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The 2015 UW CSE SOSP contingent: Adriana Szekeres, Ellis Michael, Niel Lebeck, Naveen Kr. Sharma, Pedro Fonseca, Dan R. K. Ports / Irene Zhang, Hank Levy, Tom Anderson

As always, UW CSE was well represented at the biennial ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles. This was the 25th SOSP – the 50th anniversary of this premier operating systems conference.

Learn about UW CSE’s research in systems and networking here.

October 6, 2015

UW CSE’s Kurtis Heimerl and Endaga joining Facebook

Kurtis HeimerlUW CSE alum and soon-to-be faculty member Kurtis Heimerl (UW CSE B.S. ’07, UC Berkeley Ph.D. ’13) co-founded startup company Endaga to help under-served communities in remote areas of the world to build small-scale, independent cellular networks that they own and run themselves. The company – which was spun out of UC Berkeley, where Kurtis completed his Master’s, Ph.D. and postdoc working with another UW CSE alum, Tapan Parikh (Ph.D., ’07) – epitomizes the potential for technology to meaningfully improve quality of life around the globe.

Now, thanks to Facebook, Kurtis and the Endaga team are starting a new chapter as they work to improve connectivity for people everywhere.

While this means that we have to wait a little longer for his official homecoming, we are excited to see what comes out of this new partnership. We are also delighted to report that Kurtis intends to spend a couple of days a month at UW CSE engaging with our faculty and students between now and when he takes up his faculty position next September.

Read more about the new partnership on the Endaga blog here.

Congratulations to Kurtis and his colleagues – we will enjoy watching their progress and look forward to the day Kurtis brings his considerable talents full-time to UW CSE!

October 5, 2015

The hired help you get these days …

IMG_5720UW CSE events manager Sophie Ostlund requisitions additional help to man the bar at the annual “Pit Party” welcoming new graduate students, and what turns up? Zach Tatlock. Sheesh.IMG_5715

October 2, 2015

UW CSE news “back to school” edition

Classes started this week on the beautiful UW campus – and in K-12 schools across the region. To mark the occasion, UW CSE professor James Fogarty and his son posed for the traditional back-to-school photo.

James Fogarty and his son go back to school

As James said, “Excited for the first day of classes. Awesome staff, awesome students. Let’s make stuff!”

Welcome back, everyone – we hope you had a great first week!

October 2, 2015

Friends of UW CSE take to the high seas!

IMG_5693Well, it was actually more of a drifting match, but a good time was had by all!

Spencer Rascoff, Michael and Cari Schutzler, Rob Short, Brad Smith, and John and Patti Torode join Tom Alberg, Ed Lazowska, Hank Levy, and Judy Mahoney aboard Tom’s 77′ sloop Cascadia for a lovely evening on Puget Sound!



October 1, 2015

Study rates UW CSE software engineering research most practically relevant of the past five years

Michael Ernst

Michael Ernst

A UW CSE research paper on proactive conflict detection, part of the speculative analysis project led by professors Michael Ernst and David Notkin, was rated the most practically relevant software engineering research of the last five years in a recent industrial relevance study.

The study, which was conducted by Microsoft Research and Singapore Management University, asked more than 500 software developers to rate the relevance of 571 research papers in order to determine how relevant software engineering research is to practitioners in the field. The greatest number of respondents rated the UW CSE project, which helps developers to collaborate more effectively and prevents potentially costly conflicts, as “essential” to software development practice.

When developers on a team work in parallel, they may make changes that are independently good but which, when combined, break the software. The UW CSE research team developed a tool, Crystal, that helps developers to identify, manage and prevent such conflicts by continuously merging people’s changes, before the software developers do so and without interfering with the developers. If the changes are in conflict, developers learn about them and can address them immediately, before wasting time on code that will later have to be reworked or discarded. If the changes are not in conflict, then developers can proceed with confidence, without having to worry about potentially negative consequences. In both cases, developers can spend less time coordinating with their teammates and more time getting their work done.

The project was conducted by Yuriy Brun (then a postdoc at UW CSE, now a professor at University of Massachusetts) and Reid Holmes (previously a postdoc at UW CSE, now a professor at University of British Columbia) alongside Michael Ernst and the late David Notkin of UW CSE’s Programming Languages & Software Engineering group.

To learn more about proactive conflict detection, watch this video and read the research paper here. Read the complete results of the industrial relevance study, which was published at the ESEC/FSE conference last month, here.

Michael Ernst’s name keeps cropping up in the search for excellence in software engineering: in 2013, Microsoft Academic Search ranked him 2nd among software engineering researchers worldwide, based on his work over the previous 10 years.

We have known for some time, of course, that our PLSE group is among the best. But it’s always nice to have external validation!

October 1, 2015

Washington Post: “Paul Allen’s $500 million quest to dissect the mind and code a new one from scratch”

billionaires-brain09-1024x633A phenomenal Washington Post article on Paul Allen’s attempt to understand the human mind, working from two directions: the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (led by UW CSE’s Oren Etzioni).

“Paul Allen has been waiting for the emergence of intelligent machines for a very long time. As a young boy, Allen spent much of his time in the library reading science-fiction novels in which robots manage our homes, perform surgery and fly around saving lives like superheroes. In his imagination, these beings would live among us, serving as our advisers, companions and friends.

billionaires-brain11-1024x633“Now 62 and worth an estimated $17.7 billion, the Microsoft co-founder is using his wealth to back two separate philanthropic research efforts at the intersection of neuroscience and artificial intelligence that he hopes will hasten that future.

“The first project is to build an artificial brain from scratch that can pass a high school science test. It sounds simple enough, but trying to teach a machine not only to respond but also to reason is one of the hardest software-engineering endeavors attempted — far more complex than building his former company’s breakthrough Windows operating system, said to have 50 million lines of code.

“The second project aims to understand intelligence by coming at it from the opposite direction — by starting with nature and deconstructing and analyzing the pieces. It’s an attempt to reverse-engineer the human brain by slicing it up — literally — modeling it and running simulations.”

Tons of insights in this article! Read it here.

October 1, 2015

UW CSE’s Martin Tompa publishes the definitive guide to winning at Schnapsen

Winning Schnapsen book coverWhen it comes to Schnapsen – the national card game of Austria – UW CSE professor Martin Tompa’s got game. And now the rest of us can, too, with the help of his new book, Winning Schnapsen. Like the title suggests, it is the definitive guide to mastering the 300+ year-old game that enjoys a popular following in continental Europe.

Schnapsen is a two-person card game that has some similarities with another well-known game, Bridge. It is the perfect pastime for computer scientists, and Martin’s winning strategies employ a number of concepts that will sound familiar, such as expected value and other aspects of probability theory. In fact, Martin uses Schnapsen in his CSE 312 course on the foundations of computing – which inspired a group of students who took the course to establish a UW Schnapsen club.

Martin’s interest in Schnapsen was rekindled in 2012, when he worked with two former UW CSE Ph.D. students, Dick Garner and Jeff Scofield, to create an iPhone app against which users could play the game.

“The fact that their app beat me pretty consistently is what got me interested in figuring out how to play as well as it does,” Martin explained.

Now, thanks to Martin, everyone can win at Schnapsen. Learn more here.

September 30, 2015

“UW 360” program highlights the need to expand UW CSE

“UW 360,” a magazine-style television show produced by UW TV that profiles people and programs that define the university, recently aired a segment on the need to significantly expand UW Computer Science & Engineering. The segment, which includes interviews with undergraduate students Awet Alazar and Jessica Tsang, professor Ed Lazowska, and Microsoft recruiter Becky Tucker, highlights the growing demand on the part of students and employers for UW CSE.

As the segment explains, “Awet and Jessica are part of a UW program that is in extremely high demand. With each passing year, admission becomes increasingly competitive. That makes sense when you consider the program contributes by far the most computer science graduates to the workforce in the state of Washington.”

And Becky from Microsoft, where both students recently had internships, told UWTV, “Students we hire here from UW CSE are top quality candidates….What’s nice about these students is that they are original, very individual thinkers [and] great contributors.”

Watch the video, which makes a great case for expanding UW CSE (and does so in under three minutes), here.

September 29, 2015

UW CSE Ph.D. alum Chris Re wins MacArthur “Genius” Award

headshot_chris2009 UW CSE Ph.D. alum Chris Ré is one of 24 recipients of 2015 MacArthur Fellowships – colloquially referred to as “genius awards.”

Chris – a student of Dan Suciu – is a star in data management/analysis, currently on the computer science faculty at Stanford. Quoting from the MacArthur Foundation:

“Christopher Ré is a computer scientist democratizing big data analytics through theoretical advances in statistics and logic and groundbreaking data-processing applications for solving practical problems. Ré has leveraged his training in databases and deep knowledge of machine learning to create an inference engine, DeepDive, that can analyze data of a kind and at a scale that is beyond the current capabilities of traditional databases.”

Read more at the MacArthur Foundation website here. UW News post here.

Congratulations Chris!!!!!

September 28, 2015

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