SAN DIEGO, Oct. 8, 2018 – Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute brings a leading expert in embedded and mobile sensing, cyber-physical systems (CPS) like self-driving vehicles, and the Internet of Things (IoT) as its first Visiting Scholar to UC San Diego.

UC Los Angeles professor Mani Srivastava is now serving as the first faculty member in the new program, through Fall 2018. Srivastava is among the most highly cited researchers in computing, and will be operating from the Institute in the San Diego Supercomputer Center. The Visiting Scholar program provides an on-campus resource in the Institute, designed to bring expanded resources across the student, academic and industry communities.

“This role gives me a chance to cross boundaries and interact with people on a direct level, and give a different perspective to my work, and to the work of others,” said Srivastava. He is currently on sabbatical from UCLA, where he serves on the faculty in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, with a joint appointment in the Computer Science Department.

Halıcıoğlu Institute co-founder and director Rajesh Gupta welcomed Srivastava, lauding his renowned work in developing wireless computing, and his current work in addressing the variety of challenges in CPS and IoT remote-sensing systems.

Dr. Srivastava is a leading authority in distributed sensing and data science, and we look forward to his role helping us fulfill our mission by bringing relevant resources to campus and the wider community,” said Gupta, a UC San Diego distinguished professor and Qualcomm Endowed Chair, Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

Gupta said that as Visiting Scholar, Srivastava will help ramp up campus activities on sensor data, IOT device security and digital privacy issues, coordinated by Halicioğlu Institute. IoT or Internet of Things indicates devices such as “smart” technologies like digitally networked thermostats, household appliances, and wearable health monitors such as FitBits and Apple Watches.

The subject will be explored in one of the upcoming series of “mini-symposiums” being planned by the Institute over the 2018-19 academic year. The half-day symposium-style program led by Srivastava, “Learning and Leaning on the IoT Edge Devices: Privacy and Policy,” is planned for Nov. 29-30.

His current research includes how to make systems secure and privacy friendly, energy efficient, aware of their location and context, and dynamics in the network and in the operating environment. He works on enabling devices to process data intelligently and take actions autonomously.

He has particular focus on privacy issues rising from the vast amounts of sensor data streaming from the expanding universe of common devices equipped with a wide array of sensors, in what Srivastava calls “unintended information leakage.”

With his research into sensor data the issues he explores go beyond just the technical ability to collect and process the data, but also how to handle it. “You look at these sensors on your cell phone, in your home, your office, out in the world, they look innocuous, they’re in the woodwork and you barely notice them. But they provide a real time biography of your private moments,” said Srivastava.

Srivastava is a pioneer of wireless networking, and mobile and computing technologies. He started his career as a member of the technical staff at Bell Lab’s research division in the 1990s where his group built one of the first wireless multimedia systems. Subsequently, after joining UCLA he conducted research that helped create many of the foundational technologies behind wireless sensor networks and smartphone-based sensing that later enabled CPS and IoT.

He has earned renown as a researcher, with citations in excess of 52,000 and an H-Index of 98, a metric of scholarly or scientific citation. He has published more than 300 scholarly papers, many recognized with awards, on topics in embedded systems, low- power systems, sensor networks mobile computing, and cyber-physical. He is a Fellow of both the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). His research has been funded by many government agencies and companies including: the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), and for technology giants such as Cisco, Intel and Nokia.

From his teaching experience, he talks with pride of the accomplishments of many former students who have gone on to become leaders in the engineering and computer science fields, working at top companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft, and as faculty at major research institutions including Purdue, UC San Diego, University of Maryland and Yale. He shows his genial regard for students on his UCLA Lab website, noting that one of his top three goals is to: “Have fun working with the great students in my research group.” Another top goal he jokes about is his ambition, which he identifies complete with an emoji punctuation: “To develop some cool idea, create a successful company, get rich, and retire :-).”

During his term as Visiting Scholar, he also looks forward to being so close to the beach and exploring the region. At the same time, he looks forward to forging new connections with his research through the program and opportunities proximity brings.

“There is so much to explore in all that comes with sensor data and the immense amount of information being collected. Data science is focused on making sense of it, closing the loop on it,” he said. “The question is: What will we do with it?”

About the HDSI Visiting Scholar Program: Nominations are open all year for recommendations to the interdisciplinary program. Decisions will be made quarterly.


Faye Chou Kurpanek, HDSI Chief Administrative Officer/MSO
858-534-5213 | 858.361.8160 (cell) |

Lisa Petrillo, HDSI Media/Communications
858-246-2491 | 858-382-1252 (cell) |

Data Science Freshman Makes His First Clouds

Elevating computer code to the level of art was something University of California San Diego freshman Yuan Gao did just for fun.

Gao majors in Data Science, in a major affiliated with the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI) at UC San Diego. Like many freshmen, he choose an elective to get his feet wet in his first months on a college campus.

But for Gao, a lanky youth with a shy and ready smile, why take some low-pressure elective on a pass-fail basis, when he could instead dive deeper into data science?

In his elective Workshop in Data Science (DSC 96), Gao went above and beyond instructor expectations by designing a word cloud. A word cloud is a graphic visualization of a slice of time and place on the Internet, resembling the visual arts technique of montage but achieving the graphic design feature based on computer coding.

“I’ve seen them before and I thought, why not? It’s a novel way to show information in a visual way,” said Gao. He developed his hand-made cloud from the Facebook page for HDSI, the independent institute where he is a Facebook “friend.”

Gao’s instructor Colin Jemmott designed the elective Workshop class just for such experimentation, or as he puts it, “for students to get their hands dirty with code.” Computer code being the mostly hidden back-end that makes the digital world run.

Jemmott offers his small class of under 20 students the chance to get hands-on with independent projects. He taught them about “web scraping,” taking code from existing webpages, and working with BeautifulSoup in Python, a popular open source graphically-oriented coding language.

Jemmott explained what led him to suggest word cloud creation: “They had already used the Python library NLTK (Natural Language Toolkit) to tokenize and clean text – Including removing stop words and special characters– and then count occurrences.” Basically, teaching them how to dive in, extract data, analyze and utilize it.

These seemingly complicated computer science tasks are considered fun challenges to these students, all raised as digital natives. As part of his classwork for Jemmott, Gao took all his lessons and combined them into one project – his HDSI word Cloud synthesizing in one image the digital traffic and discussion on the casual forum of Facebook.

Gao, an international student from Jiangxi, China, chose UC San Diego specifically because of its Data Science major opportunities. He’s enrolled in the HDSI-affiliated program that is the largest Data Science undergraduate major in the nation.

While always technically savvy growing up, Gao said he was inspired for his choice of study by his father, Hongliang Gao, who has seen the increasing use of data for his work in the criminal justice system in their native country. “My father told me: ‘The future is data,’” Gao explained.

That attracted him to the emerging discipline of Data Science, a field that focuses on taking the rising tide of Big Data and focuses on the processes and systems that enable people to extract knowledge from the data. While he likes computer science, a discipline where UC San Diego has long been a national leader, he wanted to focus more on making context from data.

“It’s a new field, and I like that, it can cover it can cover any problem in any field I’m interested in, in the future,” said Gao.

Contact: Lisa Petrillo, Communications/Media

Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute, UC San Diego

858-246-2491 |