CS Highlights

Bits On Our Mind (BOOM) 2001

The following article was written by Melissa Globerman for the Cornell Chronicle. BOOM 2001 was co-sponsored by ECE.

On February 28, BOOM (Bits On Our Mind) 2001 came to the Engineering Quad for the fourth year, and the rumble could be felt strongly on three stories of Upson Hall. Forty-seven computer science­related exhibits highlighted student talent from across the university to show current research and new applications in digital technology. Projects ran the gamut from an instrument to transmit images of Mars in color for NASA's Athena mission, scheduled to launch in 2003, to an artificial intelligence prototype robot named Max, whose motor control is directed from the parallel port of an on-board laptop computer.

BOOM is a showcase of creativity from undergraduates and graduate students' work from engineering, fine arts, psychology, space sciences, andof coursecomputer science. "Every year, we've become more interdisciplinary, but that's also because the interest in the event has grown tremendously all over campus," said Charles Van Loan, chair of the Department of Computer Science.

Two benefactors, alumnus Philip Young '62, B.M.E. '63, and the Microsoft Corporation, donated approximately $9,000 to the event to add swanky catering to the ambience and free t-shirts for the participants. Though Van Loan said it would be impossible to guess how many of the projects were already being developed for commercial production, scouts from corporations were invited to mingle with the students and browse their projects.

One project that garnered interest at the event will undoubtedly get more attention on East Hill later this spring. Three computer science undergraduates, working with the Human Computer Interaction research group in the Department of Communications, have created a Cornell campus tour guide that fits in the palm of a hand. Taking advantage of a campus pilot project in wireless networking for which eight buildings have been equipped with wireless transceivers, the students created an interactive messaging and mapping program. Using a personal digital assistant (PDA) with a global positioning system receiver attached, visitors can take a self-guided tour of the campus.

The PDA, which visitors will be able to rent at Day Hall, uses GPS to determine the user's location and then makes a beeping sound to alert them when information related to that location is available. "But what's cool about this program is that it creates social maps, so the user can then type in what they think about each of the various spots, rate them, and other users can then see those results," said Jenna Burrell, a senior in computer science and one of the exhibit's creators.

Other better known projects on campus also debuted their latest research. Members of Cornell's RoboCup team gave demonstrations of how their new omni-directional bots were able to capture their second robot soccer world championship title in Melbourne, Australia last summer.

The Cornell Hybrid Electric Vehicle team displayed photos of their most recent gem: the 2000 Chevrolet Suburban that they've converted to use a large battery pack as its energy storage buffer. The team, in its eighth year of competition, is almost ready for their second Future Truck competition.

Also, undergraduates from the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering displayed the moonbuggy that they are readying for a NASA competition in Huntsville, Alabama this spring. A team of eight students constructed the vehiclea four-wheel drive bicyclefor NASA's simulated lunar crater racing course. Junior Brett Lee explained that while the moonbuggy itself doesn't appear to be a digital technology project, the steering and suspension geometry necessary to create its most essential parts are assuredly "the products of high tech computer design and programs."

Whether the project is about designing an on-line coursework submission system, creating a program to instruct a computer to teach itself to play backgammon or checkers, or designing software to recognize human facial expressions, "this kind of forum gives the students a great opportunity to explain what it is they did and also get feedback on their work," said BOOM faculty advisor and associate professor of computer science Stephen Vavasis.

Learning opportunities notwithstanding, for participants and observers alike, BOOM was a blast of entertainment and a resounding success.

Corporate Interactions

Corporate Partnerships and Affiliations

The department's Corporate Partnerships and Affiliates programs support research collaborations and interactions with internationally respected scientists on a number of levels. Our programs are also designed to support education of our undergraduate and graduate students. The department offers opportunities for interaction and the support of education in such vital areas as:

  • artificial intelligence
  • bio-informatics
  • computational methods for mechanical design and simulation
  • computational molecular biology
  • digital libraries
  • distributed computing and fault tolerance
  • formal specification and verification methodologies
  • graphics
  • information technology
  • natural language, document classification, and retrieval
  • networking databases
  • parallel computing
  • programming languages
  • programming logics
  • remote collaboration technologies
  • scientific and numerical computing
  • security
  • supercomputing (through affiliation with CTC)
  • theoretical computer science
  • vision and image interpretation

Our Corporate Partnership program fosters strategic relationships with major sponsors of the department's activities. Corporate Partners are invited to participate directly in the technology development process, through on-campus representation, short term and extended visits, and consulting arrangements. Additional opportunities include access to technical reports, colloquia, seminars, the department's annual report, and resumes submitted by BA, BS, MEng, and Ph.D. candidates expecting to graduate. Our Corporate Affiliates program offers small companies many flexible arrangements to interact with our faculty and students. Such arrangements are designed on an individual basis to suit the goals of the companies and the department.

Department of Computer Science faculty and researchers continue to collaborate with corporate partners: Microsoft, Intel, GTE, Lockheed Martin, Lucent Technologies, IBM, McGraw Hill, and Sun Microsystems. GTE continued its support of the department's initiative in information technology with a five-year grant to support new faculty hires in this strategic area. Lockheed Martin provided support to the undergraduate and Ph.D. programs. Sun Microsystems made generous donations of equipment to the department. Lucent Technologies donated funds for a fellowship for Professor Jon Kleinberg's graduate student Amit Kumar.

Professor Johanne Gehrke continues to receive support from several companies for his research in new data-mining techniques. He received support from McGraw Hill to develop teaching materials and from Mastercard Corp. in support of his work in e-commerce. IBM gave professor Gehrke a Faculty Partnership award. Microsoft also awarded him $50,000 in support of his efforts in Online Data-mining Operators and to facilitate and foster collaboration between his research group and its Bay Area Research Center.

Professor E. Gun Sirer received funding from several sources to support his teaching and research efforts. Microsoft contributed equipment valued at $20,000 to be used for class projects by students in the spring 2001 CS414/415 course. In addition, Microsoft has committed to three years of support for his research in Assuring the Security of Components in the .NET Framework.

Intel provided major funding to the department for research and instruction. Gifts included $55,800 to fund a Graduate Fellowship for the academic year awarded to Stephanie Weirich, $2551 awarded to Professor Fred Schneider for equipment in support of his research in secure Information Assurance native code and $152,000 in equipment from Intel's Technology for Education 2000 grant.

Microsoft continued its generous support for research, instruction, and general support. Gifts included $75,000 to Werner Vogels's research in scalable enterprise cluster computing and to facilitate and foster collaboration between his group and its Bay Area Research Center. Microsoft also supported our migration to Win2000 and our student technology demonstration day, BOOM, with gifts totaling $42,000. In addition, it made gifts of Microsoft Office XP Professional software valued at more than $359,000.

Industrial Partners

  • AT&T
  • Hewlett Packard
  • IBM Corporation
  • Intel Corporation
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Microsoft
  • Sun Microsystems
  • Verizon


Corporate Gifts and Grants

 The department is grateful for the support, including equipment and software, provided by our industrial partners.

  • Air Products & Chemicals      $2,500
  • Battery Management Corporation      1,000
  • Green Hills Software      1,800
  • IBM      40,000
  • Intel Corporation      58,351
  • Lockheed Martin     15,000
  • Lucent Technologies      45,000
  • McGraw Hill      11,000
  • Microsoft      551,400
  • Teradyne, Inc.      1,000
  • Verizon/GTE      50,000

The department is grateful for gifts from the following individuals:

  • Mary Salton, a gift of $5000 for the Gerald Salton Reading Room in Upson Hall
  • Phillip Young, a gift of $1000 to support BOOM, our student technology showcase



The Office of Computing and Information Science wishes to acknowledge support from the following corporate partners:

  • Intel      $200,000
  • MasterCard International      $77,114


Alumni and External Relations

This year marked a significant turning point in the history of alumni relations for computer science and computing related fields at Cornell. Alumni are networking in record numbers, and many have become actively involved with Cornell's efforts to support the development of Computer and Information Science across a wide range of disciplines.

Successful events were held in Boston and Palo Alto, which primarily included large gatherings of alumni and friends of the Department of Computer Science. The Boston event was a sponsored dinner hosted by the Dean of CIS, Robert L. Constable. Nearly three dozen alumni and friends attended. Corporate gifts were facilitated by Neeraj Agrawal '95 of Battery Management Corporation and Dan Proskauer '90 of Teradyne.

In Palo Alto over 50 alumni and friends attended an evening mixer that included Professor Dan Huttenlocher and Charles Weiss '66 of Oracle (pictured below). Not only are these folks on the West Coast doing well, in spite of fluctuations in the market, they have an infectious optimism and justifiable excitement about things that are yet to come.

At this year's alumni reunion breakfast in June, alumni and guests joined Computer Science Department Chairman Charlie Van Loan, and CIS Dean, Robert Constable. Among those attending was George Joblove '76, MS '79, special effects wizard and now senior vice president of technology at Sony Pictures Imageworks.

Cornell alum Philip Young '62 made a substantial gift to support this year's student technology fair. The fair, which is called BOOM, was held in February, and featured 47 project presentations by students from Cornell.

Nikola Valerjev '96 was again instrumental in obtaining sponsorship from his company, Green Hills Software, for two Cornell programming teams to represent Cornell in the ACM Programming contests during the fall and spring semesters.

The Degenfelder Family Scholarship was awarded to Marla Leahy '02. It awards $5,000 to a student working at the boundary between computer science and biology. Joseph R. Degenfelder '60 and his wife Dr. Pauline Degenfelder '61 worked with Professor Ron Elber to establish an endowment for this special award.

Mary Salton, the wife of the late Professor Gerard Salton, made a generous gift to establish the Professor Gerard Salton Seminar and Reading Room. Gerry's ground- breaking research in information retrieval helped to found the current broad field of Information Science. The Department of Computer Science is pleased to honor his contribution. The Salton Reading Room, located on the 5th floor of Upson Hall, was dedicated in a ceremony on April 18th, 2001. In attendance to honor the event were Mrs. Mary Salton, wife of the late Professor Salton, and members of his family, as well as a number of friends and colleagues. Professor Edgar Rosenberg gave a moving tribute to the late professor, as did Professor Juris Hartmanis and Dean Robert Constable. The ceremonies ended with the cutting of the ribbon, by Chairman Charles Van Loan.

For more information about alumni or external relations in CIS or the Department of Computer Science, please contact Dan Jenkins at jenkins@cs.cornell.edu.