The Big Picture


Thanks to Professor Pietro Perona and his graduate students including Grant Van Horn and Sara Beery, the next wildlife photo you snap might set you on a path to helping map life on Earth. “The whole web, this huge repository of wonderful information, is indexed by words,” Perona says. “But when we have an image—a visual query—we don’t know what to do unless there is an expert next to us. We’ve gotten so numb to the idea that we’ll never find the answer out.” [Breakthrough story]

Tags: EE research highlights CMS Pietro Perona Grant Van Horn Sara Beery

Learning Directly From Data Rather Than Human-Provided Expertise


Alumnus Yong Sheng Soh (PhD ’18, ACM), advised by Professor Venkat Chandrasekaran, has won the 2018 INFORMS Optimization Society Student Prize for his paper entitled Learning Semidefinite-Representable Regularizers. Regularization-based algorithms are widely used in the solution of data-driven inverse problems arising in statistics, operations research, signal processing, and machine learning. These approaches typically require a great deal of prior domain-specific expertise about the structure of the underlying problem. Such expertise is especially challenging to obtain in the modern era of 'Big Data' in which our ability to sense all manner of phenomena and produce massive datasets far exceeds our ability to understand the underlying mechanisms governing the phenomena. In his award-winning work, which has been accepted for publication at the Journal of the Foundations of Computational Mathematics, Yong Sheng has developed a new framework for learning suitable regularization methods directly from data rather from human-provided expertise. [INFORMS Optimization Society Award] [Read the paper]

Tags: honors CMS alumni Venkat Chandrasekaran Yong Sheng Soh

Professors Barr and Schröder Elected to ACM SIGGRAPH Academy


Alan Barr, Professor of Computer Science, and Peter Schröder, Shaler Arthur Hanisch Professor of Computer Science and Applied and Computational Mathematics, have been elected to the first class of the ACM SIGGRAPH Academy. Professor Barr was selected for his contributions to graphics, primarily for extending computer graphics shape modeling to include physically based and teleological modeling. Professor Schröder was recognized for his pioneering work in geometry processing and multiresolution modeling. The ACM SIGGRAPH Academy is an honorary group of individuals who have made substantial contributions to the field of computer graphics and interactive techniques. These are principal leaders of the field, whose efforts have shaped the disciplines and/or industry, and led the research and/or innovation in computer graphics and interactive techniques. [Full list of academy members]

Tags: honors research highlights CMS Peter Schröder Alan Barr

Caltech and Amazon Web Services Launch Collaboration


Researchers from Caltech and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are collaborating in Pasadena to foster a relationship that could change the landscape of artificial intelligence (AI) research in Southern California. “Our graduate programs train extraordinarily talented future researchers, who mostly leave Pasadena after completing their PhD." An industry research center located nearby, however, can help retain talent locally, says Professor Pietro Perona one of the architects of the new collaboration. "Together, we can build a critical mass of machine-learning and AI researchers right here in Pasadena.” Primarily affiliated with Caltech via the CMS Department of the EAS Division, AWS will provide summer internships for Caltech students and students of other top universities, job opportunities for alumni, and the potential for collaborations between Caltech and AWS researchers. AWS is also contributing funding for Caltech projects and a pipeline for marketable research. AWS has already committed $2.5 million to Caltech for graduate student fellowships and cloud-computing credits in order to seed AI innovations. [Caltech story]

Tags: CMS Pietro Perona

New Major and Minor in Information and Data Sciences


Starting in fall 2018, EAS will offer students a new undergraduate degree option in a field that is at the forefront of computer science: information and data sciences (IDS). Mathematics will form the backbone of the new option. Students in IDS will take core courses focusing on machine learning, information theory, probability, statistics, linear algebra, and signal processing. After that, they will have the opportunity to branch out with electives that cover applications of data sciences to science and engineering. Professor Adam Wierman hopes the creation of this new option will prepare both students and Caltech for the future. "It almost doesn't matter what you're interested in. If you want to make discoveries and be on the cutting edge of your field, you're going to need the skills to analyze and manipulate large collections of information," he says.  [Caltech story] [Degree option details]

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President Rosenbaum Highlights Postdocs as "Unsung Heroes"


In a letter to the Caltech community during National Postdoc Appreciation Week, the Caltech President emphasizes the role this key group plays at the Institute. He stated, “Caltech's mission of world-leading research and education depends crucially on our postdoctoral scholars. Although their time at Caltech may be short, they quickly become vital parts of the Institute's intellectual fabric.” [President’s Letter] [EAS Postdoc Resource Page]

Tags: APhMS EE GALCIT MedE MCE CMS ESE Thomas Rosenbaum postdocs

Professor Yue Receives Okawa Research Grant


Yisong Yue, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, is a recipient of a 2018 Okawa Foundation Research Grant for his research project entitled "A Unifying Framework for Data-Driven Formal Methods & Control ". This grant honors outstanding young researchers working in the fields of information and telecommunications. [Past Recipients]

Tags: honors CMS Okawa Foundation Yisong Yue

Alumna Wins Woman of the Year Award


CMS alumna, Ashley Williams, was named 2018 Woman of the Year by the Aerospace Corporation. Dr. Williams received her Caltech PhD in 2011 and was advised by Professors Jerry Marsden, Richard Murray, and Mathieu Desbrun. Currently she is the director of the Studies and Analyses Office at the Aerospace Corporation. [Dr. Williams’ Caltech thesis]

Tags: honors CMS Jerrold Marsden Mathieu Desbrun alumni Richard Murray Ashley Williams

Winners of the 2018 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Announced


The student winners of the 2018 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes were announced at the end of this academic year. Claire Bedbrook, advised by Professors Frances H. Arnold and Viviana Gradinaru received the prize in Biotechnology. Her research is in engineering proteins capable of controlling and reading out neural activity to advance neuroscience research. Nicholas Dou, advised by Professor Austin Minnich received the prize in Nanotechnology. Nicholas focuses on developing and characterizing novel nano-architected materials that are exceptionally lightweight, mechanically resilient, and thermally insulating. Xiaoqi Ren, advised by Professor Adam Wierman received the prize in Environmentally Benign Renewable Energy Sources. Xiaoqi’s research is focused on optimization of today's large-scale data centers, including online scheduling, energy usage and sustainability, and new market mechanisms for electricity markets and data clouds. Daniel C. Bowden, advised by Professors Joann M. Stock and Victor Tsai has received the prize in Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection. Daniel has worked on a range of projects relating to the propagation of seismic waves in the Earth's crust. Colin Cook, advised by Professor Yu-Chong Tai has receive the prize in Entrepreneurship. Colin is working on a phototherapeutic contact lens to treat diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness.

Tags: MedE CMS Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Xiaoqi Ren Colin Cook Claire Bedbrook Daniel Bowden Nicholas Dou

A Network of Support


Early in his freshman year CMS and BEM alumnus Ramsathwick “Sathwick” Pathireddy (BS ’17) realized just how challenging a Caltech workload could be and turned to his housemates and friends for help. “When I had questions about time management, what classes to take, or what internships to go for, I always had someone to talk to,” Sathwick says. [Breakthrough story]

Tags: CMS alumni Ramsathwick Pathireddy