Speaker: Robert L. Constable
Affiliation: Computer Science Department, Cornell University
Date: 9/2/99 - Thursday
Time & Location:  4:15PM, 101 Phillips
Title: Academic Computer Science and the Information Revolution


An Information Revolution on the scale of the Industrial Revolution is unfolding in our time. Just as the Industrial Revolution was driven by physics and engineering, the new revolution is being driven by computer science, information technology and engineering. Conversely the Revolution is having a dramatic impact on Universities and on academic computer science. The talk will explore both directions of this interaction.

I will consider the driving role of two theories of computing, one of computational complexity and the other of semantics. In the second case I draw from my own work in the automation of reasoning about programs and software systems. I will explain how we reason about the Ensemble group communications system and discuss the consequences of this type of work for the Revolution, speculating about the role of "intelligent interaction" with computers as part of software construction of the future. 

I will also examine the pervasive influence of computing and information science on all academic subjects and explore the consequences of this change for modern research universities. In particular I will explain the new actions that Cornell has taken to respond to these forces, such as repositioning the CS Department as a university-level administrative unit, and proposing a new academic structure, tentatively called a "faculty" of computing and information.

The University faculty is discussing the proposed new structure this fall, and I hope my comments will put the discussion in perspective as part of Cornell's decision to move decisively in the "information sciences" as one of three strategic research directions for Cornell.