Banquet Speech (Part 4, the letter I)

40th Anniversary Symposium

Introduction Note: Some of the pics
Our beginnings can be clicked to obtain
An ABC book larger versions.
The letter P: PhDs  
The letter Y: Young faculty  
Principles for success  
The letter I: Intelligence (artificial) HERE WE ARE
In conclusion  

Some of the letters in my proposed CS Department ABC book will be about particular research groups —Algorithms, Languages, Numerical Analysis, Systems and Security, Theory of Computation, and so on. Here, I would like to talk about one particular letter, I, for Intelligence (Aritificial). Before, I mentioned a strategy for moving into another field. We did that quite successfully with AI. Many of you out there know our early view of AI. Basically, we preferred the natural kind. But we now embrace AI as one of our own.

THE LETTER I —for Intelligence (Artificial)

I is for Intelligence —artificial of course.
We use to eschew it, and with no remorse.
But times they have changed us, and now we embrace
AI as our own —but with our own taste.

CS at Cornell was not into AI in the 60s and 70s, for several reasons.

  • We didn’t have the computers necessary to do AI.
  • We couldn’t find excellent AI faculty to join us.
  • AI was indeed soft at the time, and we limited our scope in order to do justice to the areas of most interest to us.
  • Not having AI helped us to feel superior to everyone else.

In the late 80s and 90s, we gradually moved into AI, using our principle of hiring a senior person in fields that are close to ours to help us move into another area. That was Joe Halpern, a big gun in logics of knowledge. Gradually, we built up a real force, and AI is now our largest group —besides the nine faculty pictured to the right, we also have Lillian Lee.

AI has been crucial to our move into multi-disciplinary work.


So what kind of AI do we do? It’s not really "artificial" intelligence. We don’t try to figure out how the brain works and simulate it. Instead, we apply mathematics and statistical models to what people call AI problems. Machine learning is a big thing. We use machine learning to do sentiment analysis (Cardie and Lee). We use machine learning (and data mining) to help with the large database of volunteer bird reports at the Sapsucker Woods Bird Institute (Caruana). We use machine learning to figure out how search engines can tune their results to each particular user (Joachims).

We also have two people in computer vision. One who makes fundamental contributions, for example, on Hausdorff-based methods for object recognition (Huttenlocher), and another who works on algorithms for speeding up MR imaging and for detecting problems in MR scans (Zabih).

And Bart Selman can even tell you what computational complexity has to do with the ice cube.

All of this, and more, you will find in our 40th anniversary booklet. Again, this is AI with our taste.


There are many other things we could talk about here. We could reminisce about the Christmas parties and skits put on the students. We could look at quotations from Upson Hall Quotations. We could talk about ping pong, volleyball, hockey, and spring picnics with softball. We could also show more of the ABC Book of CS at Cornell. And we could see hundreds of pictures of faculty and students —I  am sorry I haven’t shown you more pictures of all our Fould students, but there are 360 of you —who wants to see all those? And we could look at more faculty pictures. I have showed you mainly the older faculty, because the change in them has been more pronounced. It’s much more fun to see what they used to look like.

But I think we have all had enough! This has been a wonderful weekend, a great symposium, and an emotional reunion. It has been so nice to see 90 of our 360 PhDs here, as well as a number of past faculty members. It has brought up fond memories. And the weekend has shown us what you all think of this CS Department and what you have made of it. I am so happy you all came.

To close this weekend, I now ask a person who you have not yet heard from to come forward and say hello. Juris Hartmanis was the first Chair of this department, and we owe more to Juris for his leadership and friendship over the years than to any other person. Juris?


Introduction Note: Some of the pics
Our beginnings can be clicked to obtain
An ABC book larger versions.
The letter P: PhDs  
The letter Y: Young faculty  
Principles for success  
The letter I: Intelligence (artificial)  
In conclusion THIS IS THE END