar Buyer Fraud

    Mayank Dhiman is now a Powell Fellow in CSE's Security and Cryptography group. But back in 2013, he spent the summer as an undergraduate summer researcher at PayPal, working under CSE alumnus Markus Jakobsson (Ph.D. '97), the company's principal data scientist. Flash forward 18 months, and the two researchers (plus a third former undergrad intern, Hossein Siadati) had their worrk on Liar Buyer Fraud published and accepted for presentation at the Workshop on Usable Security (USEC 2015), which took place in early February.

    In the paper, Dhiman and his colleagues describe a common yet poorly known type of fraud -- so-called Liar Buyer fraud -- and they go on to explain why traditional anti-fraud  technology has failed to  curb this type of fraud, which typically involves a purchase gone bad. Typically the consumer places an order and receives the merchandise, then reports it as not delivered, and asks for a refund. The researchers introduced a counter-intuitive technique in which the claims processor unveils knowledge of detailed iniformation about the purchase, and new experiments showed the new technique based on user-interface modification to address liar buyers has the potentialto dramatically reduce losses from fraud. Using a combination of role playing and questionnaires, they determined the opinions and behaviors of about 1,700 subjects, and found that their proposed technique results in a statistically-significant reduction in fraud rates in an experimental setting. The results are so promising for both men and women that the researchers hope to expand the study to real e-commerce traffic, when the researchers could also test whether men are more willing to lie and defraud than are women. While research has previously confirmed that discrepancy, Dhiman and his colleagues say that results using their new counter-intuitive technique so far show men being about as honest as women.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
    Read the paper on Liar Buyer Fraud, and How to Curb It 

  • CSE Chair Comments on First U.S. Chief Data Scientist

    When the San Diego Union-Tribune looked for an assessment of incoming White House chief data scientist DJ Patil, the newspaper turned to CSE chair and professor Rajesh Gupta for a comment: "DJ perfectly reflects UCSD's core: young and [on the] leading edge of science." In the article about President Obama elevating Patil to be the first-ever U.S. Chief Data Scientist, the reporter noted that the CSE department, "which has more than 2,500 students, has been straining to meet enrollment demand, partly because of soaring interest in data science."

    Patil received his undergraduate degree from UCSD in 1996, but from mathematics, not computer science. At the time, the computer science program was much smaller than it is today. Patil later earned his Ph.D. in 2001 from the University of Maryland, where he also began his teaching career. At various points Patil has served in industry, including stints at eBay as a distinguished research scientist, and as chief scientist for social-media giant, LinkedIn. Most recently, Patil was a data scientist in residence at one of the oldest venture-capital firms in Silicon Valley, Greylock Partners.

    In his first memo as U.S. Chief Data Scientist, DJ Patil noted that "'big data' has become a regular part of our daily lives. In 2013 researchers estimated that there were about four zettabytes of data worldwide: That's approximately the total volume of information that would be created if every person in the United States took a digital photo every second of every day for over four months!" But Patil was upbeat in hs first official memo, titling it: "Unleashing the Power of Data to Serve the American People."  The good news for Patil is that he doesn't have to move. He is already deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Patil has assumed the Chief Data Scientist as well. His most immediate priority is in President Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative (tapping medical and genomic data to transition from one-size-fits-all to truly personalized medicine).

  • Recent Faculty Recruit on Importance of Microbiome

    The TED Talks website has posted a much-awaited presentation by UC San Diego professor of pediatrics as well as computer science, Rob Knight. Actually, it was recorded at TED 2014 nearly a year ago, when Knight  was still a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder. Knight made the switch to UC San Diego early this year, and the TED organization finally lifted the free-viewing curtain on the video of his March appearance at TED 2014 in Vancouver.

    Then, in just over 24 hours, approximately 125,000 visitors viewed Knight's talk on "How our microbes make us who we are." What's more, TED Books began to sell the hardcover as well as Kindle and audio CD editions, all through Amazon. The book based on Knight's presentation, now dubbed "Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes" (see photo below), will be released on April 7.

    In his original TED presentation, now available for free on the TED website and via TED apps or iTunes, Knight is described as a "microbial ecologist", which, while true, is an understatement of his impressive credentials. After earning his Ph.D. from Princeton, he became an expert in the human microbiome, mgicrobial community ecology and what he now calls "multi-omics". In joining UC San Diego's Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Program in the focus areas of bioinformatics and glycobiology, Knight simultaneously agreed to spend part of his time working closely with the team of bioinformatics faculty in the Computer Science and Engineering department.

    "A major challenge in microbiome research is in computation," said Knight.  "The ability to generate the data has greatly outstripped a lot of people's ability to analyze the data." Knight's decision to join the UC San Diego faculty is owed, at least in part, to the university having "a unique combination of high-performance computing, immunology... " as well as other companies, institutions and hospitals.

    "Ninety percent of the cells in your body are not human," said Calit2 Director Larry Smarr, quoted in the San Diego Union-Tribune when the hire of Rob Knight was announced. "They are bacteria located in places like your large intestine. Medicine has been ignoring those microbes. But that's changing, and UCSD will be a leader in this transformation. Indeed, Smarr hopes to move his own research into Knight's larger lab once it is fully established.

    Watch the webcast of Rob Knight's TED 2014 talk or read the Interactive Transcript.

  • CSE's Lovett Is Only UC Computer Scientist Honored with 2015 Sloan Research Fellowship

    This year five faculty from UC San Diego, and 18 from the system-wide University of California are being honored by the Arthur P. Sloan Foundation with Sloan Research Fellowships for 2015. And only 16 computer scientists from the U.S. and Canada made the cut.
    Indeed, only one professor of computer science among the 18 UC honorees was named, when the foundation singled out UC San Diego's Shachar Lovett. The expert in computational complexity studies the foundations of computer science, and how computational problems can be efficiently solved. "As the scientific, engineering and life sciences communities continue to be transformed by new, ever larger data sets, the motivation for designing very efficient algorithms to manipulate, store and transfer data is becoming ever more clear," said Lovett in his research statement to the Foundation. "Specifically I study how the interplay between structure and randomness plays a central role in algorithm design and analysis."
    The Sloan Research Fellowships seek to stimulate fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise. The two-year fellowships are awarded yearly to 126 researchers in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field, in Lovett's case, computer science. Other UC San Diego researchers named Sloan Fellows included Padmini Rangamini (Computational and Evolutionary Molecular Biology), Paul Niehaus (Economics), Andrea Tao (Chemistry) and Bradley Voytek (Neuroscience). 
    "Their achievements and potential place them among the next generation of scientific leaders in the U.S. and Canada," noted the Foundation in a full-page New York Times advertisement, adding that since 1955, "Sloan Research Fellows have gone on to win 43 Nobel Prizes, 16 Fields Medal, 65 National Medals of Science" and numerous other honors.
    In addition to Lovett. the CSE department claimed another of its own in the form of University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Thomas Ristenpart, a relatively recent alumnus from UC San Diego (Ph.D,, 2010). Ristenpart also is a frequent co-author on cyber security or cryptography papers with current CSE faculty including Hovav Shacham, Mihir Bellare and Stefan Savage.
  • CSE Professor Partners with Instagram Co-Founder on Coursera

    Coursera is pushing further into specialized sequences of courses that may be more attractive to people looking to boost their career prospects. The largest network offering massive open online courses, or MOOCs, Coursera is also partnering with companies to help shape the curriculum.

    Case in point: CSE and Cognitive Science professor Scott Klemmer will launch a sequence of online courses in Interaction Design, beginning June 16 with Klemmer's own introductory course on Human-Computer Interaction Design. In it, students will learn how to design great user experiences and to apply their skills in a capstone project. Klemmer has recruited a partner in industry: Michel (Mike) Krieger, a co-founder of Instagram. Following the sequence of six courses (some as short as three weeks, or as long as nine), students must do a capstone project in which they design a creative, end-to-end user experience using professional interaction design and "UX" (user experience) tools. Krieger has agreed to provide feedback to students about their projects, and some of the best students will earn the chance to get personalized feedback from Krieger as well as from Prof. Klemmer. The capstone project is only available to students who pay to take the full sequence of Interaction Design courses, while all six courses prior to the capstone can be taken at no cost, as long as the student does not require a verified certificate (which are reserved for paying customers). For his part, Krieger said that similar coursework he took in college had a lasting impact on his career and on the design of Instagram. "As our devices become increasingly powerful," he said, "it's essential that we create a generation of designers and builders who can help people around the world harness that power."

  • Lab-in-a-Box Takes Aim at Doctors’ Computer Activity

    They call it “the Lab-in-a-Box.” According to Nadir Weibel, a research scientist in the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) department at the University of California, San Diego, inside the box are assorted sensors and software designed to monitor a doctor’s office, particularly during consultations with patients. The goal is to analyze the physician’s behavior and better understand the dynamics of the interactions of the doctor with the electronic medical records and the patients in front of them. The eventual goal is to provide useful input on how to run the medical practice more efficiently.

    Very often physicians pay attention to information on a computer screen, rather than looking directly at the patient. “With the heavy demand that current medical records put on the physician, doctors look at the screen instead of looking at their patients,” says Weibel (pictured below). “Important clues such as facial expression, and direct eye-contact between patient and physician are therefore lost.”

    The first findings from the project are just-published in the February 2015 edition of the journal, Personal and Ubiquitous Computing* and have been highlighted by the New Scientist magazine.  The Lab-in-a-Box solution could capture multimodal activity in many real-world settings, but the researchers focused initially on medical offices and the problem of the increasing burden on physician introduced by digital patient records.

    The Lab-in-a-Box has been developed as part of Quantifying Electronic Medical Record Usability to Improve Clinical Workflow (QUICK), a running  study funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and directed by Zia Agha, MD. The system is currently being deployed at the UC San Diego Medical Center, and the San Diego Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center.  

    The compact suitcase contains a set of tools to record activity in the office. A depth camera from a Microsoft Kinect device records body and head movements. An eye tracker follows where the doctor is looking. A special 360-degree microphone records audio in the room.  The Lab-in-a-Box is also linked to the doctor’s computer, so it can keep track of keyboard strokes, movements of the mouse, and pop-up menus that may divert the doctor’s attention.

    The greatest value of the Lab-in-a-Box, however, is in the software designed to merge, synchronize and segment data streams from the various sensors – assessing the extent to which a certain confluence of activity may lead to distraction on the part of the physician. For example, says Weibel, lots of head and eye movement would suggest that the doctor is multitasking between the computer and the patient.

    Weibel and the UC San Diego/VA team will compare data from different settings and different types of medical practice to pinpoint those factors that lead to distraction across the board, or that affect only specific medical specialties. Their findings could help software developers write less-disruptive medical software. The researchers envision also deploying the Lab-in-a-Box permanently in a doctor’s office to provide real-time prompts to warn the physician that he or she is not paying enough attention to a patient. “In order to intervene effectively, we need to first understand the complex system composed by patients, doctors, and electronic medical record in depth, and this is what our study will finally yield.” says Weibel. Ultimately, as Weibel and his co-authors state in their original Personal and Ubiquitous Computing article, the Lab-in-a-Box “has the potential to uncover important insights and inform the next generation of Health IT systems.”

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