Archive for the ‘research horizons’ category


Computer-Aided Personalized Education Workshop

August 27th, 2015

The CCC Computer-Aided Personalized Education (CAPE) Workshop will be held in Washington, DC on November 12-13th.


The demand for education in STEM fields is exploding, and universities and colleges are straining to satisfy this demand. In the case of Computer Science, for example, the number of US students enrolled in introductory courses has grown three-fold in the past decade. Recently massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been promoted as a way to ease this strain, but scaling traditional models of teaching to MOOCs poses many of the same challenges observed in the overflowing classrooms, namely, assessment of students’ knowledge and providing meaningful feedback to individual students.

To tackle these problems computing research needs to create a new agenda, one that:

  • formalizes tasks such as assessment and feedback as computational problems
  • develops algorithmic tools to solve resulting problems at scale
  • incorporates these tools effectively in learning environments.

The focus of this workshop will be on college-level courses in computer science, mathematics, and physics with the goals of:

  • creating a long-term research agenda by bringing together researchers from diverse disciplines, such as logical reasoning, machine learning, human-computer interaction, cognitive science, and education and learning,
  • inspiring other researchers to work on these problems
  • and ultimately result in technology for effective and personalized learning.

For more information, please see the Computer-Aided Personalized Education website or contact Ann Drobnis.

Testing Hypotheses Privately

August 24th, 2015

croppedcynthia001 (1)

In case you missed it, Computing Community Consortium (CCC) Council member Cynthia Dwork, distinguished scientist at Microsoft Research, and her co-authors Vitaly Feldman, research scientist at IBM’s Almaden Research Center; Moritz Hardt, research scientist at Google; Toniann Pitassi, professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto; Omer Reingold, principle researcher at Samsung Research America; and Aaron Roth, the Raj and Neera Singh Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer and Information Science in the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science published an article in Science on The reusable holdout: Preserving validity in adaptive data analysis.

In their paper they

demonstrate a new approach for addressing the challenges of adaptivity based on insights from privacy-preserving data analysis.

Large data sets offer a vast scope for testing already-formulated ideas and new ones, but researchers who attempt to do both on the same data set run the risk of making false discoveries. Based on ideas drawn from differential privacy, Dwork et al. now provides a theoretical solution. Ideas are tested against aggregate information and individual data set components remain confidential.

For more information, please see their paper The reusable holdout: Preserving validity in adaptive data analysis, Aaron Roth’s interview, or Cynthia Dwork’s interview with Microsoft.



Great Innovative Idea- Emerging Architectures for Global System Science

August 5th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 10.07.12 AM

The following Great Innovative Idea is from Michela Milano at the University of Bologna-Italy and Pascal Van Hentenryck from NICTA Optimisation Research Group and the University of Michigan.

Their Emerging Architectures for Global System Science paper was one of the winners at the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) sponsored Blue Sky Ideas Conference Track at the 29th Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-15), January 25-30, 2015 in Austin, Texas.

The Innovative Idea

Our society is organized around a number of (interdependent) global systems: Logistic and supply chains, health services, energy networks, financial markets, computer networks, and cities. Typically, people optimize these systems by considering sub-systems in isolation and ignoring aspects that cannot be modelled easily such as human behavior.

The key idea behind our research is that we should look at global systems much more holistically and pay more attention to interactions between complex infrastructures, man-made processes, natural phenomena, and human behavior. It is the right time to do so because, for the first time in the history of mankind, we have access to data sets of unprecedented scale and accuracy about these infrastructures, processes, natural phenomena, and human behaviors. In addition, there has been tremendous progress in optimization technology (prescriptive analytics) and machine learning (predictive analytics) and their integration may bring substantial benefits.


Global systems are ubiquitous. By modeling and optimizing them more globally, the hope is to improve social welfare across these systems. This may mean responding better to disasters, saving and producing energy more effectively, improving the quality of life in our cities and health care delivery, or making a supply chain more efficient and resilient.

Other Research

Traditionally, we have been studying well-isolated optimization problems, using techniques from artificial intelligence and operations research, and their hybridization. But, in the last few years, we started looking at energy, disaster management, and supply chains and to integrate strategic, tactical, and operation planning under uncertainty and merging predictive and prescriptive analytics. A key aspect of our research is also to build the underlying mathematical optimization techniques and technology that will scale to these global systems.

Researcher’s Background

We are both computer scientists working in mathematical optimization, often bridging the gap between theory and practice. We prove theorems, we build large systems, and we try solve real applications in the field.


Michela’s Website:

Pascal’s Website:


To view more Great Innovative Ideas, please click here.

Great Innovative Idea- Speculative Reprogramming

July 9th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 2.50.29 PMThe following Great Innovative Idea is from Marc Palyart at the University of British Columbia, Gail C. Murphy at the Univeristy of British ColumbiaEmerson Murphy-Hill at NC State University, and Xavier Blanc at Bordeaux University.

Their Speculative Reprogramming paper won third place at the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) sponsored Blue Sky Ideas Conference Track series at the 22nd ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE), November 16-22, 2014 in Hong Kong.

The Innovative Idea

Software programming today is largely a flat-line activity.  Although a software developer implementing a design makes many choices, such as which library to use, which data structures to use and so on, these choices are seldom captured; the code committed to the repository is typically the final end choice.

To support programming as the tree-like activity it is, we propose speculative reprogramming. In this approach, design and implementation alternatives that arise are explicitly represented and a developer is enabled to easily investigate multiple alternatives for the program.The alternatives that arise may be specified explicitly by the developer, may be captured implicitly as the developer works or may be determined implicitly based on analysis of the program and available resources (e.g., the web or repositories containing list of alternatives).


In speculative reprogramming, tool support makes it easy to explore an alternative path by allowing backtracking to an alternative point and rolling forward of the program as automatically as possible. Tool support also enables automatic analysis of the effect of an alternative decision, say by determining that the performance of the program would be improved with a different alternative. The intent is to make it easier for developers to explore the design space of their programs.

Overall speculative reprogramming would make design choices less definitive and heavy. For example design choices that made sense in the past could be reevaluated and changed in the present context. It would also facilitate quality improvement by supporting low-cost refactorings to reduce part of the technical debt arising during the development.

Other Research

We are interested in making software developers more productive when building software of high-quality. The research we conduct includes investigating trends by mining software repositories, empirically studying programmers at work, developing and testing tools for improving how software development is conducted, and helping developers make more effective use of the tools they already have.

Researcher’s Background

Marc Palyart is a postdoctoral researcher in the Software Practices Lab from the University of British Columbia. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Toulouse.

Gail C. Murphy is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Science at the University of British Columbia.  She is also Chief Scientist and co-founder of Tasktop Technologies.  She is an Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering and a member of the Editorial Board of Communications of the ACM.

Emerson Murphy-Hill is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at North Carolina State University, where he directs the Developer Liberation Front. He is an associate editor of Empirical Software Engineering.

Xavier Blanc is a professor at the University of Bordeaux. He is a member of the LaBRI (Computer Science Laboratory), where he directs the ProgResS research group that focuses on Software Engineering.


Marc Palyart’s website:

Gail Murphy’s website:

Emerson Murphy-Hill’s website:

Xavier Blanc’s website:


To view more Great Innovative Ideas, please click here.


AAAS Technovisual: Art in the Age of Code

July 8th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 2.04.25 PM

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) currently has a three month Technovisual: Art in the Age of Code exhibit on display at their headquarters in Washington, D.C. The exhibit showcases eight artists from across the U.S. who use computer programming and the science of computing to create new experiences and ask new questions.

Artists, as intellectual pioneers, have embraced the unique aesthetic and creative possibilities of computing since the dawn of the Information Age and increasingly apply digital tools with the same fluency as physical ones.

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 2.10.15 PM

Please join the AAAS Arts Program tomorrow night, July 9th, from 6:30-8:30pm at AAAS for a “Coding and Creativity” panel discussion. Participants will discuss the Technovisual exhibit and consider the use of simulation, modeling and visualization software by artists and scientists to uncover trends, simulate complex phenomenon and create unique aesthetic experience. If you are interested, please RSVP here.

If you are unable to attend, the exhibit will be on display at AAAS until August 15th, 2015Click here for more information on the show and the AAAS Gallery.

Upcoming CCC Blue Sky Idea Tracks

July 7th, 2015

14392 CCC BlueSky logos_v2-1The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) sponsors an initiative to bring special “Blue Sky Ideas” tracks to leading computer science research conferences. The goal of this initiative is to help conferences reach out beyond the usual research papers that present completed work and to seek out papers that present ideas and visions that can stimulate the research community to pursue new directions.

Conferences may request CCC sponsorship of such tracks along with a CCC grant that provides prize money for the top 3 papers (first prize $1000, second prize $750, and third prize $500), to be awarded as travel grants.

Papers in a “Blue Sky Ideas” track should be open-ended, possibly “outrageous” or “wacky”, and present new problems, new application domains, or new methodologies that are likely to stimulate significant new research.

Here are the upcoming Blue Sky Idea Conference Tracks:

To learn more about Blue Sky Ideas Conference Track, check out the website.