most significant bits
newsletter of uw computer science & engineering
volume 24, number 2, winter 2015

university of washington
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Internet of Things Research highlights Age progression software Brain-to-brain communication Chair’s message Alumni profile: Captricity 2014 faculty additions Faculty awards and honors TR35 winners Anderson's USENIX awards Domingos' KDD Award Fox IEEE Fellow News and events Taskar Center launches Upcoming events Datagrams
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About MSB

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

Editor: Kay Beck-Benton.
Contributors: Ed Lazowska, Hank Levy, Sandy Marvinney, Kristin Osborne, S. Morris Rose
Photo credits: Bruce Hemingway, Mary Levin, Jose Mandojana

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UW CSE faculty and alums named among top innovators under 35

Each year MIT Technology Review recognizes 35 technology innovators under the age of 35 with its TR35 Awards. More than 500 nominees were pared down to 80 finalists by the Review’s editors this year. A panel of outside judges then rated the finalists on the originality and impact of their work, and the editors took those ratings into account in selecting the final group of TR35 Award winners.

The TR35 Award competition has always been very good to our faculty and alums. (See sidebar.) This year is no exception. Several of this year’s awardees have a connection to UW CSE.

Shyam Gollakota

CSE professor Shyam Gollakota was named one of this year’s “Innovators Under 35” in the inventor category. He leads the Networks and Mobile Systems Lab in CSE, and his research focuses on leveraging wireless signals around us to power devices. The main article in this issue, “Leading the charge to power the Internet of Things,” highlights his research. In 2012, Gollakota received the Association for Computing Machinery’s Doctoral Dissertation Award, which is given to the author of the best doctoral dissertation worldwide in computer science and engineering. His doctoral work while at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was in building systems that transform wireless interference into beneficial use. Learn more about him by visiting his homepage at:

Two UW CSE bachelor’s alums were recognized by TR35 in the humanitarian category: Kuang Chen and Kurtis Heimerl. After receiving their undergraduate degrees, both entered UC Berkeley’s Ph.D. program, where they worked with Berkeley professor and 2007 UW CSE Ph.D. alum Tapan Parikh, who himself received a TR35 Award in 2007 and was named the TR35 Humanitarian of the Year. Parikh, Chen, and Heimerl all work in the area of information technology for developing regions.

Kuang Chen

Kuang Chen (B.S. ’03) was honored for his groundbreaking work, using a combination of computing and brainpower to read information on paper forms dozens of times faster and more cost-effectively. In 2011, Chen cofounded Captricity, a company that digitizes paper-bound information, including hand-written documents, for fast analysis and use by organizations, government agencies, and corporations that need accurate data for planning and decision making. A more in-depth look at Chen and his Captricity vision is available in this issue. More information on Captricity may be viewed at:

Kurtis Heimerl

Kurtis Heimerl (B.S. ’07) was honored for creating the Village Base Station, a low-cost, low-power cellular system based off OpenBTS that has the potential to bring cellular coverage to the estimated one billion people in rural areas currently living without service.

Heimerl started a company to commercialize this research, Endaga. The company built a GSM “network-in-a-box” that allows users to have network access independent of corporate providers. The tool box-shaped Endaga CCN1 runs on solar power and can even be latched onto trees. In 2013, Endaga built their first community cellular network in Papua, Indonesia, which brought coverage to some 350 users. More information about Endaga may be viewed at:

In addition to helping run Endaga, Heimerl works as a postdoctoral researcher in UC Berkeley’s TIER lab (Technology and Infrastructure for Emerging Regions) with Professor Eric Brewer. More information about Kurtis may be viewed at:

Recent UW CSE family TR35 recipients

2014: Kuang Chen, UW CSE B.S. alum
         Shyam Gollakota, UW CSE professor
         Kurtis Heimerl, UW CSE B.S. alum

2013: Julie Kientz, UW CSE adjunct professor

2012: Abie Flaxman, UW CSE adjunct professor

2011: Noah Snavely, UW CSE Ph.D. alum

2010: Scott Saponas, UW CSE Ph.D. alum

2009: Jeff Bigham, UW CSE Ph.D. alum
         Jeff Heer, UW CSE professor
         Shwetak Patel, UW CSE professor
         Adrien Treuille, UW CSE Ph.D. alum

2008: Meredith Ringel Morris, UW CSE affiliate professor

2007: Yoshi Kohno, UW CSE professor
         Karen Liu, UW CSE Ph.D. alum
         Tapan Parikh, UW CSE Ph.D. alum and affiliate professor
         Desney Tan, UW CSE affiliate professor


Tom Anderson receives USENIX Lifetime Achievement Award and Software Tools User Group Award

Tom Anderson

UW CSE professor and Ph.D. alum Tom Anderson was honored by USENIX not once but twice during the past year in recognition of his significant contributions in the field of advanced computing systems.

The USENIX Lifetime Achievement Award (“The Flame”) celebrates intellectual achievement and service to the UNIX community. Anderson was presented with The Flame in 2014 in recognition of his efforts to build a thriving community around systems building and experimental research. USENIX recognized Anderson as “the embodiment of USENIX values” who has “carried the community forward as much as anyone.” His many contributions include the Nachos operating system course project, the PlanetLab research platform, and the USENIX Symposium on Networked System Design and Implementation (NSDI). USENIX also highlighted his extraordinary commitment to mentoring students and colleagues. Read more about The Flame and Anderson’s citation at:

In June, Anderson and his colleagues were presented with the USENIX Software Tools User Group (STUG) Award. This award recognizes individuals who embody the spirit of the STUG community by making a significant contribution to the reusable code-base available to all or providing a significant enabling technology directly to users. USENIX presented the 2014 STUG Award to Anderson, along with Mic Bowman, David Culler, Larry Peterson and Timothy Roscoe, to recognize their work on PlanetLab. Read more about the STUG Award and the PlanetLab team’s citation at:

To learn more about Anderson and his research, visit his website at:

Pedro Domingos wins KDD 2014 Innovation Award

Pedro Domingos

UW CSE’s Pedro Domingos received the KDD 2014 Innovation Award, the highest award for technical excellence in data mining/data science. Pedro was recognized “for his foundational research in data stream analysis, cost-sensitive classification, adversarial learning, and Markov logic networks.”

Domingos carried out some of the earliest research on mining data streams; his VFML toolkit is one of the best open-source resources for stream mining. Another key contribution was the MetaCost algorithm, perhaps the most widely used algorithm for cost-sensitive classification. He was a pioneer in social network mining, where he defined the influence maximization problem and proposed the first algorithms for it. Another area that he helped start is adversarial learning -- important in areas such as spam filtering, fraud detection and counter-terrorism, where the people being modeled by the learning system modify their behavior adversarially in response to the system. He also pioneered the use of machine learning methods in information integration. Most recently Domingos has led the field of statistical multi-relational learning, which is essential for a mature science of knowledge discovery.

To learn more about Domingos and his research, please visit his homepage at:

Dieter Fox named IEEE Fellow

Dieter Fox

CSE’s Dieter Fox has been named a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He is the 14th UW CSE faculty member to be honored in this way by IEEE.

Fox’s research interests include artificial intelligence, robotics, and probabilistic state estimation. He was recognized by the IEEE “for contributions to Bayesian state estimation and robotic perception.” Fox serves as the director of the UW Robotics and State Estimation Lab and as academic PI of the Intel Science and Technology Center for Pervasive Computing. From 2009 to 2011, he was director of the Intel Research Lab in Seattle. To learn more about Fox, visit his homepage at:

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