Research Overview

Prof. Heather Zheng at the white board

Computer Engineering Research at UCSB

CE research lies not only at the interface of computer science and electrical engineering, but increasingly ties computing together with biology, medicine, chemistry, physics, mechanical engineering, and even environmental engineering.

Our research is ideally positioned to help solve societal problems through the construction of practical systems composed of emerging technologies. We live in a time of both opportunity and crisis. Rising carbon emissions and energy costs are a global problem. Aging populations increasingly strain healthcare resources. Computing technologies are at the heart of many potential solutions to these problems. Emerging technologies in nanoscale and bio-compatible materials hold the promise to increase energy-efficiency and revolutionize healthcare. We also see opportunities in massive information gathering and large-scale computing resources to exploit that information.

We must also address increasing challenges to continued scaling of conventional silicon and to maintaining the dramatic performance growth of past computing systems.

CE Areas of Research

  • Bioinspired Computing
  • Circuit and System Design
  • Computer Architecture
  • Electronic Design Automation & Testing
  • Emerging Technologies for Computing

  • Energy-efficient Computing
  • Nanotechnology
  • Operating and Distributed Systems
  • Software and Language

COE Convergence – "Where's the Bear?"

UCSB RACELab: Professors Chandra Krintz and Rich Wolski

photo of bear and cub

Millions of images of animals — mountain lions, black bears, deer, and many other species of interest — have been captured by camera traps on the 6,000-acre Sedgwick Ranch Reserve, part of UC Santa Barbara’s Natural Reserve System. The images are a treasure trove of information that could be immensely useful to land managers and ecologists, but most remain stored on hard drives — unsorted, uncatalogued, inaccessible, and, thus, unused. 

Now a system created by UCSB computer science professors Chandra Krintz and Rich Wolski, aptly named “Where’s the Bear?” is bringing machine learning to the task of identifying and classifying animals caught on camera.

Assigning to computers a vexing task that until now was the sole purview of people saves enormous manpower — what once took fourteen days to do can now be done in three hours —  and the approach has potential far beyond Sedgwick to other reserves, and beyond ecology to agriculture and even medical imaging.

Where’s the Bear works well, notes Krintz, vice chair of UCSB’s undergraduate program in computer science. “We don’t get any coyotes wrong. We don’t get any bears wrong. We get about 12-percent error on deer — there are lots of deer — and we are trying to improve on that. Now, all the ecologists are saying, ‘Count deer, count bear. Tell me if the bear is healthy. Is it the same bear, is it the same deer? How many deer are there with antlers?’”

Where’s the Bear integrates recent advances in machine-learning-based image processing to automatically classify animals in images captured by remote, motion-triggered camera traps. So far, the system has helped the Sedgwick team aggregate and analyze more than 1 million images. And because the hardware lives at Sedgwick, all the data processing is done within yards of where the data is collected.

Read the full article in Convergence "Where's the Bear?"

COE 2018 Convergence – "Focus on Collaboration"

image of convergence cover


"Collaboration Voices" – CE faculty share thoughts on a distinguishing feature at UCSB


Luke Theogarjan: "Most universites pay lip service to collaboration and interdisciplinary and so on. Here, we survive that way. Asa relatively small college we have to band together to do great things. And because of that, you get to work with so many different people in so many different areas with no barriers between. I have papers published in polymer chemistry; where else does an electrical engineer do that? Craig Hawker, this giant in polymers, helped me when I first came to UCSB [and Photonic and laser expert] John Bowers..."
(more on pg. 34)


Chandra Krintz: "There is tremendous value in having experts communicate with novices and novices come up to speed under the advisement of multiple people – their peers, TAs, research assistants, faculty, postdocs. We all teach in very different ways. We think differently in different disciplines and have different ways of talking about science. We basically speak different languages. I find that exposing young people to that early is just like having a child learn languages when they are young: once they get used to it, it’s easy for them to see something new..."
(more on pg. 34)

Faculty Research News

Prof. Tevfik Bultan receives an Amazon Research Award

photo of tevfik bultanBultan and his students to address a crucial security issue in cloud computing. Due to ubiquitous use of software services, protecting the confidentiality of private info stored in the cloud has become a critical problem.

Prof. Luke Theogarajan and others from UCSB work together in "Shrinking the Synthesizer"

photo of luke theogarajanTheogarajan part of a team that has produced significant advances in chip-based integrated photonics and nonlinear optics that enable miniature, energy-efficient components for an optical synthesizer. Their findings appear in the journal Nature.

Prof. Rich Wolski named the Duval Family Presidential Chair in Energy Efficiency at UCSB

photo of wolski Wolski was named the campus’s inaugural holder of the chair among UCSB Institute for Energy Efficiency researchers pursuing solutions that reduce energy use associated w/ cooling loads, inefficient server use and wasteful computer processes.

Prof. Dmitri Strukov's research on memristors and cybersecurity on the cover of Nature Electronics

photo of dmitri strukovThe research puts extra security on internet- and Bluetooth devices w/ tech that prevents cloning – the practice by which nodes in a network are replicated and used to launch attacks. A chip that deploys ionic memristor tech is seen as a solution to the problem.