2018-2019 Externally Funded Research Centers and Institutes

Center for Domain-Specific Computing

National Science Foundation (NSF) Expeditions in Computing Program and InTrans Program

Jason Cong, Ph.D. (Computer Science), Director

To meet ever-increasing computing needs and overcome power density limitations, the computing industry has entered the era of parallelization, with tens to hundreds of computing cores integrated into a single processor and hundreds to thousands of computing servers connected in warehouse-scale data centers. However, such highly parallel, general-purpose computing systems still face serious challenges in terms of performance, energy, heat dissipation, space, and cost. The Center for Domain-Specific Computing (CDSC) looks beyond parallelization and focuses on domain-specific customization as the next disruptive technology to bring orders-of-magnitude power-performance efficiency improvement to important application domains.

CDSC develops a general methodology for creating novel customizable computing platforms and the associated compilation tools and runtime management environment to support domain-specific computing. The recent focus is on design and implementation of accelerator-rich architectures, from single chips to data centers. It also includes highly automated compilation tools and runtime management software systems for customizable heterogeneous platforms, including multi-core CPUs, many-core GPUs, and FPGAs, as well as a general, reusable methodology for customizable computing applicable across different domains. By combining these critical capabilities, the goal is to deliver a supercomputer-in-a-box or supercomputer-in-a-cluster that can be customized to an application domain to enable disruptive innovations in that domain. This approach has been successfully demonstrated in the domain of medical image processing.

The CDSC team originally consisted of researchers from four universities: UCLA (lead institution), Rice University, UC Santa Barbara, and Ohio State University. Oregon Health and Science University joined as a research partner under the InTrans program.

The research team consists of a group of highly accomplished researchers with diversified backgrounds, including computer science and engineering, electrical engineering, medicine, and applied mathematics. CDSC offers many research opportunities for graduate students, and also offers summer research fellowship programs for high school and undergraduate students.

CDSC was originally funded by the National Science Foundation with a $10 million award from the 2009 Expeditions in Computing program, which was among the largest single investments made by the NSF Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate. In July 2014, CDSC was awarded an additional $3 million by Intel Corporation with matching support from NSF under its Innovation Transition (InTrans) program. This award supports follow-on research on accelerator-rich architectures with applications to health care, in which personalized cancer treatment was added as an application domain in addition to medical imaging. Currently, CDSC has a number of industrial sponsors worldwide including Baidu, Falcon Computing Solutions, Fujitsu, Google, Huawei, Mentor Graphics, and Intel.

Center for Encrypted Functionalities

National Science Foundation (NSF) Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace FRONTIER Award

Amit Sahai, Ph.D. (Computer Science), Director

The Center for Encrypted Functionalities tackles the deep and far-reaching problem of general-purpose program obfuscation, which aims to make an arbitrary computer program unintelligible while preserving its functionality. Viewed in a different way, the goal of obfuscation is to enable software that can keep secrets: it makes use of secrets, but such that these secrets remain hidden even if an adversary can examine the software code in its entirety and analyze its behavior as it runs. Secure obfuscation could enable a host of applications, from hiding the existence of many vulnerabilities introduced by human error to hiding cryptographic keys within software.

The center’s primary mission is to transform program obfuscation from an art to a rigorous mathematical discipline. In addition to its direct research program, the center organizes retreats and workshops to bring together researchers to carry out its mission. The center also engages in high-impact outreach efforts, such as the development of free massive open online courses (MOOCs).

Center for Translational Applications of Nanoscale Multiferroic Systems

National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center

Gregory P. Carman, Ph.D. (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), Director; Jane P. Chang, Ph.D. (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering), Deputy Director

The Center for Translational Applications of Nanoscale Multiferroic Systems (TANMS) is a 10-year program focused on miniaturizing electromagnetic devices using a three-pillar strategy involving research, translation, and education. The research strategy engages the best researchers from the six TANMS campuses (UCLA, UC Berkeley, Cornell University, California State University, Northridge, Northeastern University, and University of Texas at Dallas) to understand and develop new nanoscale multiferroic devices. The fundamental research activities work synergistically with the center’s industrial partners to translate the concepts into applications such as memory, antennae, and motors. These research and translational efforts rely on a workforce of postgraduate, graduate, undergraduate, and K-12 students that also help educate the next generation of engineering leaders. TANMS promotes an inclusive atmosphere, producing a more innovative and diverse research environment compared to monolithic center cultures.

Center of Excellence for Green Nanotechnologies

Kang L. Wang, Ph.D. (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Director

The Center of Excellence for Green Nanotechnologies (CEGN) undertakes frontier research and development in the areas of nanotechnology in energy and nanoelectronics. It tackles major issues of scaling, energy efficiency, energy generation, and energy storage faced by the electronics industry. CEGN researchers are innovating novel solutions through a number of complementary efforts that minimize power usage and cost without compromising electronic device performance. The approach is based on the integration of magnetic, carbon-based, organic, and optoelectronic materials and devices.

King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in Saudi Arabia and UCLA Samueli collaborate in CEGN under KACST’s established Joint Center of Excellence Program (JCEP) to promote educational technology transfer and research exchanges. KACST has an agreement with UCLA for research in nanoelectronics and clean energy for the next 10 years. KACST is both Saudi Arabia’s national science agency and its premier national laboratory. CEGN was awarded an additional $11 million through 2020 in its recent renewal effort, expanding on the work that was originally funded at $3.7 million.

Named Data Networking Project

National Science Foundation (NSF) Future Internet Architecture (FIA) Program

Lixia Zhang, Ph.D. (Computer Science), Principal Investigator

While the Internet has far exceeded expectations, it has also stretched initial assumptions, often creating tussles that challenge its underlying communication model. The TCP/ IP architecture was designed to create a communication network where packets named only communication endpoints. Sustained growth in e-commerce, digital media, social networking, and smartphone applications has led to dominant use of the Internet as a distribution network. Solving distribution problems through a point-to-point communication protocol is complex and error-prone.

This project investigates a new Internet architecture called Named Data Networking (NDN). NDN changes the host-centric TCP/IP architecture to a data-centric architecture. This conceptually simple shift has far-reaching implications for how we design, develop, deploy, and use networks and applications. Today’s TCP/lP architecture uses addresses to communicate; NDN directly uses application data names to fetch data. TCP/IP secures the data container and communication channels; NDN directly secures the data, decoupling trust in data from trust in hosts. The project takes an application-driven, experimental approach to design and build a variety of applications on NDN to drive the development and deployment of the architecture and its supporting modules, test prototype implementations, and encourage community use, experimentation, and feedback into the design.

The new Future Internet Architectures-Next Phase (FIA-NP) program began in May 2014. The Named Data Networking Project is now under FIA-NP funding.

Smart Grid Energy Research Center

Rajit Gadh, Ph.D. (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), Director

The UCLA Smart Grid Energy Research Center (SMERC) performs research, develops technology, creates innovations, and demonstrates advanced technologies to enable the development of the next generation of the electric utility grid-the smart grid. SMERC is currently working on electric vehicle-to-grid integration (V1G and V2G), microgrids, distributed renewable integration including solar and wind, energy storage integration within microgrids, autonomous electric vehicles, distributed energy resources, automated demand response, cybersecurity, and consumer behavior. SMERC also furnishes thought leadership through partnership between utilities, renewable energy companies, technology providers, electric vehicle and electric appliance manufacturers, DOE research labs, and universities, so as to collectively work on vision, planning, and execution towards a grid of the future. The partnership recently launched the Energy for a Smart Grid (ESmart) Industry Consortium. It is expected that this smart grid would enable integration of renewable energy sources, allow for integration of electric vehicles and energy storage, improve grid efficiency and resilience, reduce power outages, allow for competitive energy pricing, and overall become more responsive to market, consumer, and societal needs. SMERC is a participant in the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Regional Smart Grid Demonstration Project, which has been funded by DOE at an estimated $60 million for LADWP and its partners combined. The SMERC microgrid demonstration project is funded by the California Energy Commission.

Synthetic Control Across Length-scales for Advancing Rechargeables Center

Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Frontier Research Center

Sarah Tolbert, Ph.D. (Chemistry and Biochemistry, Materials Science and Engineering), Director

The UCLA-led Synthetic Control Across Length-scales for Advancing Rechargeables Center (SCALAR) helps accelerate research on new types of chemistry and materials for rechargeable batteries. Researchers seek to increase battery capacity, stability, and safety.

WIN Institute of Neurotronics

Nanoelectronics Research Initiative National Institute of Excellence

Kang L. Wang, Ph.D. (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Director

Successor to the Western Institute of Nanoelectronics (WIN), the WIN Institute of Neurotronics (WINs) focuses on cutting-edge research including nanostructures for high-efficiency solar cells, patterned nanostructures for integrated active optoelectronics on silicon, and carbon nanotube circuits.

Through the multidisciplinary research efforts of WINs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) awarded UCLA $6 million to build the Western Institute of Nanotechnology on Green Engineering and Metrology (WIN-GEM) building as part of the Engineering Building I replacement, which broke ground in 2013.

Wireless Health Institute

Benjamin M. Wu, D.D.S, Ph.D. (Bioengineering), Director; Bruce Dobkin, M.D. (Medicine/Neurology), William Kaiser, Ph.D. (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Gregory J. Pottie, Ph.D. (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Co-Directors

Advances in engineering and computer science are enabling the design of powerful home and mobile technologies that can augment functional independence and daily activities of people with physical impairments, disabilities, chronic diseases, and the accumulative impairments associated with aging. These wireless mobile-health technologies can serve as monitoring devices of health and activity, provide feedback to train more healthy behaviors and lessen risk factors for stroke and heart disease, and offer novel outcome measures for individual care and large clinical trials.

The Wireless Health Institute believes that tiny sensors — including accelerometers, gyroscopes, force transducers, and visual and sound recorders worn on the body and in clothing — will become essential components for the delivery of health care and health maintenance. Sensors created by micro- and nano-technologies will simplify communications with health providers seamlessly over Internet and wi-fi transmission using telephones and other convenient devices. To pursue these applications, WHI collaborators include the highly ranked UCLA schools of Medicine, Nursing, Engineering and Applied Science, and Management; the Clinical Translational Science Institute for medical research; the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center; and faculty from many campus departments. WHI education programs span high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, and physicians, and provide training in end-to-end product development and delivery for WHI program managers.

WHI strategies and products appear in diverse health care scenarios including motion sensing of the type, quantity, and quality of exercise and practice in disabled persons; prevention of pressure sores; recovery after orthopaedic procedures; assessment of the recovery of bowel motility after surgery; monitoring cardiac output and predicting an exacerbation of heart failure; advancing athletic performance; and others. UCLA and international clinical trials, funded by the National Institutes of Health and American Heart Association, have validated motion pattern recognition and sensor feedback to increase walking and exercise after stroke. Several WHI products developed by the UCLA team are now in the marketplace in the U.S. and Europe. WHI welcomes new team members and continuously forms new collaborations with colleagues and organizations in engineering, medical science, and health care delivery.