Message from the Dean of the Faculty of Computing and Information Science

Message from the Dean of the Faculty of Computing and Information Science

Those of us working in the Faculty of Computing and Information Science experienced the sense of steady acceleration throughout the year. It started with a bang when the Trustees appointed Professor Keshav Pingali to a CIS endowed chair, called the India Chair, provided by an anonymous gift to support Computer Science and to strengthen Cornell's ties to India . Then came the Inauguration on October 16 of Cornell's eleventh president, Jeffrey Sean Lehman. One of President Lehman's first steps in working with CIS was to invite Bill Gates to visit Cornell – this happened on February 25, 2004, and this report includes photos from the event. It was a very exciting visit because Bill Gates engaged us in detail on a broad range of issues including the future of the Internet, software reliability, program verification, bioinformatics, and the role of CIS in the University. He expressed considerable interest in CIS, especially the fact that the new majors we have created in Computational Biology and in Information Science have made up for the loss of enrollment in the CS major.

Later in February, President Lehman and I represented Cornell at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Bridging the Rift Research (BTR) Center that straddles the border between Israel and Jordan . BTR represents a major effort to use science as a common meeting ground to advance also the cause of peace -- peace throughout cooperation. The research initiative for this center is called the Library of Life, which is a joint effort with Stanford University . CIS is responsible for the bioinformatics portion of this major research initiative, planned and led by Ron Elber and Steve Tanksley. It is described in more detail in this report. Still later in March, Cornell trustee Narayana Murthy discussed the idea of a new building for CS with President Lehman, and subsequently President Lehman asked CIS for

details on its idea for a new building and a possible “information campus”. We now have a process in place to come up with three design options. Dean of Engineering Kent Fuchs is a significant partner in our plans because all of the building options enable Engineering to

take advantage of the space vacated by Computer Science and other CIS units that use space adjacent to Engineering, for example the Program in Computer Graphics and the Cornell Theory Center . Moreover, our first choice option would include the Department of Operations Research and Industrial Engineering as occupants of the building, thus freeing up even more space for Engineering.

In May CIS co-sponsored "Graphics Week" with the PCG and the Department of Architecture. Don Greenberg organized this exciting event which brought to campus Ed Catmull, President of Pixar, to speak on “Crisis in Production”, or “the stuff that we don't normally talk about”. Catmull was joined by his colleague, Rob Cook, VP of Research and Development at Pixar, who kicked off the event with “A Behind-the-scenes Tour of Moviemaking.'' Marc Levoy, professor at Stanford University , discussed “The Digital Michelangelo Project”, focusing on the intersection of art and computers. George Joblove, Sr. VP of Technology at Sony Imageworks, and Douglas Kay, Chairman, Mondo Media, rounded out the week's events with two talks on “Digital Imagery in Entertainment”.

All speakers reinforced Levoy's focus on the crossroads where art and computing meet.

In late May we joined forces with the Cornell Theory Center and the Division of Alumni Affairs and Development to establish a joint CIS office for development, and we entered into an agreement with the Theory Center to tie our programs in Computational Science &

Engineering (CS&E) more tightly to Theory Center research capabilities, which include the massive Windows NT cluster computers. In addition, the NSF awarded Cornell a new IGERT grant to support CS&E under the leadership of John Guckenheimer and Steve Strogatz.

In late May President Lehman and the academic deans met with Bill Clinton who gave the Convocation Address to the graduating seniors. His visit prompted us to think about the role of universities in American life and in the body politic.

It has been a very good year for CIS, and I was pleased to accept the offer by the President and Provost of a second five-year term, as Dean of the Faculty of Computing and Information Science.

One pleasant official duty as dean was to reappoint Charles Van Loan to chair the CS department for two more years; this unprecedented step of extending a CS chair's appointment recognizes the high regard in which Charlie is held by his colleagues. Charlie will take a well-earned sabbatical at the end of his term, two years hence.

The Chair Search Committee consisted of Claire Cardie, Juris Hartmanis (chair), John Kleinberg, and Johannes Gehrke. They did an outstanding job of taking the pulse of the department and drawing the faculty into thinking about the future of the department.

Other key appointments included Bill Arms and Claire Cardie as co-directors of the Information Science Program, Dan Huttenlocher as the director of graduate studies for IS, and Juris Hartmanis as the Chair of the CIS Council. David Shalloway continues to lead our

successful Computational Biology major, and he is leading the effort to create a field with this name as well.

We devoted a considerable amount of our recruiting energy this year to helping the Department of Biological Statistics & Computational Biology, and the Department of Statistical Sciences (DSS). The CIS faculty has been strongly advocating that we play a role in helping the University establish more strength in core statistics because it is so important to our efforts in Artificial Intelligence, Computational Biology, and Information Science. We are introducing ideas from computational statistics into courses serving these subareas, and we feel that perhaps more than most units, we need to support fundamental strength in core statistics.