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UW CSE teleporter-in-chief Steve Seitz on the future of virtual reality

Steve SeitzOur very own Steve Seitz, who splits his time between UW CSE’s GRAIL group and Google, features prominently in a recent article by Xconomy’s Ben Romano that explores the technology behind Google Cardboard and Google Jump. Referring to Seitz as Google’s “teleportation lead” (which has to be one of the coolest tech job titles we have come across thus far), the article looks at what’s next in the quest to bring virtual reality to the masses and our region’s emergence as a center of VR innovation.

From the article:

“Regardless of the viewing device, virtual reality needs content. And much of Google’s work to enable creation of virtual reality content—from high-end video capture rigs for professionals to a more accessible way of taking virtual reality panorama photographs with your smartphone—has been carried out by a Google team in Seattle, led by Seitz…

“‘One of the applications that I am most excited about in VR is teleportation,’ said Seitz…’So basically, trying to take you somewhere that you’re not. Really that’s the goal of VR.’

“But before you can teleport with virtual reality to Iceland or the surface of Mars, someone or some thing has to go there first with a camera to capture the sights and sounds.”

That is where Seitz and his team, in collaboration with camera maker GoPro, come in—along with some heavy-duty computing power furnished by Google.

The article offers a comprehensive look at the company’s evolving ecosystem of VR technologies, including the challenges Seitz and his colleagues have to overcome in order to deliver a truly immersive experience, and looks at what may be on the horizon now that VR is no longer just in the realm of science fiction. Check out the complete article here, and read our past coverage of Seitz’s work on Google VR here and here.

February 10, 2016

UW CSE’s Yejin Choi named one of IEEE’s “10 to Watch” in AI

Yejin ChoiUW CSE professor Yejin Choi, an expert in natural language processing, was selected as one of 10 young scientists to watch in the field of artificial intelligence in the latest issue of IEEE Intelligent Systems. The list, which is published biennially, celebrates rising stars in the field and is based on nominations by senior AI researchers in academia and industry.

Choi’s research combines natural language processing, machine learning and computer vision in seeking to connect language with visual intelligence and with social and emotional intelligence. By enabling computers to detect nonliteral or implied meaning, she aims to develop their capacity to “read between the lines”—an essential component of successful social interactions between people.

From the article:

“Natural language is at the heart of our everyday lives. We use it to communicate complex ideas, ranging from summaries of what we’ve seen or experienced to subtle cues about our beliefs, goals, and opinions. Importantly, meaning is conveyed not just by what’s literally said but also by what’s left to the listener to infer. This ability to reason beyond what is said explicitly is crucial for efficient human-computer communications.”

Read the full article here. Way to go, Yejin!

UW CSE has assembled a superb group of faculty in NLP: in addition to Yejin, core faculty include Noah Smith and Luke Zettlemoyer, with contributions from Pedro Domingos, Oren Etzioni, and Dan Weld. Learn more about our NLP research here.

February 10, 2016

CSE’s Tom Anderson, Albert Greenberg elected to National Academy of Engineering

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is one of the highest professional honors accorded an engineer. Today the NAE announced its Class of 2016. Two UW CSE Ph.D. alums, Tom Anderson and Albert Greenberg, are among the eight new members elected in Computer Science & Engineering.

Tom-Anderson-portrait-240x300Tom is “one of our own” in two ways: he received his Ph.D. from UW CSE in 1991 (working with Ed Lazowska and Hank Levy), and after joining the faculty at UC Berkeley and being promoted to tenure there, he returned to join the UW CSE faculty, where he is the Warren Francis and Wilma Kolm Bradley Chair in Computer Science & Engineering. Tom – who has made fundamental contributions to the design, analysis, and instrumentation of computer systems, computer networks, and distributed systems – has previously been honored with the IEEE Koji Kobayashi Computers & Communication Award, the ACM SIGOPS Mark Weiser Award, the USENIX Lifetime Achievement Award, more than 20 Best Paper and Test-of-Time awards, and election as an ACM Fellow. He was elected to NAE “for contributions to the design of resilient and efficient distributed computer systems.”

greenbergAlbert received his Ph.D. from UW CSE in 1983 (working with Richard Ladner and Martin Tompa). He spent 13 years at AT&T Research in network research. In 2007 he returned to Seattle to join Microsoft Research, and 3 years later he moved from research to the engineering organization as Distinguished Engineer and Director of Development for Microsoft Azure Networking. Albert has been honored with the SIGCOMM award for lifetime contributions to the field of communication networks, and, like Tom, the IEEE Koji Kobayashi Computers & Communication Award, multiple Test-of-Time awards, and election as an ACM Fellow. He was elected to NAE “for contributions to the theory and practice of operating large carrier and data center networks.”

Tom joins UW CSE faculty members Susan Eggers, Ed Lazowska, and Hank Levy as Members of the National Academy of Engineering.

Tom and Albert join UW CSE graduate program alums Jeff Dean (Google Senior Fellow), Ed Felten (Professor of Computer Science and of Public Affairs at Princeton), and Hank Levy as NAE Members.

Congratulations to Tom and Albert!

NAE announcement here. UW News article here.

February 8, 2016

DawgBytes midwinter break workshops for high schoolers – Feb 16 and 20

05a231f5-e588-4b89-9760-953062bc9218DawgBytes – “A Taste of CSE,” UW CSE’s K-12 outreach program – will be hosting one-day midwinter break workshops for high school students on February 16 and 20.

Learn more here.

Learn more about the wide range of DawgBytes here.; lots of news on the DawgBytes Facebook page here.

February 5, 2016

Qi Lu and Harry Shum @ UW CSE

qi-ed-harryQi Lu and Harry Shum, two of the four engineering members of Microsoft’s Senior Leadership Team, spent the day at UW CSE today participating in a wide variety of research interactions.

In the photo, Qi and Harry join Ed Lazowska in the wetlab housing a joint project between UW (principally Luis Ceze and Georg Seelig) and Microsoft Research (principally Doug Carmean and Karin Strauss) concerning extremely high density DNA-based data storage.

February 2, 2016

UW CSE Women’s Research Day, Saturday January 23

12299373_10100736310055548_5242813163717865055_nA belated post celebrating the second annual UW CSE Women’s Research Day, held on Saturday January 23.

Undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral, and faculty women from UW CSE, as well as colleagues from regional companies, spent the day in research presentations, panel discussions, lab tours, and a poster session – all celebrating the role of women in the computing research ecosystem in UW CSE and the region.

Facebook page here.

February 2, 2016

NSF CAREER Award to UW CSE’s Shayan Oveis Gharan

shayanUW CSE’s Shayan Oveis Gharan has received an NSF CAREER Award – the 29th UW CSE faculty member to have been recognized through this program and its predecessors.

The NSF CAREER Program “offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.”

Shayan is one of the most recent additions to UW CSE’s Theoretical Computer Science Group. His research focuses on the design and analysis of algorithms. With his coauthors, he gave the first asymptotic improvement in the approximation ratio for the Asymmetric Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) in over 30 years, for which he won the best paper award at SODA 2010. He followed this up by doing the same for the standard TSP problem on graphs, improving Christofides’ famous 3/2 bound from 1976; for that, he won the best paper award at FOCS 2011. Most recently, by proving a generalization of the famous Kadison-Singer Conjecture, Shayan and Nima Amari have given an improved bound on the integrality gap of the classical Held-Karp relaxation for Asymmetric TSP. In addition to his work in approximation algorithms, Shayan is well-known for fundamental contributions in algorithmic spectral graph theory.

Congratulations Shayan!

February 1, 2016

Computer Science For All

POTUS_CodeThis morning President Obama announced Computer Science For All, a $4 billion initiative to empower all American students from Kindergarten through high school to learn computer science and computational thinking.

Congratulations to Jan Cuny (NSF), Hadi Partovi (Code.org), Megan Smith (US CTO), and the many others who have worked so hard over so many years to get us to this point.

Now the question is: Will Washington State up its game?

Learn more here.

January 30, 2016

UW computer scientists are working on a way for you to talk to the dead

Supasorn Suwajanakorn

Supasorn Suwajanakorn (photo credit: Abhishek Sugam)

Advances in computing have disrupted many industries, from financial services and retail, to travel and real estate. Could psychic readings be next?

In a story posted on MyNorthwest.com, KIRO Radio reporter Rachel Belle foresees the day when you will be able to interact with a 3-D model of your dearly departed. And it will all be thanks to members of UW CSE’s GRAIL Group. From the article:

“Five years ago I sat down with my Grandma Sue and a tape recorder and interviewed her for two hours. I asked her to tell me stories of her childhood in New York City, her marriage, anything about her life. I learned that she got married at 16 years old in a jail, along with several other young women and their soldier fiancés. They later divorced and, on tape, she advised me not to marry a bum.

“Unfortunately, a few weeks later I accidentally deleted the recording. And before I could schedule another visit to re-record, she died. Now, the only recording I have of Grandma Sue’s thick, New York accent is a five second video on an old, out-of-service cellphone.

“What if you could have one more conversation with someone who passed away? Or many conversations? Would you do it? Eventually, this may be possible. Computer scientists at the University of Washington are working on bringing photos and video to life.”

Belle is referring to research by CSE graduate student Supasorn Suwajanakorn and professors Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman and Steve Seitz in which they construct and animate 3-D models of celebrities from photos and videos. The project—What Makes Tom Hanks Look Like Tom Hanks?—is attracting a lot of interest and promises to advance the state of the art in animation and augmented reality.

We predict you will want to read the full article here, and check out our past coverage of the project here.

necroIMPORTANT ADDENDUM: Richard Anderson notes that the recent research by Suwajanakorn, Kememacher-Shlizerman and Seitz ignores prior work on “Necrocomputing” carried out in 2001 by UW CSE Ph.D. student Craig Kaplan, now a faculty member at the University of Waterloo. We regret this lapse in scholarship. See Kaplan’s talk on the subject here.

January 27, 2016

At Davos, Microsoft President Brad Smith highlights UW’s role


At Davos, Microsoft President Brad Smith points to the UW “solar system” in the Seattle Tech Universe map

At a Davos event hosted by his alma mater Princeton University, Microsoft President Brad Smith used the Seattle Tech Universe map to illustrate “the connection between leading universities and innovation ecosystems, using the University of Washington as an example.”

GeekWire article here. More information on the Seattle Tech Universe map here.

January 26, 2016

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