Text Box: Department of Computer Science at Cornell University
Text Box: Text Box: The Salton Series is supported by Amit Singhal, Cornell PhD ‘97




Text Box: In the fall of 2008, a workshop to discuss the future of computer and information science was held at the National Science Foundation, with the intentionally ambiguous title “Computing Outside the Box.” The phrase was intended to invoke the need both for innovative “outside the box” thinking in computer and information science, and for computational research that directly addresses problems that go beyond computers (electronic boxes) themselves. While computer scientists have always undertaken use-inspired research, the uses that have been deemed legitimate have often been limited to ones that directly involve computers.   For example, designing more reliable operating systems or developing faster methods for database access have been seen as mainstream CS, while research motivated by other needs has sometimes been relegated to the status of  “mere application.”   In contrast, information scientists have focused on the socio-technical dimensions of IT, with a particularly heavy emphasis on social issues.  Increasingly, though, there are calls to change the perspectives of both groups, in ways that blur the distinctions between them and that recognize the value of combining rigorous technical insights with deep social analyses.    A handful of academic programs—including Cornell’s information science program and the University of Michigan’s School of Information—have taken the lead in this transition.

I will discuss the challenges inherent in such a change in perspective, while arguing that it is nonetheless essential if our fields are to maintain its relevance.   To ground the discussion, I will draw on examples of research that aims to develop computational systems that improve the greater good, for instance by assisting people with cognitive or physical impairments, by facilitating sustainable practices, or by increasing social capital.   In particular, I will provide examples from my own research on assistive technology.
Text Box:                The      
                Lecture Series           
Text Box: Thursday
December 3, 2009
Text Box: 4:15 pm
B17 Upson Hall
Reception - 4th Floor Atrium at 3:45pm

Martha E. Pollack


Martha E. Pollack is Dean and Professor at the School of Information, University of Michigan, where she is also Professor of Computer Science and Engineering.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Dartmouth College, and M.S.E. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer and Information Science, from the University of Pennsylvania.  Prior to joining the Michigan faculty, she was Professor of Computer Science and of Intelligent Systems at the University of Pittsburgh, and before that a researcher at the Artificial Intelligence Center, SRI International.  An elected Fellow and the current President of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), Pollack has published widely on various issues in AI, including adaptive interfaces, temporal reasoning, automated plan generation, and natural-language processing, as well as on the design of technology for people with cognitive impairment, a topic about which she testified before the United State Senate Subcommittee on Aging.  She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Computing Research Association and of Advisory Committee of the National Science Foundation’s CISE Directorate and she previously served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research.   

Text Box: Computing Outside the Box

Gerard Salton (1927- 1995) A towering figure in the field of information retrieval, Gerard Salton synthesized ideas from mathematics, statistics, and natural language processing to create a scientific basis for extracting semantics from word frequency. The impact of his contributions is profound - five textbooks, over 150 research papers, and dozens of Ph.D. students. The modern computer science and information science research scene, with its terabyte databases, Web, and related technologies, owes a great deal to Gerry's pioneering efforts.

This lecture series honors our former colleague with speakers who similarly are innovators in their fields.