Message From the Chair

A year is a fleeting moment in the life of a department, one-thirtieth of our history. In April, we celebrated 30 years of Gerry Salton's SMART project at Cornell (see photos on pages 4 and 5). In those 30 years, Gerry shaped a major subfield of computer science, whose products are now used in day-to-day information management. It has been exciting to watch Gerry refine the methods and discoveries that define Information Retrieval. Gerry's SMART system has consistently provided superior performance in the government-sponsored TREC competition, which pits the best retrieval systems against state-of-the-art challenges. Many years ago, Gerry received the first SIGIR award for research in Information Retrieval; this year, Gerry was made a Fellow of the ACM.

Last year we recognized the fruits of another of the founding faculty's projects when we celebrated Juris Hartmanis's Turing Award. From Juris, we have gained insight into the pervasive extent of computation in the very foundations of mathematics and science. Juris's work continues to be recognized - this year through an honorary doctorate from the University of Dortmund.

The accumulated influence of these two of the founders of the Cornell Computer Science Department gives us some perspective on just how fleeting is a year in academic life. Of course, memorable events will be summarized in this report, but time is needed to properly assess the results of many tens of thousands of hours of thinking and teaching by members of the department.

Computer scientists are now acutely aware of the impact of their subject on society &emdash; on education, defense, medicine, and commerce. We conduct our research in the context of a $500 billion industry created by our past efforts. Our traffic with this industry grows steadily, and in this year we have taken some new steps to increase that traffic &emdash; such as configuring our computing facilities to support PC's as first-class desktop machines and to incorporate commercial software into our research program.

We move confidently in this venture because of the successes of Isis, Inc., and GrammaTech and because of our fruitful ties with Xerox through the DRI and with IBM through the Theory Center. We are building industrial partnerships based on common goals, especially with companies who share our fascination with fundamental scientific and technical problems.

The emergence of a vigorous software industry has increased the development of ideas in computer science. Some of the ideas and projects that seem to be the most pure and fundamental, such as logics for temporal reasoning or Grobner-basis algorithms, are influencing products or design tools with an immediacy one would expect of new ballbearing lubricants.

We are proud of our education program, and we work continuously to maintain and improve it. From time to time, our efforts are recognized nationally. For example, this year, David Gries won the IEEE Computer SocietyŐs Taylor Booth Education Award.

All levels of our education program are caught up in the great flux of ideas. The graduate student "dueling posterboards" in the 4th-floor systems wing look like practice marketing campaigns for new systems. The Brown Bag seminar series, which gives first-year students an idea of the research going on in the department, is at times "standing room only". The Association of Computer Science Undergraduates (ACSU) is starting a visiting industrial lecturers series, with department support. And many of our industry-bound undergraduates stay on in our burgeoning Master of Engineering program.

The department is switching to C in its introductory course, expecting to tame it in our own way, as we did PL/I 25 years ago. Several new courses were developed &emdash; e.g. Bard Bloom's software engineering course CS401/501 and Brian Smith and Ramin Zabih's CS610. Dan Huttenlocher and Jim Davis's innovative CoNotes system for annotating World Wide Web pages was used by students in CS212.

Our new Teaching Seminar started with three lectures, which used the following topics as a springboard to discuss all aspects of teaching, from lecture preparation to delivery to content to grading:

We look forward to exciting additions to our faculty. Associate Professor Eva Tardos of ORIE assumes a joint appointment with us in 1995-96, and the following year, Dr. Joseph Halpern of IBM Research, Almaden, joins us as a Full Professor.

This Annual Report contains more details and photos about Computer Science at Cornell. As usual, the report will be available on-line at the Cornell Web site, http://www.cs.cornell.edu.


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If you have questions or comments please contact: www@cs.cornell.edu.


Last modified: 26 October 1995 by Denise Moore (denise@cs.cornell.edu).