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Justine Sherry wins Best Student Paper Award at SIGCOMM 2015

beststudentpaperwinners2010 UW CSE bachelors alum Justine Sherry – now completing her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley – is first author on this year’s Best Student Paper at SIGCOMM 2015, the premier conference in computer networking.

The paper – “Rollback-Recovery for Middleboxes” – is part of Justine’s Berkeley thesis work. Network middleboxes must offer high availability, with automatic failover when a device fails. Unlike routers, when middleboxes fail they most recover lost state about active network connections to perform properly; without this lost state clients face connection resets, downtime, or insecure behaviors. No existing middlebox design provides failover that is correct, fast to recover, and imposes little increased latency on failure-free operations. The FTMB system described in the paper adds only 30us of latency to median per packet latencies – a 100-1000x improvement over existing fault-tolerance mechanisms. FTMB  introduces moderate throughput overheads (5-30%) and can reconstruct lost state in 40-275ms for practical system configurations.

UW CSE professor Arvind Krishnamurthy is one of the paper’s co-authors, along with Peter Xiang Gao, Soumya Basu, Aurojit Panda, Sylvia Ratnasamy, and Scott Shenker from UC Berkeley, Christian Maciocco and Maziar Manesh from Intel Research, Joao Martins from NEC Labs, and Luigi Rizzo from the University of Pisa.

“And remember – she’ll be on the job market this coming year.”

August 23, 2015

A super summer of UW CSE computer science day camps for K-12 students!

hsgirlscampThis week marked 2015’s 9th and final UW CSE summer computer science day camp for K-12 students.

During the week of June 29 we hosted a co-ed camp for students entering grades 3-5 for “Scratch Adventures,” and a co-ed camp for students entering grades 10-12 for “Physical Computing.”

During the week of July 6 we again hosted “Physical Computing.”

During the weeks of July 20 and August 10 we hosted students entering grades 7-9 for “Building Android Apps.”

During the weeks of July 27 and August 3 we hosted girls camps using Processing for students entering grades 10-12.

And during the weeks of August 10 and August 17 we hosted girls camps using Processing for students entering grades 7-9.

Learn more about our summer day camps here.

Learn more about Dawgbytes (“A Taste of CSE”), UW CSE’s broad-based K-12 outreach program, here.

For lots of photos of this year’s camps, check out the DawgBytes Facebook page here.

August 22, 2015

Summer 2015 Google Faculty Research Awards

rgicontransparentAnother great performance by UW CSE faculty and alums in the most recent Google Faculty Research Awards:

Human-Computer Interaction

  • UW CSE Ph.D. alum (and former Creative Director of the UW Center for Game Science) Seth Cooper (Northeastern University)
  • UW CSE affiliate professor Sean Munson (UW Human Centered Design & Engineering)
  • UW CSE affiliate professor and Ph.D. grandchild Jessica Hullman (UW Information School, and the University of Michigan Ph.D. alum of UW CSE Ph.D. alum Eytan Adar)


Natural Language Processing

Physical Interactions and Immersive Experiences


Software Engineering and Programming Languages

Congratulations, one and all! And thanks, Google, for your support! (See the full list of awardees here.)


August 22, 2015

UW CSE Ph.D. alum Karl Koscher in Wired: “Think twice about what you’re plugging into your car”

Karl Koscher and Ian Foster of UCSD in a car

Karl Koscher and Ian Foster of UCSD demonstrating the latest car security flaw (Photo: Ryan Young for Wired)

UW CSE Ph.D. alum Karl Koscher, of 60 Minutes car hacking fame, is in the news once again for exposing the vulnerabilities of motor vehicle systems with a team at University of California, San Diego, where he is doing a postdoc with UCSD CSE professors and UW CSE Ph.D. alums Stefan Savage and Geoff Voelker.

This time, Karl and his fellow researchers demonstrate for Wired magazine and the USENIX security conference a new threat for motorists: common plug-in devices such as those provided by insurance firms to monitor a vehicle’s location, mileage and speed.

From the Wired article:

“Car hacking demos like last month’s over-the-internet hijacking of a Jeep have shown it’s possible for digital attackers to cross the gap between a car’s cellular-connected infotainment system and its steering and brakes. But a new piece of research suggests there may be an even easier way for hackers to wirelessly access those critical driving functions: Through an entire industry of potentially insecure, internet-enabled gadgets plugged directly into cars’ most sensitive guts….

“By sending carefully crafted SMS messages to one of those cheap dongles connected to the dashboard of a Corvette, the researchers were able to transmit commands to the car’s CAN bus—the internal network that controls its physical driving components—turning on the Corvette’s windshield wipers and even enabling or disabling its brakes.”

As Karl says, “Think twice about what you’re plugging into your car.”

Read the full article and watch a video demonstration here. Read a recent blog post on this same topic featuring Karl’s Ph.D. adviser, UW CSE professor Yoshi Kohno (who was one of the first to sound the alarm over car security), here.

August 20, 2015

UW CSE postdoc alum Alexandra Meliou wins NSF CAREER Award

Alexandra MeliouAlexandra Meliou, an assistant professor at University of Massachusetts, Amherst who completed a postdoc under the guidance of UW CSE professor Dan Suciu in 2012, has earned the National Science Foundation’s prestigious CAREER award.

Alexandra’s research focuses on reverse-engineering data transformations to understand, diagnose and manipulate data. She is interested in enhancing data management systems to compute and use data provenance information to identify errors, diagnose the causes of errors, and improve data quality. Learn more about her NSF-supported project here.

(Thanks to Alexandra’s fellow UW CSE postdoc alum – and previous NSF CAREER award winner – Yuriy Brun for the tip.)

Congratulations, Alexandra!

August 19, 2015

The Wall Street Journal “hearts” UW CSE alum Brandon Ballinger’s new app

Brandon BallingerThe Wall Street Journal has a great article on UW CSE bachelor’s alum Brandon Ballinger (’06) and his new heart rate tracking app, Cardiogram. Brandon, who is currently working as a data scientist at the University of California, San Francisco, built the app to assist researchers with gathering data for UCSF’s Health eHeart study. But first, he decided to test the app on two things that are near and dear to many people’s hearts: Mexican food and Game of Thrones.

From the article:

“Anyone who follows Game of Thrones knows that few things can set your heart racing quite like Valyrian Steel. Now there’s data to prove it.

“….Mr. Ballinger built an Apple Watch app, called Cardiogram, that can track a user’s heart rate through the day. With the app, Mr. Ballinger has learned that his own heart jumps to more than 120 beats per minute when he eats a burrito.Chart showing change in heart rate during Game of Thrones episode

“In the long term, he’d like people to use Cardiogram to give medical researchers new insights into how the heart works.

“Short term, he’s been playing around with Cardiogram to learn how his heart rate changes throughout the day. A few months ago, he invited 10 of Cardiogram’s early users to watch Game of Thrones. ‘It’s almost like a Nielsen ratings on a second-by-second basis,’ Ballinger said.”

Read the complete article (spoiler alert!) here. Read our previous coverage of Brandon’s exploits since graduating from CSE – like helping to solve the headache that was the original Healthcare.gov – here. You can download the Cardiogram app for Apple Watch or Android Wear here.

August 14, 2015

UW CSE’s Pedro Domingos and Abe Friesen capture top prize at IJCAI with “magical” new algorithm

Pedro Domingos

Pedro Domingos

UW CSE professor Pedro Domingos and Ph.D. student Abe Friesen brought home the Distinguished Paper Award from the 2015 International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) last month in Buenos Aires.

Pedro and Abe developed a new algorithm, Recursive Decomposition into locally Independent Subspaces (RDIS), capable of solving a broad class of nonconvex optimization problems. The duo demonstrated that RDIS significantly outperforms standard optimization techniques when applied to complex problems such as protein folding and mapping three-dimensional space from two-dimensional images. By applying problem-decomposition techniques to continuous optimization problems, RDIS has the potential to advance several areas of AI research, including computer vision, machine learning and robotics.

From the UW news release:

“‘In some ways optimization is the most important problem you’ve never heard of because it turns up in all areas of science, engineering and business. But a lot of optimization problems are extremely difficult to solve because they have a huge number of variables that interact in intricate ways,’ said senior author Pedro Domingos….

Abe Friesen

Abe Friesen

“The UW optimization algorithm, known by its acronym RDIS, progressively breaks an enormously complicated problem down into smaller, more manageable chunks — a simple idea commonly used when a problem consists of yes-or-no choices, but which had not previously been applied to numeric variables. RDIS can identify variables that, once set to specific values, break a larger problem into independent subproblems.  Often, the problems are only nearly independent, but RDIS limits the error caused by treating them as fully independent.

“‘This approach is something that is very different than what people were doing before and it also does something magical, which is solve some problems exponentially faster. And anytime you can do that, that’s when you get a big win,’ said Domingos.”

Read the news release here. Read the award-winning paper, “Recursive Decomposition for Nonconvex Optimization,” here.

Congratulations to Abe and Pedro on the big win! (Pedro has been on a roll lately – this latest achievement was preceded by winning the KDD 2015 Test of Time Award, publishing a new book, The Master Algorithm, and winning the KDD 2014 Innovation Award.)

August 14, 2015

“UW Tech Grads Among the Most Talented in the Nation”

UntitledWe admit it … this is pretty close to us talking about ourselves … but not quite.

UW !MPACT, “Informed Advocates of the University of Washington,” blogs:

“Recent UW alums don’t have to get too far off-campus to find a use for their newly-minted technology degrees. Washington’s booming tech industry is responsible for employing 238,900 people, and bringing in over $37 billion in revenue, according to a recent Washington Technology Industry Association study.

“Not only are our grads located in the heart of the state’s tech hotbed, they also turn out to be among the best-equipped to make an impact in the tech world, according to a new tech.co ranking. The UW ranked #2 on a list of the public universities that produce the best startup talent.”

The post contains additional information on the need to increase CSE’s enrollment, and provide expanded facilities.

Thanks, UW !mpact. Read more here.


August 11, 2015

UW CSE’s Verdi team completes first full formal verification of Raft consensus protocol

VerdiDistributed systems are hard to get right in large part because they must tolerate faults gracefully: machines may crash and the network may drop, reorder, or duplicate packets. Verdi is a framework from the University of Washington to implement and formally verify distributed systems.

UW CSE’s Verdi team (students James Wilcox, Doug Woos, and Pavel Panchekha, and faculty members Zach Tatlock, Xi Wang, Mike Ernst, and Tom Anderson) has just completed the first full formal verification of the Raft consensus protocol – a landmark achievement. (In addition to garnering lots of attention, they garnered more than 120 stars on GitHub!)

Learn more about Verdi here. GitHub here. Raft here.

August 7, 2015

UW’s “Advanced Data Science” Ph.D. option launches!

PrintThe University of Washington’s Graduate School has approved the creation of a Ph.D. option in “Advanced Data Science” – an initiative of UW’s $2.8 million National Science Foundation IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research) award in data science, led by UW CSE’s Magda Balazinska.

The goal of the option is not to educate all students in the foundations of data science, but rather to provide advanced education to the students who will push the state-of-the-art in data science methods in their domain – to educate the next generation of thought leaders who will both build and apply new methods of data science.

An important characteristic of this advanced data science option is that, independent of their home department, students will complete the same set of core data science courses. This shared core curriculum will ensure that students are not only knowledgeable in data science but that they also had the opportunity to interact with each other and form interdisciplinary cohorts.To complete the option – which will be noted on their transcripts – students will take three out of the following four courses:

  • Data Management: CSE 544
  • Machine Learning, CSE 546 or STAT 535
  • Data Visualization: CSE 512
  • Statistics: STAT 509 or STAT 512-513

Additionally, to further expand students’ education and create a campus-wide community, students will register for at least 4 quarters in the weekly eScience Community Seminar.

Six academic programs are the “launch partners”: Astronomy, Chemical Engineering, Computer Science & Engineering, Genome Sciences, Oceanography, and Statistics.

Learn more about the Advanced Data Science option from the proposal here.

August 4, 2015

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