Columbia Computer Science

Sunday, March 20, 2005

PITAC advises increased cybersecurity funding

The full report here

Friday, March 18, 2005

Paul Graham: Undergraduation

Paul Graham writes about things to do (and not to do) as undergraduates and in grad school.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

CRA: pair programming is claimed to increase retention of CS students

An article in the March 2005 edition of Computing Research News claims that pair programming can significantly increase the number of students that choose a CS major after their first CS class:
On individually taken final exams, paired students performed as well as solo students, were just as likely to pass the subsequent programming course where pair programming was not used, and were more likely to be registered as CS-related majors one year later. ... Among the group of women who indicated on the first day of the introductory course that they planned to major in a CS-related field, those who paired were more likely to have declared a CS-related major one year later than those who worked individually. Out of 42 women who indicated they planned a CS-related major and worked in a pair for CS1, 25 (59.5%) of them had declared a CS-related major one year later, compared with only 2 out of 9 (22.2%) of the women who worked alone. ... Among the group of men who indicated on the first day of the introductory course that they planned to major in a CS-related field, those who paired were also more likely to have declared a CS-related major one year later than those who worked individually. Out of 150 men who indicated they planned a CS-related major and paired in CS1, 111 (74%) of them had declared a CS-related major one year later, compared with only 17 of the 36 (47.2%) who worked alone.

CRA: CS bachelors's production grows in 2004; poised for decline

A report in the March 2005 issue of Computing Research News" describes the development of enrollments in undergraduate computer science.
The median number of degrees granted by the top 36 departments has declined for the past two years, to 109. [Thus, Columbia CS is fairly close to a median-sized department in this regard.]

While the current undergraduate CS degree production numbers are strong, they appear set to decline in coming years. The number of students that declared their major in CS has declined for the past four years and is now 39 percent lower than in the Fall of 2000. The number of new CS majors among departments ranked 37 and above has declined steadily since 2000, and since 2002 for those ranked in the top 36.

The impact of these declines is now being felt among enrollments, which have decreased by 7 percent in each of the past two years. The greatest decline in the past few years has occurred among the top 36 departments, which saw enrollments fall by 19 percent between 1999/2000 and 2003/2004.

Friday, March 11, 2005

"Why women leave IT"

The article describes that the fraction of women in information technology dropped from 41% in 1996 to 35% in 2002. (46.6% of workers in the US are women.)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Computer Science Supreme Court Amicus Brief in Grokster case

Today, seventeen computer science professors, including Columbia's Steve Bellovin, are filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the Grokster case. Here is the summary of our argument, quoted from the brief:
Amici write to call to the Court's attention several computer science issues raised by Petitioners [i.e., the movie and music companies] and amici who filed concurrent with Petitioners, and to correct certain of their technical assertions. First, the United States' description of the Internet's design is wrong. P2P networks are not new developments in network design, but rather the design on which the Internet itself is based. Second, a P2P network design, where the work is done by the end user's machine, is preferable to a design which forces work (such as filtering) to be done within the network, because a P2P design can be robust and efficient. Third, because of the difficulty in designing distributed networks, advances in P2P network design -- including BitTorrent and Respondents' [i.e., Grokster's and Streamcast's] software -- are crucial to developing the next generation of P2P networks, such as the NSF-funded IRIS Project. Fourth, Petitioners' assertion that filtering software will work fails to consider that users cannot be forced to install the filter, filtering software is unproven or that users will find other ways to defeat the filter. Finally, while Petitioners state that infringers' anonymity makes legal action difficult, the truth is that Petitioners can obtain IP addresses easily and have filed lawsuits against more than 8,400 alleged infringers. Because Petitioners seek a remedy that will hobble advances in technology, while they have other means to obtain relief for infringement, amici ask the Court to affirm the judgment below.

The professors are: Harold Abelson (MIT), Thomas Anderson (U. Washington), Andrew W. Appel (Princeton), Steven M. Bellovin (Columbia), Dan Boneh (Stanford), David Clark (MIT), David J. Farber (CMU), Joan Feigenbaum (Yale), Edward W. Felten (Princeton), Robert Harper (CMU), M. Frans Kaashoek (MIT), Brian Kernighan (Princeton), Jennifer Rexford (Princeton), John C. Reynolds (CMU), Aviel D. Rubin (Johns Hopkins), Eugene H. Spafford (Purdue), and David S. Touretzky (CMU).