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Berkeley Computational Science and Engineering

Our Vision & Mission


Berkeley Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) supports the work of the most creative minds in science, mathematics, and engineering as they pursue complex and computationally intensive basic and applied research that will enhance national scientific, technological, and economic leadership and competitiveness while improving the quality of life for humanity.


To conduct world-leading research in applied mathematics, computer science, and computational science in high-impact areas of science and engineering such as energy, environment, climate, nanoscience, intelligent systems, cyberinfrastructure, and astrophysics, to name a few.

To develop, deploy, and facilitate access to the largest-scale computer systems focusing on scientific and technological discoveries and world-changing breakthrough solutions.

To educate and train the next generation of Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) leaders and give students a competitive edge for the most desirable jobs in academia and industry. Critical to our mission is the education of graduate students capable of confronting challenging problems at the leading edge of CSE.

What Is Computational Science and Engineering (CSE)? 

CSE is a rapidly growing multidisciplinary field that encompasses real-world complex applications (scientific, engineering, social, economic, policy), computational mathematics, and computer science and engineering. High performance computing (HPC), large-scale simulations, and scientific applications all play a central role in CSE.

Simulation of complex problems is sometimes the only feasible way to make progress if the theory is intractable and experiments are too difficult, too expensive, too dangerous, or too slow. Through modeling and simulation of multiscale systems of systems, and through scientific discovery from large-scale heterogeneous data, CSE aims to advance solutions for a wide range of problems in the areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology, energy, climate change, engineering design, neuroscience, cognitive computing and intelligent systems, plasma physics, transportation, bioinformatics and computational biology, earthquake engineering, geophysical modeling, astrophysics, materials science, national defense, information technology for health care, engineering better search engines, socio-economic-policy modeling, and other fields that are critical to scientific, economic, and social progress. CSE also aims to enhance human knowledge and innovation by bringing people and resources together across geographical and cultural boundaries.

What Is Berkeley CSE?

Berkeley CSE is a collaborative program in multidisciplinary research and education. It was developed and is supported by the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), the Computing Sciences Directorate at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), and the College of Engineering, the College of Letters and Science, the College of Chemistry, and the office of the Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of California (UC) Berkeley.

Berkeley CSE provides a framework for enhanced support of collaborative research projects involving CSE researchers and students from its three organizational partners. The program will educate students to better perform and effectively execute computationally intensive research across many fields of science and engineering.

Traditional academic departments are well structured to train students in one or perhaps two fields, but the cross-disciplinary nature of CSE requires a much broader approach. The essential elements of this program include an approved cluster of graduate courses that prepare the student for advanced work in CSE, mechanisms for cross-disciplinary research and education, and a PhD thesis in a science or engineering discipline that is highly computational in nature and is advised by faculty members from multiple departments with diverse interests and skills.

Berkeley CSE is administered by CITRIS and the Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences Directorate.

Designated Emphasis in Computational Science and Engineering

By combining high performance computing, mathematical modeling, scientific and engineering theory, and analysis of large-scale databases of observations, CSE is bringing a new paradigm to multidisciplinary research, education, and design.

The Designated Emphasis in Computational Science and Engineering (DE-CSE) is a specialization applicable to existing doctoral programs at UC Berkeley, which we refer to as our Associated Programs. The goal of our program is to train future leaders in CSE, who will not only be experts in their chosen fields but also conversant with important techniques, opportunities, and limitations arising from the multiple disciplines underlying CSE.

Participating students will benefit from leading-edge training in research techniques, working in cross-disciplinary teams with research leaders across campus and at Berkeley Lab, and will get a competitive edge for the most desirable jobs in academia and industry, which increasingly require interdisciplinary training and computational skills.

Over 100 faculty from 20 departments and graduate programs, spanning disciplines from civil engineering to neuroscience to political science, are participating in this program.

The following UC Berkeley departments are participating in the DE-CSE program:

  • Astronomy, (Chair) Donald Backer
  • Bioengineering, (Chair) Dorian Liepmann
  • Biostatistics, (Chair) Sandrine Dudoit
  • Chemical Engineering, (Chair) Jeffrey Reimer
  • Chemistry, (Chair) Michael Marletta
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering, (Chair)  Lisa Alvarez-Cohen
  • Earth and Planetary Science, (Chair) Rudy Wenk
  • Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, (Chair) Stuart Russell
  • Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, (Chair) Ilan Adler
  • School of Information, (Dean) AnnaLee Saxenian
  • Integrative Biology, (Chair) Nipam Patel
  • Materials Science and Engineering, (Chair) Robert Ritchie
  • Mathematics, (Chair) Alan Weinstein
  • Mechanical Engineering, (Chair) Al Pisano
  • Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, (Head) John Ngai
  • Nuclear Engineering, (Chair) Jasmina Vujic
  • Physics, (Chair) Frances Hellman
  • Political Science, (Chair) Paul Pierson
  • School of Public Health, (Dean) Stephen Shortell
  • Statistics, (Chair) John Rice

Computational Research and Theory Facility

Architect's rendering of the Computational Research Facility (east view).

Architect's rendering of the Computational Research and Theory (CRT) Facility, east view. (Select to enlarge.)

The University of California Regents approved a new Computational Research and Theory (CRT) Facility, which will provide new opportunities for research collaborations with campus investigators. The CRT Facility will be a $112.9M research facility that will provide a 32,000-sq-ft computer floor that could support a variety of computing systems, including high performance computers, research clusters, and advanced data storage systems. The building will also provide office space for over 300 people and many high tech conference, seminar, meeting, and visualization lab rooms. The CRT will be designed to have flexible space for multidisciplinary computing science and computational science research teams such as those envisioned for the Berkeley CSE program.

Construction of the CRT began in 2012 and is expected to be complete between late 2014 to early 2015. You can view the construction site live via a web video feed.

  • Program: Facility to accommodate scientific computing research, high performance computing centers, and the Berkeley CSE program.
  • Assignable Sq Ft: 73,000
  • Gross Sq Ft: 126,300
  • Total Project Budget: $112,944,000

Funding for the Berkeley CSE Program

While the Berkeley CSE program and the CRT building have been approved by the University, we need more resources to make sure that the opportunities and synergies sketched above are fully exploited. In particular, we request:

  • Funding to support Berkeley CSE research centers in the new CRT building. This could be in the form of an endowment, providing approximately $500K/year in base funding, which would be leveraged by other funding from federal and other resources for the Berkeley CSE center. This money would support graduate students, provide start-up funds for new research endeavors in CSE, support distinguished visiting speakers, help faculty create new CSE courses, and otherwise support the Designated Emphasis in CSE. In particular, it could be used to initially support highly interdisciplinary endeavors that other, more narrowly focused funding sources would find too risky. This support can also help encourage other sponsors to collaborate by funding projects of joint interest. 

  • Funding to help with the $112.9M overall cost of the CRT building and the CSE facilities at the CITRIS building. In return for this support, we would propose naming part of the building — a CSE center, high tech conference, seminar, meeting, or visualization lab room — after the sponsor’s company name or employee. In addition, visitors from companies collaborating on joint projects would have office space in this building. We would be able to design the internal space to maximize the possibility of collaboration between interdisciplinary teams, collocating faculty, students, research staff and visitors. Berkeley has extensive experience with the benefits of such collocation

The Berkeley CSE Collaboration

UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab have recently established a much stronger presence in the field of CSE, primarily through enhanced support for collaborative research projects and development of the Designated Emphasis in CSE for PhD students in the application disciplines. The campus has longstanding top-ranked academic programs in computer science and applied/computational mathematics. Berkeley Lab’s Computing Sciences Directorate — including the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) and the Computational Research Division (CRD) — offers both a world-class, scientifically productive supercomputing facility and broad expertise and innovation in computational science.

NERSC: NERSC at Berkeley Lab is one of the largest open and unclassified computing facilities for basic science in the country. Operating the NERSC Center has enabled Berkeley Lab to acquire unsurpassed expertise in providing comprehensive scientific support that enables researchers to make the most productive use of these resources.

NERSC currently supports more than 3,000 users nationally and internationally. Over 60% of the users are from universities. NERSC is known worldwide for the quality of its computing services, and its success is measured by the scientific productivity of its users, including more than 6,500 publications in refereed journals resulting from computations at NERSC over the last five years.

CRD: The Computational Research Division (CRD) at Berkeley Lab is home to about 150 researchers in applied mathematics, computer science, and computational sciences. CRD comprises four departments: the High Performance Computing Research Department, the Advanced Computing for Science Department, the Biological Data Management and Technology Center, and the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), a high-bandwidth network serving thousands of Department of Energy (DOE) scientists and collaborators worldwide.

CRD also manages several of DOE’s Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) application projects and enabling technology centers. SciDAC is the first federally funded program that aims at implementing the CSE vision of bringing together applications scientists with mathematicians and computer scientists to solve large computational science problems.

CITRIS: CITRIS is a multi-UC-campus research center headquartered at Berkeley. CITRIS helps to organize and support research that applies information technology solutions to pressing problems facing society and the economy, and builds teams to solve these problems consisting of faculty from multiple disciplines and researchers at national labs, industrial partners, and government agencies. This broad agenda has multiple and growing overlaps with CSE.

College of Engineering: Berkeley Engineering is a community that is dedicated to creating tomorrow's leaders and supporting today's pioneers. Students and researchers from around the world are drawn to Berkeley by its outstanding reputation, its internationally recognized faculty, and its strong tradition of impact in research and teaching.

Earlier Berkeley engineers brought water to California's great agricultural lands, pioneered the microelectronics that seeded Silicon Valley, and helped build the unbuildable in structures like Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. Today, Berkeley engineers in every field remain at the center of technological innovation worldwide.

College of Letters and Science: The intellectual heart UC Berkeley, the College of Letters and Science is the largest of the university’s 14 colleges and schools and the most prestigious teaching and research unit in the UC system. L&S encompasses more than half of the campus’s faculty, three-quarters of its undergraduate students, and half of its Ph.D. candidates.

The College takes students on the academic adventure of a lifetime by exposing them to a vibrant, broad-based liberal arts education at the highest level of excellence. Our students engage in dialogue with the world’s best teachers and its most distinguished researchers and scholars. Together they participate in projects at the forefront of science, solve pressing social problems, create art, explore diverse values and cultures, and seek answers to the biggest questions of our times.

College of Chemistry: The College of Chemistry comprises the Departments of Chemistry and of Chemical Engineering. Both disciplines provide the opportunity and means for meeting major scientific and technological challenges, such as addressing climate change, increasing the world's food supply, synthesizing new materials, and discovering and delivering important drugs.

The college prides itself on a balanced approach to science, with research areas ranging from experimental to theoretical. Faculty in both departments are engaged in teaching and research in a wide range of applications and subdisciplines.

Contact Information

Dr. Masoud Nikravesh
Executive Director of CSE
291 Hearst Memorial Mining Building
University of California Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720
(510) 643-4522
Fax: (510) 642-1800

Dr. Horst Simon
Adjunct Professor of Computer Science, UC Berkeley
Associate Laboratory Director for Computing Sciences
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
One Cyclotron Road, MS 50B-4230
Berkeley, California 94720
(510) 486-7377
Fax: (510) 486-4300

Prof. James Demmel
Dr. Richard Carl Dehmel Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science
Former Chief Scientist of CITRIS
831 Evans Hall
University of California Berkeley
Berkeley CA 94720
(510) 643-5386
Fax: (510) 642-3962