Archive for the ‘research horizons’ category


Every College Student Should Take a Computer Science Course

May 4th, 2015


The following is a blog post by Ran Libeskind-Hadas, R. Michael Shanahan Professor and Computer Science Department Chair at Harvey Mudd College and Computing Community Consortium (CCC) Council Member, that was recently posted in the Huffington Post

Here are three good reasons why every college student should take an introductory computer science course.

First, computing has become an inextricable part of our lives. Understanding how computers and software work, what they can and can’t do, and their impact on society is, therefore, an important part of a modern liberal arts education.

Second, computing is a creative endeavor at the crossroads of engineering, mathematics, psychology, and the arts. A well-conceived computer science course can integrate problem solving, logic, human factors, and artistic creativity. It’s hard to imagine a domain that bridges more of what we hope to teach in college.

Third, computing is a valuable skill. While most people who take a single computing course — or even a few courses — won’t end up at Google or Microsoft, it doesn’t take a lot of computing background to develop a useful and highly sought-after skill set. In some introductory courses, students write their own smart phone apps, educational games, powerful web applications, and DNA analysis tools. A single computer science course can provide students with skills that they’ll use in later courses, projects, senior theses, and even internships and jobs.

But, it’s not just on the students. Colleges and universities need to reimagine computing courses that are meaningful and compelling for undergraduates who are not already predisposed to computer science and for whom a first computer science course may also be their last computer science course. In many cases, existing computing courses for non-majors teach students to use spreadsheets, presentation software, and maybe write a webpage. Those are useful skills, but lack both the intellectual depth and the creativity of a real introductory computer science course. Other introductory courses discuss the history of computing, its impact on society, and some computing concepts, but do not provide students with actual programming experience.

I believe that a first course in computing should certainly teach big ideas, discuss the fascinating history of the field, and explore the applications and implications of computing in society, but should also give students rich and meaningful experiences writing their own programs. And not just programs that the student will write, submit, and forget about, but programs that students are genuinely excited about and will spend at least as much time using and showing their friends and family as they did writing the code itself.

I’m encouraged by an increasing number of innovative introductory courses that provide students with these rich experiences. And, I’m very excited to see students voting for these courses with their feet. At my institution, Harvey Mudd College, we developed a set of introductory courses that are not only required for all Harvey Mudd students but are now immensely popular among non-majors at our four sister institutions in the Claremont Colleges consortium. At a college of 800 students, we are teaching introductory computer science to all of our first-year students, regardless of their ultimate major. And, we are attracting hundreds of students each from our sister colleges in Claremont. They are literature, economics, and sociology majors – among many others. And Harvey Mudd does not have a monopoly on innovative introductory courses. A number of other institutions including the University of Washington, Harvard, and others have pioneered their own successful courses in a similar spirit.

Compelling first courses can have a large impact in attracting traditionally underrepresented groups to computing. The most recent CRA Taulbee Survey of over 100 major computer science departments in North America reported that under 15 percent of bachelors degrees in CS go to women. Until 2007, Harvey Mudd’s numbers were — if anything — lower than the national average. In 2007, we implemented our new introductory courses and saw an immediate increase in the number of women choosing to major in computer science. Over 40 percent of our majors are now women and that has held steady for several years. While our numbers are too small to discern the impact on other traditionally underrepresented groups, we see some evidence that these courses are drawing more Hispanic/Latino and African-American students to the major as well.

Finally, universities and colleges should include appropriately designed computer science courses as part of their general education curricula. At many schools with undergraduate distribution requirements in mathematics and the sciences, a computer science course isn’t included as an option. While I can’t argue that computer science is more important than calculus or statistics or a physical or natural science course, it’s becoming extremely difficult to argue that it shouldn’t be an equal player in that array of extraordinary human achievement.



Cyber-Physical Systems Week 2015

April 17th, 2015

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The following guest blog post is from Tho Nguyen, AAAS Fellow in Computer Systems Research in the Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Today marks the end of the 2015 Cyber-Physical Systems Week.  As part of the week of celebrations, NSF sponsored a meeting of early-career investigators in cyber-physical systems to focus on exploring research challenges and opportunities in Smart Cities.

The Cyber-Physical Systems community is an exciting group of researchers and developers working to advance the emerging system science that deeply integrates computing (cyber) and engineered (physical) components. CPS enables truly “smart” technologies, systems, and infrastructures of the future. Examples of CPS today include the self-driving car, tele-operated robots, and smart-grid technologies.

With more than 80% of the US population living in urban environments, there is a clear and apparent need to further engage research and development innovations to enhance urban quality of life. Naturally, the CPS community plays a central role in the emerging Smart City paradigm.

NSF CISE Directorate prioritizes the professional development early-career investigators by supporting programs such as the innovative CISE Research Initiation Initiative (CRII) and NSF’s CAREER Awards. Recognizing that researchers in the multi-domains field of CPS need broad perspectives beyond their research expertise, the CISE Directorate initiated an early-career workshop concept where new investigators gather for professional development, building professional networks, and engaging in a national a discussion to explore research opportunities with their peers. The early-career workshop is both a professional development activities for researchers and as well as mechanism for NSF to develop a core researcher community to address emerging national priorities.

The CPS program enabling smart technologies for the future; the emerging Smart City paradigm to enhance urban quality of life; and the community meeting for early-career researchers are all coming together at CPS Week 2015 this April 13-17, 2015 in Seattle, WA. The early-career workshop is led by exciting thought leaders in the field such as Maryam Fazel (UW), Steven Low (Caltech), Babak Parviz (Amazon Inc.), Glenn Ricart (US-IGNITE), Jose Baptista (Rockefeller Foundation), and Vikram Janhdyala (UW).

The 2015 NSF Early-Career Investigator Workshop for CPS and Smart City marks the first meeting to develop a core research community that is truly for the future.

Great Innovative Ideas!

April 16th, 2015

The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is delighted to announce a new feature on our website!

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Great Innovative Ideas are a way to showcase the exciting new research and ideas generated by the computing community. Once a month we will post an article highlighting new research going on in the field and ideas generated by our colleagues. This feature will replace the Highlight of the Week. All previously posted highlights of the week are archived here.

A few of the ideas showcased in Great Innovative Ideas will be from the CCC Blue Sky Ideas Conference Track, including our first Great Innovative Idea from Marian Petre (Open University) and Daniela Damian (University of Victoria, Canada) on Development Methodology.

Check it out!

The National Academies Forum on Cyber Resilience

April 9th, 2015



The National Academies Forum on Cyber Resilience held its inaugural meeting this week in Washington, DC. The Forum is focused on advancing the national dialogue about our cyber systems and their resilience and plans to address issues including cybersecurity and trustworthiness; stakeholder values; and preparation, response, and recovery in the face of malicious attacks, technological disruptions and natural disasters. It is chaired by Fred B. Schneider, directed by Lynette I. Millett, and made up of a multidisciplinary group of experts, with perspectives spanning research, practice, technology, and policy.

The Forum will convene three times annually to plan and execute workshops and supplementary activities. At the public session this week, forum member Richard Danzig discussed his recent paper, Surviving on a Diet of Poisoned Fruit: Reducing the National Security Risks of America’s Cyber Dependencies.

Danzig talked about how our society is growing dependent on computing systems, but that comes with risk since these systems are inherently insecure.  So, it is time to rethink that dependence and, for certain critical applications, deploy designs that deliver service even if the computing systems are compromised.

For more information about the Forum on Cyber Resilience, please see their website.

Meet a CS Finalist from Intel’s 2015 Science Talent Search!

March 30th, 2015


The future is bright for 40 young finalists from Intel’s 2015 Science Talent Search, who as high school seniors are already completing and publishing graduate level science projects.

The Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS), a program of the Society for Science & the Public, is the nation’s most prestigious pre-college science competition. Alumni of STS have made extraordinary contributions to science and hold more than 100 of the world’s most distinguished science and math honors, including the Nobel Prize and the National Medal of Science. Each year, 300 Intel STS semifinalists and their schools are recognized. From that select pool of semifinalists, 40 student finalists are invited to Washington, DC in March to participate in final judging, display their work to the public, meet notable scientists, and compete for awards, including three top awards of $150,000 each.

This year 19 young women and 21 young men came from 36 schools in 18 states and competed in 17 different categories. There were four projects under the computer science category, including Jihyeon Lee’s project on An Enhanced Method for HDR Imaging: Artifact-Free and Optimized for Mobile Devices.

2015Jihyeon (Janel) Lee is from Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, CA. The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) met with her and we were very impressed by her project, her individual work on her project, and her passion for computer science!

Janel answered a few questions for us to share her story:

1) Briefly describe your project.

My project was on developing an enhanced algorithm for high dynamic range (HDR) imaging. In HDR imaging, multiple low dynamic range (LDR) images taken at different exposure times are combined to produce one HDR image. Although HDR imaging can create much more vibrant photos that better capture a real world scene, its practical usage is still difficult due to distortions called artifacts, caused by common problems like camera shake and unwanted objects moving through a scene. I developed an algorithm that could detect and remove artifacts (blurring and ghosting, specifically) and also optimized it so that it could be implemented on mobile devices (so that people can actually use this technology in real life!).

2) How long have you been working on your project? Who were your mentors?

I’ve been working on this project close to two years now. I didn’t do my research at a lab or professional institution but worked independently. I would say my mentor would be my dad; he helped me identify some new directions when I was stuck.

3) How did you come up with the project idea?

I was really frustrated with my own phone, which had an HDR imaging feature on it. There was a little warning message that said to be careful not to shake the phone, which definitely bothered me since camera shake is a very common problem among users. I just started Googling about HDR imaging and what steps were being taken to address human error, and when I couldn’t find a solution that satisfied my needs, I decided to develop my own.

4) What are your plans for your project?

There is some possible future work tied with my project that I’m looking into, such as greater optimization and using accelerometers and gyroscopes to calculate rotational movement. I don’t know for sure how long I’ll be working on this project, but it’s definitely helped me decide that computer science is what I want to pursue in the future.

5) What are your plans for the future/ what would you like to do?

I’m not entirely sure yet, but I would like to first major in Computer Science and/or Electrical Engineering in college. There are so many applications of computer science that I’d like to continue doing research in college and hopefully find a field to which I can apply my skills, whether it be business, finance, neuroscience, or something else.

6) Briefly describe the week you spent in DC. What did you do? What did you learn? What was the best part?

It was my first time at our nation’s capital, and we got to go on a tour to see the major monuments and landmarks but also got some time to explore on our own (the powerful atmosphere of the Lincoln Memorial was amazing). There were two days of judging, where we were individually interviewed with questions from any field and any topic. Then, we presented our projects with our boards to the judges and also shared our research with the public on Public Day. I think this was really my favorite part. Having younger students ask me about my project and showing interest in science is awesome, and I hope I convinced them to continue to like computer science!

With exceptional high school students like Janel, we can be confident that research in computer science will continue to produce products and services to enrich our daily lives.


WATCH Talk- Cybersecurity and Privacy: Complementary– Not Mutually Exclusive– Concepts

March 12th, 2015


The next WATCH Talk is Thursday, March 19, 12:00-1:00PM EDT. Mary Ellen Callahan, will discuss Cybersecurity and Privacy: Complementary– Not Mutually Exclusive– Concepts. Mary Ellen Callahan, Chair of Jenner & Block’s Privacy and Information Governance Practice, has unique and broad experience advising clients at the interface of privacy protection with cybersecurity and national security.  A nationally recognized privacy attorney, she served as Chief Privacy Officer of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2009 until August 2012.  She is a prolific writer and speaker on cutting-edge commercial privacy issues.



Cybersecurity information sharing is vital to protect the private and public sector assets. With that said, privacy protections must be in place in order to truly have effective information sharing. Just as assets need to be protected to avoid a cyber attack, so too should privacy protections be established in order to properly protect the information incidentally associated with a cyber attack.  Establishing privacy protections related to the collection, use, sharing and retention of cyber threat indicators is crucial to developing trust among sharing entities.  The former DHS Chief Privacy Officer will describe how the DHS privacy protections are embedded into the cybersecurity architecture at DHS, and how that can be recreated in other environments.

The talk will be held in Room 110 at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, VA. No RSVP is necessary, and no visitor badges are required. It will also be webcast; you can register here.