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Beginning with the IBM 650 and the days of Herb Simon, Allen Newell and Alan Perlis, Carnegie Mellon has looked at the world of computer science from a unique perspective. The first symposium of CS50 honored the people and efforts central to creating one of the first independent schools of computer science in the country.
“Growth of the Institution”
Angel Jordan (E’59), university professor emeritus and former provost, highlighted the transformation of computer science at Carnegie Mellon from a lone computer in the Graduate School of Industrial Administration into the world-class School of Computer Science.
Inspired to join the new field of computer science after reading through the manual for the IBM 701, Ed Feigenbaum (E’56, GSIA’60) joined the faculty at what was then Carnegie Institute of Technology after completing his Ph.D. in 1960. Now the Kumagai professor of computer science emeritus at Stanford University, Feigenbaum told stories from the first decade, what he called “the supernova of computer science.
Rick Rashid (CS faculty ’79-’91), senior vice president of research at Microsoft, gave a special presentation on the future of computer science research in general and at Microsoft in particular.
C. Gordon Bell (CS faculty ’66-’72), senior researcher at Microsoft, joined the symposium via videoconference from the Carnegie Mellon West campus in Sunnyvale, California for a joyful recollection of the era when Carnegie Tech became Carnegie Mellon.
A student during the nexus of growth in computer science at Carnegie Mellon, Jesse Quatse (S’58, E’62, ’69) reviewed how the hardware design of the G-21 contributed to the nascent computer industry and to the foundations of the School of Computer Science. He fondly recalled using the first portable data entry station: two large pieces that fit together to form “sort of a 70 pound laptop.” He is currently the senior researcher for the biometric company Pay By Touch.
Richard Shoup (E’65, CS’70), adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon West, reminisced about the stunning view from the computer lab on the top floor of Scaife Hall and reflected on the things he would not have believed in 1970 (i.e. that the word “crash” would still be in common usage). Looking toward the future, Shoup spoke on the challenge of reconfigurable computing and the need to strengthen the math foundations of future computer scientists.
Co-founder and chairman of Adobe Systems, Charles Geschke (CS’73) remembered the Computer Science Department culture of “getting people together” not only in research projects, but also during the unique Black Friday reviews and in informal situations like the lunchtime Brownie Plate Gang. He also noted how the ARPA grants of his time were a tremendous investment by the country with the incredible results now visible in numerous companies along Highway 101 in Silicon Valley.
J. Renato Iturriaga (S’64, CS’67) traveled from his home outside Mexico City to attend CS50. He has the distinction of receiving one of the first computer science-specific Ph.D. degrees awarded at Carnegie Mellon and is currently head the Special Unit for Priority Programs Monitoring of the Mexican Ministry of Health. Iturriaga spoke of the unique interdisciplinary approach and the impact of having spent time alongside “the big three” (Perlis, Simon and Newell, of course).
Joe Traub (CS faculty ’71-’79), the Edwin Howard Armstrong professor of computer science at Columbia University, took on the mantle of head of the new Computer Science Department in 1971 and oversaw tremendous growth. He is also credited with coining the name “Black Friday” for the biannual intensive day of graduate student reviews.
“Fifty Years of Computer Innovation”
Join SCS Professor Randy Pausch (CS’88) for an entertaining whirlwind trip through the first 50 years of computer science at Carnegie Mellon.
Leslie G. Valiant (CS faculty ’73-‘74), the T. Jefferson Coolidge professor of computer science and applied mathematics at Harvard University, opened the symposium with a look at AI theory and why computer science needs it.
Using analytical performance modeling to overturn age-old beliefs on load balancing and distributed system scheduling was the topic of an entertaining presentation by Mor Harchol-Balter, associate professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon and the 2003 recipient of the Herbert A. Simon teaching award.
Alfred Spector (CS faculty ’81-’89), vice president of strategy and technology at IBM, presented key elements of a global integration agenda for people, process and information and their implications on the future of computer science education and research.
It’s been said that one of the best predictors of the future is the past. Robert Colwell (E’78, ’85), president of R&E Colwell and Associates, took looked back through the previous five decades, extracting industry lessons and reviewing the patterns, to see what might be in store for our technological future.
When Anita Jones (CS’73) completed her Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon, she was one of a handful of women in the world of computer science. Now the Lawrence R. Quarles professor of engineering and applied science at the University of Virginia, her presentation focused on the economic importance of university research and innovation.
Charles Leiserson (CS’82) believes that learning how to lead and communicate is an important part of the Carnegie Mellon undergraduate education. Now a professor of computer science and engineering at MIT, Leiserson created two interactive leadership workshops designed to address human-centered issues and enhance the participant’s self-understanding of their role as leaders.
“Computer Scientists Can Save the World” was the title of Latanya Sweeney’s semicentennial session. As an SCS associate professor of computer science and public policy and an expert in privacy, Sweeney introduced Technology Dialectics as a new research paradigm for preventing or minimizing clashes between emerging technologies and the settings in which they are to be deployed.
SCS faculty Raj Reddy, the Mozah Bint Nasser university professor of computer science and robotics, and Jaime Carbonell, the Allen Newell professor of computer science and director of the Language Technologies Institute, co-presented the final session on the Million Book Digital Library project and the research problems it reveals in text mining.
SCS Dean Randal Bryant welcomes CS50 attendees.