Ray Feeney Joins Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Tech Council


Ray E. Feeney (BS 1975 EAS, Page House) has recently joined the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is the past recipient of several Academy Awards, including one for designing the first motion control camera system. Earlier this year, Feeney received a 2012 Engineering Emmy on behalf of The Academy for the ACES project which he co-chaired. He was named a Caltech Distinguished Alumnus in 2008, and now serves on the Board of Directors of the Caltech Alumni Association. [Learn more]

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Alumnus Receives 2012 Simons Graduate Fellowships in Theoretical Computer Science


Christopher Beck (BS '09 Computer Science and Mathematics) is a recipient of a 2012 Simons Graduate Fellowship. The fellowships are given to graduate students in theoretical computer science with outstanding track records of research accomplishments. Beck’s work seeks to establish the limits of how efficiently we can solve computational problems. One of his papers studies a popular class of algorithms known as SAT solvers and shows that if their memory is restricted, then they can require exponential running time. Another result concerns how well we can approximately sample from certain distributions when our computation must be small depth, that is, highly parallelizable. Beck and his co-authors showed that even exponentially large bounded depth circuits cannot sample with even exponentially small success from a certain simple distribution.

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Dr. Holzmann Receives NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal


Gerard J. Holzmann, Faculty Associate and Lecturer in Computing and Mathematical Sciences and Lead Scientist of the Laboratory for Reliable Software at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has received the NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal "for exceptional and sustained achievement in developing and infusing advanced engineering practices for the verification of mission-critical software." [Learn more]

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Dr. Vanier Named October Professor of the Month


Michael C. Vanier, Lecturer in Computing and Mathematical Sciences, has been chosen as "Professor of the Month" by the Caltech Academics and Research Committee (ARC).  ARC serves as an objective liaison between students and faculty, to facilitate effective communication, and improve the quality of learning at Caltech. The students nominated Dr. Vanier as "a lecturer that is an outstanding teacher and someone who cares for the well-being of their students".

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Reconsidering the Global Thermostat


Doug MacMartin, Senior Research Associate in Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and colleagues have shown that the outcome of geoengineering can be tunable. Geoengineering is the concept of how the planet's climate could be manipulated to counteract the effects of global warming. Using computer modeling, they have shown that varying the amount of sunlight deflected away from the earth by season and by region can significantly improve the parity of the situation. [Caltech Release]

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Clean-Energy Research Accelerates


Caltech clean-energy research is accelerating thanks to the renovation of the Earle M. Jorgensen Laboratory. Transformed into a cutting-edge facility for energy science, the lab unites two powerhouse programs: the Resnick Sustainability Institute and the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP). "Our researchers are working with Caltech's chemists and chemical engineers to challenge the status quo and translate scientific discovery into clean-energy innovations that will directly benefit society for generations to come," says Chair Ares Rosakis. [Caltech Release]

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Number One Engineering and Technology University


For the third year the Times Higher Education world university rankings has ranked Caltech as number one in engineering and technology. [View Rankings] [Caltech Feature]

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Caltech Welcomes Professor Chandrasekaran


Venkat Chandrasekaran, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, arrived at Caltech in early September 2012. His area of research is mathematical optimization. He describes, "Almost anything we wish to do in engineering design is about maximizing objectives subject to certain constraints—trading off different aspects of a system to optimize a few others. For instance, if you work in jet-engine design, you have certain constraints in the amount of material you can use, the weight of these materials, aerodynamic issues, etc. But then you want to be able to design your wings and so on in such a way that you maximize, for example, how fast you are able to go. My specific focus deals with trying to look at optimization problems that (a) are tractable to solve—not all optimization problems are ones that can be efficiently solved on a computer—and (b) arise in the information sciences." [Caltech Release]

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Professor Kitaev Receives $3M Fundamental Physics Prize


Alexei Y. Kitaev, Professor of Theoretical Physics, Computer Science, and Mathematics, has received the $3 million Yuri Milner Fundamental Physics Prize. The prize citation recognizes Professor Kitaev's "theoretical idea of implementing robust quantum memories and fault-tolerant quantum computation using topological quantum phases with anyons and unpaired Majorana modes."  This new prize is the most lucrative academic prize in the world and Professor Kitaev is one of only nine scientists to receive it this year. [New York Times Article] [The Guardian Article] [Caltech Release]

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Put a Seismometer in Your Living Room


Back in the 1960s, Charlie Richter (PhD '28) installed a seismometer in his living room. It was bigger than his TV set, and it didn't go with the sofa, but it saved him a lot of late-night drives into the Seismo Lab and was a great conversation piece. Now, if you live in the Pasadena area, you can have one, too. Professor of geophysics Robert Clayton will send a wallet-sized seismometer to the first 1,000 volunteers with an Internet connection and a spare USB port. There is one small catch: you have to promise to leave your computer on 24/7. Read more

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