B.S. Manjunath’s Vision Research Lab and graduate student Satish Kumar featured in The UCSB Current article “Show Me the Methane”

March 10th, 2020

photo of industry with smoke stacks
Hyperspectral imaging and artificial intelligence combine to augment detection of methane leaks

Though not as prevalent in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas. Occurring naturally as well as being manmade, methane is much shorter-lived than CO2, but it is fast acting and 20 to 80 times as effective at trapping heat. A little extra methane goes a long way.

In addition, methane is invisible, which makes detection by conventional means difficult. So when researcher Satish Kumar and colleagues noted the growing use of infrared sensing as a means of greenhouse gas detection, as was highlighted in a recent New York Times story, they were pleased. The interactive piece used infrared cameras to track emissions from oil and gas facilities in the Permian Basin, an oil field located in Texas and New Mexico.

It’s a topic close to his heart — as a member of ECE Professor B.S. Manjunath’s Vision Research Lab, Kumar does work involving multimedia signal processing and analysis.

“As a computer engineer interested in environmental management, I am incredibly glad methane leaks from previously unknown sources are being brought to light,” he said.

Now, to keep the conversation alive, Kumar and his colleagues have proposed a system that does the heat detection one better, by using hyperspectral imaging and machine learning to detect the specific wavelength of methane emissions. Their work was presented at the 2020 IEEE Winter Conference on the Applications of Computer Vision.

The UCSB Current – "Show Me the Methane" (full article)

Vision Research Lab

ECE Professors Yuan Xie and B.S. Manjunath Receive Prestigious Computer Society Technical Achievement Award

March 9th, 2020

photo of xie and manjunath
Manjunath and Xie selected to receive the Edward J. McCluskey Technical Achievement Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society

The annual recognition is given for outstanding and innovative contributions to the fields of computer and information science and engineering or computer technology, usually within the past fifteen years. Contributions must have significantly promoted technical progress in the field.

“Congratulations to professors B.S. Manjunath and Yuan Xie for receiving this well-deserved, prestigious recognition and honor from their peers around the globe,” said Rod Alferness, dean of UCSB’s College of Engineering. “We are proud that they have taken international leadership roles in the areas of image search, computer vision, and technology-driven computer architecture.”

Xie, a fellow of IEEE, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), was selected “for contributions to technology-driven computer architecture and to [developing] tools for their implementation and evaluation.” Manjunath, a fellow of IEEE and ACM, received his award “for contributions to image search retrieval, and bio-image informatics.”

COE News – "ECE Professors Receive Prestigious Computer Society Technical Achievement Awards" (full article)

Xie's COE Profile

Manjunath's COE Profile

ECE Professor Dan Blumenthal receives The Optical Society of America (OSA) C.E.K. Mees Medal

February 20th, 2020

photo of dan blumenthal
Blumenthal honored with the 2020 medal for his “innovations in ultra-low-loss photonic integrated circuits and their applications”

ECE Prof. Daniel Blumenthal, who leads the Optical Communications and Photonic Integration (OCPI) Group and UCSB’s Terabit Optical Ethernet Center, was described by The Optical Society (OSA) President Stephen D. Fantone, founder and president of the Optikos Corporation, as “an excellent choice for the C.E.K. Mees Medal. He is an innovator who continues to push boundaries in the use of electronic and photonic materials.”

“This is a huge honor, not just for me but for my lab group, UCSB and the CoE, and our collaborators and colleagues,” said Blumenthal, who received the news on his birthday. “Charles Townes, who invented the laser, was a recipient.”

“We at the College of Engineering offer sincere congratulations to Dan Blumenthal upon receiving this extremely prestigious award,” said Rod Alferness, dean of the UCSB College of Engineering. “The C.E.K. Mees Medal recognizes a record of optics research that is marked not only pioneering innovation, but also by having widespread impact in diverse areas. We are deeply proud of Professor Blumenthal for his continuing contributions, and are delighted for him to receive this most-deserved recognition.”

Blumenthal’s research is focused in the areas of optical communications and optical packet switching, integrated ultra-narrow-linewidth (sub-Hz) Brillouin lasers, optical gyroscopes, highly integrated, ultra-low-loss indium photonic integrated circuits, integrated atom cooling, atomic clock photonics, nano-photonics, and microwave photonics. His UCSB lab develops new devices and system hardware to solve complex communications, transmission, switching, and signal-processing problems that are beyond the reach of current technologies. He and his colleagues have a particular focus on integrating new bench-scale functions on small chips, called photonic circuits, which are then used to build networks in ways that save energy and increase the scale of connectivity and bandwidth of data centers and the internet.

The group’s work in developing lasers characterized by having spectrally pure, ultra-stable light sources and ultra-low wave-guide losses is finding increasingly widespread application.

“The technology is becoming pervasive, which is validation of what we’ve thought for a long time and what has been one of my passions,” Blumenthal says, “that being able to put ultra-low-loss and ultra-narrow-linewidth lasers in photonic circuits on chips was the future for a wide variety of applications across a broad range of disciplines.”

The UCSB Current – “Laser Focus on the Prize” (full article)

OSA C.E.K. Mees Medal

Blumenthal's COE Profile

Blumenthal's Optical Communications and Photonic Integration (OCPI) Group

ECE graduate student Mohammed Mahmoodi’s research for better neural networks in UCSB Current article “Bring the Noise”

February 19th, 2020

illustration of connecting memristors in crossbar fashion
Mohammed “Reza” Mahmoodi, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the lab of ECE Prof. Dmitri Strukov describes an approach to leverage noise, as the human brain does, for better neural networks

Those who design deep neural networks for artificial intelligence often find inspiration in the human brain. One of the brain’s more important characteristics is that it is a “noisy” system: not every neuron contains perfect information that gets carried across a synapse with perfect clarity. Sometimes partial or conflicting information is turned into action by the brain, and sometimes partial information is not acted upon until further information is accumulated over time.

“That is why, when you stimulate the brain with the same input at different times, you get different responses,” explained Mohammed “Reza” Mahmoodi, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the lab of UC Santa Barbara electrical and computer engineering professor Dmitri Strukov. “Noisy, unreliable molecular mechanisms are the reason for getting substantially different neural responses to repeated presentations of identical stimuli, which, in turn, allow for complex stochastic, or unpredictable, behavior.”

The human brain is extremely good at filling in the blanks of missing information and sorting through noise to come up with an accurate result, so that “garbage in” does not necessarily yield “garbage out.” In fact, Mahmoodi said, the brain seems to work best with noisy information. In stochastic computing, noise is used to train neural networks, “regularizing” them to improve their robustness and performance.

It is not clear on what theoretical basis neuronal responses involved in perceptual processes can be separated into a “noise” versus a “signal,” Mahmoodi explained, but the noisy nature of computation in the brain has inspired the development of stochastic neural networks. And those have now become the state-of-the-art approach for solving problems in machine learning, information theory and statistics.

“If you want a stochastic system, you have to generate some noise,” Mahmoodi and his co-authors, Strukov and Mirko Prezioso, write in a paper that describes an approach to creating such a noisy system. “Versatile Stochastic Dot Product Circuits Based on Nonvolatile Memories for High Performance Neurocomputing and Neurooptimization” was published in a recent issue of the journal Nature Communications.

The UCSB Current – "Bring the Noise" (full article)

Mahmoodi on LinkedIn

Strukov Research Group

ECE Prof. Kaustav Banerjee’s research on 3D integration with 2D materials featured in The UCSB Current

January 6th, 2020

illustration of a city with chips
Banerjee and researchers propose 3D integration with 2D materials
It’s a well-known observation: The number of transistors on a microchip will double roughly every two years. And, thanks to advances in miniaturization and performance, this axiom, known as Moore’s Law, has held true since 1965, when Intel co-founder Gordon Moore first made that statement based on emerging trends in chip manufacturing at Intel.

However, integrated circuits are hitting hard physical limits that are rendering Moore’s Law obsolete — elements on a dense integrated circuit (IC) can get only so small and so tightly packed together before they begin to interfere with each other and otherwise lose their functionality.

“Apart from fundamental physical limits to the scaling of transistor feature sizes below a few nanometers, there are significant challenges in terms of reducing power dissipation, as well as justifying the incurred cost of IC fabrication,” said Kaustav Banerjee, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Santa Barbara. As a result, the very devices that we rely on for their steadily improving performance and versatility — computers, smartphones, internet-enabled gadgets — would also hit a limit, he said.

The UCSB Current – "Saving Moore's Law" (full article)

Banerjee's COE Profile

Banerjee's Nanoelectronics Research Lab (NRL)

In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Augustine Gray – ECE faculty member from 1964 to 1980

December 20th, 2019

From: UC Santa Barbara – Office of the Chancellor

Dear Members of our Campus Community,

I regret to share the sad news that Professor Emeritus Augustine Gray of our Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering passed away on October 28.

Professor Gray, known affectionately as “Steen,” was a member of our faculty from 1964 to 1980. As one of the first three faculty members in the department, he helped to establish and advance Electrical and Computer Engineering on our campus, providing a strong foundation for its excellence and stature today. We are grateful for his lasting contributions to our campus, department, and the profession.

He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from MIT, where he participated in the electrical engineering cooperative program with General Electric. During this time, he worked in Menlo Park on the logic design of ERMA (Electronic Recording Machine Accounting), the first major banking computer, built for the Bank of America by the Stanford Research Institute and General Electric. He went on to spend a year as a physics instructor at San Diego State College, teaching electronic circuits, digital design, and digital computers. He then continued his graduate studies at Caltech, where he received his Ph.D. in 1964.

Professor Gray was a dedicated and inspirational teacher and a highly respected colleague who excelled at bringing clarity to complex ideas. Working closely with Professor Glen Culler, among others, Professor Gray made pioneering research contributions to real-time speech communication and processing through digital networks, from local academic networks to the ARPAnet and its successor, the Internet. He also collaborated for many years with UCSB Ph.D. recipient John Markel on the theory and understanding of applications of linear prediction to speech processing. Two of their joint publications won professional awards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Group on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing and its successor, the IEEE Signal Processing Society. In 1976 they coauthored the classic text Linear Prediction of Speech, which played a fundamental role in the early development of digital speech processing, and in 1982 were elected Fellows of the IEEE for “contributions to the theory of linear prediction and its applications to speech processing.” Together they founded Signal Technology, Inc. (STI), along with Larry Pfeiffer. After he retired from UC Santa Barbara, Professor Gray held roles as Senior Scientist, Vice President, and Executive Vice President of STI through 1988. From 1988 through 1993 he held various positions with derivative companies of STI, after which he became an independent computer consultant.

In addition to his research and teaching activities, Professor Gray held an Advanced Extra Class Amateur Radio License (AA6H), and was an avid reader and walker. He and his wife, Averill, were active supporters of the Get Oil Out (GOO) movement and the Santa Barbara Zoo. In 1994, they retired to Florence, Oregon, where they became active volunteers for the Oregon Coast Humane Society.

We extend our sincere condolences to Professor Gray’s family, colleagues, and friends. Our campus flag was lowered in his honor on November 19.


Henry T. Yang

ECE Prof. Yuan Xie named 2019 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Fellow

December 17th, 2019

photo of yuan xie
Xie recognized for his “contributions to technology-driven computer architecture and for developing tools for it its implementation and assessment”

Along with College of Engineering faculty member CS Professor Giovanni Vigna, Xie was among 58 ACM members selected as Fellow for 2019. “Congratulations to Professors Vigna and Xie for being recognized as ACM Fellows,” said Rod Alferness, dean of the UCSB College of Engineering. “This prestigious peer recognition from the most important scholarly societies serves to underscore the important and highly application-enabling work being conducted at the College. We’re extremely grateful to have two such stellar faculty members and groundbreaking researchers as part of the College of Engineering family.”

Yuan Xie leads the Scalable and Energy-efficient Architecture Lab at UCSB. During his career, Xie has made impactful contributions to computer architecture design and design automation that exploit emerging technologies, especially three-dimensional (or “stacked”) integrated circuits (3D ICs) and new nonvolatile memories (NVMs).

3D ICs offer new opportunities to achieve system-level innovation that are not dependent on scaling new technology. Unlike traditional SRAM/DRAM memory, NVMs offer the benefit of nonvolatility, retaining all data even if the device is shut down; higher-density , so that more data can be stored per square millimeter of physical memory; and lower standby power, meaning that if, a computer is left for several minutes and no action is performed, almost no energy will be used.

Xie has developed design automation toolsets — software to enhance designers’ efficiency — for these new technologies and has produced prototype implementations that have inspired commercial follow-ons. He is recognized as a world leader in these two emerging technologies, and as one of the very few researchers who have crossed traditional boundaries separating architecture, design automation, and testing, to embrace all three.

Xie was also recently named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His road to such dual global recognition could scarcely have been less likely. He was born to peasant-farmer parents in rural southeastern China, miles from the nearest settlement of any size. Life was hard in the village of Da-Ping — its name translates as “big and flat,” but Da-Ping is actually tiny and extremely mountainous, Xie recalls, and getting to school involved a long, rigorous hike.

After his first- and second-grade teacher moved from Xie’s village to a small town about sixty miles away, she volunteered to host Xie, who was first in his class, so that he could attend a better school. That launched him on a fruitful educational journey that led him to earn his BS in electronic engineering at Tsinghua University and, later, his MS and PhD from Princeton.

The UCSB Current – "High Honors for Professors in Computer Hardware and Software" (full article)

Xie's COE Profile

Xie's SEAL Lab

ECE Postdoc Bei Shi receives a Best Paper Award at the Asia Communications and Photonics Conference (ACP)

December 13th, 2019

photo of bei shiShi and co-authors recognized for the development of a MOCVD-based heteroepitaxy approach that offers a practical path toward monolithic integration of InP lasers in silicon photonics

Bei Shi is a member of Professor Jonathan Klamkin’s iPL group and received his PhD degree in 2018 under the supervision of Prof. Kei May Lau from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) for his work on MOCVD growth III-V quantum dot lasers and III-V/Si heteroepitaxy. Prior to that, he completed his undergraduate studies at Huazhong University of Science and Technology (Wuhan, China), with a BEng in optoelectronics in 2013. His current research interests are mainly focused on monolithic integration of III-V optoelectronic devices on Si, epitaxial growth of quantum dot/dash and III-V nanostructures for integrated photonics circuits.

The ACP Conference was held in Chengdu, China on November 2-5, 2019

Optica, "Continuous-wave Electrically Pumped 1550  nm Lasers Epitaxially Grown on On-axis (001) Silicon

Search for Shi's Publications on Prof. Klamkin's Pub List

Klamkin's Integrated Photonics Laboratory (iPL)

ECE Professor Emeritus Sanjit Mitra elected as a 2019 National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellow

December 4th, 2019

photo of Sanjit Mitra
The College of Engineering’s Sanjit Mitra (ECE) and Michael Chabinyc (Materials) are among the 168 prolific academic innovators from around the world to earn fellow status for 2019

The NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.

“We offer sincere congratulations to Professor Michael Chabinyc and Professor Sanjit Mitra on their election to the National Academy of Inventors, a well-deserved and prestigious peer recognition of their innovation and important contributions to society with leading-edge research,” said Rod Alferness, dean of the College of Engineering.

Mitra has published more than 700 papers in the areas of analog and digital signal processing, and image processing. He has spent more than 40 years at UC Santa Barbara after joining the faculty in 1977, has authored and co-authored twelve books, and holds six patents.

“I am honored to be elected a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors,” Mitra said. “This recognition by my peers is particularly gratifying as the inventions which had the biggest impact are based on my initial research carried out at UC Santa Barbara in collaboration with visiting researchers from industry.”

Previously, Mitra was elected a fellow by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Society for Optical Engineering. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and of several foreign academies.

To date, NAI Fellows hold more than 41,500 issued U.S. patents, which have generated over 11,000 licensed technologies and companies, and created more than 36 million jobs. In addition, over $1.6 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries.

“Congratulations to the 2019 class of NAI Fellows,” said Laura A. Peter, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. “It is a privilege to welcome these exceptionally qualified individuals to this prestigious organization. I am certain their accomplishments will inspire the next generation of invention pioneers.”

Fellows will be formally inducted during the 2020 NAI Fellows Ceremony on April 10, 2020, in Phoenix, Arizona.

The UCSB Current – "Imagination Plus Expertise" (full article)

Mitra's COE Profile

ECE Professor Yuan Xie named a 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow

November 27th, 2019

photo of yuan xieElection as a AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications

“It is with great pride and joy that we congratulate our nine faculty colleagues on their election to the American Association for the Advancement of Science,” said UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “This is a strong testament to their leadership and accomplishments, as recognized by their peers, in advancing scientific research in the interest of humanity. It also is a reflection of the breakthrough research being conducted within their fields as well as across the disciplines at UC Santa Barbara.

ECE Prof. Yuan Xie received the honor for “For distinguished contributions to the field of computer architecture and electronic design automation, particularly three-dimensional integrated circuits and memory architectures.”

Xie researches computer architecture, electronics design automation and embedded systems design in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His application-driven research projects include novel architectures for artificial intelligence as well as hardware acceleration for emerging applications such as bio-informatics, graphics analytics and robotics.

Each new AAAS Fellow will receive an official certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin at the AAAS Fellows Forum, which will take place during the 2020 AAAS Annual Meeting in February in Seattle, Washington.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science was founded in 1848 and has become the world’s largest general scientific society. The non-profit organization includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. The association also publishes many eminent scientific journals including Science.

The UCSB Current – "Distinguished Efforts to Advance Science" (full article)

Xie's COE Profile

Xie's SEAL Lab