most significant bits
newsletter of uw computer science & engineering
volume 22, number 2, autumn 2012
university of washington
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Industry Affiliates Startup Fair Chair’s message New CSE Faculty New hires in UW CSE Taskar joins UW CSE World Lab 6th Summer Academy for Deaf News Datagrams CSE ugrad alum survey Distinguished Lectures
msb22.2 PDF

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Supporting UW CSE is a left-brain decision. Your gift provides the department with resources for scholarships, fellowships, research support, and funds to building the CSE community we hope you value. Small gifts might not seem significant by themselves, but when pooled together they make great things possible. As you think about giving, please consider making a gift to CSE. Go to our website ( and select “Support CSE.” You will find a variety of funds that can benefit from your support.

About MSB

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

Editor: Kay Beck-Benton.
Contributors: Ed Lazowska, Hank Levy, James Landay, S. Morris Rose
Photo credits: Bruce Hemingway, Timothy Yu

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New faculty hires

Hires in computer vision, computer systems, wireless systems bolster CSE

Research in UW CSE’s Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL) spans a wide range of areas in computer graphics, computer vision, computer animation, and game science. Current activities include 3-D reconstruction, image-based rendering, computational photography, game play and aesthetics, and scientific discovery and education through games.

This year we added two rising stars to the GRAIL faculty.

Ira Kelmelmacher-Shlizerman

Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman received her Ph.D. in computer science and applied mathematics from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 2009. For the past three years, she has been a postdoctoral researcher in UW CSE.

Ira’s research focuses on problems in computer vision and computer graphics. Her recent emphasis is on developing computational tools that can capture, model, and render a person’s appearance (particularly facial characteristics) and behavior from the billions of photos that can be found online or in personal photo collections. Her research on "Exploring Photobios" was highlighted by CBS, MSNBC, New Scientist, and others. As a consultant to Google, she developed the "Face Movie" feature in Google’s Picasa photo service from this work.

Learn more about Ira here:

Ali Farhadi

Ali Farhadi received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 2011 and spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He brings leadership in object recognition to our already-superb efforts in computer graphics, computer vision, games, and animation. He has made significant contributions to computer vision, specifically in the improvement of object recognition algorithms.

Ali was honored in 2011 with the best student paper award at the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) for his work on visual phrases. He also received the inaugural Google fellowship in computer vision and image interpretation, and the University of Illinois’ C.W. Gear award.

Ultimately, Ali’s goal is to build recognition models that can provide deeper understandings of visual data and come closer to what humans can infer from images or videos. His primary focus has been on object recognition where he seeks deeper insights to profound questions about what an object recognition algorithm should predict for an image. Learn more about Ali here:

Shyam Gollakota

CSE pursues high-impact research into fundamental aspects of networks, operating systems, distributed systems, security, and privacy. We are thrilled that Shyam Gollakota joined this group this fall, adding his strengths in wireless systems.

Shyam received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his B.Tech. degree from IIT Madras.

Shyam’s primary research interest is in the area of wireless systems; his goal is to design and build new protocols and systems that improve the performance and security of wireless networks. As wireless and mobile systems play an increasingly important role in our lives, the demand for access to data from handheld devices increases. His research focuses on two main challenges that must be overcome to realize the full potential of modern wireless networks — performance and security. Shyam has won two best paper awards at the ACM SIGCOMM conference (the leading conference in computer networking), one on security for implantable medical devices, and one on ZigZag, the first wireless receiver that can decode collisions of simultaneous transmissions without assumptions of synchronization, large differences in power, or special codes.

Learn more about Shyam here:

Ben Taskar joins UW CSE

Ben Taskar

Ben Taskar will join UW CSE this spring as Boeing Professor in Computer Science & Engineering. Ben is one of the leading researchers of his generation in statistical machine learning. He is currently the Magerman Term Associate Professor in the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ben received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from Stanford University in 2000 and 2005 respectively, and his B.S. in computer science from Stanford in 1998. His primary research interests are machine learning and its applications to computational linguistics and computer vision — helping computers to process visual information and to understand human language. He has focused on several general themes firmly grounded in applications: learning from weak supervision, computational trade-offs in structured prediction and probabilistic models of diversity.

Ben’s work has been recognized with an NSF CAREER award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, and an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award. Learn more about Ben here:

The addition of Ben, along with Carlos Guestrin and Emily Fox (Emily is appointed in Statistics and adjunct in CSE), will move CSE into the very top group of programs nationally in AI and machine learning.

We are thrilled to welcome Ben to the University of Washington!

CSE New Hires brochure

To learn more about CSE's spectacular new faculty hires, please see our brochure at:

It has been an amazing year for CSE. In addition to the spectacular faculty hires, the department has been highlighted in the news. Below are just two examples of recent press. Please see Datagrams for other highlights.

New York Times print story on UW CSE

The New York Times profiles UW CSE

“Although Stanford is considered the Hogwarts of techdom, U.W. has quietly established itself as the other West Coast nexus of the information economy.”

Seattle Times print story on UW CSE hiring

Seattle Times reports on UW CSE hiring

The Seattle Times reported on UW’s recruiting of four mid-career stars in Machine Learning and "big data" from Carnegie Mellon, Penn and Stanford.

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