Noteworthy achievements

Bren School faculty, students and research initiatives are some of the most well regarded successes on the UC Irvine campus. We are pleased to announce the following noteworthy achievements.

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Awards, grants and other honors can be sent to to be considered for publication.


Tsudik receives research grant from Verisign

photo: Gene Tsudik


The network infrastructure company Verisign has awarded Chancellor’s Professor Gene Tsudik a $50,000 grant for research on privacy-enhancing techniques for the Internet’s network/transport layers, including the Transmission Control Protocol and Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) and the Secure Sockets Layer and Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) — cryptographic protocols designed to provide communication security over the Internet.

The grant is part of the Verisign infrastructure grant program, designed to support the Internet’s robust growth and development. The program fosters “new research which advances security and stability, encourages Internet deployment and improves the Internet infrastructure overall,” according to the grant program website. Research proposals are judged on the criteria of relevance, innovation, feasibility and overall quality.


CHI 2014 Conference honors several papers by ICS faculty and researchers

photo: Silvia Lindtner


photo: Paul Dourish


photo: Garnet Hertz


photo: Gloria Mark


Numerous ICS faculty will be honored at this year’s ACM Conference of Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), the premier international conference in the field of human-computer interaction. Hosted by ACM SIGCHI, ACM’s special-interest group on human-computer interaction, the annual conference attracts thousands of attendees each year.

A Laboratory for Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction (LUCI) research team including postdoctoral scholar Silvia Lindtner, professor Paul Dourish and assistant project scientist Garnet Hertz, received a Best Paper Award for “Emerging Sites of HCI Innovation: Hackerspaces, Hardware Startups & Incubators.” The paper discusses how a flourishing scene of DIY makers is turning visions of tangible and ubiquitous computing into products.

Informatics professor Gloria Mark also earned a Best Paper Award. Her paper “'Narco'” Emotions: Affect and Desensitization in Social Media during the Mexican Drug War," co-authored with Andres Monroy-Hernandes and Munmun de Choudhury, both of Microsoft Research, found that tweets can reveal the desensitized emotions of a society that is experiencing violence during a war — in this case, the Mexican drug war.

Mark also received two Honorable Mention Awards for her papers, “Bored Mondays & Focused Afternoons: The Rhythm of Attention & Online Activity in the Workplace,” and “Stress and Multitasking in Everyday College Life: An Empirical Study of Online Activity.” “Bored Mondays & Focused Afternoons,” co-authored with Microsoft researchers Shamsi T. Iqbal, Mary P. Czerwinski and Paul R. Johns, explores engagement in workplace activities by presenting a framework of how engagement and challenge in work relate to focus, boredom and rote work. “Stress and Multitasking in Everyday College Life,” co-authored with ICS graduate student Yiran Wang and education graduate student Melissa Niiya, reports on multitasking among Millennials who grew up with digital media, with a focus on college students.

A research team comprising associate professor Gillian Hayes, assistant professor Melissa Mazmanian, graduate student Lynn Dombrowski and former postdoctoral scholar Amy Voida, received an Honorable Mention Award for their paper “Shared Values/Conflicting Logics: Working Around E-Government Systems,” which provides an analytic framework for exploring value tensions as values are enacted in practice — the result of fieldwork conducted at a social services site where the workers evaluate citizens’ applications for food and medical assistance submitted via an e-government system.

CHI 2014, held in Toronto April 26-May 1, “is a celebration of the conference's one of a kind diversity; from the broad range of backgrounds of its attendees, to the diverse spectrum of communities and fields which the conference and its research have an impact on,” according to the CHI 2014 website.


Devanny, Quang and Wood awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

photo: William Eric Devanny

William Eric

photo: Daniel Xin Quang

Daniel Xin

photo: Christopher Wood


Ph.D. students William Eric Devanny, Daniel Xin Quang and Christopher Wood have been awarded 2014 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

The highly selective fellowship “helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity,” according to the fellowship website. The fellowship provides multi-year support, including a $32,000 annual stipend, a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance, opportunities for international research and professional development, and access to the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) Supercomputer — a robust virtual system that scientists can use to interactively share computing resources, data and expertise.

Devanny is part of the Center for Algorithms and Theory of Computation, and is advised by professor David Eppstein. His research concerns universal point sets and superpatterns; he plans to explore the connection between these two structures and look for other applications of superpatterns.

Quang's research interests lie in systems biology. Advised by associate professor Xiaohui Xie, Quang applies machine learning techniques to integrate and analyze large sets of genomics data.

Wood’s multidisciplinary research interests are rooted in applied cryptography; computer and network security; and heterogeneous computing. He is co-advised by Chancellor’s Professor Gene Tsudik and associate professor Stanislaw Jarecki.


Gabrielova receives Palantir Scholarship for Women in Technology

photo: Eugenia Gabrielova


ICS Ph.D. student Eugenia Gabrielova has received the Palantir Scholarship for Women in Technology. The scholarship supports women in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines by aiding them in their academic careers and providing them with opportunities to learn from other women making a difference through technological innovation. Initially established in 2012 to serve underrepresented populations in computer science, the scholarship was expanded this year to all women in the STEM disciplines who may rely on Palantir’s technology in their work, according to a recent news brief publicizing the scholarship finalists.

Gabrielova’s research interests include virtual worlds, large-scale scientific data exploration and self-managing software systems. She works under the guidance of professor Crista Lopes, and is affiliated with the Mondego Lab, which focuses on research in large systems and large data.

Palantir is a mission-focused software and services company whose data fusion platforms are used in “the most difficult problems facing the world’s most critical institutions: finding missing and exploited children, combatting terrorism, enabling hundreds of thousands of homeowners to avoid foreclosure, preventing the spread of foodborne illness,” among other issues, according to the Palantir Scholarship for Women in Technology website.



Journal features Baldi and team’s research on diet and circadian rhythm

photo: Pierre Baldi


Chancellor's Professor Pierre Baldi was part of a team whose study was featured in the December 2013 issue of the life science journal Cell. Baldi, director of the Institute for Genomics and Bioinformatics, played a key role in the study, collecting and analyzing highly complex genetic data.

Titled “Reprogramming of the Circadian Clock by Nutritional Challenge,” the paper reveals a surprising connection between diets and gene oscillation, finding that a high-fat diet (HFD) generates a profound reorganization of specific metabolic pathways, leading to disruption of the normal circadian cycle regulated by the liver clock.

The research also demonstrates that the nutritional challenge specifically, and not the development of obesity, causes reprogramming of the liver clock. This indicates that the reprogramming takes place independent of the state of obesity and that the effects of diet on the liver clock are reversible.


ICS research team published in RWJF report on personal health data

photo:  Judith Gregory


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has published a report titled “Personal Data for the Public Good: New Opportunities to Enrich Understanding of Individual and Population Health,” to which ICS associate adjunct professor Judith Gregory and assistant project scientists Matthew Bietz and Scout Calvert contributed. The report examines attitudes toward personal health data from the individuals who self-track personal data; the companies designing self-tracking devices, apps, or services; and the researchers who might use the data.

The report is a culmination of research that comes out of the Health Data Exploration project, a multi-campus collaboration led by the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) with support from RWJF — the nation’s largest health-focused philanthropic organization. Key findings include: high willingness of individuals to share self-tracked data for research with assured privacy; how current methods of informed consent are challenged by the use and reuse of personal health data in research; and researcher enthusiasm for personal health data tempered by concern for its validity and the lack of standardization of devices.


SPROUT team receives Distinguished Paper Award at NDSS 2014

photo:  Gene Tsudik


A team from ICS’s Security and Privacy Research Outfit (SPROUT) — including Chancellor’s Professor Gene Tsudik and former postdoctoral scholars Ivan Martinovic and Kasper B. Rasmussen, as well as a visiting graduate student Marc Roeschlin — has received a Distinguished Paper Award at the 2014 Network & Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS). The paper, “Authentication Using Pulse-Response Biometrics,” proposes and evaluates a new biometric based on the human body’s response to an electric square pulse signal. It explores how this biometric can enhance security as an additional authentication mechanism in PIN entry systems, and as a continuous authentication mechanism on a secure terminal.

NDSS “brings together innovative and forward-thinking members of the Internet community, including leading-edge security researchers and implementers, globally-recognized security-technology experts, and users from both the private and public sectors who design, develop, exploit, and deploy the technologies that define network and distributed system security,” according to the NDSS 2014 website. Hosted by The Internet Society, a global cause-driven organization dedicated to ensuring that the Internet stays open and transparent, NDSS 2014 took place in February in San Diego.

SPROUT, part of the Secure Computing and Network Center, specializes in applied cryptography, computer and network security, and privacy. Research directions and projects range from cryptographic protocols to human-focused usable security and privacy techniques.


Hayes receives Google Glass Accessibility Research Award

photo:  Gillian Hayes


Professor Gillian Hayes has received a Google Glass Accessibility Research Award for her proposal “Wearable Visual Supports for People with Autism Spectrum and other Neurodevelopmental Disorders.” Collaborators in the project include professor Don Patterson and former postdoctoral scholar Monica Tentori, now a professor at CICESE in Ensenada, Mexico.

Google will provide Hayes with five Google Glass devices and $15,000 to support the project, which seeks to establish the feasibility of using the Glass platform for visual supports to help individuals with autism and related disorders, demonstrating how to design such assistive technologies in light of substantial background research and related design efforts.

Google has previously funded Hayes with Google Faculty Research Awards in 2011 and 2012 for her work with technology and premature infants.


Smyth receives a Google Faculty Research Award

photo:  Padhraic Smyth


Professor Padhraic Smyth has received a Google Faculty Research Award as part of Google’s biannual open call for proposals in computer science, engineering and related fields. Smyth will receive $60,000 for his proposal, “Analyzing Individual Event Data over Time,” which will develop new statistical machine learning techniques for extracting useful information from time-stamped email histories. The project will also look more broadly at developing statistical models for other types of individual communication such as texting, microblogging and social media interactions

Google Faculty Research awards are one-year awards “structured as unrestricted gifts to universities to support the work of world-class full-time faculty members at top universities around the world,” according to the Google Research website.

Smyth is one of three recipients of the award at UCI this round, with Google also honoring two professors from the School of Education: Joshua Lawrence and Associate Dean Mark Warschauer.


Mark to participate in SXSW panel on focus in the workplace

photo: Gloria Mark


South by Southwest (SXSW) has invited professor Gloria Mark to participate in a panel discussion at this year's Music, Film and Interactivity conference on March 8 in Austin, Texas. Titled “Workplace Distractions: A New Focus on Focus,” the panel will “explore the latest research to understand the importance of focus in the workplace, the cost of workplace distraction, how to stay focused in the midst of a chaotic workplace, and despite recent research to the contrary, why focus perhaps is not all it is cracked up to be,” according to the SXSW website.

Joining Mark will be Gensler workplace architect Janet Pogue and Sociometric Solutions CEO Ben Waber, with Wall Street Journal reporter Rachel Silverman moderating. Mark will discuss her research using sensors to track how mood and stress is related to digital activity in the workplace.


Mehrotra and team receive DASFAA 10-year Best Paper Award

photo: Sharad Mehrotra


Computer science professor Sharad Mehrotra has received the 10-year Best Paper Award from the International Conference on Database Systems for Advanced Applications (DASFAA) for his paper titled “Efficient Execution of Aggregation Queries over Encrypted Relational Databases.” The paper, co-authored with researchers Hakan Hacigümüs and Bala Iyer, was originally published in the DASFAA 2004 proceedings.

DASFAA is an annual database conference located in the Asia-Pacific region that showcases state-of-the-art research and development activities in database systems and their applications. This award recognizes the best paper from the DASFAA proceedings 10 years prior based on the criterion that the paper has had the biggest impact—in research, products, or methodology—over the last decade. Mehrotra was also a winner of the DASFAA 10-year best paper award in 2013.

DASFAA serves as a forum for academic exchanges and technical discussions among researchers, developers and users of databases from academia, business and industry. DASFAA 2014 will be held in Bali, Indonesia, in April.


Gary and Judith Olson receive NSF grant for distributed-work study

photo: Gary Olson


photo: Judith Olson


The National Science Foundation has awarded a grant to Bren Professors Gary Olson and Judith Olson for their project “Micro-Analytics of Collaboration in Distributed Work: What Makes Collaboration Work.”

The study is a four-phase examination of the micro-processes of collaborative document creation to identify what processes and tool features ensure a high-quality end product — and to determine what new features might contribute to more successful collaborations. Distributed work has become ubiquitous in industry as well as in the sciences, but, as the project abstract notes, current theories of collaborative work were generated when technology-supported distributed work was less common. With the help of nearly $397,000 in NSF funding, the Olsons will expand these theories to include the collaboration patterns when people use new tools and cope with the challenges of being distant.


Carey and Li receive $1.1 million in funding for AsterixDB research

photo: Michael Carey


photo: Chen Li


Professors Michael Carey and Chen Li have received $750,000 from the National Science Foundation and nearly $400,000 from corporations — including Google, Oracle and HTC — to continue the development of their Big Data system, AsterixDB.

Carey, Li and UCI project scientist Vinayak Borkar developed the system in collaboration with Vassilis J. Tsotras, a professor at the University of California, Riverside. AsterixDB promises to be the most versatile among platforms aimed at managing Big Data; the open source software is now available for free download at

The AsterixDB engine operates on a “shared nothing” architecture, in which each computer node is independent and self-sufficient. Its distinct advantages come by adding management of semi-structured data (data not organized in the traditional tabular form), supporting a variety of data types (e.g., spatial and temporal as well as textual and numeric data), and borrowing techniques from parallel databases that increase the speed and scale at which it can operate.


ICS grad students take second place in sbv IMPROVER competition

photo: Peter Sadowski


photo: Michael Zeller


Peter Sadowski and Michael Zeller, both Ph.D. students with the Department of Computer Science, earned a second-place finish in an international data-mining competition. The honor was given by sbv IMPROVER, a collaborative project designed to enable scientists to learn about and contribute to the development of a new crowdsourcing method for verification of scientific data and results.

Sadowski and Zeller, students in professor Pierre Baldi’s group and researchers at the Institute for Genomics and Bioinformatics, developed a pipeline for translating protein phosphorylation status from rat primary lung cells to human primary lung cells after subjecting cells to various stimuli consisting of known drugs and chemicals. Their pipeline consisted of two parts: an artificial neural network; and a statistical analysis that aggregated evidence from the replicated measurements. They placed second out of 13 teams and were awarded travel-cost reimbursement to the 2013 sbv IMPROVER Symposium in Athens, Greece, where they presented their findings.


Judith and Gary Olson release new book on distributed collaborations

photo: Judith Olson


photo: Gary Olson


Professors Judith Olson and Gary Olson have published a new book, titled Working Together Apart: Collaboration over the Internet. Published by Morgan & Claypool Publishers, the Olsons’ new offering reviews the latest insights into how teams work together when they are not in the same location.

Guided by a framework they developed during two decades of research on this topic, the professors organize a series of factors they have found to differentiate between successful and unsuccessful distributed collaborations. They then review the kinds of technology options that are available today, focusing more on types of technologies rather than specific instances. They describe a database of geographically distributed projects they have studied and introduce the Collaboration Success Wizard, an online tool for assessing past, present, or planned distributed collaborations. The book closes with a set of recommendations for individuals, managers, and those higher in the organizations who wish to support distance work.


FALL 2013

ACCESS features Regan’s article on vehicular communication networks

photo: Amelia Regan


In the latest issue of ACCESS Magazine, professor Amelia Regan explores the implications of vehicular communication networks. Such systems allow vehicles to sense not only traffic patterns, but also dangers outside a driver’s line of sight. These abilities improve driving efficiency and safety and are the first steps towards an automated driving network. But what happens if the communication network fails? Or worse, is hacked into?

Regan’s article, “Vehicular ad hoc Networks: Storms on the Horizon,” describes the advantages and challenges these networks present. While the latest technology turns both cars and even pedestrians into nodes on the network, issues of security, privacy and liability continue to be major barriers to broad implementation.

ACCESS Magazine highlights research funded by the University of California Transportation Center, presenting academic work to policymakers, practitioners and the public.


Lindtner and Hertz get NSF grant to research maker movement

photo: Silvia Lindtner


photo: Garnet Hertz


Two members of the Department of Informatics have received a National Science Foundation grant for their inquiry into how the maker movement is changing material culture, production and creativity. Postdoctoral scholar Silvia Lindtner and assistant project scientist Garnet Hertz have been awarded $500,000 for their work studying makerspaces in China, New York City and San Francisco.

Their project uses ethnographic investigation to examine how DIY (Do-It-Yourself) making as a practice, and makerspaces as physical sites, contribute to the development of technical, economic and social innovation.


Bowker and team receive EarthCube award from NSF

photo: Geoffrey Bowker


Professor Geoffrey C. Bowker is part of a team that has earned a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s EarthCube awards program. A partnership between the NSF’s Directorate for Geosciences and Office of Cyberinfrastructure, EarthCube awards seek “to greatly increase the productivity and capability of researchers and educators working at the frontiers of Earth system science,” according to the NSF website.

The grant awarded to Bowker’s team was given under EarthCube’s Building Blocks category. Titled “A Broker Framework for Next Generation Geoscience,” the project, sponsored by the University of Colorado, Boulder, brings together an accomplished team of geoscientists, social scientists, cyberinfrastructure experts and educators to explore how expert systems can improve access between scientific fields.

Such interdisciplinary initiatives and academic community building have long been a focus of Bowker’s work. As scientific director of the EVOKE Lab at UCI, he brings together a community of scholars, makers and designers that builds new technology and digital experiences with social concerns as the starting point.


Bannister Wins Best Presentation Award

photo: Michael Bannister


Michael Bannister, a computer science Ph.D. candidate associated with the Center for Algorithms and Theory of Computing, has won the best presentation award at the 21st International Symposium on Graph Drawing, held Sept. 23-25 in Bordeaux, France. The award, which was offered for the first time, was determined by the votes of conference participants.

The presentation for which Bannister won the award, “Superpatterns and Universal Point Sets,” concerned his research with fellow graduate students Zhanpeng Cheng and Will Devanny, as well as Professor David Eppstein, about new connections between information visualization and the mathematics of permutation patterns.


Tsudik to co-chair seminar, keynote two conferences

photo: Gene Tsudik


Chancellor’s Professor Gene Tsudik opens the fall 2013 quarter by playing key roles in three international events. From Oct. 6-9, he will be co-chairing a Dagstuhl Seminar on the compelling and timely topic of Genomic Privacy. Held at Germany’s Schloss Dagstuhl, these seminars are a well-known venue in computer science for bringing to light cutting-edge issues and emerging topics — and require submitting a comprehensive proposal for competitive selection.

On Oct. 14, Tsudik will give a keynote talk, titled “Secure Fragmentation for Content-Centric Networks,” at the inaugural IEEE Conference on Communications and Network Security in Washington, D.C. At the 12th International Conference on Cryptology and Network Security in Paraty, Brazil, from Nov. 20-22, Tsudik will give another keynote address, “Security and Privacy in Named-Data Networking.”


van der Hoek co-edits book on software designers

photo: André van der Hoek

van der Hoek

Professor André van der Hoek, chair of the Department of Informatics and head of the Software Design and Collaboration Laboratory at UCI, has co-edited a new book released Sept. 10. Software Designers in Action: A Human-Centric Look at Design Work, part of the Chapman & Hall/CRC Innovations in Software Engineering and Software Development Series, takes a look at how developers design their software. Co-edited by Marian Petre, the book features an interdisciplinary selection of writings that provide a comprehensive exploration of early software design, as well as an examination of how human interaction influences software design.



Papers by LUCI lab faculty, students lauded at UbiComp 2013

photo: Don Patterson


Associate professor Don Patterson and fellow authors of the research paper “Inferring High-Level Behavior from Low-Level Sensors” were presented the 10 Year Impact Award at the ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp 2013), held September 8-12 in Zurich, Switzerland.

According to the award committee, the paper, first presented at UbiComp 2003, “is an excellent example of how one can learn very useful context information from simple GPS traces, and it formed the basis for today's thriving smart cities/smart transportation work. It is a nice example of how higher order information can be gleaned from everyday sensing — which is an important thread of work at Ubicomp and one of the enduring methods.”

A UbiComp 2013 best paper award also was given to graduate students Lynn Dombrowski, Jed Brubaker and Sen Hirano, and faculty members Melissa Mazmanian and Gillian Hayes — authors of “It takes a network to get dinner: Designing location-based systems to address local food needs.”


Tsudik delivers keynote at IEEE TrustCom-13

photo: Gene Tsudik


Chancellor’s Professor Gene Tsudik gave the keynote talk “Secure and Minimal Architecture for Remote Attestation of Embedded Devices” at the 12th IEEE International Conference on Trust, Security and Privacy in Computing and Communications (IEEE TrustCom-13), held July 16-18 in Melbourne, Australia.

The annual conference brings together researchers and practitioners working on trusted computing and communications, and provides a forum to present and discuss emerging ideas and trends in this highly challenging research field.

Tsudik’s research interests include many topics in security, privacy and applied cryptography. He serves as the Editor-in-Chief of ACM Transactions on Information and Systems Security (TISSEC).


Baldi selected as ISCB Fellow

photo:  Pierre Baldi


The International Society for Computational Biology has selected Chancellor’s Professor Pierre Baldi as an ISCB Fellow.

The ISCB Fellows program honors members who have distinguished themselves through outstanding contributions to the fields of computational biology and bioinformatics. The 2013 fellows were recognized at the Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology conference, held July 21-23 in Berlin.

Baldi, who directs the Institute for Genomics and Bioinformatics at UC Irvine, also is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

His research focuses on understanding biological and artificial intelligence, through the development of machine learning and data mining approaches to study fundamental problems in chemo- and bio-informatics, systems biology, and computational neuroscience. His group has developed databases and software applications for use in numerous biology and chemistry settings, including comparing genomes, predicting protein properties, understanding gene regulation, and screening and designing new drugs.


Ihler receives NSF CAREER Award

photo:  Alexander Ihler


Alexander Ihler, associate professor of computer science, has been awarded the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for his project, “Estimation and Decisions in Graphical Models.” Ihler will receive $442,000 over five years for his CAREER project, which seeks to develop a new framework for exact and approximate methods for advanced computational reasoning problems. It extends the abilities of intelligent systems to reasoning and decision-making under uncertainty, and it applies and tests these methods on a variety of application domains, including sensor networks and computer vision.

The CAREER program is the NSF’s most prestigious award for junior faculty members. Awardees are chosen because they exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

Ihler joined the UC Irvine faculty in 2007. His research focuses on artificial intelligence and machine learning, specifically on statistical methods for learning from data and on approximate inference techniques for graphical models. Applications of his work include data mining and information fusion in sensor networks, computer vision and image processing, and computational biology.


Smyth serves as program chair for UAI 2013

photo:  Padhraic Smyth


Computer science professor Padhraic Smyth served as program chair for the 29th Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI 2013), held July 11-15 in Bellevue, Wash. Sponsored by Microsoft Research, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Toyota and IBM, UAI is the leading international conference on the use of probabilistic models and algorithms in artificial intelligence and machine learning. More than 240 papers were submitted to the conference; 73 were accepted for presentation at the meeting, after extensive peer review by a program committee of over 200 researchers in the area. Topics included approximate inference algorithms, machine learning methods, causal models, Markov decision processes, and applications in medical diagnosis, biology and text analysis.


Tomlinson’s work contributes to UCI’s STARS gold rating

photo: Bill Tomlinson


UC Irvine has received the prestigious STARS gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, in part due to informatics professor Bill Tomlinson’s efforts. The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System measures and encourages responsible stewardship of Earth's resources in all aspects of higher education.

Over the past several years Tomlinson, who heads the Social Code Group, and his team have undertaken a series of information technology projects — e.g., Software Engineering for Sustainability; Games, Education, and Sustainability; and Resource Sharing — that have contributed to the STARS gold rating.

Tomlinson’s 2010 MIT Press book, “Greening through IT,” explores the ideas behind these projects, which have been presented at the National Science Foundation’s Workshop on the Role of Information Sciences and Engineering in Sustainability and at the National Academies’ Workshop on Innovation in Computing and Information Technology for Sustainability.


Brock awarded Data Science for Social Good fellowship

photo: John Brock


Computer science Ph.D. student John Brock is among three dozen fellows taking part in the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Data Science for Social Good program this summer.

The highly selective program — founded by Google chairman Eric Schmidt and the University of Chicago’s Rayid Ghani — allows fellows to work closely with governments and nonprofits to take on real-world challenges in such areas as education, health, energy and transportation. From June through August, they will apply their coding, machine learning and quantitative skills, collaborate in teams, and learn from mentors in industry, academia and the Obama campaign.

The 36 fellows — a mix of graduate and undergraduate students from all over the world — were selected from a pool of 550 applicants.

Brock, who last fall received the inaugural Butterworth Recruitment Fellowship from the Bren School, is primarily interested in applied machine learning, computing in developing countries and crisis informatics.


Mazmanian receives early career faculty award from Intel

photo: Melissa Mazmanian


Assistant professor of informatics Melissa Mazmanian has been awarded $40,000 as part of the 2013 Intel Early Career Faculty Honor Program (ECFHP). The ECFHP was created to help Intel connect with the best and brightest early career faculty members at top universities around the world. The award supports recipients’ academic research and allows them to travel to Intel and/or Intel-sponsored events in order to network and collaborate with the company’s researchers.

Mazmanian’s research interests revolve around the experience of communication technologies as used in-practice within organizational and personal contexts. She has conducted a variety of ethnographic and qualitative research projects on the individual experience and social dynamics that emerge when people adapt to using wireless modes of communication.


Gillen joins NIH Center for Scientific Review study section

photo: Dan Gillen


Associate professor of statistics Dan Gillen has been appointed to a six-year term as a member of the Biostatistical Methods and Research Design (BMRD) Study Section, a division of the National Institutes of Health’s Center for Scientific Review.

Study sections review grant applications submitted to the NIH, make recommendations on these applications to the appropriate NIH national advisory council or board, and survey the status of research in their fields of science. Members are selected on the basis of their demonstrated competence and achievement in their scientific discipline as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors. The BMRD Study Section reviews applications focused on the development and application of statistical methodology for biomedical studies.

Gillen’s research focuses primarily on the development of statistical methodology for censored survival data and group sequential methods for the design and analysis of clinical trials. He serves as associate editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association and the Journal of Statistical Software, and is past president of the Western North American Region of the International Biometrics Society.



Tsudik awarded Astor Visiting Lecturership

photo: Gene Tsudik


Computer science professor Gene Tsudik in May gave a talk on “Security and Privacy in Named-Data Networking” at the University of Oxford as an Astor Visiting Lecturer. Astor Visiting Lecturerships provide funding for weeklong visits by distinguished academics from the United States to Oxford. Only one per year is granted in the area of computer science.

Tsudik currently serves as Director of Secure Computing and Networking Center (SCONCE) and Director of the Networked Systems (NetSys) Graduate Program at UC Irvine. Since 2009, he has been the Editor-in-Chief of ACM Transactions on Information and Systems Security (TISSEC).


CS team receives ACM ICMR Best Paper Award

photo: Dmitri Kalashnikov


photo: Sharad Mehrotra


photo: Liyan Zhang


Associate adjunct professor of computer science Dmitri Kalashnikov, computer science professor Sharad Mehrotra and Ph.D. student Liyan Zhang received a Best Paper Award at the 2013 ACM International Conference on Multimedia Retrieval. Their paper, “A Unified Framework for Context Assisted Face Clustering,” develops a novel context-based methodology for improving the quality of automatic face clusters — a key component for face tagging and image management. The proposed framework is capable of fusing heterogeneous contextual features and self-tunes to a given image album by leveraging bootstrapping ideas. ACM ICMR 2013, held April 16-19 in Dallas, is a top international conference on multimedia retrieval.


Smyth presents talk at SIAM International Conference on Data Mining

photo: Padhraic Smyth


Computer science professor Padhraic Smyth gave an invited plenary talk on “Modeling Individual-Level Data in the 21st Century” at the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) International Conference on Data Mining. Considered one of the major international conferences in the field of data mining, the May 2-4 event in Austin, Texas, drew leading academic and industry researchers from North America, Europe and Asia. Smyth's talk described how we, in recent decades, have progressed from collecting relatively simple data about individuals (such as age and address) to much more detailed behavioral data from both the digital world (web browsing and searches, social media data, email), as well as the physical world (fitness, activity and sleep monitoring devices). In his talk, Smyth outlined what new algorithmic techniques will be required to analyze such data and how this type of analysis can benefit individuals in a variety of ways, including health monitoring and personal information management.


NSF fellowship awarded to 1st-year Ph.D. student

photo: Kristin Roher


Ph.D. student Kristin Roher has been awarded a 2013 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP). She is among 32 UC Irvine students to have received the fellowship this year.

The highly prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is designed to help ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce in the United States. It provides outstanding graduate students with three years of support, including a $30,000 annual stipend.

Roher’s research goal is to contribute to the effort of aiding developing societies in becoming more environmentally sustainable through IT interventions — “greening through IT” — in hopes that it will help reduce the looming threats of global climate change and other environmental concerns. She is interested in designing technologies that will help software developers build systems that meet stakeholder needs while reducing the environmental impacts brought about by those systems — “Software Engineering for Sustainability.”


Microsoft Research, Google Research and UC Mexus recognize Hayes

photo: Gillian Hayes


Assistant professor of informatics Gillian Hayes has been awarded three grants totaling $110,000 in support of her research on children with autism and on families of high-risk infants.

Most recently Hayes received a 2013 Software Engineering Innovation Foundation (SEIF) award, presented by Microsoft Research, for her project “Empowering Interactive Surfaces with Body-Based Interactions to Provide Step-by-Step Guidance to Children with ASD.” SEIF supports academic research in software engineering technologies, tools, practices and teaching methods. Hayes’ proposal was one of 16 worldwide this year to receive a $25,000 SEIF award.

In 2012 Hayes received a $60,000 Google Faculty Research Award for her proposal “Providing Privacy-Sensitive Social Support for Families of High-Risk Infants Using Mobile Computing.” Google Research Awards support the work of world-class full-time faculty members at top universities around the world. Additionally, Hayes and co-PI Monica Tentori of CICESE (The Ensenada Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education) received $25,000 in seed funding from UC Mexus (the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States) for their project “Enriching Interactive Visual Supports with Video Modeling for Children with Autism.”

Hayes is director of the Social & Technological Action Research (STAR) group and director of technology research at the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders of Southern California. Her research focuses on vulnerable populations in their efforts to understand their own data.


Harris, student receive Best Paper Cyber Security

photo: Ian Harris


Associate professor of computer science Ian Harris and his student Zi-Shun Huang received the Best Paper Cyber Security award at the 13th annual IEEE Conference on Technologies for Homeland Security (IEEE HST) for “Return-Oriented Vulnerabilities in ARM Executables.” The paper explores detecting security vulnerabilities in ARM processors, the predominant type of processor used in mobile and embedded applications. IEEE HST is the leading international conference addressing the challenges of homeland security technology innovation gaps. It brings together innovators from leading academic, industry, business, Homeland Security Centers of Excellence, and government programs to provide a forum to discuss ideas, concepts, and experimental results. Harris' research interests include functional verification, natural language processing for design automation, and embedded systems security. Huang’s research has a strong focus on security issues and attack/defense on ARM processors.



Richardson receives Retrospective Paper Award

photo: Debra Richardson


Informatics professor Debra Richardson and co-authors Stephanie Leif Aha and T. Owen O'Malley have received a 2013 ACM SIGSOFT Retrospective Paper Award for “Specification-based Test Oracles for Reactive Systems,” which appeared in ICSE ’92: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Software Engineering.

A leader in software engineering research, Richardson inspired much of the work in “specification-based testing,” beginning with her early development of the Partition Analysis Method, which proposed incorporating information from both specification and implementation in an integrated application of verification and testing techniques.


Fowlkes receives NSF CAREER Award

photo: Charless Fowlkes


Charless Fowlkes, assistant professor of computer science, has been awarded the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for his project, “Combinatorial Inference and Learning for Fusing Recognition and Perceptual Grouping.” The CAREER program is NSF’s most prestigious award for junior faculty members. Awardees are chosen because they exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

Fowlkes will receive more than $500,000 over five years for his CAREER project. His research focuses on computational vision, both in understanding the information processing capabilities of the human visual system and in developing machine vision systems. He also works on developing tools for biological image analysis in order to measure morphology and spatial patterns of gene expression in developing animals.


Assembling complete individual genomes: Xie, Li awarded $662K NIH grant

photo: Xiaohui Xie


photo: Chen Li


Computer science faculty Xiaohui Xie and Chen Li have been awarded a three-year grant of nearly $662,000 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop new computational tools essential for future advances in sequencing human genomes.

DNA sequencing has become an indispensable tool for basic biomedical research, understanding disease mechanisms and the development of new, increasingly personalized treatments. Current sequencing of an individual’s genome is done by extracting short segments of DNA, randomly sampling those segments and then assembling the hundreds of millions, or even hundreds of billions, of pieces into a whole genome, which remains a costly undertaking. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques, which enable the rapid generation of billions of bases of genes at relatively low cost, pose a significant computational challenge on how to analyze the large amount of sequence data efficiently and accurately.

“Although a number of computational tools have been developed to address this problem, they are insufficient in mapping and studying genome features located within repeat, duplicated and other so-called unmappable regions of genomes,” says Xie.

The primary goal of his NIH-funded research is to develop computational algorithms and open-source software to improve both the efficiency and accuracy of NGS analysis tools and expand the accessibility of those tools to previously understudied regions. This will create a new way of mapping the sequencing to the reference genome, identifying all mapping locations instead of one or only a few. That will be followed by a machine-learning method to resolve ambiguously mapped reads by pooling information from the entire collection of reads.

UCI computer scientists on the project are collaborating with biologists developing NGS assays to study biomedical problems, including Timothy Osborne of Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Kyoko Yokomori of the UCI School of Medicine and Ken Cho of UCI’s School of Biological Sciences.

The UCI team’s work to reduce the cost and improve the accuracy of sequencing ultimately may make it possible to create an individual patient’s genome as part of a routine diagnostic procedure.


Meenakshisundaram, Mukherjee receive best paper award at ICVGIP 2012

photo: Gopi Meenakshisundaram


photo: Uddipan Mukherjee


Tweening Boundary Curves of Non-Simple Immersions of a Disk,” by associate professor of computer science Gopi Meenakshisundaram and Ph.D. student Uddipan Mukherjee, won the sole best paper award at the eighth Indian Conference of Computer Vision, Graphics and Image Processing (ICVGIP) held in Mumbai, India.

Tweening, also known as shape morphing, is an important concept in keyframe animation wherein an initial shape is transformed smoothly into a final shape. The paper introduces a robust tweening algorithm capable of creating smooth transformations between non-simple polygonal shapes that are immersions of a disk. All the intermediate shapes that are generated by the authors’ algorithm are guaranteed to be disk immersions.

Both Meenakshisundaram and Mukherjee are members of UC Irvine’s Interactive Graphics and Visualization lab, also known as iGravi. Meenakshisundaram’s research focuses primarily on topics related to geometry and topology motivated by problems in computer graphics and interactive rendering, medical and biological image processing and visualization. Mukherjee’s research interests include computer graphics, geometry processing, image processing and multimedia.


Enhancing privacy in embedded systems: Tsudik receives grant from Bosch

photo: Gene Tsudik


Bosch Research and Technology Center has awarded computer science professor Gene Tsudik $50,000 to support his efforts to enhance privacy in embedded systems. This grant represents the first partnership between Bosch and UC Irvine.

The term “embedded systems” refers to systems that control specific functions within a larger structure. Embedded systems help control everything from pacemakers, security systems and cell phones to planes, trains and automobiles. Used by the billions in countless applications, these systems have become essential to daily life. As long as they operate safely and effectively, most of us never even think about them.

Tsudik, who also directs the Secure Computing and Networking Center (SCONCE) at UCI, continuously explores ways to increase the security of such systems. Bosch Research and Technology Center — the research arm of one of the world’s leading manufacturers of appliances, automotive components, security systems, medical equipment and many other devices dependent on embedded systems — sought Tsudik’s collaboration in research on embedded systems security.

As more devices use embedded systems, and as these systems increasingly communicate with other equipment, privacy becomes even more challenging and essential. “Communication between embedded systems is like opening a new door,” Tsudik observes. “Once that door is open, you never know who — or what — might come in.”

Through his collaboration with Bosch and his ongoing research, Tsudik seeks to improve security and to maintain integrity of embedded devices in the most efficient manner.


Li, Mehrotra receive DASFAA 10-year Best Paper Award

photo: Chen Li


Sharad Mehrotra


Computer science professors Chen Li and Sharad Mehrotra have won the 2013 DASFAA 10-year Best Paper Award, to be presented by the Database Systems for Advanced Applications at its 18th international conference. The award recognizes the best paper from DASFAA proceedings 10 years prior, based on the criterion that the paper has had the biggest impact (research, products, methodology) over the last decade.

Li and Mehrotra’s 2003 paper, “Efficient Record Linkage in Large Data Sets,” co-authored with Liang Jin (M.S. ’03) describes an efficient and accurate approach to record linkage.

The annual DASFAA international database conference provides a forum for technical presentations and discussions among database researchers, developers and users from academia, business and industry. DASFAA 2013 will be held April in Wuhan, China.

Mehrotra’s current research focuses on building sentient spaces using multimodal sensors, data privacy and data quality. Li’s research interests are in the fields of databases and information retrieval, including search, data-intensive computing, data integration and sharing, data warehouses, data cleansing, and Web information management.

In 2012, Li and Mehrotra won the SIGMOD Test-of-Time Award for their paper, “Executing SQL over Encrypted Data in the Database-Service-Provider Model.” The paper was co-authored by Hakan Hacigumus (M.S. ’02, Ph.D. ’04) and IBM collaborator Bala Iyer.


NSF awards $500K grant to Welling, Shahbaba

Max Welling


Babak Shahbaba


The National Science Foundation has awarded computer science professor Max Welling and assistant professor of statistics Babak Shahbaba $500,000 to fund the project "Efficient Bayesian Learning from Stochastic Gradients."

Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) is a technique that allows one to draw representative samples from almost any probability distribution. While the MCMC technology has revolutionized the usefulness of Bayesian statistics over the last few decades, it has not been able to scale well to today’s very large data problems. Welling and Shahbaba will examine a new family of MCMC procedures that requires only a few hundred data-cases per update.

"We believe this new class of methods will for the first time unlock the full strength of Bayesian methods for very large datasets," stated Welling and Shahbaba in their NSF proposal. "Due to their highly practical nature, the techniques developed under this grant are likely to gain widespread acceptance across a broad spectrum of academic disciplines as well as in industry."

The grant will enable UC Irvine students to collaborate with students and postdocs from the University of Oxford and the University of Bristol. Research results will be integrated into artificial intelligence and machine learning courses at UCI through class projects.


Johnson elected to IBS executive board

Wesley Johnson


Statistics professor Wesley Johnson has been elected to the International Biometric Society (IBS) executive board. IBS promotes the development and application of statistical and mathematical theory and methods in the biosciences. Members include statisticians, mathematicians, biological scientists and others devoted to interdisciplinary efforts in advancing the collection and interpretation of information in the biosciences.

Johnson’s eclectic research interests include developing Bayesian statistical methods for biostatistical and epidemiologic applications. He is currently involved with collaborative efforts to develop Bayesian nonparametric and semi-parametric methods in survival analysis, longitudinal analysis, analysis of diagnostic outcome data, and joint modeling of survival and longitudinal data.


Nardi, alumna elected to 2013 CHI Academy

Bonnie Nardi


Beki Grinter


SIGCHI (Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction) has announced that informatics professor Bonnie Nardi and Bren School alumna Beki Grinter (MS ’94 and Ph.D. ’96) have been elected to the 2013 CHI Academy — an honorary group of individuals who have made substantial contributions to the field of human-computer interaction.

SIGCHI is the premier international society for professionals, academics and students who are interested in human-technology and human-computer interaction. CHI Academy members are considered principal leaders whose efforts have shaped the discipline and/or industry, and led the research and/or innovation in HCI. The criteria for election are:

  • cumulative contributions to the field
  • impact on the field through development of new research directions and/or innovations
  • influence on the work of others

Nardi is the fourth Bren School professor elected to the CHI Academy, joining fellow informatics faculty Paul Dourish (2008), Gary Olson (2003) and Judy Olson (2001). The Olsons also were recognized in 2006 with a Lifetime Achievement Award, the most prestigious honor given by SIGCHI. A complete list of the 2013 SIGCHI awardees is available here.

Nardi’s research interests include activity theory, games and social media, interaction design, and society and technology. Her recent books include: “Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method,” written with Tom Boellstorff, Celia Pearce and T.L. Taylor, published in September 2012 by Princeton University Press, and “Materiality and Organizing: Social Interaction in a Technological World,” co-edited with Paul M. Leonardi and Jannis Kallinikos, published in January 2013 by Oxford University Press. Grinter is a professor in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology.


FALL 2012

CS professors, students receive SmartGridComm Best Paper Award

photo: Lubomir Bic


photo: Michael Dillencourt


Graduate students Kiyoshi Nakayama and Kyle Benson, along with computer science professors Lubomir Bic and Michael Dillencourt, have received the 2012 IEEE International Conference on Smart Grid Communications Best Paper Award for “Complete Automation of Future Grid for Optimal Real-Time Distribution of Renewables.”

According to the abstract: “In this paper, a novel distributed control technique, which integrates tie-set graph theory with an intelligent agent system, is presented to distribute renewable energy resources to consumers in a future large-scale power grid connecting with huge amounts of real-time end-use devices on its demand side automatically and perfectly.”

The IEEE International Conference on Smart Grid Communications (SmartGridComm) is the premier conference aimed at developing the Smart Grid, which has become an urgent global priority — promising economic, environmental and societal benefits.


Eppstein receives GD2012 best paper award

46-vertex Halin graph formed from a complete ternary free tree

“Planar Lombardi Drawings for Subcubic Graphs,” authored by computer science professor David Eppstein, has recieved the best paper award in the combinatorial and algorithmic aspects track of the 20th International Symposium on Graph Drawing.

Lombardi drawing is a style of information visualization inspired by the art of Mark Lombardi, who drew social networks in which the nodes and edges represent the players and financial connections in international conspiracies — using a style characterized by curved edges and even node spacing. Eppstein’s paper uses circle packings and hyperbolic geometry to show how to construct Lombardi drawings for every planar graph that has, at most, three edges per node.

Eppstein’s research focuses on many topics in computational geometry and graph algorithms, including: graph drawing and information visualization; dynamic graph algorithms and dynamic closest pair data structures; and mesh generation and optimal triangulation.


Securing the Internet’s next generation: Tsudik receives $95K from Cisco

photo: Gene Tsudik


Cisco Systems has awarded $95,000 to help support the work of computer science professor Gene Tsudik in making the next-generation Internet more secure. An expert in computer security and privacy, Tsudik leads a team that is exploring security advantages and strengthening potential weaknesses of Named-Data Networking (NDN) in preventing denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. Such attacks disable their victims by overloading them with communications from “zombies” or “bots” — that is, computers that have already been compromised by hackers for malicious purposes.

NDN aims to replace the current Internet Protocol (IP). Rather than the IP method of assigning names to computers and addresses to their network interfaces, NDN names the content that travels through the network. To provide trust in communicated information, each piece of named content must be signed by its producer.

The current IP-based Internet allows anyone to “talk” to any entity, such as a computer or a router. This opens the door for DoS and attack types. And attacks are not the only problem with today’s Internet. Tsudik says the Internet’s decades-old architecture “was not designed for the kind of communication that takes place over it today: web traffic and rich multimedia communication. It was primarily designed for email and remote terminal access.”

In other words, the Internet is not just threatened by hackers and other miscreants; it is also a victim of its own popularity. Billions of people use it intensively, and cracks are starting to show.

Tsudik is one of a number of experts from dozens of institutions who answered the call from the National Science Foundation to construct a more resilient future Internet architecture. To make that next incarnation safer from attacks (such as DoS), Tsudik and his group at UCI are collaborating with colleagues at the Palo Alto Research Center — where the security team is lead by Ersin Uzun, a former Ph.D. student of Tsudik’s — and UCLA. They are also jointly exploring privacy protection techniques for NDN.


Patterson receives AIJ Prominent Paper Award

photo: Donald Patterson


Informatics associate professor Donald Patterson, with co-authors Lin Liao, Dieter Fox and Henry Kautz, have been recognized with the inaugural AIJ Prominent Paper Award. Their paper, “Learning and inferring transportation routines,” was published in volume 171 (April 2007) of the Artificial Intelligence journal. It introduces a hierarchical Markov model that can learn and infer a user’s daily movements through an urban community, and applies it in an application that helps cognitively-impaired people use public transportation safely.

The recently instituted AIJ Prominent Paper Award recognizes outstanding papers published not more than five years ago in the AI Journal that are exceptional in their significance and impact. Factors considered for the award include: the paper’s influence on a new line of research, whether the paper has made any major theoretical advances, and whether the paper has influenced applications.

Patterson said he and his co-authors have decided to donate their 500 Euro prize — which Google will match 1:1 — to the Alzheimer’s Association, “which is in line with the ideas in the paper.” Patterson’s current research interests focus on context-aware computing and how to make a computer operate appropriately when it leaves the office and moves into the greater world. He is a faculty affiliate of LUCI (Laboratory for Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction).



El Zarki receives Fulbright fellowship

photo: Magda El Zarki

El Zarki

Professor of computer science Magda El Zarki has received a nine-month Fulbright-Nehru Teaching/Research Fellowship to pursue her research on networked games and virtual worlds at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

With the advent of online gaming and the tremendous success of this new application area, El Zarki’s research thrust has shifted to studying the networking requirements of online game technologies, in particular Massively Multiuser Virtual Environments (MMVEs). With the anticipated growth in this application area, more and more stress is being placed on the underlying transport system to provide the kind of quality of experience (QoE) that these applications and their users expect. The quality of an end user’s experience is the true litmus test of a proper online game deployment. El Zarki’s Fulbright research project, “Networked Games and Virtual Worlds,” will further explore how understanding both the application and network facilities for QoE can ensure the highest quality user experience.

El Zarki is director of the Center for Computer Games and Virtual Worlds and heads the computer game science degree program at UC Irvine. She is an editor for several journals in the telecommunications field and is actively involved in many international conferences.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.


Newman receives $120K from NSF

photo: David Newman


Associate research scientist David Newman has been awarded a $120,000 grant by the National Science Foundation to develop topic models to help better understand and manage research conducted in NSF's Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems Division (CBET).

The CBET Division supports research and education in the rapidly evolving fields of bioengineering and environmental engineering.

“Managing a portfolio of research projects is a complex business,” says Newman. “We will develop topic models that accurately characterize CBET-funded research — as described by the investigators. These topic models will help program managers better understand the unique role of CBET programs, and be in a better position to set research strategy.”


Franz wins a U.S. Patent on software diversity and over $900,000 in new grant funding to investigate software diversity

photo: Michael Franz


Professor Michael Franz and two of his former Ph.D. students were just awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent Office for a fundamental invention in the field of software security. The patent, on which Prof. Franz is the first named inventor and which is assigned to the Regents of the University of California, protects the idea of using program diversity in conjunction with parallel programming to protect a computer against malicious hacker attacks.

Like many major inventions, the idea is quite simple at the core: instead of generating a single binary from a source program, a special compiler generates several slightly different program versions that implement the program's functionality in subtly different ways. These different versions are then executed in lockstep on a multicore processor.

The key idea is to generate the versions in such a way that all "in specification" behavior is identical across the versions, but "out of specification" behavior differs significantly. As a result, the versions will execute in lockstep as long as the program is behaving as designed, but will typically diverge as soon as an attacker exploits a programming bug, causing "out of specification" behavior. This can be detected almost in real time.

In addition to this U.S. Patent, Prof. Franz won over $900,000 in additional funding for his work on software diversity in the past month. First, he won an additional year of funding from DARPA for his project "Defending Mobile Apps Through Automated Software Diversity." The existing project, on which Dr. Franz is the sole PI, has been extended through February 2015 along with an additional award of $467,442, bringing the total to $1,847,602. Second, he received a further award of $456,809 from the Navy on a subcontract from Johns Hopkins University for his project "Meta-Circular Software Diversity for Intrusion Tolerant Clouds."


Newman awarded $300K from NSF

photo: David Newman


Associate Research Scientist David Newman has been awarded a $600,000 grant by the National Science Foundation, with funds split equally with co-Investigator Meg Blume-Kohout, an Economist at University of New Mexico.

Newman and Blume-Kohout's interdisciplinary research will combine machine learning and econometrics to create models that assess effectiveness and efficiency of biomedical funding, focusing on the National Institutes of Health.

"In this current age of scarcity, two things are required: fiscal restraint, and an accurate assessment of research effectiveness and efficiency" says Newman. "Matching publications and grant funding levels by machine learned topics will allow us to evaluate the contribution of publicly-funded research to the body of published research. Our models will be able to measure whether changes in funding for a topic affect the quality and quantity of publications on that topic."


ICML 2012 best paper award goes to Welling and students

photo: Sungjin Ahn


photo: Anoop Korattikara


photo: Max Welling


photo: ICML award

Co-authored by Ph.D. students Sungjin Ahn and Anoop Korattikara, and computer science professor Max Welling, “Bayesian Posterior Sampling via Stochastic Gradient Fisher Scoring” won the best paper award at the 29th International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML 2012) held in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) is a technique that allows one to draw representative samples from almost any probability distribution. According to the paper, while the MCMC technology has revolutionized the usefulness of Bayesian statistics over the last few decades, it has not been able to scale well to today’s very large data problems. The authors’ new method borrows ideas from Stochastic Approximation Theory to improve the efficiency of MCMC samplers and make them relevant to big data challenges.

Ahn and Korattikara on June 27 presented the paper in an ICML 2012 plenary session.



ACM publication features open virtual 3-D world developed by Baldi, Lopes

photo: Pierre Baldi


photo: Crista Lopes


The Universal Campus: An open virtual 3-D world infrastructure for research and education,” written by Chancellor’s Professor Pierre Baldi and Associate Professor Crista Lopes, was featured in the April issue of eLearn Magazine, an Association for Computing Machinery publication. According to the paper: “One should not discount the power of technology to provide increasingly realistic, almost haptic, interactions in real time, or the additional creative inspiration that could emerge for users by simply being immersed in a completely novel and unusual environment.”

Developed by Baldi and Lopes, the Universal Campus allows users in academia and research settings to interact and collaborate in a 3-D virtual world that includes multiple buildings with fully furnished laboratories, classrooms, meeting rooms and lecture halls. Deployed using Second Life and OpenSimulator, the Universal Campus can host multiple scale gatherings, from lab meetings to classes, lectures, symposia and conferences. Its infrastructure provides a default set of 12 avatars that are freely customizable by users. A local chat feature allows avatars to converse with other avatars within the same virtual room, while a voice conference feature allows avatars to speak with multiple other avatars simultaneously.

All the content and source code of the Universal Campus is downloadable under Creative Commons or similar licenses. The Universal Campus provides a complete open access and open source infrastructure that can be replicated and used for a variety of research or educational purposes.


Bren School hosts annual AP Stats project competition

AP Stats graph

Dozens of students from five high schools in Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside counties presented their work May 19 in Donald Bren Hall as part of the 7th Annual AP Statistics Project Competition of the American Statistical Association’s Southern California chapter. Sponsored by the Bren School Department of Statistics and the City of Hope National Medical Center, the event featured 28 poster presentations by student teams and a breakout session for instructors on teaching AP Statistics. Judges came from academia — including Bren School professors and graduate students — as well as business and industry. Click here for competition results and photos from the event. 

Faculty, alumnus win SIGMOD Test-of-Time Award

photo: Sharad Mehrotra


photo: Chen Li


The 2012 ACM SIGMOD Test-of-Time Award, given annually by the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Management of Data to recognize the most impactful paper from a decade prior, was presented in May to Hakan Hacigumus (M.S. '02, Ph.D. '04), IBM collaborator Bala Iyer, and Bren School faculty Sharad Mehrotra and Chen Li for “Executing SQL over Encrypted Data in the Database-Service-Provider Model.”

According to the award citation: This paper from the SIGMOD 2002 Conference remarkably anticipated the world of “Database as Service” which did come about and continues to grow in importance. To get a sense of how visionary the work was, consider that this paper was published in June 2002 (and thus accepted in Jan 2002), even a couple of months before Amazon EC2 and S3 services were launched (of course, Amazon RDS and SQL Azure came much later). The core of the paper focuses on the challenges of how to leverage cloud services while keeping some of the information (at the discretion of the enterprise/user) hidden from the service provider. Beyond the specific algorithmic details, the key contribution is the framework: (i) introduction of a mapping function, and (ii) query splitting logic to ensure how the work can be distributed across cloud and client when some information is encrypted. Is this framework used by enterprises today? As best as we can tell, the answer is perhaps no. But, is the framework interesting and has real possibilities of adoption and further impact and more follow-on by research community? Absolutely. In summary, this paper is one of the early papers to foresee the world of Database as Service (before any one of us were working on that problem). The specific technical focus was dealt with reasonable depth. The impact of the technical focus has not yet been seen by the industry but this paper has the possibility of inspiring much more follow-on work/thinking (beyond 140+ citations it already has in ACM DL).


UCI team earns prize for best educational game at intercollegiate showcase

Q-Bitz robot

The top two finishers in the latest Game Jam “build a video game in a week” Tournament at UCI were recognized at the first-ever IEEE GameSig Intercollegiate Computer Game Showcase, held April 28 at Chapman University. Q-Bitz won the MIND Research Institute Prize for Best Educational Game, while Massteroid received honorable mention. A third UCI team — the creators of Godfighter — also competed in the final round, along with seven others from Chapman, Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State San Bernardino and Westwood College. “I hope [the showcase] means we can groom the local talent pool so the next Blizzard can exist here in Orange County,” Brian Fargo, CEO of InXile Entertainment, told the Orange County Register.


Doctoral student receives award from Yahoo! Labs Key Scientific Challenges Program

photo: Raman Grover


Computer science Ph.D. student Raman Grover has been awarded $5,000 in unrestricted research seed funding from the Yahoo! Labs Key Scientific Challenges (KSC) Program. The program supports a limited number of outstanding Ph.D. students who are conducting research in scientifically challenging areas, including web information management, machine learning and search experiences.

Grover, whose research interests include large scale data-intensive computing, databases, parallel processing and data feeds, was one of 30 researchers selected from a pool of 208 proposals. Along with the funds, the program’s award benefits include exclusive access to select Yahoo Datasets, opportunities to collaborate with Yahoo’s industry-leading scientists, and an invitation to the upcoming KSC Graduate Student Summit, where recipients join top minds in academia and industry to present work, discuss research trends and jointly develop revolutionary approaches to fundamental problems.

Grover’s research projects include ASTERIX, which focuses on developing new technologies for ingesting, storing, managing, indexing, querying, analyzing and subscribing to vast quantities of semi-structured information; and Hyracks, a new partitioned-parallel software platform designed to run data-intensive computations on large shared-nothing clusters of computers. Grover is advised by Bren Professor Michael Carey and is a member of the Information Systems Group at UCI.


Olson delivers 2012 Athena Lecture

photo: Judy Olson


As the 2011-12 Athena Lecturer, Bren Professor Judy Olson presented “Broader Impacts: Research You Can Use” at the Association for Computing Machinery Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work.

According to Olson’s abstract: A number of threads of thought have come together recently having to do with how we make our research useable and useful to the world. One thread is inspired by a movement in medicine called Clinical Translational Science in which funding is given to researchers to translate basic research into guidelines, treatments, and regimens that clinicians can use. A second thread arose in reflecting about our own recent work in which we translated a theory about what makes for good distance collaboration into an online assessment tool and administered it to hundreds of people involved in remote collaboration. Upon completion of the assessment, each participant immediately gets a personalized report on the strengths of their collaboration, the challenges, and what to do about it. We get the data, and they get the help. These two threads point to making a difference, having broader impact. In this talk I will review some ways we can have an impact, both directly to people, through design practice (our clinicians), and via a myriad of other tools while doing good research. I encourage us all to spend more energy on having more direct effects on the world in which we live.

A video of her lecture and other background materials are available through the ACM Digital Library.



Nardi serves as ICIC 2012 program co-chair

photo: Bonnie Nardi


Informatics professor Bonnie Nardi is the program co-chair for the 4th ACM International Conference on Intercultural Collaboration (ICIC 2012), which takes place March 21-23 in Bangalore, India.

The main theme of this year’s conference is intercultural collaboration, from both technical and socio-cultural perspectives. Topics include collaboration support (e.g., natural language processing, Web and Internet technologies), social psychological analyses of intercultural interaction, and case studies from activists working to increase mutual understanding in a multicultural world.

Nardi's research interests include theory in human-computer interaction and computer-supported collaborative work and studies of social life on the Internet.


iGraVi lab highlighted in IEEE, ACM conferences

photo: Gopi Meenakshisundaram


photo: Aditi Majumder


Two Bren School computer science associate professors served as general chairs for recently held IEEE and ACM conferences sponsored by UC Irvine and co-located in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Aditi Majumder co-chaired IEEE Virtual Reality 2012 (VR 2012), the top international conference and exhibition involving the fields of virtual environments, augmented reality and 3D user interfaces, while Gopi Meenakshisundaram co-chaired the ACM Interactive 3D Graphics and Games 2012 (i3D 2012), a leading conference for interactive realistic rendering, hardware acceleration, animation, and geometry processing.

As part of the conferences, Majumder and Meenakshisundaram hosted open houses to showcase 10 research projects conducted by members of the Interactive Graphics and Visualization (iGraVi) lab at UCI. Click here for photos taken at the March 6 open house.

Led by the two professors, the iGraVi lab features expertise in various areas of graphics and visualization including interactive rendering systems, optical systems for future cameras and displays, geometric processing for rendering, user interfaces and applications, and building multi-projector display environments for visualization, simulation and training. The lab includes 10 graduate students and many undergraduates.

iGraVi is supported by funding from NSF and equipment donations from nVidia, Epson and Canon. Collaborators include faculty within the UCI campus, such as stem cell researchers in the School of Medicine, as well as colleagues in other parts of the country, such as Purdue University and MIT, and the world, including researchers in Switzerland and Brazil.


Kobsa receives $80K from Samsung

photo: Alfred Kobsa


Informatics professor Alfred Kobsa received a gift in the amount of $80,000 from Samsung Information Systems America. The gift will support his research in the area of user privacy preferences and international privacy legislation in cloud services. A recent gift from Ericsson Research also supports his work in this area.



FALL 2011

UCI team receives ‘Energy to Educate’ grant

photo: Bill Tomlinson


Informatics associate professor Bill Tomlinson and his group, in collaboration with assistant professor of education Rebecca Black, received a $50,000 grant from Constellation Energy in support of their work on the “Causality Project.”

Through a novel online system currently in the works, the Causality Project collects information about the cause-and-effect relationships across a wide range of topics, to help people understand how everyday decisions can affect the environment.

“By illustrating chains of causality, which can often be indirect and complex, we hope to encourage people to recognize the ripples they make, big or small,” Tomlinson says. “For example, people may not think about where their power comes from or the effects brought about by the generation, distribution and use of that power. The Causality Project aims to address this type of disconnect.”

Constellation Energy awarded 14 E(2) Energy to Educate grants in 2011 to support hands-on projects that enhance student understanding of the science and technology needed to address energy issues. Tomlinson’s grant will enable the team to launch a contest next year among UC Irvine undergraduate students to contribute to the Causality Project and create online videos about indirect causal chains related to energy issues in their own lives. Participants will work in interdisciplinary teams to learn about energy technologies, the environmental impacts of various energy systems, and how these systems relate to their world. Students will then use this new knowledge to create an online repository of causal linkages among energy issues and other topics of global importance.


Four faculty recognized by ACM

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, has announced that four faculty members from the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at UC Irvine have been selected for the following honors:


photo: David Eppstein
Computer science professor David Eppstein has been named a 2011 ACM Fellow for his achievements in graph algorithms and computational geometry. Established in 1993, the ACM Fellows Program recognizes and celebrates the exceptional contributions of leaders in the computing field. According to ACM President Alain Chesnais, this year’s fellows are “some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in computer science and engineering… These international luminaries are responsible for solutions that are transforming our society for the better.” Eppstein's research areas include algorithms and complexity, and computer graphics and visualization.


The ACM Distinguished Member Recognition Program recognizes ACM members with at least 15 years of professional experience and five years of continuous professional membership who have achieved significant accomplishments or have made a significant impact on the computing field.

photo: Cristina Lopes Named a 2011 ACM Distinguished Scientist, informatics associate professor Cristina Lopes is one of the co-inventors of aspect-oriented programming and one of the original designers of the AspectJ programming language. She is also a core developer and one of the main architects of OpenSimulator, a platform for massive online 3D virtual environments.

photo: David Redmiles Named a 2011 ACM Distinguished Scientist, Informatics professor David Redmiles is the author of more than 100 research publications integrating the areas of software engineering, human-computer interaction and computer-supported cooperative work. His research focuses on the processes and technologies needed to develop and support useful and usable interactive software.

photo: Richard Pattis Named a 2011 ACM Distinguished Educator, computer science senior lecturer Richard Pattis is the author of the Karel programming language and published Karel the Robot, an introductory computer science textbook used in high schools and colleges for nearly 30 years. He serves as the computer science vice chair for undergraduate studies at the Bren School.


Baldi named IEEE Fellow

photo: Pierre Baldi


Pierre Baldi, Chancellor’s Professor in the department of computer science and director of the Institute for Genomics and Bioinformatics, has been named an IEEE Fellow for his contributions to machine learning and its applications in the life sciences.

Current projects in his laboratory include mining high-throughput genomic data and developing expert systems for chemistry and systems biology, to better understand the computations carried by metabolic, signaling and gene regulatory networks, and identify new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. Baldi also is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The IEEE is the world’s leading professional association for advancing technology for humanity and publishes 30 percent of the world’s literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields. IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership; the total number selected in any one year does not exceed one-tenth of 1 percent of the total voting membership. IEEE boasts 385,000 members in 160 countries. This year, 312 individuals were elevated to IEEE Fellow.


Tsudik reappointed editor-in-chief of ACM TISSEC

photo: Gene Tsudik


The Association for Computing Machinery Publications Board has unanimously approved Gene Tsudik's reappointment for a second three-year term as editor-in-chief of the ACM Transactions on Information and System Security (TISSEC), a top scholarly, scientific journal covering all aspects of computer/network/information security and privacy. Tsudik's new term ends on Dec. 31, 2014.

Tsudik’s research interests include computer/network security and applied cryptography. He serves as director of UCI’s Secure Computing and Networking Center and as director of the networked systems graduate program.


NSF awards $500K to Franz

photo: Michael Franz


Computer science professor Michael Franz, as sole PI, has been awarded a three-year $500,000 grant by the National Science Foundation to create better virtual machines (VMs).

A virtual machine is an “ideal computer” built out of software. “Most people use multiple VMs every day,” Franz explains. “For example, web applications such as Gmail or Google Maps run on a JavaScript VM inside of your web browser, animations run on Adobe’s Flash VM, and, if you are using an Android mobile phone, most of the apps on that phone run on a VM called Dalvik. Running software on virtual machines rather than directly on hardware creates cross-platform portability and provides some insulation against malicious or faulty programs.”

Franz’s research project aims to simplify the development of virtual machines and improve their architecture, especially when used on mobile devices. The project has garnered additional support from Samsung, which awarded a supplemental $350,000 to Franz this spring.

Franz continues: “It doesn’t make sense to have three separate VMs (JavaScript, Flash and Dalvik) on a cell phone, where space is at a premium, when these VMs are actually quite similar to each other under the hood and have lots of overlapping functionality.” Franz’s research aims to create a modular VM that can support multiple languages while using only a fraction of the space. Rather than compete for processor resources and memory, the modules of the VM supporting the various languages would collaborate with each other.

Franz leads the Secure Systems and Languages Laboratory at UC Irvine, one of the top research teams on dynamic compilation, virtual machines and language-based computer security. In collaboration with the Mozilla foundation, he transitioned the JavaScript compilation technology invented in his lab into the Firefox browser, where it is used every day by hundreds of millions of people.


Baldi, Tsudik and team present at CSS 2011

photo: Pierre Baldi


photo: Gene Tsudik


A paper on efficient handling of fully-sequenced human genomes — co-authored by computer science professors Pierre Baldi and Gene Tsudik, recent alumnus Emiliano De Cristofaro (Ph.D. ’11), postdoctoral researcher Paolo Gasti, and Institute for Genomics and Bioinformatics researcher Roberta Baronio — will be presented at the 18th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security in Chicago. Titled “Countering GATTACA: Efficient and Secure Testing of Fully-Sequenced Human Genomes,” this paper addresses the issue of privacy in the emerging field of digital genome sequencing and already has been featured on the MIT Technology Review home page and as a feature article in the journal NewScientist. The authors have devised methods for implementing privacy-preserving operations over digital genome sequences. These genome sequences could be stored by users on their computers or smartphones and queried in secure and private ways in several applications, ranging from medical, to authentication, to social interactions. This work is supported in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.


Padhraic Smyth awarded $2.9M by Office of the Director of National Intelligence

photo: Padhraic Smyth


Padhraic Smyth, professor of computer science and director of the Center for Machine Learning and Intelligent Systems at UC Irvine, has been awarded two grants worth $2.9 million by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), a center housed within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, for research on statistical text mining.

The first project — with co-investigators David Newman, assistant researcher in computer science at UCI, and Mark Steyvers, professor of cognitive sciences at UCI —will focus on developing new statistical topic modeling algorithms to help users automatically search and understand large amounts of unstructured text. Funded by a $1.3 million IARPA award over four years, the project is a collaborative effort with Cornell University, the University of Maryland, UC Santa Barbara, the University of Massgachusetts Amherst and Purdue University.

Supported by a $1.6 million five-year award from IARPA, the second project focuses on developing models and algorithms for automatically detecting and quantifying trends and changes in scientific literature. In a recent news release, IARPA announced that the Foresight and Understanding from Scientific Exposition (FUSE) Program seeks to produce a new capability to accelerate the process of identifying and prioritizing emerging technologies across the globe. Smyth and co-investigator Newman will develop algorithms that can detect statistically significant changes in language usage and citation patterns to measure how scientific disciplines are evolving over time. FUSE will be carried out in collaboration with researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois.

Both projects will build on research by Smyth, Newman, Steyvers and their students, who for the past few years have been developing statistical models and algorithms for automatically extracting information from text. These techniques have broad applications in such areas as Web search, digital libraries and biomedical text mining.


Jarecki, Tsudik receive $750,000 IARPA grant

photo: Stanislaw Jarecki


photo: Gene Tsudik


Stanislaw Jarecki and Gene Tsudik have been awarded a $750,000 three-year grant as part of a subcontract from IBM Research, by the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). The research project is titled “ESPADA: Efficient Security and Privacy Assurance for Database Access.” The goal of ESPADA is to efficiently and securely support a wide range of database queries between mutually mistrustful parties, while minimizing the amount of information learned by either party.


Utts receives NISS Distinguished Service Award

photo: Jessica Utts


Statistics professor Jessica Utts received a 2011 Distinguished Service Award from the National Institute of Statistical Sciences in recognition of her multiple terms on the NISS board of trustees and the executive committee, and for serving as chair of the awards committee. The NISS Distinguished Service Awards were established in 2005 to recognize individuals who have given extraordinary service that significantly advances NISS and its mission. Utts joined the NISS board in 1997, served as vice chair from 2008-11, and is now one of its longest-serving members.



ISG members receive multiple NSF grants

photo: Sharad Mehrotra


photo: Nalini Venkatasubramanian


photo: Dmitri V. Kalashnikov


Several members of the Information Systems Group (ISG) within the department of computer science received National Science Foundation grants to support a variety of research projects. Computer science professor Sharad Mehrotra received $500,000 from the NSF’s Division of Computer and Network Systems to explore query processing in mixed security environments wherein data migrates across different components, each of which may offer different levels of security guarantees and may be susceptible to different attacks. Mehrotra, along with assistant adjunct professor Dmitri V. Kalashnikov, also received $500,000 from the NSF’s Division of Information and Intelligent Systems, to build a query and goal-driven entity resolution framework. Professor Nalini Venkatasubramanian was awarded $205,000 to lead a research project on “GeoSocial Alerting Systems.”

ISG consists of computer science faculty members, affiliated faculty, students, visitors and project staff. It aims to address today’s rapidly evolving information infrastructure by conducting research on all aspects of modern data and information systems.


Smyth Serves as KDD-2011 Program Chair

photo: Padhraic Smyth


Computer science professor Padhraic Smyth is the program chair for the 17th ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, currently underway in San Diego, Calif. Considered the premier annual international research conference on data mining, the event this year drew a record-setting 1,000+ attendees.

Approximately 725 research papers were submitted (another record), of which 125 were accepted for oral or poster presentation at the meeting. The review process involved more than 350 reviewers and 35 senior program committee members. Keynote presenters include Peter Norvig (Google), Stephen Boyd (Stanford University), David Haussler (UC Santa Cruz) and Judea Pearl (UCLA).

Smyth's research includes machine learning, pattern recognition, applied statistics, data mining, information theory and artificial intelligence. His work focuses on how to automatically extract information from large and complex data sets. His research group works on the basic theory of inference from data, as well as on a variety of applications of data analytic algorithms to problems in medicine, biology, climate modeling, astronomy, planetary science, and analysis of Web and text data.


Paper by Tsudik and El Defrawy Selected as IEEE Spotlight

photo: Gene Tsudik


photo: Gene Tsudik

El Defrawy

Computer science professor Gene Tsudik and Network Systems alumnus Karim El Defrawy, Ph.D. '10 co-authored "ALARM: Anonymous Location-Aided Routing in Suspicious MANETs," which has been selected as the Spotlight Paper for the September 2011 issue of IEEE Transactions of Mobile Computing. For a limited time it will be available to the public for free on the journal home page.

The paper addresses mobile ad hoc networking (MANET) scenarios in hostile or suspicious settings by designing and analyzing a privacy-preserving and secure link-state based routing protocol (ALARM). The work, according to Tsudik and El Defrawy, represents the first comprehensive study of security, privacy and performance tradeoffs in link-state MANET routing.


Students recognized by Yahoo! and IEEE, ACM

photo: Ronen Vaisenberg


photo: Reza Rahimi


Computer science graduate student Ronen Vaisenberg received the 2011-12 Yahoo! Best Dissertation Fellowship Award for his work on "Scalability in Event Detection Systems."

Reza Rahimi, also a computer science graduate student, received the Best Student Poster Award for “Cloud Based Framework for Rich Content Mobile Applications” at CCGrid2011, the IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Cluster, Cloud, and Grid Computing.


Top-Ranked Journal Edited by Kobsa Celebrates 20th Anniversary

photo: Alfred Kobsaw


User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction: The Journal of Personalization Research, founded by Informatics professor Alfred Kobsa and published by Springer Verlag, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. UMUAI is ranked No. 20 among 445 computer science journals based on its ISI/Thompson impact factor, and No. 3 by Microsoft Academic Search among 26 human-computer interaction journals.


Tsudik Co-Chairs Two International Conferences

photo: Gene Tsudik


Computer science professor Gene Tsudik served as program co-chair of two conferences this summer. The 9th International Conference on Applied Cryptography and Network Security (ACNS '11), an annual research conference focusing on cutting-edge results in applied cryptography and network and computer security, took place June 7-10 in Nerja (Malaga), Spain. The 4th ACM Conference on Wireless Network Security (WiSec'11), which aims to explore attacks on wireless networks and the techniques to thwart them, was held June 14-16 in Hamburg, Germany.

Tsudik’s research interests include computer/network security and applied cryptography. He serves as director of UCI’s Secure Computing and Networking Center and as vice chair of the Bren School’s computer science department.



UCI team receives DARPA grant

photo: Sharad Mehrotra


photo: Nalini Venkatasubramanian


photo: Dmitri V. Kalashnikov


Computer science professors Sharad Mehrotra and Nalini Venkatasubramanian, and assistant adjunct professor Dmitri V. Kalashnikov — in collaboration with the International Computer Science Institute, UC Berkeley and SRI International— have been awarded a $1.2 million grant by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to explore speech-based situational awareness for event response.


Givargis Wins ASEE’s Terman Award

photo: Tony Givargis


Tony Givargis, Computer Science Associate Professor, was selected to receive the 2011 Frederick Emmons Terman Award of the American Society for Engineering Education’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Division.

Sponsored by Hewlett-Packard, the award is bestowed annually upon an outstanding young electrical engineering educator in recognition of his/her contributions to the profession, including the publication of an electrical engineering textbook judged to be outstanding by peers.

The award, which includes an honorarium, a gold-plated medal and bronze replica, and a presentation scroll, will be presented to Givargis at the Frontiers in Education Conference in October. Its namesake, Silicon Valley pioneer F.E. Terman, was an electrical engineering professor and Stanford University administrator known for mentoring students who went on to establish successful businesses, including William Hewlett and David Packard.

At UC Irvine, Givargis conducts research in the area of software for embedded systems, investigating issues related to Realtime Operating System (RTOS) synthesis, serializing compilers, and code transformations techniques for efficient software to hardware migration.


Stern, Johnson Named IMS Fellows

photo: Hal Stern


photo: Wesley Johnson


Dean Hal Stern and Professor Wesley Johnson, both with the Bren School’s Department of Statistics, have been elected to fellowship in the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, in honor of their outstanding research and professional contributions.

Stern’s research interests include statistical inference using Bayesian methods, assessing the fit of statistical models, applications of statistics in the social and biological sciences, and statistics in sports. Current collaborative projects include studies of climate systems with faculty at UC Irvine’s Department of Earth System Science and development of novel statistical models for genomewide association studies.

Johnson is mainly interested in developing Bayesian statistical methods for biostatistical and epidemiologic applications. He also works on diagnostic screening protocols and methodology when no gold standard test is available. Johnson collaborates regularly with veterinary medicine researchers at UC Davis.


Microsoft Research Recognizes van der Hoek

photo: André van der Hoek

van der Hoek

Informatics Professor André van der Hoek received a 2011 Software Engineering Innovation Foundation (SEIF) award, presented by Microsoft Research to support academic advances in software engineering technologies, tools, practices and teaching methods. van der Hoek’s proposal — “Calico: Software Design Sketching with a Cloud-based Software Whiteboard” — was one of 10 selected worldwide to receive the one-year award. Other recipients hail from such institutions as the University of Chile, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Carnegie Mellon University.

At UCI, van der Hoek's research focuses on understanding and advancing the role of design, coordination and education in software. His research bridges into the educational realm by seeking and evaluating new approaches to teaching software engineering.


Franz Wins Award from Samsung

photo: Michael Franz


Michael Franz, UCI computer science professor, has teamed up with Samsung in a project to create better virtual machine architectures, especially for applications in mobile devices. For the year 2011, Samsung has awarded the sum of $350,000 to Franz as sole PI; at least two more years at the same funding level are planned.

Franz leads the Secure Systems and Languages Laboratory at UC Irvine, one of the top research teams on dynamic compilation, virtual machines and language-based computer security. In collaboration with the Mozilla foundation, he transitioned the JavaScript compilation technology invented in his lab into the Firefox browser, where it is used every day by hundreds of millions of people.


NSF awards $373k to CS professors


Computer science faculty and Information Systems Group (ISG) members Sharad Mehrotra, Mike Carey, Ramesh Jain, Nalini Venkatasubramanian and Chen Li received $373,000 from the National Science Foundation to develop I-sensorium, to serve as a "living laboratory" to support research in several related areas of cyber-physical systems including: theoretical foundations and underlying principles of building sentient systems; engineering, software and systems level challenges; and novel application contexts where such sentient systems can be used. Further information about this project can be found here.

ISG consists of computer science faculty members, affiliated faculty, students, visitors and project staff. It aims to address today’s rapidly evolving information infrastructure by conducting research on all aspects of modern data and information systems.



Doctoral Student Named Microsoft Research Fellow

photo: Qiang Liu


Qiang Liu, a third-year Ph.D. student in Computer Science, has been awarded a prestigious Microsoft Research Fellowship for 2011-2013. Exceptionally competitive, the award seeks to recognize “the best and the brightest from North America.” Liu, whose research focuses primarily on problems in artificial intelligence, statistics and computational biology, was one of 12 recipients this year; 174 applied from a select list of departments that were invited to participate. The fellowship provides two years of support, including tuition, living expenses and a conference travel allowance. Fellows also are offered a summer internship opportunity at Microsoft Research.

Liu’s research, advised by Professor Alexander Ihler, works to develop efficient algorithms for learning and approximate reasoning in graphical models, which are used to describe large, complex systems in terms of smaller, more manageable local dependencies. Graphical models also have come to be used across a wide range of disciplines.


Franz Wins Large DARPA Award

photo: Michael Franz


Michael Franz, UCI Computer Science Professor, has received a three-year $1.38 million award from DARPA’s Transformational Convergence Technology Office to investigate a new defense against software attacks. He is the sole PI of the project, which is inspired by biodiversity in nature and aims to create a similar diversity in the software that runs on the world’s computers. Currently, all users of a program download the exact same version of that program from a hosting site or an App Store. In Franz’s approach, the App Store will contain a diversification engine that will generate a unique version of every program for every user. This process will occur automatically inside of the AppStore, so that neither the software creators nor the users downloading it need to be aware of it.

From the end-user’s perspective, the different versions are indistinguishable and they all behave in exactly the same way, but internally, subtle differences make it impossible for an attacker to use the same attack for all the versions.

In order to make a large-scale attack successful, a perpetrator would have to launch many different attacks and would have no way of knowing which attack would succeed on which target. Equally important, this also makes it much more difficult to generate attack vectors by reverse-engineering security patches.

Franz leads the Secure Systems and Languages Laboratory at UC Irvine, one of the top research teams on dynamic compilation, virtual machines and language-based computer security. In collaboration with the Mozilla foundation, he transitioned the JavaScript compilation technology invented in his lab into the Firefox browser, where it is used every day by hundreds of millions of people.


Tomlinson Addresses Sustainability Conference

photo: Bill Tomlinson


Bill Tomlinson, Informatics Associate Professor, delivered a plenary address last week in Washington, D.C. at a workshop that explored research challenges facing worldwide sustainability. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Computing Community Consortium, “The Role of Information Sciences and Engineering in Sustainability” aimed to identify new research opportunities in the information sciences and engineering that address sustainability objectives.

Tomlinson’s talk, “IT and (Un)sustainable Cultures,” addressed core societal principles that he believes are the root causes of our greatest environmental concerns. Specifically, he said, industrialized civilizations’ emphases on growth and consumption are deeply unsustainable. Profound transformations in personal, institutional and infrastructure goals will be necessary to support a more sustainable existence and IT can play an important role in this evolution.

He discussed the concept explored in his book, “Greening through IT,” that environmental issues occur on broad scales of time, space and complexity, but humans work best at narrower scales. “IT can help bridge this gap, enabling us to understand the complex chains of causality that underlie global climatic disruption, biodiversity loss, sea level rise and a host of other environmental issues,” he said. IT is also implicated in the creation of the world’s current environmental problems, he said, calling it a “force multiplier” that allows people to accomplish more and more. One way to approach these problems is to explore the ways in which IT can help alter unsustainable cultural norms and provide acceptable alternatives.

For example, he said, IT systems can help support local sustainable agriculture, public health, education and nutrition. They can provide social support and identity via social networking, virtualized workspaces and other support networks. These systems can also help people learn more about the world and how to live sustainably in it.

“These are not new ideas,” he said. But in order to create necessary cultural change that can lead to increased sustainability, “we need more IT researchers to work on these projects.”


Ramanan Collaborates on Next-Generation Visual Computing

photo: Deva Ramanan


Assistant professor of computer science Deva Ramanan will collaborate with Intel and Stanford University researchers to design innovative visual computing projects as part of a $100 million Intel initiative.

The new Intel Science and Technology Center on the Stanford campus, announced this week, is the first of several such centers on university campuses planned by the semiconductor and microprocessor giant. It is supported by a five-year, $10 million grant, and will focus on improving visual computing experiences for consumers and professionals. The center includes researchers from UC Berkeley and UC Davis.

Ramanan, whose research interests span computer vision, machine learning and computer graphics, will contribute to the center in the area of perceiving people and places, specifically “projects that use computer vision techniques to analyze people in images and recognize actions in videos,” he said.

“I am excited by the opportunity to collaborate… with the center. Intel is providing generous support in resources and funds which I’m confident will spur progress on such problems in visual computing.”


Tsudik is Keynote Speaker at Top Australasian Computer Science Event

photo: Gene Tsudik


Computer science professor Gene Tsudik delivered one of three keynote addresses last week in Perth, Australia, at the 2011 Australasian Computer Science Week conference – the region’s premier annual computer science event.

His talk, “Usable Security: The Case of Secure Pairing of Wireless Devices,” focused on the process of creating an initial secure channel between multiple wireless devices that were previously unassociated, for example: two cell phones, a cell phone/Bluetooth combination, or an MP3 player and a wireless headset. Lack of a prior security context and absence of a global security infrastructure opens the door for so-called "man-in-the-middle" or “evil twin” attacks.

Tsudik summarized notable pairing techniques, comparing and contrasting their advantages and limitations. He evaluated these methods based on usability and security, and discussed methods best-suited for specific combinations of devices and human abilities.

His talk also covered situations where more than two unfamiliar devices must be associated in order to ensure secure communications, and reported on a usability study that compares several such techniques. He concluded by highlighting still-unresolved issues and potential avenues for future research.

Tsudik, who serves as director of UCI’s Secure Computing and Networking Center (SCONCE) and vice-chair of ICS’s Department of Computer Science, is also editor-in-chief of the ACM “Transactions on Information and Systems Security.” His research interests include computer/network security and privacy, and applied cryptography.



Majumder Delivers ISVC Keynote

photo: Aditi Majumder


Aditi Majumder, Computer Science Associate Professor, was a keynote speaker at the International Symposium on Visual Computing 2010, a prestigious graphics and vision conference that brings together renowned researchers from all over the world.

Majumder’s talk, “Ubiquitous Displays: A Distributed Network of Active Displays,” presents her team’s work-in-progress on developing a new display paradigm in which displays are not mere carriers of information, but active members of the workspace — interacting with data, user, environment and other displays. The goal is to integrate such active displays seamlessly with the environment, making them ubiquitous to multiple users and data.

Majumder’s research aims to make multi-projector displays truly commodity products and easily accessible to the common man. Her significant research contributions include photometric and color registration across multi-projector displays, enabling use of imperfect projectors in tiled displays, and more recently a distributed framework for tiled displays via a distributed network of projector-camera pairs. A 2009 recipient of the NSF CAREER award, she has played a key role in developing the first curved screen multi-projector display being marketed by NEC/Alienware and is an advisor at Disney Imagineering for advances in their projection-based theme park rides.



Kobsa receives support from Disney for location-sharing research

photo: Alfred Kobsa


Informatics Professor Alfred Kobsa received a $25,000 gift from Disney Company to support his research on location-sharing applications on mobile devices. Together with Informatics PhD student Xinru Page, he will investigate novel interface designs for such applications that accommodate users' privacy and impression management desires. Special emphasis will be put on practical usage for car pooling purposes.

Professor Kobsa's research interests lie in the areas of user modeling and personalized systems, privacy, and in information visualization.



UC Irvine Computer Scientists awarded an NIH grant to develop novel search methods for searching biomedical literature

photo: Chen Li


photo: Xiaohui Xie


Computer science professors Chen Li and Xiaohui Xie have been awarded a $371,000 two-year grant from the National Institute of Health to develop novel search methods for mining biomedical literature.

The MEDLINE database, complied by the United States National Library of Medicine, is a comprehensive bibliographic database of life sciences and biomedical information. The database contains more than 19 million records from approximately 5,000 selected publications, covering much of the literature in biomedicine and health. The database is also growing fast, with thousands of updates every day.

Searching MEDLINE has become an indispensable component in the daily life of medical practitioners, biological researchers, and an increasing number of patients who prefer to seek medical information through their own hands.

Currently, searching MEDLINE is primarily conducted through the PubMed web server, maintained by National Center for Biotechnology Information of NIH, which handles millions of searches per day. Given the high popularity and importance, it is critical to study how to make MEDLINE search more powerful and easier to use.

Li and Xie, together with collaborators at Tsinghua University, China, have developed a system called iPubMed, to study how to support instant, error-tolerant search on MEDLINE publications.

Their published paper in the journal Bioinformatics demonstrated that the experience of searching MEDLINE can be significantly improved by instant search.

In the new search paradigm, a user can view the search results instantly as he or she types each letter of the query. Because the user can modify the query on the fly according to the instantly returned results, it can take much less time for them to locate the right items.

This new search model is also gaining popularity in other domains. For instance, Google recently released a new web search tool called Google Instant, which implements the similar idea. The error-tolerant feature is especially important when the user does not remember the exact spelling of the keywords, such as a disease name or an author name.

The NIH grant will support Professors Li and Xie’s research efforts to further improve the iPubMed system.

Li's research interests are in the fields of database and information systems, including Web search, large-scale data management, data cleansing, and data integration.

Xie's research focuses in machine learning, bioinformatics, computational biology and neural computation. He is interested in both developing novel machine learning theory and algorithms, and applying them to practical problems, such as biology and medical science.



Dechter et al place first in the 2010 UAI Challenge

photo: Rina Dechter


Computer science professor Rina Dechter, with her students, has won first place in the 2010 Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI) Approximate Inference Challenge. The UAI community is focused on developing algorithms for answering queries over knowledge-bases known as "graphical models" that represent both certain and uncertain information about the world.

For example, the algorithms can express the information that if an individual is a smoker, their chances for developing cancer are higher than someonw who is  a non-smoker. Given such statements with numerous additional such rules with and without numerical probabilities, which involve numbers in a particular domain such as medicine, researchers want to answer a variety of questions.

“When we get ‘evidence’ or observations, we want to know how they change our ‘belief’ about certain other facts,” says Dechter.  

“The evidence in the example is ‘Peter is smoking’, and I want to know the probability that ‘Peter has cancer.’  Or, I can have evidence that ‘Peter has cancer’ and the question I am interested in is what is the probability that ‘Peter smokes.’”

Overall, when there is a probabilistic graphical model describing some world – such as the medical domain in the example above – and evidence on specific individual conditions, computer scientist often attempt to compute such answers.

The UAI challenge is third in a series of events that challenge the UAI community to provide their code for approximation algorithms so that  they   all work on  the same set of problems and run on the same machines. The results are then announced.

In the UAI 2010 challenge Dechter and her team compared algorithms on each of three tasks, and for 3 different lengths of time, comparing the accuracy of their results against actual results.

Of the nine competing teams, Dechter with  Vibhav Gogate (currently a postdoctoral student at university of Washington)   were placed first on the  two tasks and (with  Lars Otten) placed third place on the third task.

Professor Dechter's research centers on computational aspects of automated reasoning and knowledge representation including search, constraint processing and probabilistic reasoning. The primary aim of her research is to devise efficient methods through the understanding and exploitation of tractable reasoning tasks.

Professor Dechter is an author of the book "Constraint Processing" published by Morgan Kaufmann, 2003, and has authored over 100 research papers. 


Olsons awarded $400,000 for study on distributed collaborations

photo: Gary Olson


photo: Judy Olson


Gary and Judy Olson, Bren Professors in Information and Computer Sciences, have been awarded $400,000 for their research entitled “Next Steps in Articulating Success Factors for Distributed Collaborations.”

The Olsons have spent the past decade studying work at a distance, both in science and engineering venues as well as in corporations. During this time, they have identified the major the factors that make for success in work at a distance. From these, the Olsons have developed a preliminary theory, called the Theory of Remote Scientific Collaboration (TORSC), published in 2008.

Given this theory, the Olsons have developed an online assessment device called the Collaboration Success Wizard, which goes through each of the important factors in question form and either confirms that the collaboratory has a good chance of success or suggests a remedy for the factors that are not met.

These assessments and data collected from the tool will be directed at deepening the understanding of what differentiates successful from unsuccessful distributed collaborations, and provide guidance to those who are developing such collaborations.

Gary and Judy Olson expect that their research will have major implications for the emergence of successful virtual organizations to facilitate distance collaborations, in science and beyond.

Gary Olson, author of more than 120 published research articles, has dedicated his work to understanding how technology can support remote collaboration. He also has made important contributions to the studies of management practice and the cultural aspects of collaboration, as well as the complex socio-technical issues surrounding technology design.

Judy Olson has published about 110 published research articles and is best known for her work on distance collaborations and has achieved international acclaim for her studies that compared office workers in geographically distributed organizations to those working in the same location.

They are both Fellows of the Association for Computing Machinery, and were jointly awarded the ACM SIGCHI Lifetime Achievement Award.


Dourish, Mazmanian receive $201,000 grant for "Scaling Social Networks to Social Movements"

photo: Paul Dourish


photo: Melissa Mazmanian


Paul Dourish and Melissa Mazmanian, Professors of Informatics, have received a $201,000 grant for their work entitled "Scaling Social Networks to Social Movements."

The research concerns the application of theories of social movement formation to digital media. Dourish and Mazmanian will explore questions such as how do people become involved in social or political movements through their participation online, and can digital systems help people to see themselves as part of a broader collective? The team will focus specifically on environmental sustainability.

Dourish's primary research interests are in the areas of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Human-Computer Interaction, and Ubiquitous Computing. He is especially interested in the foundational relationships between social scientific analysis and technological design.

Mazmanian's interests revolve around on the experience of communication technologies as used in-practice within organizational contexts, specifically in relation to identity projection and the nature of personal and professional time in the digital age. Her dissertation research explores the individual experiences and social dynamics that emerge when people adapt to using wireless email devices.


Dourish, Mazmanian receive $400,000 grant for "Innovating Across Cultures in Virtual Organizations"

photo: Paul Dourish


photo: Melissa Mazmanian


Professors of Informatics, Paul Dourish and Melissa Mazmanian have received a $400,000 grant over four years for the research entitled, "Innovating Across Cultures in Virtual Organizations."

The research team is looking at how design and creative work is managed in cross-cultural settings. In particular, how collaboration technologies and material practices shape the design process, and how cultural processes shape the production and interpretation of these practices.

Ph.D. student Lilly Irani will be spending a year doing ethnographic fieldwork with a design firm in India where the team will look at these practices in detail.

Dourish's primary research interests are in the areas of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Human-Computer Interaction, and Ubiquitous Computing. He is especially interested in the foundational relationships between social scientific analysis and technological design.

Mazmanian's interests revolve around on the experience of communication technologies as used in-practice within organizational contexts, specifically in relation to identity projection and the nature of personal and professional time in the digital age. Her dissertation research explores the individual experiences and social dynamics that emerge when people adapt to using wireless email devices.


Dourish, Hayes, receive $247,000 grant for "The Persistence of Digital Identity"

photo: Paul Dourish


photo: Gillian Hayes


Professors of Informatics, Paul Dourish and Gillian Hayes have been awarded a $247,000 grant over two years for their project entited "The Persistence of Digital Identity."

In this work, the team will be looking at phenomena concerning social media and death -- how people make arrangements for the curation of their digital identity, how the Internet provides a site for post-mortem memorialization, and how we manage the different "lifetimes" of people and their information.

Dourish's primary research interests are in the areas of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Human-Computer Interaction, and Ubiquitous Computing. He is especially interested in the foundational relationships between social scientific analysis and technological design.

Hayes’ interests are in human-computer interaction and ubiquitous computing. She studies record keeping and surveillance technologies, particularly in natural, unplanned and/or public settings. She also focuses on the application and uses of ubiquitous computing and CSCW technologies in the areas of education and healthcare.


Majumder receives Best Paper Award at IEEE CVPR Workshop on PROCAMS

photo: Aditi Majumder


Computer science professor Aditi Majumder has been awarded a Best Paper Award at the IEEE Workshop on Projector and Camera Systems (PROCAMS) held at the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) in San Francisco. Her paper entitled, "Display Gamut Reshaping for Color Emulation and Balancing" was coauthored by researchers at Ostendo Technologies Ltd.

Majumder et al present a hardware-assisted 3D gamut reshaping method that handles a gamut expansion in LED based DLP displays in emerging mobile digital light projectors (known commonly as pico-projectors). These projectors use multiple LED/laser sources instead of a singular white lamp providing a larger color gamut. The full abstract and paper can be found here [PDF link].

The IEEE CVPR Workshop on PROCAMS is one of the top international venues for projector-camera systems researchers and practitioners.

Majumder's research addresses novel projection based displays and methodologies to register and interact with them - an important problem to both the scientific and entertainment fields. Majumder has developed a suite of mathematical models, methods and software to register and interact with large tiled projection based displays.


Jain receives SIGMM Technical Achievement Award

photo: Ramesh Jain


Bren Professor of Information and Computer Sciences Ramesh Jain has received ACM’s Special Interest Group on Multimedia (SIGMM) Technical Achievement award.

The award, given in recognition of outstanding contributions over a researcher’s career, cited Jain’s “pioneering research and inspiring leadership that transformed multimedia information processing to enhance the quality of life and visionary leadership of the multimedia community”.

The SIGMM award will be presented at the ACM International Conference on Multimedia 2010 that will be held October 25-29, 2010 in Florence, Italy.

Jain has made pioneering contributions in the areas of multimedia information systems, image databases, machine vision, and intelligent systems for more than three decades. His early work on accumulative difference pictures established the dynamic vision field that has directly influenced today’s digital video processing. Many techniques such as background subtraction, tracking, and event detection were first introduced in his pioneering papers in this field.

In 1992, Jain proposed and organized the inaugural NSF workshop on visual information management systems that established a new research direction leading to the enormous advances that we see today in content-based analysis and search of images and video. Jain has pioneered techniques that analyze content and combine information from multiple sources.

His emphasis in recent years on event-based representation and analysis of multimedia data has led the community’s focus to be on live dynamic data. In fact, he has recently pioneered the first comprehensive multimedia Event model which is increasingly being adopted.

Professor Jain's research has also impacted society through his active entrepreneurship, having founded five companies producing software and services in the area of image processing, visual media retrieval and multimedia experience management on the mobile platform.


Stern, Yu receive $620,000 NSF grant for study in stastistical methods for climate systems

photo: Hal Stern


photo: Yaming Yu


Statistics professors Hal Stern and Yaming Yu, along with professor of earth systems science, Gudrun Magnusdottir, received a $620,000 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop novel statistical methods for the analysis for climate systems and their interactions.

The award from the Collaboration in Mathematical Geosciences program will support the interdisciplinary work of a team that includes the faculty and graduate students from the two departments. The traditional approach to studying climate systems combines data from long periods of time assuming that the location of the systems is consistent over time. The proposed new approach would allow for the position of systems to vary smoothly over time.

Hal Stern is Ted and Janice Smith Family Foundation Dean. His research interests include: statistical inference using Bayesian methods, assessing the fit of statistical models, applications of statistics in health sciences and in the physical sciences.

Yu's research interests include statistical methods for missing data problems and statistical computing algorithms.


Welling wins Koenderink Prize at European Conference on Computer Vision

photo: Max Welling


Max Welling, professor of computer science, has been awarded European Conference on Computer Vision’s Koenderink Prize in recognition of his computer vision research paper that has “withstood the test of time.” Entitled “Unsupervised Learning of Models for Recognition,” the paper was originally published in 2000.

The research paper presents a method to learn object class models from unlabeled and unsegmented cluttered scenes for the purpose of visual object recognition. The authors focused on a particular type of model where objects are represented as flexible constellations of rigid parts (features):

“The variability within a class is represented by a joint probability density function (pdf) on the shape of the constellation and the output of part detectors. In a first stage, the method automatically identifies distinctive parts in the training set by applying a clustering algorithm to patterns selected by an interest operator. It then learns the statistical shape model using expectation maximization. The method achieves very good classification results on human faces and rear views of cars.”

Professor Welling's research lies in the areas of machine learning and machine vision with links to closely related areas such as pattern recognition, data mining, computational statistics, and large-scale data analysis.



Lilly Irani wins Best Paper Award at ACM ICIC

photo: Lilly Irani


Informatics Ph.D. Student Lilly Irani, along with Professors Paul Dourish and Melissa Mazmanian, have been awarded the Best Paper Award at the first ACM International Conference on Intercultural Collaboration.

The paper, entitled “Shopping for Sharpies in Seattle: Mundane Infrastructures of Transnational Design,” describes the importance of mundane tools for design practitioners in India who are working with Euro-American clients. The published findings are based on an ongoing ethnographic study of a design firm based in Delhi, India.

The research team analyzed everyday tools such as post-its as infrastructures with both practical and symbolic functions. These infrastructures are made meaningful in the shared practices of a transnational but primarily Euro- American design community. Material infrastructures shape the design processes and design communication as the teams work to established effective collaborations.

Irani’s research interests lie in the areas of political economy, globalization issues in technoculture, development, and critical innovation studies.

The full paper is available here (PDF).


Tsudik awarded $600,000 in NSF effort to re-design the Internet

photo: Gene Tsudik


Gene Tsudik, professor of computer science, has been awarded $600,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF)
as part of the Named Data Networking (NDN) project in the NSF Future Internet Architecture (FIA) program. The goal of 
FIA is to design a more effective, trustworthy and robust Internet protocols and techniques.

Led by Professor Lixia Zhang of UCLA, the NDN project will focus on Internet architecture that moves the communication paradigm from today's focus on "where" (i.e., Internet addresses, servers, and hosts), to "what" (i.e., content that 
users and applications care about).

Current Internet communication is based on a client-server model of interaction: communicating parties establish 
a relationship and then proceed to transfer information contained within IP packets transported along one or more paths. However, the most predominant use of the Internet is actually centered on content creation, dissemination and delivery, 
and this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. While the basic client-server model has enabled a wide range of services and applications, it does not offer adequate mechanisms to support secure content-oriented functionality, 
regardless of the specific physical location where the content resides.

By naming data instead of its location (IP address), NDN transforms data into a first-class entity. 
While the current Internet mainly secures the channel between communication points,
NDN secures the content and provides essential context for security. NDN allows the decoupling of trust 
in data from trust in hosts and servers, enabling trustworthiness as well as several very scalable 
communication mechanisms, for example, automatic caching to optimize bandwidth and the 
potential to move content along multiple paths to the destination.

This goal of this project is to address technical challenges in creating NDN, including: routing scalability, 
fast forwarding, trust models, network security, content protection and privacy, as well as new 
fundamental communication theory.

UC Irvine will focus specifically on security and privacy aspects of the NDN architecture. Besides UCLA, other collaborating institutions include: PARC, Yale, Washington University and Colorado State.

Gene Tsudik's research interests include computer/network security, privacy and applied cryptography. 
His recent work focuses on privacy in Internet services, RFID systems, mobile ad hoc networks, as well as 
security in sensor networks and storage systems.

More about the Future Internet Architecture Awards is available here.


JULY 2010

Alumnus named Juan de la Cierva Fellow in Spain

photo: Claudio Soriente


Networked Systems alumnus, Claudio Soriente, Ph.D. '10 has been awarded the Juan de la Cierva Fellowship by the Spanish government.

As part of this fellowship award, Claudio will be conducting research at the Polytechnic University of Madrid as a member of the Distributed Systems Laboratory.

Soriente’s research focuses on security and privacy of large-scale distributed systems such as, sensor networks and parallel stream processing engines.

Juan de la Cierva Fellowships are highly prestigious and very selective 3-year post-doctoral positions financed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education. The program is designed to promote the recruitment of young PhDs, with the aim of helping them to join and strengthen Spanish research teams. Juan de la Cierva fellowships are highly competitive and are offered to young (less than three years from obtaining a PhD) promising individuals with an outstanding record of research.


Javanmardi places third in an international competition for detecting vandalism in Wikipedia

photo: Sara Javanmardi


Sara Javanmardi, a Ph.D. student in Informatics, has placed third in an international competition for detecting vandalism in Wikipedia.

Vandalism has always been one of Wikipedia's biggest problems, yet there are only few automatic countermeasures. Instead, volunteers spend their time in reverting vandalism edits — time, which is not spend on improving other parts of the Wikipedia. The goal of the evaluation campaign was to research and develop new, reliable ways to detect vandalism edits, which can be used to aid Wikipedia.

Sponsored by Yahoo! Research, the competition is part of the fourth International Workshop on Uncovering Plagiarism, Authorship, and Social Software Misuse PAN-10 will be held as an evaluation lab in conjunction with the Conference on Multilingual and Multimodal Information Access Evaluation in Padua, Italy.

Javanmardi's current research, in collaboration with Professor Cristina Lopes, focuses on social media content analysis. Her goal is to develop general quality-analysis and real-time search solutions that will be extendable to other Web 2.0 (social media) applications such as Twitter, Digg and blogs.

JUNE 2010

Irani receives 2010-11 Academic Senate’s Distinguished Award

photo: Sandy Irani


Computer science professor Sandy Irani has been named recipient of the 2010-11 Academic Senate Distinguished Award for Service. Irani was nominated given her outstanding performance as the first Chair of the Computer Science department, which was created during the ICS' transition from an autonomous department to the Bren School.

Part of the UC Irvine Academic Senate Distinguished Awards, the award recognizes faculty who have achieved excellence through their activities in research, teaching and service. The Academic Senate's Distinguished Faculty awards are selected by the Committee on Scholarly Honors and Awards.

Professor Irani's principal research interests are in quantum computation and information. Her recent work has focused on understanding the computational complexity of computing fundamental properties of quantum system as well as characterizing which quantum systems can be used for quantum computation.

Franz receives Academic Senate’s top research award

photo: Michael Franz


Computer science professor Michael Franz has been named the recipient of the 2010-11 Academic Senate Distinguished Award for Mid-Career Research — the Academic Senate’s highest honor for excellence in research.

Professor Franz, along with former graduate student Andreas Gal, is the inventor of Trace Compilation, a radically new way of building just-in-time compilers. This technique is widely regarded as the single biggest invention in compilers in 20 years. His research impact currently extends to 500 million people globally using software that integrates his technique, such as Mozilla’s Firefox browser. In addition, Franz’s research has enabled third world countries to connect using no-cost cloud software such as Gmail and Google Docs, thereby closing the gap in the “digital divide”.

Franz’s invention is a radical departure from the long-established convention of “control flow graph”, a technique used for over five decades to model a program’s control flow that a compiler builds and then traverses while generating code. Instead of constructing a control-flow graph of the program, Franz’s patent-pending technique called Trace Tree utilizes an intermediate representation that is constructed on-demand while the program is simultaneously executed, incrementally compiled and optimized.

The advantage of the Trace Tree technique is that it utilizes one-seventh (1/7) of the memory footprint and one-thirtieth (1/30) of the compile time of traditional compilers. Working with the Mozilla foundation, Franz has incorporated this technique into the Firefox browser, beginning with version 3.5. By incorporating the Trace Tree, Mozilla was able to raise Firefox’s JavaScript performance 700%.

Franz is currently in collaboration with Adobe to incorporate his just-in-time compiler into their next version of Flash. In addition, Google’s Android team has adopted Trace Compilation for the next generation smart phone operating system. These integrations coupled with the Firefox deployment will result in the impact of potentially several billion devices.

Professor Franz is director at UC Irvine’s Secure Systems and Software Laboratory. A Distinguished Scientist of the Association for Computing Machinery and a Senior Member of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Franz has graduated 13 Ph.D. students, been awarded more than $7 Million in competitive Federal research funding as Principal Investigator, and has published more than 90 refereed papers.

The Academic Senate's Distinguished Faculty awards are selected by the Committee on Scholarly Honors and Awards.

Leon receives Excellence in Leadership Award

Christine Leon, Director of Student Affairs, has been named one of three UC Irvine Excellence in Leadership Award winners.

Leon was nominated by the Student Affairs Office staff for her excellent leadership of student affairs staff and was named an award winner by Executive Vice Chancellor-Provost Michael Gottfredson at last week's campuswide Staff Service Awards ceremony.

The Excellence in Leadership Award Program recognizes select staff supervisors who – through outstanding leadership – enhance staff morale, build an enriching work environment, and serve as a mentor or otherwise support the career development of their staff, all to the benefit of our UCI community.

EVC/Provost Gottfredson described Christine as a magnetic and engaging leader, who is selfless, honest and one who makes sound decisions for the good of her staff and the students of ICS. Christine has a great sense of fun and energy. She has inspired her staff to volunteer as a group annually for the Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. This has been not only a fun team-building and bonding experience, but one that allows the group to go beyond the everyday job and make a difference in the community.

Annette Luckow and Mark Cartnal were also nominated by their staff. With three nominations, ICS had the most nomination from a single unit on campus.

Tim Kashani '86 wins Best Musical Tony for Memphis

Tim Kashani '86, an undergraduate ICS alumnus, was a part of the production team that was awarded the Best Musical Tony Award last night at Radio City Music Hall. Kashani's company Apple and Oranges Productions is a partner in the Broadway release of the musical.

Memphis is loosely based on Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips, one of the first white DJs to play black music in the 1950s. It was staged during the 2003-04 season in Beverly, Massachusetts and Mountain View, California and opened on Broadway on October 19, 2009.

Kashani is also the CEO of IT Mentors, a technology training company. View his complete alumni profile here:



MAY 2010

ICS undergrads named finalist in Google's Juicy Ideas Competition

A Bren:ICS team of undergraduate students, PWNAGE, has been named one of six finalists in the Juicy Ideas Collegiate Competition. Computer Science and Engineering majors Jared Haren and Adrian Guzman, along with Informatics major Sabel Barganza are vying for an opportunity to win an all-expenses paid trip to Google headquarters in Mountain View and an Android-powered phone.

PWNAGE developed a mobile application for UCI Dining that allows users to locate dining options based on menus, wi-fi availability, hours and other key information.


Lopes named IEEE Senior Member

photo: Cristina Lopes


Cristina Lopes, associate professor in Informatics, has been elected a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the world's leading professional association for the advancement of technology.

Senior Member status is a rare honor attained by approximately eight percent of IEEE's 382,400 members. It is conferred only on those who have outstanding research achievements and who have performed great service to the scientific community.

Dr. Lopes is best known as one of the co-inventors of Aspect-Oriented Programming. She conducts research in software engineering, specifically in large-scale source code search and analysis, and architectures for massive multi-user systems.

Van Dyk elected IMS Fellow

photo: David van Dyk

van Dyk

Statistics professor David van Dyk has been named a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. The Fellowship honors the outstanding research and professional contributions of IMS members who are leaders in the field of statistics and probability.

Professor van Dyk's scholarly work focuses on methodological and computational issues involved with Bayesian analysis of highly structured statistical models and emphasizes serious interdisciplinary research. He is particularly interested in improving the efficiency of computationally intensive methods involving data augmentation, such as EM-type algorithms and Markov chain Monte Carlo methods. A primary area of interdisciplinary work is Astro-statistics and focusing on constructing and fitting highly structured models for data obtained with the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Newly elected IMS Fellows will be recognized at the 73rd Annual IMS conference to be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, August 9-13.


APRIL 2010

Borkar named inaugural Facebook Fellow

photo: Vinayak Borkar


Vinayak Borkar, a PhD student in computer science, has been named one of five inaugural Facebook Fellows.

Borkar's research focuses on ways to improve distributed computing platforms for data analysis and applied for a fellowship because of the complex data processing challenges Facebook is tackling.

"Large-scale data processing is undergoing a radical change. Innovation in these areas is happening at places like Facebook," says Borkar. "I look here for interesting data problems that will push the frontiers of research."

The Facebook Fellowship Program supports Ph.D. students who show promise in solving some of the biggest challenges facing the social web and Internet technology. Each fellow receives paid tuition and fees, a $30,000 stipend, conference travel and other benefits.

To see a complete list of winners, visit the Facebook announcement.

Vernica named Yahoo! Key Scientific Challenges winner

photo: Rares Vernica


Rares Vernica, a PhD student in computer science, has been named one of the winners of the 2010 Yahoo! Key Scientific Challenges Program, sponsored by Yahoo! Inc. for his work on "Efficient Similarity-Based Operators for Social Data." He was nominated by professors Michael J. Carey and Prof. Chen Li.

Vernica will take a look at social networking sites to explore how an extremely large social graph can be efficiently analyzed for the purposes of information retrieval/recommendation and social trend detection.

"The increasing popularity of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace has led to the emergent trend of increasing integration between content and social sites," says Vernica.

"In one direction, social sites are adding more and more content — such as photo, video, and news articles — to their sites to provide more practical utility to their users. Conversly, content sites like Amazon and Yahoo! Travel are incorporating social activities and connections to more deeply engage their users."

With the establishment of the OpenSocial ( Foundation, the integration of social sites and content sites will likely be one of the major trends in the next few years.

The Yahoo! Key Scientific Challenges Program encourages top graduate students globally to collaborate with Yahoo! and help invent the future of the Internet. The program focuses on a variety of scientific issues, from developing algorithms that turn raw information into personally relevant experiences, to discovering insights about online advertising and experimenting with new sociological models for how people engage with the Web. More about the program can be found here.

Sambasivan, Nardi nominated for Best Paper at CHI 2010



photo: nithya sambasivan


Nithya Sambasivan, graduate student in informatics, and Professor Bonnie Nardi received a a Best Paper nomination at the CHI Conference 2010. Entitled, “Intermediated Technology Use in Developing Communities,” the paper is published in the Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems.

The paper describes a prevalent mode of information access in low-income communities of the developing world— intermediated interactions. The research takes an ethnographic look of two urban slums of Bangalore, India, studying how digitally skilled users can enable persons for whom technology is inaccessible due to non-literacy, lack of technology-operation skills, or financial constraints.

The paper presents some requirements and challenges in interface design of these interactions and explains how they are different from direct interactions. They go on to explain the broader effects of these interactions on low-income communities, and present implications for design.

Nithya Sambasivan is interested in human-centered technologies towards socio-economic betterment. She is also interested in mobile and ubiquitous computing as vehicles of social change.

Professor Nardi's research interests include theory in human-computer interaction and computer-supported collaborative work and studies of social life on the Internet. Her current work concerns World of Warcraft and online crafting communities such as Ravelry.

El Zarki, Lopes, Scacchi proposals win new initiative grants

photo: magda el zarki

El Zarki

photo: crista lopes


A program to train scientists to better manage vast, complex datasets, and a center that will transform human mobility through information technology and robotics, have been selected as the first recipients of the Large-Scale Interdisciplinary Research Ignition Initiative sponsored by Calit2, The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences.

The funding program, announced last December, aims to promote interdisciplinary research that will evolve into large-scale, agency-funded projects or centers in the areas of health, energy, environment, information, communications or digital technologies.

The selection committee, comprised of deans Debra Richardson and Rafael Bras, and Calit2 Irvine director G.P. Li, chose the iScience project and iMove Center based on their multidisciplinary nature, likelihood of attracting significant funding from outside agencies, innovation, scientific value and long-term impact.

iScience seeks to address the escalating volume of data collected by natural scientists, who increasingly are stymied by the sheer size of the datasets. Data-driven computing faces challenges in storing and managing these large, complex distributed and dynamic data collections, and needs radically new tool sets and visualization schemes to effectively explore, mine, understand and extract new knowledge from the information.

Project PI Magda El Zarki (information and computer science) and co-PI Crista Lopes (informatics) propose a program to educate students, along with their faculty, across disciplines to create a new crop of scientists who are knowledgeable in the basic concepts of natural and computational sciences.

The iMove Center, led by co-PIs David Reinkensmeyer (mechanical and aerospace engineering, and biomedical engineering), Steve Cramer (neurology), Mark Bachman (electrical engineering and computer science) and Walt Scacchi (information and computer science) will search for ways to use information technology, robotics and neuro-regenerative therapies, including dance, sport and computer games, to improve human mobility and challenge patients beyond what is possible with current rehabilitation models.

Researchers hope to help shape new brain circuits and assess movement recovery with novel electrophysiological, functional imaging and behavioral outcome measures. The center also seeks to produce technologies useful to those without disabilities, including innovative, interactive training and performance technologies for sport and dance.

Each winning project will receive grants totaling $40,000: $20,000 now and $20,000 when a proposal is submitted to an outside agency requesting a minimum of $500,000 per year for at least 3 years. Additional calls for proposals for the initiative will occur in October 2010 and February 2011.

"We are pleased to be a part of this new multidisciplinary initiative that will ultimately benefit society," said Calit2's Li, "and we look forward to the long-term success of our first two recipient projects."

Mehrotra, Hore receive NEC Research Award

photo: Sharad Mehrotra


Professor Sharad Mehrotra and postdoctoral student Bijit Hore have received a $60,000 NEC Research Award to study Risk Containment in Cloud Computing Services for Data centric Applications.

Building upon the pioneering work by Mehrotra's group on privacy challenges in data outsourcing (also known as the database as a service model), the goal of this study is to understand information disclosure risks and design mechanisms to prevent disclosure in multi-tenant cloud environments and dynamic data integration applications such as mashups.

As cloud computing becomes prevalent for enterprise data management, increasingly privacy sensitive user data will be managed in such systems.

In addition, the project will address how one can reduce the risk of memory based leakage of critically sensitive information in the Mapreduce framework. The Mapreduce framework provides a highly scalable and robust approach for large data processing applications in a cloud-computing environment.

The NEC Research Award is a gift from the Nippon Electric Corporation's R&D division.

Mehrotra's current research focuses on next-generation information systems focusing on issues related to data quality, data dynamicity, and data privacy.

Majumder and Sajadi win Best Paper award at IEEE Virtual Reality 2010

photo: Aditi Majumder


photo: Behzad Sajadi


Computer Science Professor Aditi Majumder and graduate student Behzad Sajadi have received the Best Paper Award at the IEEE Virtual Reality 2010 conference held in Boston.

The paper, entitled "Auto-Calibration of Cylindrical Multi-Projector Systems," explores registering multiple projectors on vertically extruded a cylindrical display, which previously was only possible with a calibrated stereo camera.

This papers shows that using some simple priors, one can achieve multiple projector registration on a cylindrical display using a single uncalibrated camera without any markers on the display. More importantly, the new method enables use of multiple overlapped projectors across corners of a vertically extruded surface with sharp edges. This is of tremendous benefit to virtual reality display systems like CAVEs, that avoided mounting projectors across the corners until today.

The full paper can be accessed here:

IEEE Virtual Reality 2010 is the top international venue for virtual reality researchers and practitioners.

Professor Majumder's research addresses how to produce a seamless image on a large-scale tiled display - an important problem to both the scientific and entertainment fields. Majumder has developed a suite of mathematical models, methods and software to correct the geometric, chromatic and luminescent variations that arise when tiling multiple projection displays.

Lilly Irani speaks at the Commonwealth Club panel in San Francisco

Informatics graduate student Lilly Irani spoke on March 3 at a Commonwealth Club panel in San Fancisco. The panel brought together people from business, NGOs, and research to discuss the ethics and possibilities of crowdsourcing platforms such as Mechanical Turk, Crowdflower, and Samasource.



MARCH 2010

Li receives NSF grant to support Family Reunification project

photo: Chen Li


Professor of Computer Science Chen Li has received a $50,000 NSF grant for his project entitled "RAPID: Supporting Family Reunification for the Haiti Earthquake and Future Emergencies."

Li has been leading an effort on a website for family reunification for the Haiti earthquake ( In addition to crawling and scraping data from Web pages for the Google-hosted repository at, the team also built a powerful search interface on the data.

During this effort, the team has identified several interesting technical challenges that Li will study in this proposal. The research will focus on how to support powerful search in a could-computing environment, such as Google App Engine. The techniques developed in this project will have a broad impact on many information systems that are moving to the cloud-computing paradigm. The team will use the Google Person Finder project as a real application to test the techniques, and could provide the techniques and source code to be used in family reunification during future disasters.

Li's research interests are in the fields of database and information systems, including data integration, data cleaning, Web search, and large-scale information processing using parallel computing.

More on the project is available at:

Newman awarded NSF EAGER to analyze grant portfolios

photo: David Newman


Research Scientist David Newman has been awarded a $25,000 NSF EAGER Award for his research entitled "Analyzing Grant Portfolios through Topic Modeling." The goal of this research is to develop and apply topic models — Bayesian models for document collections — to model and analyze collections of grant proposals and their metadata (funding amount, NSF Directorate, NSF Program, etc.).

The award will be used to develop and demonstrate tools to help NSF program officers better analyze, visualize and interact with large collections of both unfunded proposals and funded projects. This will both help streamline the grant proposal review and decision process, and help NSF understand what areas of research could use more funding, or are under-represented.

Newman's current research focuses on theory and application of topic models and related text mining techniques. His research is marked by a commitment to combining theoretical advances with practical applications in ways that widen access and use for individuals and communities, and ultimately improve the way people find and discover information.



Mehrotra awarded Google Research Award to improve data quality

photo: Sharad Mehrotra


Professor Sharad Mehrotra and Assistant Adjunct Professor Dmitri V. Kalashnikov have been awarded a Google Research Award for $50,000 for a research effort entitled "Exploiting Entity Resolution for Web People Search."

The goal of this research is to explore a novel graphical domain-independent framework that exploits semantics of various forms to improve data quality. Data quality challenge is ubiquitous in various domains - it arises whenever we collect and create large repositories of information, especially when information is captured and assimilated automatically.

The award will be used to develop an adaptive self-tuning entity resolution framework which will be used to build an online search engine that can disambiguate amongst namesakes on the Web. The system will exploit web queries and search engine statistics for disambiguation.

Mehrotra's current research focuses on next generation database management systems that provide natural and efficient support for complex multidimensional data sets. Multidimensional data sets abound in numerous application domains in which database technology is currently being deployed. For example, medical information systems require databases to provide native support for X-rays, volumetric MRI scans, and time varying volumetric information.

Vaisenberg awarded IBM Ph.D. Fellowship

Doctoral student Ronen Vaisenberg has been awarded an IBM Ph.D. Fellowship.

The IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Awards Program is an intensely competitive worldwide program, which honors exceptional Ph.D. students who have an interest in solving problems that are important to IBM and fundamental to innovation.

Vaisenberg's research focus is on problems that relate to the management, extraction and fusion of information from multiple media sources. This area relates the fields of databases and data management, time series data management, statistical databases, model building and classification applied in the context of media (text,image,video) processing.

His Ph.D dissertation deals with the issues related to the data management support for sentient systems, for various first responding and life preserving applications funded by NSF's ITR-Rescue (RESponding to Crisis and Unexpected Events) and the Department of Homeland Security's Safire (Situational Awareness for Firefighters).