|Message from the Chair|
|It is a watershed time for the Department of Computer Science. We have emerged from a difficult period in our history characterized by open faculty lines and exploding enrollments. We are stronger than ever before because the CIS structure enables us to address boldly every teaching and research challenge that comes our way. We are now set to move in several directions, each of which represents a different academic adventure, a different path to the sea. I am reminded of the five great river watersheds that grace our part of the Northeast. The Hudson, the Susquehanna, and the Delaware each get their start in beautiful upstate New York. The raindrops that fall here in Ithaca are rewarded with a trip down the St. Lawrence after stopovers in Cayuga Lake and Lake Ontario, while those that fall just to our west find their way into the Gulf of Mexico via the Allegheny, the Ohio, and the Mississippi. Upstate New York is a watershed paradise, and I like to think that Ezra Cornell appreciated the|
Charles Van Loan
metaphor when he chose the location for this great university. Our job
in the department is not to cogitate at the river's edge, but to be
part of its source with innovative research and teaching. Quite simply
our mission is to affect positively the quality of life downstream in
the information age.
Rich Caruana (Carnegie Mellon University), Daisy Fan (Cornell), Thorsten Joachims (Dortmund), and Jayavel Shanmugasundaram (Wisconsin) will be new faculty colleagues this fall. Rich works in machine learning and data mining and has interests in medical decision making and bioinformatics. Daisy is a civil engineer who will continue her research in computational science while she helps run our large CS 100 operation. Thorsten works in machine learning and intelligent agents with a focus on Support Vector Machines and learning with text. Jai's research interests include internet data management, database systems, and transaction processing in emerging system architectures.
In January, two additional faculty members come on board. Jeanna Neefe Matthews (UC Berkeley) has research interests in file systems and storage systems. Radu Rugina (UC Santa Barbara) does research on pointer analysis, parallelizing compilers, and parallel computing.
With these additions the department will become the home to twelve assistant professorsan all-time high. Working to ensure that these young scholars realize their potential in our environment is easily one of the best parts about being the chair. But my job would be virtually impossible without the leadership of my senior colleagues who provide support in so many important ways. Our wildly successful faculty recruiting effort this year is a tribute to the environment that they have created. Research entities like the Information Assurance Institute and the Intelligent Information Systems Institute are increasingly important when it comes to attracting the top CS scholars to Cornell.
Before I leave the topic of new faculty, I would like to mention the return to the department of John Hopcroft. John has been gone for nearly ten years serving the university as an associate dean and dean in the College of Engineering. It will be great to have a Turing Award winner back in Upson Hall.
There are many new developments on the teaching front. During the year we started eight new courses. For freshman our one-credit minicourse Great Ideas from Computer Science (CS 150) gives snapshots of the field through a sequence of eight expository lectures. As a follow-up to CS 130, our introductory web course, Graeme Bailey taught a prototype of Intermediate Web Design (CS 230). CS 130 and 230 focus on the client side and the server side respectively. Professor David Mermin from Physics taught Quantum Information Processing (CS 483). The theory of quantum computation offers striking new perspectives on computation and information, as well as on the quantum theory itself. Bill Arms taught the first edition of Information Discovery (CS 430). This course looks at the methods used to search for and discover information in digital libraries and web information systems. Al Demers introduced a much-needed upper level undergraduate course on Programming Languages and Logics (CS 411). At the graduate level we were able to expand our offerings in the theory area with Jon Kleinberg's Advanced Design and Analysis of Algorithms (CS 683). The course emphasizes algorithmic problems in a range of areas including networks, large datasets, lattices, and the design of heuristics. Mats Rooth from the Department of Linguistics started Computational Linguistics (CS 324) and Introduction to Natural Language Processing (CS 474).
This coming year Lillian Lee will teach a new course entitled Computation, Information, and Intelligence (CS 172). This will be a non-programming, freshman-level introduction to computer science using methods and examples from artificial intelligence. We think that the novel approach of this course will help attract more women to the CS major. Eva Tardos will teach a new graduate-level course on Approximation and Network Algorithms (CS 684). Another course making its debut this coming year will be our new Java Practicum (CS 212), which will serve as a "large project" companion to the second course in our Java sequence (CS 211). Dave Schwartz will be starting Advanced Unix Programming and Tools (CS 214) in the spring semester. Rich Caruana will introduce a new course on Empirical Methods in Machine Learning and Data Mining (CS 578) in the fall.
A number of broad curriculum reviews/initiatives will take place during the coming year. The breadth and depth of the machine learning group will make it possible for us to put together a remarkable curriculum in this important area. Work on this will begin in the fall. Likewise, the systems group plans to revamp its set of courses working closely with colleagues in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. We expect to see curriculum gaps filled and increased coordination between the two units via the cross-listing of critical courses. We look to expand our commitment to the Academic Excellence Workshop (AEW) idea by offering several of the CS 100 AEWs on North Campus and by starting to offer AEWs in CS 211. Finally, long-time colleague David Gries will be visiting us during the fall semester and will be exploring how we might develop a self-paced introduction to Java tailored to incoming freshman (and others) who are trained in C++.
Expansion of faculty and curriculum creates space problems. However, thanks to the department's space committee and Pat Musa, we will be able to manage for another twelve months. Nevertheless, a major challenge during the coming year will be to find new offices and laboratories to accommodate our growth.
The department's relationship with other academic units will be much enhanced because of new faculty appointments that were made possible by the FCI. In particular, the hiring of Paul Ginsparg in Physics, Phoebe Sengers in Science and Technology Studies, and Hod Lipson in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering are extremely exciting developments for us. Following the example of Mats Rooth, who joined Linguistics this past year, and Geri Gay in the Department of Communications, these FCI-supported faculty will be the basis for new research alliances and new cross-listed courses. The close proximity of these faculty to the department's research engine is a hallmark of Cornell's CIS initiative.
In connection with on-campus relationships, we note that several of our faculty served on search committees in other units. Joe Halpern and Johannes Gehrke worked with Operations Research and Industrial Engineering; Dexter Kozen with Mathematics; Bob Constable with Science and Technology Studies; Greg Morrisett and myself with Electrical and Computer Engineering; Ron Elber for the Tri-Institional initiative; Fred Schneider, Joe Halpern, and Johannes Gehrke with the business school.
Other activitity that is serving to cement our relationship with other units includes Ramin Zabih's joint appointment with the Department of Radiology at Weill Medical College in New York City and the intersession teaching of Ken Birman, Johannes Gehrke, and Fred Schneider in the Johnson Graduate School of Management.
Our faculty continue to render the very highest levels of service to the university. Bill Arms chaired the Provost's Advisory Committee on Distance Learning and is a Director of eCornell. Tom Coleman is Director of the Cornell Theory Center (CTC) and the Financial Industry Solution Center down in Manhattan. Bob Constable is Dean for Computing and Information Science. Ron Elber is the Head of the National Institutes of Health Resource in the CTC. Joe Halpern co-chairs the cognitive studies program. Ken Birman is a member of the advisory council for the Cornell Research Foundation, and Head of the Responsible Conduct of Research Committee for the university.
In alumni and corporate relations we are moving rapidly to organize our efforts. The CS major is only 20 years old, and so we are just now beginning to see the majority of our graduates move into the prime of their careers. Successful Cornell CS gatherings in both Boston and Palo Alto were held during the year. Our Alumni Weekend breakfast here on campus had more attendees than ever before. Dan Jenkins will be orchestrating additional alumni events of this sort in the future. Relatedly, Marcy Rosenkrantz will now be managing corporate relations, and this will enable us to track more effectively the many connections that we have in the industrial sector.
Several faculty were honored at the national and international level making us all extremely proud to have such wonderful colleagues in our midst. Eva Tardos was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for her pioneering work in the algorithms area. Joe Halpern received both a Fulbright Scholarship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Juris Hartmanis won the Lielo Medalo from the Latvian Academy of Sciences. Jon Kleinberg received the National Academy of Sciences Award for Initiatives in Research. Greg Morrisett was honored by Carnegie Mellon University with the Allen Newell Medal for Research Excellence. Greg also received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and was honored at a White House ceremony last fall. Johannes Gehrke received an IBM Faculty Development Award for the second year in a row.
The CS faculty continue to be campus leaders in the classroom. Dexter Kozen won the Stephen and Margery Russell Teaching Award in the College of Arts and Sciences. Johannes Gehrke, Juris Hartmanis, and Greg Morrisett won College of Engineering teaching awards.
There are many more exciting things that I could write about. But it is far better for you to read the firsthand accounts that follow. My colleagues are the ones who made everything happen!
Charles Van Loan
You can access the Chair's web page at: http://www.cs.cornell.edu/chair/