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  • This Weekend, CSE Has Presence at Maker Faire

    It’s billed as “The Greatest Show (&Tell) on Earth,” and students from UC San Diego will once again be part of the spectacle as Maker Faire San Diego takes over Balboa Park over the weekend of October 1-2. For the second consecutive year, CSE students will be among the participants from the Jacobs School of Engineering, the Qualcomm Institute and their joint Engineers for Exploration student program. One CSE alumnus (at left) is also set to speak. He is Stephen Foster (Ph.D. '15), who co-created the company ThoughtSTEM to teach coding and other IT skills to youngsters, as well as educational games such as CodeSpells and LearnToMod. Foster's presentation? "The Matrix is Here. And You Can Hack It" and how to shape the future of immersive virtual reality.

    The celebration is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students and much more. The Faire is a part of Innovate San Diego, a week-long series of events showcasing innovation in the Cali-Baja region, and it has become part of pop culture – a place for experiential marketing, debuting new technologies and inventions, and celebrating geekdom of every stripe through the global, tech-influenced and do-it-yourself community known as the Maker movement.

    The Computer Science and Engineering department will showcase Gagdetron – a hands-on experience that uses a GUI-based programming environment to program configurable robots. Under CSE Prof. Steven Swanson, the Gadgetron team is building a set of tools that will enable people without much experience in electronics to build and program simple electronic devices of their own design. Ultimately, a user does the design, then lets the Gadgetron implement the electronics and manufacture the gadget automatically.

    The first tool is called a Robot Factory, because it allows users to build simple wheeled robots using a drag-and-drop, web-based interface (pictured, with tiny wheeled robots). Undergraduates working on the Gadgetron project include computer-science senior Michael Gonzalez (far left) and junior Paula Quach (near left). Both Gonzalez and Quach work in Swanson's Non-Volatile Systems Lab.. 

    CSE students also participate in Engineers for Exploration, which will demonstrate an underwater stereo camera rig, a paraglider, and a radio-collar tracker for tracking wildlife. The Qualcomm Institute's DroneLab as well as the Center of Interdisciplinary Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3) will demo several different types of drones taking photos and video to produce compelling imagery resulting from the documentation of historic sites on land and underwater using aerial, terrestrial and ocean-going remote drones.

  • #1 Employer of Recent CNS-Affiliated Graduates? It's Google

    Most of the Ph.D. and M.S. students who worked in the labs of Center for Networked Systems (CNS) member faculty are well-positioned to land a great job after graduation. A few remain in academia, but the vast majority go to jobs in the technology industry, and not just any jobs. According to a survey of 16 CNS-affiliated graduate students who matriculated in 2015-2016, fully half of the mostly Computer Science and Engineering graduates now work for Google, with others going to fast-track jobs at Apple, Facebook, and other tech companies.

    Staying in academia

    Only a few graduating CNS students are staying in academic environments. According to CNS co-director George Porter, “that’s more than 18 percent of our 16 recent graduates, and that’s probably pretty standard among the top 20 schools.”

    After working with his advisor, CSE Prof. YY Zhou, Peng (Ryan) Huang (Ph.D. '16) was offered a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor in computer science at Johns Hopkins University. He was offered the job because the university is trying build a new area of strength in Huang's area – computer systems. “I’m particularly interested in understanding growing problems in real-world systems and reflecting that understanding in new techniques to improve system reliability,” says Huang. In his dissertation, Huang analyzed the distinctive characteristics of failures in industrial-strength cloud systems. (For more on Huang, see full news release here.) 

    [Pictured (l-r): Ryan Huang, Baris Aksanli, and Bharathan Balaji]

    Since graduating in June 2015, Baris Aksanli (Ph.D. ’15) remains affiliated with CNS as a postdoctoral researcher in Tajana Rosing’s lab. Then in August 2016, he became an Assistant Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department of San Diego State University (SDSU), where Aksanli teaches embedded-systems courses and real-time operating systems. On the research side he continues to work on energy efficiency in various domains, including embedded systems, data centers, Internet of Things, and cyber-physical systems. Aksanli did two internships in graduate school, one at Intel (in 2012), the other at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2011).

    Bharathan Balaji (Ph.D. ’16), who previously received his M.S. in 2011 from the ECE department before transferring to CSE, is also remaining in academia. He recently joined UCLA as a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Prof. Mani Srivastava, a longtime collaborator of Balaji’s UCSD advisor Rajesh Gupta (and co-advisor Yuvraj Agarwal, now at Carnegie Mellon). Balaji’s research focused on improving energy efficiency of buildings by creating software applications that exploit existing infrastructure to provide services such as information organization, fault detection, personalized control, and sensing when an occupant is in the building. As a grad student, Balaji did an internship at Ericsson Research (working on a Wi-Fi-based occupancy sensing solution).

    Google hires 50% of CNS recent graduates

    Google may be the most sought-after employer of computer science Ph.D. graduates, so it’s perhaps no surprise that Google hired more CNS recent graduates than any other company (all of them armed with degrees from CSE at UC San Diego). Fully half of the graduates – eight of the 16 CNS recent alumni – are now employed at Google.

    On September 15, Wilson Wing-Soon Lian (M.S., Ph.D. ’13, ’16) defends his dissertation on “JIT Spraying Threats on ARM and Defense by Diversification”. Lian’s dissertation committee was co-chaired by his advisors, Stefan Savage and Hovav Shacham. Lian says his research interests are “broadly in security and privacy, but lately I’ve been looking at the security of Just-In-Time compilers.” As a graduate student from 2010 to 2016, he was hired and re-hired at Google for three summer internships in 2012, 2013 and 2015, so it’s no surprise that, with his Ph.D. in sight, Lian has already accepted a job at… Google. He’ll be a full-time software engineer.

    Jagannathan Venkatesh (Ph.D. ‘16) graduated in June after defending his dissertation on “A Context-Aware Approach to Residential Grid Automation.” In his thesis, Venkatesh proposed “using context – additional high-level information – about elements of the smart grid (sources, loads and storage) to improve the efficiency of its operations.” At the all-campus graduation ceremony, his advisor Tajana Rosing was on hand (pictured at right with Venkatesh). Today the CSE and CNS alumnus works at Google, where he had previously done three internships in 2011, 2012 and 2013, including the development of a testing framework for video ads, a tool to search, analyze and debug Google’s social back-end data, and designing user interfaces that are intuitive to users and reusable by developers.

    [Pictured at right (clockwise from top left): Wilson Lian, Jagannathan Venkatesh, Mike Conley, Tristan Halvorson, Rishi Kapoor, Lonnie Liu, Malveeka Tewari and Liqiong Yang.]

    Mike Conley (M.S., Ph.D. ’12, ’15) completed graduate school in computer science under George Porter and Amin Vahdat. His primary research interests were in the areas of big data, I/O-intensive computation, distributed systems, cloud computing, MapReduce, data centers and high-speed sorting. Conley’s doctoral dissertation on "Achieving Efficient I/O with High-Performance Data Center Technologies," focused on the performance of storage and network I/O in large-scale distributed systems (notably on TritonSort and Themis), and he demonstrated how to run such applications on a wide variety of hardware platforms, from solid-state disks to supercomputers. Since October 2015, Conley has been a software engineer at Google in Mountain View, CA, where he also did internships in 2010 and 2011.

    Tristan Halvorson (Ph.D. ’15) studied the domain name market, measuring the market with web and whois data to determine the goal of domain name registrants. Previously with his advisors Stefan Savage and Geoffrey Voelker, Halvorson investigated email spam from a monetary perspective by measuring many email spammers' costs and revenue. He also spent the summer of 2012 on an internship with Yahoo!’s email anti-spam team, with whom he analyzed data on Hadoop to look for compromised webmail accounts.) On graduation, he joined Google as a software engineer.

  • Pattern Recognition Laboratory to Boost Brain-Inspired Computing

    Powerful new “brain-inspired” computing capabilities are turning the scientific method on its head by accelerating a “data science” experimental method that detects patterns in data before generating a hypothesis. “Pattern recognition is a mode of epistemology, a way of knowing,” says CSE Prof. Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). “It’s taking the same data that’s available to everyone and trying to let the data talk to you instead of putting your preconceived notions onto it.”

    Smarr (far left, with futurist Mark Anderson) is one of the founders of a new Pattern Recognition Laboratory at UC San Diego, housed in Calit2's Qualcomm Institute. According to Smarr, the lab will explore important tradeoffs as machine learning techniques and novel computer architectures continue to develop rapidly.  One major challenge is how to optimize a variety of machine-learning algorithms on different architectures and discover which are fastest and most energy efficient for specific applications across a wide range of disciplines. The lab will also explore solutions involving flexibility to process both massive static arrays of data as well as myriad flows of data -- and to find the never-before-seen patterns in both.

    Under its first director, ECE Prof. Ken Kreutz-Delgado, the Pattern Recognition Lab is in the early stages of building a 'garden of architectures' capable of performing massive amounts of high-speed processing without consuming as much power as traditional chips. The architectures include both traditional von Neumann computing architectures such as graphics processing units (GPUs), as well as non-von Neumann architectures including high-density FPGAs, IBM's TrueNorth neuromorphic processor, and KnuEdge's LambdaFabricTM neural computing sytems.

    The Pattern Recognition Lab grew out of discussions between CSE's Smarr and futurist Mark Anderson, creator of the Future in Review (FiRe) conference series (whose 2016 meeting got underway on Sept. 27). Anderson sits on the Callit2 Advisory Board, while Smarr is a member of the FiRe Advisory Board.

  • Big Data Hub Gets a Spoke: NSF Funds Regional Approach to Big Data Challenges in the West

    Researchers at the University of California San Diego, UCLA, and Arizona State University are partnering on a regional effort in the western United States to enhance “knowledge discovery and real-time interventions from sensory data flows in urban spaces.” The MetroInsight project is one of 10 regional projects funded today by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish Big Data Spokes extending out from the four Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs (BD Hubs) established in 2015 in the northeastern, southern, midwestern, and western parts of the U.S.

    In addition to $10 million awarded to the 10 BD Spokes projects, NSF will make available another $1 million across all of them for planning efforts and Early-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) to support efforts targeted at the nation’s big data innovation ecosystem.

    “The West faces particular and compelling challenges such as wildfires and earthquakes,” said UC San Diego Computer Science and Engineering Professor Rajesh Gupta, principal investigator for the MetroInsight project. “In those and other critical areas, large-scale longitudinal data from environmental and other sensors can have life-or-death consequences. The NSF is counting on the Western Hub to pull together major data stakeholders across this region to produce targeted interventions and get on the same page for sharing critical data from environmental and other sources.”   

    Each BD Hub fosters multi­sector collaborations among academia, industry, and government, while also bringing together a wide range of big data stakeholders to solve regional challenges. Each Big Data Spoke (BD Spoke) announced September 28 will work on a challenge that requires big data innovations.

    "The BD Spokes advance the goals and regional priorities of each BD Hub, fusing the strengths of a range of institutions and investigators and applying them to problems that affect the communities and populations within their regions," said Jim Kurose, assistant director of NSF for Computer and Information Science and Engineering. “We are pleased to be making this substantial investment today to accelerate the nation’s big data R&D innovation ecosystem.”

    The total $11 million in funding to BD Spokes represents 10 percent of the amount NSF will invest in fiscal 2017 in Big Data research.

  • Computer Scientist Participates in Cancer Genomes and Networks Program

    CSE and Pediatrics assistant professor Debashis Sahoo at UC San Diego has been selected as a participating member of the Cancer Genomes and Networks program in the university's Moores Cancer Center. Members of the Cancer Genomes and Networks research program focus upon three thematic areas: genome instability, human cancer genetics and systems biology. Sahoo, who will focus on the latter two, plans to develop computational models for human cancer and predict important biomarkers and therapeutic targets.

    "Working with the members of the Moores Cancer Center enables a computer scientist like me to develop lifesaving strategies for human cancer,” explained Sahoo (at left). “We have shown that Boolean analysis – a sophisticated data analysis method – provides a platform for such predictions. A part of this work is published in the New England Journal of Medicine. We will explore the application of this new method in many different types of human cancer. This appointment will provide me resources and numerous collaborative opportunities with cancer experts."

    Sahoo joined the UC San Diego School of Medicine in 2014 and received an additional appointment in CSE in 2016. His journey into the world of cancer genomics was borne from an initial curiosity not about cancer cells, but computers. He studied computer science as an undergraduate at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, initially focusing on theoretical computer science and, specifically, formal verification (FV), an area of computer science that has had a notable impact on hardware and software design. The goal of FV is to either prove or disprove, using formal methods of mathematics, whether or not an algorithm does exactly what it is supposed to do and nothing more, which can yield practical data with the hope of more efficiently solving problems in complex systems.

    Almost four years into his Ph.D. program at Stanford, Sahoo started doubting the real-world applicability of his work. "Deep into my Ph.D. program I decided to change my focus,” he said. “I wanted to focus on much more practical aspects. I was thinking, ‘How I can make an impact [on] society?’ If I just develop theories and no one implements them, it won’t work."

    Sahoo hoped to work on cancer biology, but as he knew nothing about cancer he needed to play some serious catch-up. Knowing it would be no small undertaking, he dove right in, enrolling in as many cancer-related courses as he could at Stanford, taking all of the undergraduate pre-medical requirements. He showed great promise in the field, even early on. “After one year, I taught cancer biology to undergrads,” he said. These experiences gave Sahoo the confidence to move forward with his goal of using computer science to more efficiently progress medical discovery. “Having both FV and cancer biology training gave me ideas about how to come up with algorithms.”

  • CSE Alumnus Gives Back to Student Success Initiative

    The Internet revolution had barely begun to spread when Bhavin Shah (pictured) enrolled in the Computer Science and Engineering program at UC San Diego in 1994. Nevertheless, it was clear to him that computer science was the place to be, and he picked UCSD over his father's alma mater, UC Berkeley, for one major reason: "I had friends that wne through four years of undergraduate at other schools with very little contact with their professors," he recalls. "Once I saw the intimacy between the students and the engineering professors at UC San Diego, I knew that was the place for me."

    The CSE alumnus (B.S. '99) also appreciated the ability to use computer science in activities outside of the classroom. He joined the Sally Ride EarthKAM project, a NASA educational outreach program that empowers middle school students, their teachers, and undergraduate mentors. “EarthKAM was like a real job,” says Shah. “We designed product, wrote code, and had our own customers. Those customers were middle school students. Like a real company, I was also able to see the direct impact of my effort. The deep impact we were having around the country was visceral every time we had a mission. But I also learned how much others depended on my work in a way that I never could have learned in the classroom."

    Shah's hands-on experience with the EarthKAM project made him particularly receptive to the Jacobs School of Engineering's initiatives to provide students with hands-on engineering experiences, mentorship and support. Shah's philanthropy began with support for the Jacobs School's Student Success Initiative, a comprehensive effort by the IDEA Student Center to support the academic success of undergraduate and graduate students to increase retention and diversity. Asked why he chose the Jacobs School, Shah responds: "There's a better signal-to-noise ratio here. If you want to see your contribution make a difference, give here. The leadership here will make sure it goes far. Every gift, no matter how small, makes an impact."

    After UC San Diego, Shah did a master's degree at Stanford combining education, computer science and business. Out of school he worked for Leapfrog developing innovative electronic and educational toys, before setting out on his own to do a startup that would bring "educational gameplay to the mass market... the idea was World of Warcraft meets education." He subsequently shifted gears and launched Refresh.io, a platform to help sales professionals learn about the people they are selling to. The company became a touchstone of the 'relationship management' trend in business, ultimately resulting in the company's acquisition by LinkedIn in April 2015.

    The buyout gave Shah the resources to take some time off and set about building his next big idea -- an enterprise software company that is still under wraps.

  • CSE Students, Alumni Prepare for SD Hacks 2016

    UC San Diego will host over 1,000 students for 36 hours of technological collaboration at SD Hacks 2016. The second annual hackathon in the series will take place Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 in RIMAC Arena on the UC San Diego campus. The student-led hackathon is one of the largest in California, along with those at UC Berkeley and UCLA. Organizers say that applications are already above the total 3,000 applications to participate in SD Hacks 2015. "We expect to get over 4,000 applications," says CSE junior Yacoub Oulad Daoud (at right), one of the organizers of this year's hackathon.

    One of the reasons so many students are drawn to SD Hacks is that companies like Qualcomm, ViaSat, Perkins Coie, SPAWAR and more will be present at the event to look for talent. Students know that San Diego is a dynamic, thriving innovation ecosystem, featuring many of the world’s smartest companies, a talented and loyal workforce, top-tier universities, and easy access to international markets.

    SD Hacks will provide extensive mentorship and resources in order to allow students to learn new skills that they can apply. For instance, the SD Hacks team is collaborating with the campus Virtual Reality Club to plan a workshop and to create a unique space reserved for virtual reality development. The space will feature HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets, high-performance computers, and mentors both from the VR Club and NanoVR, a UC San Diego student-led startup.

    “SD Hacks was a fantastic event for ViaSat," observes CSE alumnus Nik Devereaux, who works for ViaSat and serves on the CSE Alumni Board. "We were able to interact with over a thousand engineering students from all over the state.”

    SD Hacks 2015 finished with nearly 80 completed projects which competed for prizes in categories for complexity, functionality, innovation and design. The grand prize winners—then-computer science seniors Chris Zelazo (B.S. '16), who is now at Pinterest; Kesav Mulakaluri (B.S. '16), now at Apple; and Chet Lemon (B.S. '16)—created SNS Payments, a mobile application and phone accessory for making wireless payments. Current mobile phone payment systems like Apple Pay require the development of new infrastructure, whereas SNS Payments was able to utilize existing retail equipment.

  • UC San Diego Names Computer Engineer to Fratamico Endowed Chair

    Tajana Rosing is among the latest faculty in the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) department rewarded with endowed chairs at the University of California San Diego. The campus named professor Rosing to the John J. and Susan M. Fratamico Endowed Chair in the Jacobs School of Engineering.

    Established in 2012 with a $750,000 gift from the Fratamicos, the endowed chair supports multidisciplinary research that includes engineering and the life sciences. Rosing is the inaugural holder of the chair.

    "This honor allows me the freedom to focus on new and challenging research questions over the summer with my best and brightest students," said Rosing, who joined the CSE faculty in 2005. "That kind of freedom wouldn’t be possible without the funding from the Fratamico chair." 

    The computer-engineering professor is affiliated with the Qualcomm Institute and Contextual Robotics Institute as well as the Center for Networked Systems. Rosing is also a member of the Centers for Wearable Sensors, Energy Research, Sustainable Power and Energy, as well as Wireless and Population Health Systems and the San Diego Supercomputer Center.

    The department and the campus are planning to honor Rosing at an event scheduled for January. “We are extremely thankful to longtime San Diegans John and Susan Fratamico for making it possible to bestow on Rosing a long-overdue honor in recognition of her ambitious research agenda and its real-world applications,” said CSE department chair Dean Tullsen. “Endowed chairs are often awarded to retain exceptional scholars, and in Professor Rosing’s case, her creativity and approach to research have had a deep impact on innovation in computer engineering.”

    On the research side, Rosing's System Energy Efficiency Lab (SEELab) focuses on energy efficiency in all kinds of systems, from sensor nodes to data centers, transport networks and power grids. In addition to energy-efficient computing, her primary research interests include context-aware computing, human-cyber-physical system design, embedded systems hardware and software design, resource management at the system level, and the design of approximate and highly efficient architectures. Going forward, Rosing will continue investigating efficient, distributed data collection, aggregation and processing of this data in the context of smart cities, wireless healthcare, the distributed Smart Grid for electricity, and Internet of Things applications.

    Rosing is a leading researcher in the area of using information present in wireless systems to achieve more efficient system operation. This information can come from sensors’ observations of human behavior and needs, and also from various other environmental sensing systems, both stationary and mobile.  Rosing’s recent work has focused on efficiently extracting knowledge about context from such sensing sources, and leveraging that knowledge to implement distributed control algorithms for large-scale Internet of Things applications underlying Smart Cities infrastructure.  A recent example includes using drones to detect areas of higher air pollution collaboratively and dynamically, and to provide this feedback in real time in emergencies (e.g., forest fires), and in normal daily life (such as air pollution due to recent fertilization of nearby fields, or due to higher than normal and localized smog conditions). 

    The computer engineer has also leveraged context to optimize the operation and design of embedded systems by maximizing energy efficiency in exchange for controllable and tolerable inaccuracies in computation.  According to Rosing, this research resulted in systems that are up to 1,000 times more energy efficient with less than a 10 percent error in computation.  “These systems are especially applicable to many Internet of Things applications where the data sources themselves are not completely accurate,” said Rosing, noting that sensors can often have around 10 percent inaccuracy. “The large scale of data that is analyzed requires the application of statistical machine learning to provide information needed for feedback to people (e.g., local air-quality problems) or for control of other devices (e.g., where drones need to fly).

  • Understanding and Dealing with Failures in Cloud-Scale Systems

    Ph.D. candidate Peng (Ryan) Huang is getting ready to complete his degree. Next week he'll stage the final defense of his dissertation on "Understanding and Dealing with Failures in Cloud-Scale Systems." Huang is not worried about a future job: He has already accepted a tenure-track offer to join the Johns Hopkins University Department of Computer Science in Fall 2017 as an Assistant Professor. He'll help them further develop a research depth in computer systems (Huang's own research focus). Prior to Johns Hopkins, he decided however to do a postdoctoral year at Microsoft Research in its Systems Group in Redmond, WA.

    Date: Friday, September 23
    Time: 11am
    Location: Room 2217, CSE Building

    Huang's advisor, CSE Prof. YY Zhou, will chair the committee consisting of three other CSE faculty (Ranjit Jhala, George Porter and Stefan Savage) and ECE Prof. Tara Javidi.

    Abstract:  In cloud-scale systems, fault is a fact of life. To tolerate faults and provide highly-available service is arguably the single most important task for cloud builders. Yet, despite the considerable efforts into fault-tolerance and software engineering for reliability, all cloud-scale services continue to experience costly failures. A natural question to ask is: why do cloud-scale services still fail despite the abundant fault-tolerance, and how we can further improve? Ryan Huang's dissertation attempts to shed light on this question.

  • Alumnus Uses Technology to Serve Movie-goers and Target Competitors

    A CSE alumnus is making waves in Hollywood because he may be pointing the way to the future of movie-going. Ameesh Paleja (B.S. '01) finished his undergraduate degree in computer science at UC San Diego. He is now the co-founder and CEO of Atom Tickets, based in Santa Monica, Calif. According to Paleja (below), Atom Tickets is building "amazing products that aim to delight customers," and some Hollywood heavyweights have signed on as investors in the startup, including Disney, 20th Century Fox, and Lionsgate.

    Paleja founded Atom Tickets with Matthew Bakal, a former Lionsgate executive who is Atom’s executive chairman. In 2014, the two set up shop adjacent to the Lionsgate movie studio headquarters in Santa Monica.

    After graduating from CSE, Paleja worked for two years at Microsoft as a software engineer handling the Windows firewall platform and IP security. Then from 2003 to 2014 he cycled through a series of senior engineering jobs at the rapidly-growing Amazon.com. He focused on building software and services like Prime Instant Video,Cloud Drive, and the Kindle product line. Paleja then became the founding employee of Amazon’s digital R&D facility in Southern California (Irvine), where he oversaw more than 550 employees. He had the title of Director, running the product and engineering division for Amazon's Appstore, when he decided to step down and start over.

    In 2014, Paleja co-founded Atom Tickets with Matthew Bakal, a former Lionsgate executive who is Atom’s executive chairman. Atom Tickets is a first-of-its-kind theatrical mobile ticketing platform and app, allowing moviegoers to skip lines by preordering tickets and concessions, and invite their friends without having to pay for their tickets via its social invitation features.

    “Going to movies with a group of friends can be a hassle, between picking a day and show-time, finding a theater, and a lot of times, one person has to buy tickets for the group which can expensive,” said Paleja. “Our product is designed to make that process easier. We are taking a more modern, thoughtful and customer-friendly approach.”

    The Atom Tickets app (left) launched in Southern California (including Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties), and it's rapidly expanding in other parts of the country. The company says it will expand to 1,000 theaters – or 15,000 screens - by the end of the year, thanks to partnerships with Regal Cinemas and AMC Theatres, the country’s largest cinema chains. That total is roughly half the number of screens as the market leaders Fandango (27,000 screens) and MovieTickets.com (29,000).

    Paleja doesn't appear worried, because Atom Tickets is using technology that provides a much more dynamic user interface and environment for movie-goers, including personalization, recommendation and advance ticketing for social connections.

    “Those companies are media companies attacking the ticketing problem, we are a tech company attacking the ticket problem, so that is the fundamental difference,” says Paleja, referring to Fandango and MovieTickets.com. “Before we started Atom Tickets, we found that there hadn't been a lot of innovation in digital ticketing in the last 15 years, so we saw a huge opportunity for disruption.”