Columbia Computer Science

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

"Stay current, stay lucky, stay employed"

In another article in November 2004's IEEE Spectrum: "Twenty years ago, full time EE's who weren't self-employed earned ... close to $4000 more than the average for a salaried doctor. ... In the meantime, IEEE members' median salaries have fallen from about the 92nd percentile of U.S. household income in 1971 to about the 85th two years ago."

Spectrum R&D 100

IEEE Spectrum summarizes the top 100 R&D spenders. Microsoft, Ford, Pfizer, DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, Siemens and General Motors are the top seven, with traditional telecom companies like Nokia (13), Ericsson (21), NTT (25), Cisco (29), Lucent (57, dropped from rank 36 in 2002) spread throughout the index. Most of the spending is in development and applied research, however. "Universities have become extraordinarily greedy and aggressive in prosecuting their patents and, in the process, have backed away from their responsibilities as defenders of open science," says Richard R. Nelson, a professor of international and public affairs and an expert in the economics of technological advances at Columbia University, in New York City. Some academics, too, seem to be more concerned with money than with the quest for knowledge. "When I talk with faculty at the medical school or the engineering school, the notion that there should be some restrictions on their ability to take out patents and license them any way they want to just raises a tremendous storm," Nelson adds.

"Sea Change in Grad Student Rolls"

IEEE Spectrum summarizes the change in graduate enrollment: "In 2002, there were 58 262 students from abroad enrolled in U.S. graduate engineering programs and 61 346 U.S. students." Applications to U.S. graduate programs declined 28% between 2003 and 2004, with engineering program applications dropping by 36%. Applications from China dropped 45%, while applications from India decreased by 28%.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Video entertainment as career for CS graduates?

Prof. Pausch (CMU) describes Electronic Arts (EA), the largest game company. According to the article, it was the fifth largest publicly traded software company in the U.S. By revenue, three of the ten largest software companies are in the video game business. An article in the New York Times (Saturday, Nov. 21) talks about alleged working hours at EA: "For around $60,000 a year in an area with a high cost of living, he had been set to work on a six-day-a-week schedule. On weekdays, his team worked from 9 to 10 (that is, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.), and on Saturdays, a half-day (that means 9 to 6). Then Sundays were added - noon to 8 or 10 p.m. The weekly total was 82 to 84 hours."" These sound like CS faculty working hours...

Friday, November 19, 2004

NSF spending cut by 2%

The House late last night approved an $800 billion increase in the debt ceiling. More importantly, they moved closer to approving a spending bill which will cut the NSF budget by more than 2% (by over $100 million), the first cut to the NSF budget in more than a decade.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

New Google search for papers, theses and reports

Google Scholar indexes papers, theses and reports. There are 301,000 entries for Columbia University.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

"Fewer Women Joining the IT Ranks"

The American Association of University Women estimates that about 20 percent of IT professionals and fewer than 28 percent of computer science graduates are women, who also constitute a mere 19 percent of engineering graduates, according to the National Academy of Engineering. (ACM News Service) Full article

"Specialty Majors Are the Rage on Some Campuses"

Specialty Majors Are the Rage on Some Campuses" (11/15/04); Adler, Jessica

Offshore outsourcing and a listless U.S. economy are encouraging more students to pursue specialty majors such as video game development, casino studies, homeland security, and sports sales in the hopes that they will lead to lucrative careers. Students are adopting lessons outlined in "The College Majors Handbook," which states that graduates generally command much higher wages in jobs closely related to their major than they do in unrelated jobs. Bloomfield College professor Roger E. Pedersen, who offers a game design major, explains that the skills students are picking up apply not just to games, but also to films, TV advertising, and Web applications that utilize the same programs. The gaming/casino major offered by Morrisville State College in New York includes emphasis on facial-recognition software and habit-tracking software. University of Denver professor Scott Leutenegger has co-launched a video game development major with a traditional computer science component, and he believes such a strategy can make computer science more interesting and challenging to students, which could perhaps help mitigate a shortage of computer scientists projected within the next five years. The cost of education is another factor driving students toward specialty majors, while still another is the high value accorded to college degrees. "College Majors Handbook" co-author Paul Harrington, a professor at Northeastern University, reports that students with bachelor's degrees were earning 66% more money than high school graduates in 2000, up from between 15% and 17% three decades earlier.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


This is a new blog where members of the Columbia Computer Science community post articles and viewpoints related to all fields of computer science - research, education, and community issues.