Noteworthy achievements 2013-2014

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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Kobsa to co-chair recommender systems conference in Silicon Valley

photo: Alfred Kobsa


Informatics and computer science professor Alfred Kobsa will co-chair the 8th Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) Conference on Recommender Systems (RecSys 2014), held Oct. 6-10 in Silicon Valley’s Foster City. The conference is the premier international forum for the presentation of new research results, systems and techniques in the broad field of recommender systems. Such systems, as part of broader information filtering system networks, attempt to predict user preferences and ratings for items by exploiting users’ past behaviors. Their use has surged in popularity in recent years.

According to the website, the conference “will bring together researchers and practitioners from academia and industry to present their latest results and identify new trends and challenges in providing recommendation components in a range of innovative application contexts.” Netflix’s chief product officer Neil Hunt will deliver the keynote speech, titled “Quantifying the Value of Better Recommendations.”

Kobsa praised Silicon Valley as an ideal location for RecSys 2014, saying that it “allows local high-tech industry to learn about the most recent research results in recommender technology.” Attracting local industry has proved successful: Tickets to the conference sold out before the early registration deadline.


Nicolau and Veidenbaum published in computing retrospective

photo: Alex Nicolau


photo: Alex Veidenbaum


Computer science chair Alex Nicolau and professor Alex Veidenbaum have each been published in the 25th anniversary volume of the International Conference on Supercomputing. The volume is a collection of author retrospectives for the best papers published in the first 25 years of the conference — the Association for Computing Machinery's flagship conference in high-performance computing. Thirty-five papers were selected for their impact on the field, out of the approximately 1000 papers published in the first 25 years of the conference.

Nicolau’s paper “A Global Resource-Constrained Parallelization Technique,” co-authored with Kemal Ebcioğlu and originally published in 1989, helped to innovate the obstacle-ridden process of automatic parallelization of arbitrary sequential code. In their retrospective on the paper, Nicolau and Ebcioğlu remark, “Automatic parallelization of arbitrary sequential code remains an exciting and active area as of today, and promising research and industry efforts continue.”

Veidenbaum’s paper “Compiler-Directed Data Prefetching in Multiprocessors with Memory Hierarchies,” co-authored with Edward H. Gornish and Elana D. Granston, was the first paper on compiler-managed data prefetching for multiprocessor systems with caches. Prefetching is used to reduce large memory access times. The group explains in their retrospective that compiler-prefetching algorithms used in memory management have not changed much since the paper’s original publishing in 1990. They ask: “Are there better ways to do it for today's hardware?”


Baldi, Kobsa, Mark receive Google Faculty Research Awards

photo: Pierre Baldi


photo: Alfred Kobsa


photo: Gloria Mark


Three ICS professors have received a Google Faculty Research Award as part of Google’s biannual open call for proposals in computer science, engineering and related fields. Computer science Chancellor’s Professor Pierre Baldi, informatics and computer science professor Alfred Kobsa and informatics professor Gloria Mark join several other ICS faculty who have received the award in recent years.

As part of Google’s mission to “organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful,” Faculty Research Awards identify and support faculty pursuing research of mutual interest at internationally renowned universities. The award is an unrestricted gift, and is typically funded at the amount needed to support one graduate student for one year.

Baldi received $65,000 for his proposal, “Deep Learning and Dropout.” The proposal studies the properties of dropout — a recently introduced deep learning approach with applications in computer vision, speech recognition and natural language processing — and seeks to develop optimized randomization strategies and algorithms for deep learning, to be applied to challenging problems in the natural sciences and other areas.

Kobsa received $60,000 for his proposal, “Predicting People’s Privacy Preferences for Ubiquitous Personal Data Disclosure,” which will investigate the predictability of user privacy preferences in a ubiquitous personal data disclosure scenario. In a world where apps and websites increasingly ask users to make privacy decisions, predicted privacy preferences may allow for a balance between desired privacy and personal data disclosure.

Mark’s proposal, “In Situ Precision-tracking of Online Behavior: A Comprehensive View of Focus, Mood and Context,” garnered $64,000. Her work seeks to understand how people's focus, mood and stress change while using digital media in a real-world context, through precision tracking using wearable sensors and other methods.


ICS team earns honorable mention at programming contest in Russia

UCI Constructors

A team of ICS undergrads garnered an honorable mention at the Association for Computing Machinery’s International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals held in Ekaterinburg, Russia in late June. The team known as UCI Constructors — consisting of Nick Alajat, Alan Castro and Michael Cappe — finished 88th out of 122 teams, beating out fellow North American competitors UC Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon University, among others.

Computer science senior lecturer Richard Pattis, who sponsored the team, pointed out that UCI Constructors was the first UCI team in over a decade to qualify for the world finals. “These students resurrected competitive programming at UCI,” Pattis declared.

During a five-hour span, international teams tackled 12 difficult programming questions. The UCI team was able to solve one problem, while the winning team from Russia’s St. Petersburg State University solved seven.

“The World Finals were just as difficult as we expected them to be,” explained Gio Borje, coach of UCI Constructors and chair of UC Irvine’s ACM chapter. “Relative to other West Coast teams, UC Irvine had a great start at the beginning of the competition by solving the first problem faster than the others, but eventually the other teams caught up.”

Apart from competing, the team was able to squeeze in some sightseeing and tour the Iset River in Ekaterinburg.

UCI Constructors had taken second place in ICPC’s Southern California Regional last year. This year’s tournament starts up again soon, with the Southern California Regional taking place at Riverside Community College Nov. 8.


Jain co-authors textbook on multimedia computing

photo: Ramesh Jain


book cover

Professor Ramesh Jain has recently published a new textbook on multimedia computing. Co-written with Gerald Friedland, director of audio and multimedia research at the International Computer Science Institute (a private research lab affiliated with UC Berkeley), the book is simply titled Multimedia Computing.

The textbook presents emerging techniques in multimedia computing, treating each medium — audio, images, text, etc. — as a strong component of the complete exchange of information.

“The multimedia field needed a textbook,” states Mubarak Shah, a professor at the University of Central Florida, in his back-cover blurb for the book, “and it is finally here.”

Jain and Friedland introduce the fundamentals of multimedia computing, describing the properties of perceptually encoded information; presenting common algorithms and concepts for handling it; and outlining the typical requirements for emerging applications that use diverse information sources. Designed for advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate courses, the book also serves as an introduction for engineers and researchers interested in understanding the elements of multimedia and their role in building specific applications.


Smyth gives keynote talk at top artificial intelligence conference

photo: Padhraic Smyth


Professor Padhraic Smyth gave an invited keynote talk at the recent AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-14). Held July 27-31 in Québec City, Canada, the conference promotes research in artificial intelligence and scientific exchange among AI researchers, practitioners, scientists and engineers in affiliated disciplines. More than 400 papers were presented at the conference, which attracted more than 1000 attendees from North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Smyth's talk, titled “30 Years of Probability in AI and Machine Learning,” discussed the historical development of AI and machine learning algorithms in the context of probabilistic and statistical foundations, as well as potential future directions for the field. Smyth described how probabilistic and statistical thinking is a key aspect of developing machine learning solutions for many diverse data-driven problems in areas like computer vision, computational advertising, text mining, bioinformatics and climate science.

Founded in 1979, the nonprofit Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (formerly the American Association for Artificial Intelligence) seeks to further “research in, and responsible use of, artificial intelligence,” per the group’s website.


Van der Hoek and LaToza receive $1.4 million from NSF to study “crowdprogramming”

photo: André van der Hoek

van der Hoek

photo: Thomas LaToza


Informatics professor André van der Hoek and postdoctoral scholar Thomas LaToza have received a $1.4 million grant over four years from the National Science Foundation for their research into what they have termed “crowdprogramming.”

Where crowdsourcing leverages the power of mass individual input to complete tasks that were previously too labor-intensive to be feasible or even possible, van der Hoek and LaToza propose applying those same principles to software development. Their research will address the fundamental question of how the nature of software affects what may and may not be possible in terms of crowdsourcing.

In their NSF-funded project, the pair will develop theoretical understandings of crowd programming in terms of whether it can be achieved, in which form, under what conditions and with which benefits and drawbacks; and also create a publicly available crowdsourcing platform, CrowdCode, that will offers a tool set specifically designed to address the intricacies of crowdprogramming.


Statistics graduate student places second in prestigious biometrics competition

photo: Sepehr Akhavan


Sepehr Akhavan, a statistics Ph.D. student, has placed second in the student paper competition at the Western North America Region (WNAR) conference of the International Biometric Society. The twenty submissions for this prestigious award included papers from statistics and biostatistics departments at Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA and the University of Washington.

Akhavan’s paper, titled “A Flexible Joint Longitudinal-Survival Model For Quantifying The Association Between Within-Subject Volatility In Serum Biomarkers and Mortality,” proposes a statistical method for tracking albumin, an important biological marker, in patients undergoing dialysis treatment for kidney disease. By identifying potentially dangerous fluctuations in albumin levels, Akhavan’s model seeks to reduce the mortality rate among this critically ill population. The project is being co-supervised by professor Dan Gillen and associate professor Babak Shahbaba.

Founded in 1948, WNAR is devoted to sharing the applications of statistics and mathematics to biology. Gillen points out that the Bren School’s statistics department has had a student place first or second in this competition for three of the past four years.



RWJF grants $1.9 million to project co-led by Bietz

photo: Matthew Bietz


The Health Data Exploration Project—co-led by informatics assistant project scientist Matthew Bietz—has received a $1.9 million grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to create a network of researchers, scientists, companies and others to catalyze the use of personal health data for the public good.

The Health Data Exploration Project, a multi-campus collaboration led by the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), seeks to establish a network that will “bring together companies that collect and store personal health data, captured through the use of wearable devices, smartphone apps and social media, with researchers who mine these data for patterns and trends and other strategic partners,” according to a press release about the grant.

The network is inspired by findings about health-related data sharing practices, which were published in The Health Data Exploration project’s recent report “Personal Data for the Public Good.” The report was also funded by RWJF, the nation’s largest health-focused philanthropic organization.


Kobsa receives $70,000 grant from Intel Labs for research on users’ privacy decision-making

photo: Alfred Kobsa


Intel Labs has awarded informatics and computer science professor Alfred Kobsa a $70,000 grant for his research on users’ privacy decision-making in the context of mobile and ubiquitous computing.

Computer users are increasingly asked to make privacy decisions, but research has shown that such decisions are cumbersome and difficult. Kobsa’s research proposes a “privacy adaptation procedure” that predicts users’ decisions through machine learning, and sets personal default privacy preferences accordingly.

The research is in the vein of Intel’s “context-aware” computing—in which devices anticipate user needs and desires and help fulfill them before users ask.

Kobsa’s proposed “privacy adaptation procedure” could allow Intel to act as an information broker between the user and the app developer. This information broker could provide privacy decision support in two ways: by informing the app about the users’ privacy preferences, which the app can then use to determine permissible requests; and by providing a safe subset of the users’ personal information to the app without user intervention, based on its predictions about the users’ disclosure preferences. The research maintains that in either case, the user should choose the level of automation.


Tomlinson, Nardi and Patterson to design UC-wide online course

photo: Bill Tomlinson


photo: Bonnie Nardi


photo: Don Patterson


The UC Office of the President’s Innovative Learning Technology Initiative (ILTI) has granted professor Bill Tomlinson, professor Bonnie Nardi and associate professor Don Patterson $110,000 to design an online course to be offered across all nine undergraduate University of California campuses. According to the instructors, the course, titled “ICS 5: Global Disruption and Information Technology,” will explore “how sociotechnical systems — collections of people and information technologies — may support a transition to a sustainable civilization.” The course is to be first offered in Winter 2015 and will feature online content from faculty with backgrounds in computing, anthropology and sustainability; recorded guest lectures with world-class academics, practitioners and domain experts; and a multidisciplinary group assignment to conceive and deploy real-world projects focused on human wellbeing in California.

The course will be part of the first group of online courses to be offered across all nine undergraduate UC campuses as part of the ILTI. Established in January 2013 by then-UC President Mark G. Yudof, the ILTI “is designed to meet UC campus needs for high-quality online or hybrid course offerings. The Initiative will enhance the educational opportunities and achievements of UC students by helping them get access to high-demand courses, satisfy degree requirements and graduate on time,” according to the ILTI website.


Khademi receives Dean’s Prize for Best Presentation at AGS Symposium

photo: Maryam Khademi


Informatics Ph.D. student Maryam Khademi has received the Dean’s Prize for Best Presentation in Information and Computer Sciences at the first ever Associated Graduate Students (AGS) Symposium. Khademi presented her research abstract, titled “Utility of Augmented Reality in Relation to Virtual Reality in Stroke Rehabilitation,” to an audience of UCI faculty, students, industry representatives and the public.

The AGS Symposium “provides a venue for UCI to showcase outstanding graduate and professional student research to the Irvine community,” according to the AGS website. The symposium, which took place on April 18, consisted of a day of TED-style research talks focused on how UCI students are using collaborative or innovative methods to tackle important problems in their field.

Khademi’s research interests include natural user interfaces, computer vision and gesture recognition.


Utts elected president of American Statistical Association

photo: Jessica Utts


Jessica Utts, chair of the Department of Statistics, has been elected president of the American Statistical Association (ASA). She will serve a one-year term as president-elect starting on Jan. 1, 2015, and will become president for one year starting on Jan. 1, 2016.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to serve as president of the ASA,” Utts said in an announcement released by the association. “With the increasing demand for statisticians, one of my primary goals will be to educate high school and college students about the diverse and exciting career opportunities in statistics. Another goal will be to continue my career’s work to promote the importance of statistical literacy to the public.”

Utts, who has long been a highly active member of the ASA, joined UCI as a professor of statistics in 2008 and was named department chair in 2011. Before coming to ICS, Utts was a faculty member in the department of statistics at UC Davis from 1978 to 2008. She earned her doctorate in statistics from Pennsylvania State University.


Computer science undergraduates win Facebook Southern California Regional Hackathon

photo: Olivier Truong


photo: Lucas Ou-Yang


photo: Kevin Jonaitis


Undergraduate team “Facebook Context,” comprising computer science majors Olivier Truong, Lucas Ou-Yang and computer science/electrical engineering major Kevin Jonaitis, took first place at the Facebook Southern California Regional Hackathon. Held April 4-5 in Santa Monica, the hackathon challenged student teams from all over Southern California to bring a product from idea to prototype in 24 hours. Team “Facebook Context” built a feature that seamlessly adds relevant images to Facebook posts using natural language processing and a Google Chrome extension, for which they won three Google Nexus 7 tablets and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters of Facebook to compete at the Global Hackathon Final in November.

The Facebook Southern California Regional Hackathon is one of 17 regional Facebook hackathons hosted around the world, culminating in the Global Hackathon Final judged by Facebook executives. Winners of the Global Hackathon Final have been known to meet CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Pictures from the Southern California hackathon are available here.


Lopes publishes book on programming styles

photo: Crista Lopes


Exercises in Programming Style - book cover
Informatics professor Crista Lopes has published a book titled Exercises in Programming Style, available in June 2014. Published by Chapman and Hall and CRC Press, the book helps readers understand the various ways of writing programs and designing systems, using a simple computational task — term frequency — to illustrate different programming styles. Written for anyone who regularly practices programming, the book is designed for use in conjunction with code provided on an online repository.

The book contains 33 different styles for writing the term-frequency task, grouped into nine categories: historical, basic, function composition, objects and object interactions, reflection and metaprogramming, adversity, data-centric, concurrency and interactivity.

Computer scientist James Noble of Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, has hailed the book as “the most important book on programming in the last 20 years.” Industry veteran and IBM Fellow Grady Booch calls it “an instant classic.”

Exercises in Programming Style is available for pre-order here.


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.



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