Many people asked me what I’m doing in Berkeley. This post gives a few impressions of my life and work here. With six pictures and an explanation of the Cyber Grand Challenge.

5:58: I’m leaving home early because I want to go to a morning bible study. The picture below shows my home and Totoro, my trusty bike. I call it Totoro because it had to wait for me in the rain a couple times, back in March when Berkeley had rain :)

Bible study is a nice way to start the day, and has become an important part of my routine. The organizer is a theology student from China. He is an insightful person with a great heart. Usually, we’re half a dozen participants from all over the world.

After bible study, I stop at the “Cybercafe” for a breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, and for a bit of reading.

6am. Getting my trusty bike, and off we go

Breakfast at the Cybercafe

8:25: Next stop: office. I work on the 7th floor of Soda Hall, UC Berkeley’s computer science building. A framed message welcomes visitors: Welcome to the 7th floor, home of top-shelf computer scientists. Boastful maybe, but there are indeed lots of really smart people here.

Soda Hall

7th floor, home of top-shelf computer scientists

In the last four months, I’ve worked on a system to protect computer programs. We named it BinKungfu because it analyzes and modifies computer binaries, to protect them from vulnerabilities. It does binary self-defense against hackers :)

BinKungfu is part of an even bigger system that can protect and attack computer programs, completely automatically. On August 4, it will battle against six other systems, in a competition called Cyber Grand Challenge. If it finds the most bugs and protect the most programs, we might become famous in the hacker community :) In any case, I look forward to travel to Las Vegas and watch the competition. Here’s a preview video that explains what it’s about:

Working with the BinKungfu team is an interesting experience. We are five people in a shared office, and collaborate very closely. The picture below shows me doing a code review of our cyber reasoning system.

Reviewing code of our cyber reasoning system

On the way home, with boba tea

21:37: And so the day goes by, with code reviews, discussions, programming, and Skype calls. It’s late evening when the last LGTM is submitted and I head home. On my way home, there are several places selling boba tea (Californians love it). I stop, get a green milk tea with pearls, and walk home happily.