most significant bits
newsletter of uw computer science & engineering
volume 21, number 2, autumn 2011
university of washington
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Shwetak Patel wins MacArthur Chair's message CSE leads new Intel center Alum profile: Wen-Hann Wang News Aram Harrow joins CSE CSE’s newest ACM Fellows iGEM 2011 world champs! Datagrams Awards Refraction wins NHK prize CRA recognizes CSE ugrads 2012 Diamond Award winners Events Susan Eggers retires! Jean-Loup Baer turns 75 2011 Industrial Affiliates meeting CSE @ 2011 Hopper Conference
msb21.2 PDF

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About MSB

MSB is a twice yearly publication of UW CSE supported by the Industrial Affiliates Program.

Editor: Kay Beck-Benton.
Contributors: Dieter Fox, Sally James, Ed Lazowska, Hank Levy, Sandy Marvinney, Shwetak Patel. Photo credits: Bruce Hemingway, Lindsay Michimoto, UW News Team.

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Aram Harrow joins CSE faculty

Aram Harrow

Aram W. Harrow joins us from the University of Bristol where he was a lecturer (the UK equivalent of assistant professor) from 2005-2010 in Computer Science and Mathematics. He attended MIT for his BSc (in math and physics) and his PhD (in Physics).

Harrow’s research is on quantum computing and quantum information, and relates to questions such as what would we do with a quantum computer if we were able to build one, and which new mathematical tools do we need to understand the capabilities of quantum information? For example, he recently developed a quantum algorithm for solving large systems of linear equations. Harrow has also found ways to relate quantum information to the computer science notion of pseudo-randomness, as well as to the mathematical method of analyzing symmetries known as representation theory.

Currently he is studying the optimization problems that arise in quantum physics. If successful, this work could be useful not only for modeling complicated quantum systems such as large molecules, but also could give new ways to detect patterns in large data sets.

CSE’s newest ACM Fellows

New ACM Fellows
Carl Ebeling, Dan Suciu, David Wetherall

CSE professors Carl Ebeling, Dan Suciu, and David Wetherall have been elected to this year's class of Fellows of the Association for Computing Machinery. The ACM Fellows Program, initiated in 1993, celebrates the exceptional contributions of the leading members in the computing field.

Carl was recognized for his contributions to the architecture and design of reconfigurable systems. Currently, he is working to develop a programming model and system compiler for executing large data/compute-intensive applications on large-scale reconfigurable platforms.

Dan was recognized for his contributions to probabilistic databases and semistructured data. His past work has addressed various aspects of managing semistructured data, including query languages, compression, query processing and type inference. More recent work includes data security and querying unreliable and inconsistent data sources.

David was recognized for his contributions to computer network design. His research broadly focuses on the Internet and network systems, including wireless and mobile computing, and privacy and security. He mixes blue-sky projects with industrial collaborations and is known for pioneering research on programmable networks, deduplication, Internet mapping, and denial-of-service.

Carl, Dan, and David join 12 other CSE faculty members as Fellows of the ACM: Tom Anderson, Jean-Loup Baer, Alan Borning, Gaetano Borriello, Susan Eggers, Richard Ladner, Ed Lazowska, Hank Levy, David Notkin, Alan Shaw, Larry Snyder, and Dan Weld.

Also elected in this year's class of 46 new Fellows of the ACM were CSE Ph.D. alum Hugues Hoppe (now at Microsoft Research) for contributions to computer graphics, and CSE Ph.D. alum Dean Tullsen (now a faculty member at UCSD) for contributions to the architecture of high-performance processors.

UW’s iGEM team is the 2011 world champion!

UW iGEM team
UW 2011 winning iGEM team members

UW’s team took home the top honor at the iGEM World Championship, held November 5 - 7 at MIT. iGEM is a synthetic biology competition in which teams compete by working on various technologies related to food, medicine, energy, and other topics. This student competition has taken place annually since 2003.

UW's team, made up of 23 undergrads from several departments including biochemistry, microbiology, bioengineering, materials science, and computer science, reflects the interdisciplinary nature of synthetic biology. CSE's own Sean Wu is a member of this year's winning team!

The team’s projects consisted of a microbial-based diesel fuel and research into a new enzyme that could act as a therapy for gluten intolerance. The UW beat out teams from MIT, Harvard, Imperial College London, and ZJU-China.

More on the 2011 winning team here:


Seattle Business hearts UW CSE
The Good, The Bad, and The Stupid

The December issue of Seattle Business magazine identifies “The Good, The Bad, and The Stupid” for 2011. Featured on “The Good” were:

  • Oren Etzioni and Mike Fridgen, UW CSE, and
  • Luis Ceze, UW CSE, and Corensic.
  • Desney Tan, Microsoft Research and UW CSE AffiliateProfessor.
  • Yaw Anokwa, UW CSE

Happily, UW CSE was not listed among “The Bad” or “The Stupid.” The full article may be viewed here:

Foldit named TechFlash 2011 "Innovation of the Year"

Foldit, the massive multi-player protein folding game created by CSE’s Center for Game Science, was named by TechFlash as the 2011 “Innovation of the Year” for its role in cracking an AIDS-related problem whose solution had eluded scientists for a decade. [In September, a study published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology reported that in just three weeks, gamers deciphered the structure of a key protein in the development of AIDS that has stumped scientists for years by playing Foldit.] Play Foldit here:

Jason Lin receives 2011 TWAS Prize in Engineering Sciences

Jason Yi-Bing Lin (1990 Ph.D. alum) was recognized with the 2011 Prize in Engineering Sciences from TWAS, the academy of sciences for the developing world. Jason is Dean of the College of Computer Science, lifetime Chair Professor, and Vice President of the National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. He has been widely recognized for his many contributions to wireless communication, including (among many other honors) being named a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Shwetak Patel on the big board
Stuart Reges on the big board
CSE's Shwetak Patel and Stuart Reges - on the big board!

Two of CSE’s finest were recognized this fall on the stadium scoreboard during home football games. During the October 16 game against the Colorado Buffaloes, Stuart was recognized for his 2011 University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Award. Two weeks later at the October 30 game against the Arizona Wildcats, Shwetak was recognized as the UW’s newest MacArthur “Genius Award” winner.

OneBusAway wins Vision 2040 Award

OneBusAway has won a 2011 VISION 2040 Award from the Puget Sound Regional Council for the OneBusAway project. The awards recognize innovative projects and programs that help ensure a sustainable future as the region grows. Said Mukilteo Council member Jennifer Gregerson, Chair of the VISION 2040 Awards Selection Committee, “Access to real time information in a variety of mobile formats has taken some of the uncertainty out of using transit, making it an even more convenient way to get around.”

The Infinite Emotions of Coffee
The Infinite Emotions of Coffee

Alon Halevy’s labor of love for the past few years — in addition to leading Google's database research group — has been researching and writing a book on coffee: The Infinite Emotions of Coffee. He traveled to more than 30 countries on six continents to shed light on how coffee has shaped and is influenced by different cultures. More information on the book may be viewed here:

(Alon, CSE affiliate professor, was a CSE faculty member for many years before joining the Google when they acquired one of his startups.)

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