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News for Alumni and Friends
August 2021
Illinois CS Kickstart participants pose in front of Alma Mater.

Major Grant Helps Illinois CS Develop Programs to Support Undergraduate Women

Illinois CS has been awarded a two-year grant worth $929,500 from the Center for Inclusive Computing at Northeastern University to further enhance Broadening Participation in Computing efforts, including the new CS Kickstart program (participants pictured above). “The goal of the project is to increase by 10 percent the number of undergraduate women graduating with computing degrees. But, more generally, if we can make this department more inclusive and welcoming to women, then we will make it better for everyone,” said Department Head Nancy M. Amato. Read more →
  Illinois CS alumnus Andrew Chi-Chih Yao

Yao Wins Kyoto Prize for Novel Theory of Computation & Communication

Andrew Chi-Chih Yao (PhD CS '75) has won the 2021 Kyoto Prize, a prestigious international award honoring those who have contributed significantly to the fields of science and technology, arts, and philosophy. He was recognized for pioneering contributions to a new theory of computation and communication and a fundamental theory for its security.
Learn more →

  Illinois CS professor ChengXiang Zhai

Gerard Salton Award Provides Opportunity for Zhai to Reflect

ACM SIGIR presents the Gerard Salton Award every three years for significant, sustained and continuing contributions to research in information retrieval. Professor ChengXiang Zhai has been recognized for work that has defined many of the theoretical foundations of the language modeling approach to information retrieval. Learn more →

  CI Fellows Raghavendra Pothukuchi and Le Xu

CI Fellowships Support Post-Doctoral Research in Uncertain Times

Illinois CS alumni Raghavendra Pothukuchi and Le Xu have earned Computing Innovation Fellowships to help launch their academic research careers. Each will recieve $75,000 in annual salary for two years to support their postdoctoral work. Learn more →

  Illinois CS professor Nan Jiang

Jiang Part of National Institute Exploring the Synergies Between Networking and AI

Professor Nan Jiang will collaborate with researchers from 10 other universities as part of the new AI Institute for Future Edge Networks and Distributed Intelligence (AI-EDGE). The institute is one of 11 new National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Institutes announced this year by the NSF. Learn more →

  Illinois CS professor Mariana Silva

Silva Leads Team Studying Interconnections Between Online Learning, Equity, and Access

COVID-19 exposed the need to adapt collaborative learning activities to fit a variety of delivery modes. Professor Mariana Silva is leading a team that has received $300,000 from the NSF to explore the interconnections between online learning, equity, and access.
Learn more →

  Illinois CS professor Josep Torrellas

Torrellas Aims to Make Non-Volatile Memory Technologies More Usable

Professor Josep Torrellas has received $1.2 million from the NSF to advance non-volatile memory technology (NVM) by addressing programming, performance, and usability challenges. Torrellas will work with ECE professor Jian Huang and researchers at Intel and Microsoft to build an easy-to-use and generic programming framework for NVMs that requires minimal programmer involvement.  Learn more →


Illinois CS Papers Earn Top Honors at Recent Conferences

CS faculty and students garnered four best or distinguished paper awards at prominent national and international conferences during the spring and summer of 2021, once again raising the profile of the department’s broad and impactful research. Learn more →


Media Coverage


Virtual Dressing Room Startup Revery.ai Applying Computer Vision to the Fashion Industry
A team consisting of Illinois CS PhD students Kedan Li, Jeffrey Zhang and Min Jin Chong, advised by professor David A. Forsyth, is creating what they consider to be the first tool using existing catalog images to process at a scale of over a million garments weekly, something previous versions of virtual dressing rooms had difficulty doing, Li told TechCrunch. TechCrunch →


Are Apple's Tools Against Child Abuse Bad for Your Privacy?
In statements provided by Apple, the president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children called it a “game changer,” while Illinois CS professor David A. Forsyth said that the technology would catch child abusers and that “harmless users should experience minimal to no loss of privacy.” The New York Times →


Course Hero Acquires QuillBot and CliffsNotes
In addition to CliffsNotes, Course Hero is acquiring QuillBot, an AI-powered platform used by millions to improve their writing skills. The platform offers a suite of writing tools to provide users with feedback about more clearly communicating ideas. QuillBot was started by computer science students Rohan Gupta, Anil Jason, and David Silin, while at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2017. Yahoo! Finance


Time is Ripe for Computational Redistricting to Expose Gerrymandering
The outcome of gerrymandering is that politicians pick their voters rather than voters picking their representatives. Without elections that require candidates to work for their votes, elected representatives are likely less inclined to be responsive to the wishes and needs of their constituents. What is the solution? Transparency, writes Illinois CS professor Sheldon H. Jacobson. The Hill →


Unvaccinated Workers Could End Up Paying $50 More for Health Insurance - Per Paycheck
"The point is that personal choices have financial consequences," said Sheldon H. Jacobson, a professor of computer science who focuses on risk at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. "In COVID-19, the decision to not take a vaccine is not just a personal decision." CBS News


Tech Helps Illinois Farmers Tackle Labor Issues
Illinois CS professor Girish Chowdhary worked with EarthSense, an Urbana ag robot company he co-founded in 2016 with Chinmay Soman and their team, to create a robot about the size of an average dog. It is being used by plant breeders now to collect data on plant characteristics, and it is expanding to more uses, he said.
The Pantagraph →


Students Partner with University of Illinois PD to Create Crime Map of Campus
University of Illinois students now have a new way to track crime on campus. The idea came from students themselves. Aaron Yu heard a lot about Asian American hate during the pandemic. The mathematics and computer science student decided he could do something to help, using data already available from U of I Police.
CI Proud →


Featured Events

Illinois logo.  

Illinois Computer Science Speaker Series
Check the calendar for upcoming speakers!
The Illinois Computer Science Speaker Series brings prominent leaders and experts to campus to share their ideas and promote conversations about important challenges and topics in the discipline. Join us online: talks are virtual this year!  View the Calendar →

After Hours is September 1!  

Virtual After Hours
September 1, 2021, 4-7 pm, Online
Students: Meet the companies that want to hire you -- online!  This fall's After Hours will be a virtual event hosted on the CareerEco platform. Register now!

This year's Reflections | Projection Conference is scheduled for September 20-25.  

Reflections | Projections: Tech for Good
Sept. 20-25, 2021, Hybrid
This year's annual tech conference, including speakers and representatives from across industry and academia, is planned to be in-person with opportunities to attend events virtually. Learn more about this student-run event by completing the interest form or visiting the website.

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