Archive for November, 2011


Scientific American‘s 10 World-Changing Ideas for 2011

November 23rd, 2011

In the December 2011 issue of Scientific American:

Scientific American's 10 World Changing Ideas for 2011 [image courtesy Scientific American].Revolutions often spring from the simplest of ideas. When a young inventor named Steve Jobs wanted to provide computing power to “people who have no computer experience and don’t particularly care to gain any,” he ushered us from the cumbersome technology of mainframes and command-line prompts to the breezy advances of the Macintosh and iPhone. His idea helped to forever change our relationship with technology.


What other simple but revolutionary ideas are out there in the labs, waiting for the right moment to make it big? We have found 10, and … we explain what they are and how they might shake things up: Computers that work like minds. Batteries you can top off at the pump. A crystal ball made from data… Consider this collection our salute to the power of a simple idea.

Turns out more than half of the 10 world-changing ideas are dependent upon advances in computing (after the jump):

» Read more: Scientific American‘s 10 World-Changing Ideas for 2011

More Stanford CS, Entrepreneurship Courses Go Online

November 22nd, 2011

More Stanford CS, Entrepreneurship Courses Go Online [image courtesy].This fall, Stanford launched a highly-publicized experiment in online learning, offering three of its most popular introductory computer science classes — Machine Learning, Introduction to Databases, and Introduction to Artificial Intelligence — through the Web for free. The classes, taught by Stanford faculty, are being held online in conjunction with the regular on-campus courses. And by all accounts, they’ve been a huge hit: over 130,000 people signed up for the AI class, and while the numbers have dropped off considerably now that school is actually in session, some 35,000 students turned in the first three weeks of homework assignments (in addition to the 175 Stanford students taking the class on campus).

Now comes word that, starting in January and February, Stanford will offer 7 new courses, in addition to a new section of Machine Learning (after the jump):

» Read more: More Stanford CS, Entrepreneurship Courses Go Online

NSF Launches Secure & Trustworthy Cyberspace Program; Webinar Scheduled

November 22nd, 2011

NSF Launches Cross-Foundation Secure & Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) Program for FY 12 [image courtesy NSF].Last month, the National Science Foundation (NSF) launched a new multi-disciplinary program — Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) — seeking proposals that address cybersecurity needs. SaTC replaces NSF’s Trustworthy Computing (TwC) program, expanding support within the Foundation to include, in addition to the Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE), the directorates for Social, Behavioral, & Economic Sciences (SBE) and Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) and Office of Cyberinfrastructure (OCI). Late yesterday, in an effort to help researchers interested in cybersecurity understand the opportunities being made available through SaTC, NSF announced that it will hold a webinar about the new program on Friday, December 2, 2011, at 1pm EST.

From the official solicitation:

Cybersecurity is an important challenge in today’s world. Corporations, agencies, national infrastructure and individuals have been victims of cyber-attacks. Addressing this problem requires multi-disciplinary expertise in human, statistical, mathematical, computational, and computer sciences and ultimately the transition of new concepts and technologies to practice.


The SaTC program seeks proposals that address cybersecurity from one or more of three perspectives: Trustworthy Computing Systems, Social, Behavioral and Economics,and Transition to Practice, as well as proposals that combine multiple perspectives. Proposers are invited to submit proposals in three project classes, which are defined below:


» Read more: NSF Launches Secure & Trustworthy Cyberspace Program; Webinar Scheduled

“Computing and AI for a Sustainable Future”

November 21st, 2011

Following last month’s focus on smart health and wellbeing, IEEE Intelligent Systems is inaugurating the Department of AI and Sustainability — another area of national importance! — in its forthcoming November/December 2011 issue.

Doug Fisher, a Professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering at Vanderbilt University who recently served as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF), will be the department’s editor — and he’s just penned the debut article:

When preparing for a March 2007 talk at [NSF], I searched the Web for scholarly work on AI and climate change, the natural environment, and sustainability. My search was not exhaustive, largely based on keywords, but it wasn’t trivial either. Still, little turned up in the intersection of AI and sustainability in early 2007, and most of what did, as I recall, was in environmental science publications and appeared to be dominated by European researchers using evolutionary computation for the purposes of optimization.


AI and sustainability has grown substantially in the last few years. To some extent, this tracks with increasing interest in sustainability and computing more generally. However, AI is helping to drive this larger movement, rather than simply riding along. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine that AI would not be central to understanding and managing the great complexity of maintaining a healthy planet in the face of pervasive and transformative human activity…


» Read more: “Computing and AI for a Sustainable Future”

Third Annual CSEdWeek Just Around the Corner

November 21st, 2011

2011 Computer Science Education Week [image courtesy].The third annual Computer Science Education WeekCSEdWeek for short — is just around the corner! Endorsed by Congress as December 4-10, 2011, in recognition of Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper’s birthday (Dec. 9th, 1906) and her many contributions to the field of computer science, CSEdWeek is “a call to action to raise awareness of computer science education and computing careers for students, educators, and the public.”

There are numerous events and activities planned throughout the nation to illustrate how computer science education is essential to exposing students to critical thinking and problem solving; instilling an understanding of computational thinking for success in the digital era; and preparing students to attack the world’s most challenging problems from a computational perspective.

Help us spread the word about CSEdWeek — and computer science education and computing careers more generally:

» Read more: Third Annual CSEdWeek Just Around the Corner

Talk to your DARPA Program Manager!

November 19th, 2011

DARPA Director Dr. Regina Dugan

On November 15, seven University of Washington faculty members from Biology, Bioengineering, and Computer Science & Engineering were privileged to share a 2-hour breakfast in Seattle with DARPA Director Regina Dugan, Deputy Director Ken Gabriel, IIO Office Director Dan Kaufman, IIO Program Manager Ben Cutler, and U.S. Marines Operational Liaison Col. Robert Durkin.

One message that came through loud and clear:  DARPA leadership is intently focused on understanding how well DARPA is working in the eyes of the academic research community.  There were many probing questions exploring the details of interactions and relationships.

Talk to your DARPA Program Manager was emphasized repeatedly.  For example, in order to allow headquarters staff to focus on technical matters, many DARPA contracts are administered by other organizations.  Some of these organizations may not have gotten the memo about DARPA’s current approach to reporting requirements – less frequent than in the past, and structured to help advance the research.  It’s the Program Manager who ultimately calls the shots – but s/he may not be aware of reporting requirements imposed by intermediate parties.

We have reported here several times on changes at DARPA under the new Director – see, for example, DARPA a year later.  It’s real.