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UW CSE spinoff Impinj off to a roaring start with IPO

Impinj logoImpinj, the Seattle-based RFID company founded by UW CSE professor Chris Diorio and his Caltech Ph.D. advisor Carver Mead, made its debut on Wall Street today to great fanfare. Impinj is the first Seattle technology company to go public in 2016.

From the GeekWire article:


The Impinj team rang the closing bell at NASDAQ today to celebrate their IPO

“Wall Street likes what they see in Impinj, a 16-year-old Seattle-based maker of Radio Frequency Identification technology that today went public on Nasdaq at $14 per share. That was the upper end of the range for the company, which makes RFID chips that allow retailers to track inventory or manufacturers to track parts….

“Impinj, which is trading under the ticker PI, is doing well in its debut. The stock shot up more than 20 percent, and it is now trading around $17.17.” (Impinj closed the day at $17.97, up 28% from the $14.00 IPO price.)

Congratulations to Chris, Carver and the entire Impinj team! And also to the investors who have stood by the company – particularly our good friends at Madrona Venture Group, which has backed more than a dozen UW CSE startups.

Read all about it on GeekWire hereTechCrunch here, and Xconomy here.

July 21, 2016

UW CSE’s Dreambit imaging software lets people change their appearance virtually

Dreambit results for Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman

Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman explores different looks using Dreambit.

Have you ever wondered what you would look like with a different hairstyle or if you were born in a different historical period? Now you can find out thanks to new imaging software created by UW CSE professor Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman.

Dreambit enables an individual to upload his/her photo and generate personalized search results in which the person’s face is synthesized with images matching the search terms.

Dreambit identifies a set of images that satisfy the search parameters, such as “curly hair,” and employs algorithms to blend the input photo with search results that match the person’s pose, expression, and face shape. The software draws from previously published work in 3-D reconstruction, age progression, and other research that makes use of the vast array of photos available online.

The ability to explore different looks is not all fun and games—the software has a variety of practical applications, including law enforcement and the film industry.

From the UW News release:

“‘It’s hard to recognize someone by just looking at a face, because we as humans are so biased towards hairstyles and hair colors,’ said Kemelmacher-Shlizerman. ‘With missing children, people often dye their hair or change the style so age-progressing just their face isn’t enough. This is a first step in trying to imagine how a missing person’s appearance might change over time.’

“Another potential application is to envision how a certain actor or actress might appear in a role. For example, the system can marry internet photographs of the actress Cate Blanchett and Bob Dylan to predict how she would appear playing the Dylan role in the movie ‘I’m Not There.'”

Kemelmacher-Shlizerman will present Dreambit at the SIGGRAPH 2016 conference next week in Anaheim, California. General release to the public is planned for later this year.

Read the UW News release here, view a video demonstration here, and read the research paper here. Check out the Dreambit website here and coverage of the project by TechCrunchGeekWire, Digital TrendsEngadget, and the Daily Mail. Watch the KOMO 4 News segment here.

July 21, 2016

Microsoft Research recognizes 3 UW CSE faculty, 2 Ph.D. alums with Outstanding Collaborator Awards

Ed Lazowska at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit

Ed Lazowska is recognized with the Outstanding Collaborator Award

Microsoft Research has recognized UW CSE professor Ed Lazowska, CSE and Electrical Engineering professors Shwetak Patel and Georg Seelig, and CSE Ph.D. alums Todd Millstein and Tao Xie, with Outstanding Collaborator Awards. The five are among 32 academics from around the world who are being honored for their contributions to the direction, visibility and value of Microsoft’s research and products.

Rick Rashid—the founder and former head of Microsoft Research, and now Chief Technology Officer for the company’s Applications and Services Group—announced the recipients at the 2016 Faculty Summit taking place in Redmond this week.

MSR recognized Lazowska as “one of the top leaders in the computer science research community.” The organization cited his 20 years of service on the Redmond lab’s Technical Advisory Board, during which he has provided guidance on the direction and impact of the organization’s research and on the development of collaborative initiatives. MSR also noted Lazowska’s long-standing work with government and academic organizations to advance the field of computing, including his leadership on the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee, the NSF Computing and Information Science and Engineering Advisory Committee, the Computing Research Association, and the Computing Community Consortium.

Georg Seelig

Georg Seelig

Shwetak Patel

Shwetak Patel

Patel – “a prolific MSR collaborator” – was recognized for his work on novel interaction techniques and low-power sensing and his leadership on the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX), a partnership between the UW, China’s Tsinghua University, and Microsoft. In addition to his many research contributions, the organization called attention to Patel’s teaching and mentoring, noting that he has sent more than 10 students from his UbiComp Lab to MSR as interns—including four who have earned MSR Ph.D. Fellowships. A number of Patel’s students have taken full-time roles at Microsoft following graduation.

For the past five years, Seelig has collaborated with MSR Cambridge on programming information processing at the nanoscale using DNA. This work integrated software design tools from MSR with wet lab experiments designed and performed at the UW—leading to improvements in both and producing a DNA-based technology for implementing the computational core of complex molecular networks. Seelig is also a member of the UW’s Molecular Information Systems Lab, a recent collaboration with MSR Redmond aimed at developing the next generation of data storage that recently broke the record for the amount of digital data stored in strands of DNA.


Tao Xie

Todd Millstein

Todd Millstein

Millstein earned his Ph.D. from UW CSE in 2003 working with Craig Chambers as part of UW CSE’s Cecil group. Now a professor of computer science at UCLA, Millstein was recognized by MSR for a decade of “broad and deep collaborations” focused on network verification, memory models, and predicate abstractions. Millstein’s partnership with MSR began as an intern while he was a graduate student at UW CSE, and he has continued to work with various MSR researchers in networking and programming languages since joining the UCLA faculty more than a decade ago.

Xie, now an associate professor in computer science and Willett Faculty Scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, first engaged with Microsoft Research 15 years ago while pursuing his Ph.D. at UW working with David Notkin. His citation notes: “As a visiting researcher in the Research in Software Engineering (RiSE) group, he personally contributed a core search algorithm for the automated test generation feature IntelliTest, which shipped as part of Visual Studio 2015 Enterprise Edition. Even more influential were his frequent visits to Microsoft Research in Redmond and China, which spawned dozens of collaborative projects.”

This is a tremendous honor for the chosen individuals as well as for UW CSE as a whole. Visit the MSR Outstanding Collaborator Awards website here, and learn more about the honorees here.

Congratulations to all for their outstanding work, and thanks to Microsoft Research for being a terrific friend and collaborator!

July 13, 2016

10th Anniversary of UW CSE’s CS4HS


Tom Cortina (in UW purple) guides the teachers through a sorting network outside the Allen Center

This year marked the 10th anniversary of UW CSE’s CS4HS summer workshop for middle school and high school math and science teachers.

UW, CMU and UCLA pioneered the program in 2007 with support from Google. At UW, we focus on teachers of mathematics and the natural science from the Puget Sound region, hoping to give them the resources to incorporate modern, fun, and accessible computer science elements into their teaching. Of equal importance, we seek to establish a supportive community among these teachers, and between these teachers and UW CSE – a “safety net” that instills the confidence to take a risk with new approaches. Between 40 and 80 teachers participate annually – roughly 600 since the start of the program.


Alex Mariakakis shows off research in the Ubiquitous Computing Laboratory

For 9 of the 10 years, Tom Cortina, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education at CMU’s School of Computer Science, has joined us, contributing enormously to the success of the UW program. Thank you Tom!

Learn more about UW CSE’s CS4HS here. Learn about DawgBytes, our broad-based K-12 outreach program, here. Check out a recent post on our DawgBytes summer day camps for middle school and high school students here.

July 10, 2016

UW CSE’s Fahad Pervaiz: Predicting disease outbreaks could save millions of lives

Fahad Pervaiz An international team of researchers that includes UW CSE Ph.D. student Fahad Pervaiz, who works with professor Richard Anderson in the Information & Communications Technology for Development (ICTD) Lab, has come up with a way to predict outbreaks of dengue fever by analyzing calling activity by members of the public to a telephone hotline. In a paper published today in the journal Science Advances, Pervaiz and collaborators at New York University, the Punjab Information Technology Board and the Information Technology University in Pakistan present a system capable of predicting disease outbreaks at the level of a city block.

From the UW News release:

“Collecting disease surveillance data traditionally requires a huge infrastructure to gather and analyze disease incidence data from all healthcare facilities in a country or region. The primary appeal for this new system is its capability to closely monitor disease activity by merely analyzing citizen calls on a public-health hotline….

“The team used more than 300,000 calls to the health hotline, set up in the aftermath of the 2011 outbreaks, to forecast the number of dengue cases across the city and at a block-by-block level over a period of two years. The researchers then matched their predictions with the actual number of cases reported in public hospitals. The results showed a high level of accuracy for the model’s predictions: the system not only flagged an outbreak, but also made an accurate forecast of both the number of patients and their locations two to three weeks ahead of time.”

In 2011, more than 21,000 people in Pakistan were infected with dengue fever, and 350 of them died. There is no cure for the virus, so vector control and containment are essential.

“Developing worlds face challenges in tackling major outbreaks due to limited resources,” Pervaiz explained. “Our technique will equip public officials with tools to inform them about where to apply these resources in advance and hopefully save millions of lives.”

Read the full UW News release here and the NYU announcement here. Check out the GeekWire article here.

July 8, 2016

UW and Microsoft researchers set new record in DNA data storage

Luis Ceze and Lee Organick in the lab

CSE professor Luis Ceze and research scientist Lee Organick in the Molecular Information Systems Lab (Credit: Tara Brown Photography)

Researchers in the Molecular Information Systems Lab housed at the University of Washington have achieved a new milestone in their quest to develop the next generation of data storage by encoding a world record-setting 200 megabytes of data in strands of DNA. A team that includes UW CSE professor Luis Ceze and Microsoft researcher (and UW CSE affiliate professor) Karin Strauss announced today that it has successfully stored and retrieved an impressive list of multimedia and literary works, including a high-definition music video by the band OK Go, the complete Universal Declaration of Human Rights in over 100 languages, the novel War and Peace, and more—all contained in a space smaller than the tip of a pencil.

The Microsoft Next blog has the full story. Here’s an excerpt:

“Demand for data storage is growing exponentially, and the capacity of existing storage media is not keeping pace.  That’s making it hard for organizations that need to store a lot of data – such as hospitals with vast databases of patient data or companies with lots of video footage – to keep up. And it means information is being lost, and the problem will only worsen without a new solution.

“DNA could be the answer.

“It has several advantages as a storage medium. It’s compact, durable – capable of lasting for a very long time if kept in good conditions (DNA from woolly mammoths was recovered several thousand years after they went extinct, for instance) – and will always be current, the researchers believe.

“‘As long as there is DNA-based life on the planet, we’ll be interested in reading it,’ said Karin Strauss, the principal Microsoft researcher on the project. ‘So it’s eternally relevant.'”

In a Q&A on UW Today, Ceze explained how the team combined concepts from molecular biology and computer science to achieve its latest milestone. He described how he and his colleagues use polymerase chain reactions—a technique commonly employed by microbiologists to amplify specific segments of DNA for research—to selectively access only the data they want to read. He also noted that, despite its reliability, “DNA writing and reading have errors, just like hard drives and electronic memories have errors, so we needed to develop error-correcting codes to reliably retrieve data.”

Read the Microsoft Next blog post here and the UW Today Q&A with Ceze here, and watch a pair of videos (short version here, extended version here) produced by Microsoft that feature MISL team members and Microsoft leaders talking about the opportunity presented by DNA data storage.

Check out the latest coverage of the team’s record-setting achievement in the Seattle Times, GeekWire, The Verge, Mashable, U.S. News & World ReportCIO Today, Business Insider, and MIT Technology Review.

Earlier this year, Ceze and Strauss co-authored a paper on their efforts to develop a DNA-based storage system with CSE Ph.D. student James Bornholt, Bioengineering Ph.D. student Randolph Lopez, Microsoft researcher and CSE affiliate professor Douglas Carmean, and CSE and Electrical Engineering professor Georg Seelig. For more on this groundbreaking project, read the April 2016 UW News release here.

July 7, 2016

Seattle #1 on Glassdoor’s list of best-paying cities for software engineers!


  • Median base salary: $113,242
  • 7.1 percent above national average cost of living
  • Real adjusted salary: $105,735
  • Job openings: 4,205

Followed by San Jose, San Francisco, Madison WI (only 105 job openings …), Raleigh, Austin, Boston, …

Read about it in GeekWire here.

July 6, 2016

Kids get hands-on with computer science at UW CSE’s DawgBytes summer camps

DawgBytes logoEvery summer, UW CSE welcomes students from around Washington state to campus for our DawgBytes day camps. This year, 125 middle school and high school students will enjoy the opportunity to get hands-on with computer science at one of six co-ed camp sessions devoted to robotics, web design, or programming computer games in Quorum.

We kicked off the summer with the first of three sessions on robotics, in which campers work in teams to build and program robots using LEGO Mindstorms. At the end of the five-day session, participants showed off their creations while competing in some friendly robot games.

Check it out:

Group of campers playing robot games

Campers with their robots

Robot raceRobot race

Group shot of DawgBytes campers

Looks like fun, doesn’t it?

Since 2012, over 600 K-12 students—more than half of them girls—have had the opportunity to explore the wonderful world of computer science at one of our day camps. Thanks to the generous support of our donors, scholarships are made available to eligible students to cover the bulk of their camp fees. Learn more about DawgBytes camps here, and visit the DawgBytes Facebook page here.

July 5, 2016

UW CSE’s Maaz Ahmad, Julie Newcomb earn accolades at SYNT 2016

Maaz Ahmad

Maaz Ahmad

UW CSE Ph.D. student Maaz Bin Safeer Ahmad, who works with professor Alvin Cheung of UW CSE’s Programming Languages & Software Engineering (PLSE) and Database groups, has captured the inaugural Best Student Paper Award at SYNT 2016 for Leveraging Parallel Data Processing Frameworks with Verified Lifting.

In the winning paper, Ahmad and Cheung demonstrate that verified lifting—which previously has been applied to database applications and stencil computations—also can be used to convert sequential data processing code in order to leverage high-performance parallel data processing frameworks. They present CASPER, a novel compiler that identifies and converts fragments of sequential Java code to MapReduce tasks implemented with Apache Hadoop.

The pair’s work represents a significant step forward in addressing one of the most pressing computational challenges of our time: the efficient processing and analysis of increasingly massive data sets. By enabling automatic rewriting of code written in general purpose languages into a high-performance framework such as Hadoop, the authors have devised a way for users to leverage the performance improvements offered by domain specific languages without having to expend time and resources on manually rewriting programs—and avoiding the risk of introducing new bugs. Evaluating their prototype using a set of standard MapReduce benchmarks, Ahmad and Cheung demonstrated that programs that have been optimized using CASPER run up to 6.4x faster.

Read the winning paper here, and check out the CASPER web page here.

Ph.D. students Sarah Chasins of UC Berkeley and Julie Newcomb of UW CSE earned second place for “Using SyGuS to Synthesize Reactive Motion Plans.” In their paper, Chasins and Newcomb—who work with professor Ras Bodik of UW CSE’s PLSE group—present the first use of the Syntax-Guided Synthesis (SyGuS) formalism to solve robot motion planning problems.

The SYNT Workshop on Synthesis is co-located with the International Conference on Computer Aided Verification (CAV 2016) taking place July 17-23 in Toronto, Canada.

Way to go, team!

July 5, 2016

UW CSE invades the Bay Area!

UW CSE faculty and guests at the Computer History Museum

UW CSE took over the Computer History Museum in Mountain View for our annual Bay Area alumni meet-up yesterday. Nearly 200 alumni and guests joined us at one of our favorite events of the year, where we enjoy connecting with old friends and new—and the chance to geek out over the museum’s fantastic exhibits. UW CSE faculty members Luis Ceze, Zorah Fung, Dan Grossman, Yoshi Kohno, Ed Lazowska, Hank Levy and Franzi Roesner met up with a couple of new colleagues currently in the Bay Area: UW CSE alum Kurtis Heimerl, who is joining our ICTD Lab faculty in the fall, and Justin Hsia, who also will arrive in the fall after finishing up a postdoc at UC Berkeley.

UWCSE-Bay-Area-Crowd-Speeches-2016During our visit, we took time out for a spin (not really!) in one of Google’s self-driving cars on display. We also celebrated CSE affiliate professor Dave Cutler’s selection as a Fellow of the Computer History Museum, in recognition of his “fundamental contributions to computer architecture, compilers, operating systems and software engineering.” Last but not least, we experienced a blast from the past when we found an exhibit highlighting the ERMA project. ERMA was the first electronic banking system and was developed by a team led by UW CSE’s founding chair, Jerre Noe, back when he was at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in the 1950s.

Many thanks to the museum for being such a great host and to all of our wonderful alumni and friends who joined us at the event. You make UW CSE proud! See you next year!












June 30, 2016

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