Columbia Computer Science

Thursday, December 29, 2005

"The Perils of JavaSchools"

Joel Spolsky claims that Java-only CS curriculum make it too difficult to tell if a graduate can handle hard and abstract concepts such as pointers and recursion. Columbia CS uses C in Data Structures...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Colleges fail to improve teaching methods

Derek Bok writes in the Boston Globe that faculty are unwilling to change their teaching methods and uninterested in results that show that existing methods are not working well.

"In Computer Science, a Growing Gender Gap"

Boston Globe: "Introductory classes zeroed in on programming and other technical aspects of the field, rather than explaining big ideas or talking about how computing can impact society, many professors say. That approach led to a misconception among students that computer science is the same thing as computer programming. Computer scientists say that view shortchanges the field, which is far broader and more intellectually rich. It is applied math and design, they say; it is about modeling human behavior and thinking about the simplest way to accomplish a complex task."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Numbers of Chinese and Indian engineering students inflated

BusinessWeek reports on a report by Duke University researchers that finds that the numbers of Chinese and Indian engineering students commonly reported are hard to compare with United States numbers. They often include specialized or short-term degrees that are more comparable to associate's degrees than BS or higher degrees.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Prof. Unger on engineering jobs

The Nov. 16 Wall Street Journal carried an article ("Slim Pickings") about different perspectives of the shortage of engineers vs. the shortage of engineering jobs. It argues that part of the problem is that many companies are only willing to consider candidates that precisely match their job requirements, rather than having the new person pick up skills on the job. A broader view is discussed by Prof. Unger (Columbia CS) in IEEE Technology and Society Magazine and IEEE Design and Test of Computers. More detailed information can be found in work by Norman Matloff, CS Dept., UC Davis.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

NSF reports on graduate enrollment for 2003

NSF reports that "graduate enrollment in science and engineering programs is up in 2003, but declines for first-time foreign students".
Graduate enrollment in 2003 grew in all major S&E fields and in all subfields except computer sciences. Computer sciences enrollment dropped 3 percent from the previous year, the first decrease in that field since 1995. Of the fields of study with the largest graduate enrollments (10,000 or more), mechanical engineering led with an 8 percent gain, followed by mathematical sciences and physics, each with 7 percent gains.

Friday, September 23, 2005

"Closing the gender gap"

Computer "a large number of girls associate computing with mundane office or secretarial work." "The number of women in IT has been falling since the 1980s and is now thought to be about 20% of the total workforce."

"Where jobs are and students aren't"

Globe and Mail, September 21, 2005: "Dean McKeown, manager of the school of computing at Queen's, says enrolment in the Kingston, Ont., university dropped 20 per cent during the 2004-2005 school year and levelled off this year." "Universities, faced with declining interest, are starting to adapt to the shift. The Queen's school of computing recently introduced a biomedical computing program, which has become the most popular option at the school. Ryerson now offers a program that teaches students with a tech background management skills."

"Microsoft Changes How It Builds Software"

In a WSJ article, the author describes the transition from a largely ad-hoc software development process to a more structured, tool-based one, after the Longhorn project foundered and was repeatedly delayed.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Rick Rashid: Mobile applications to bring back excitement to CS

In a keynote address at MobiSys 2005, Rick Rashid speculates on reasons for the decreased interest in Computer Science, such as "maybe computers aren't getting faster, maybe the jobs aren't going to be there, maybe IT really isn't helping people". He then discusses developments such as the capture of all of life via SenseCams:
we've made a transition from what I would say is just being able to store files to the point where disk drives are now large enough, the storage we have available is large enough that we're at a point now where an individual can store much of what they would generate during their lives.
Rashid also mentions new input and output devices using any flat surface, SPOT (the watch network) and "self-managing, self-connected and interactive" networks.