IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing: VL/HCC 2011 - September 18-22, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Keynote Speakers

We have two exciting keynote speakers lined up for VL/HCC 2011: Jeannette Wing from Carnegie Mellon University on Tuesday, and Brian Powell from National Instruments on Wednesday. Jeannette Wing coined the term “Computational Thinking,” and she has been instrumental in widening the understanding that the core set of intellectual concepts in computer science are broadly applicable, which is a key part of VL/HCC’s human-centered computing theme. Having Brian Powell from National Instruments present a keynote is especially appropriate this year, since it is the 25th anniversary of the creation of LabVIEW from National Instruments, which is one of the most successful commercial visual programming languages. Also, this year is the 20th anniversary of LabVIEW being first presented at VL in 1991, and also the 35th anniversary of the founding of National Instruments.

Computational Thinking
Jeannette M. Wing
Tuesday, September 20

ABSTRACT My vision for the 21st century, Computational Thinking, will be a fundamental skill used by everyone in the world. To reading, writing, and arithmetic, we should add computational thinking to every child’s analytical ability. Computational thinking involves solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior by drawing on the concepts fundamental to computer science. Thinking like a computer scientist means more than being able to program a computer. It requires the ability to abstract and thus to think at multiple levels of abstraction. In this talk I will give many examples of computational thinking, argue that it has already influenced other disciplines, and promote the idea that teaching computational thinking can not only inspire future generations to enter the field of computer science but benefit people in all fields.

BIO Jeannette M. Wing is the President’s Professor of Computer Science and Head of the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University. She received her S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 2007–2010 she was the Assistant Director of the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation.

Professor Wing’s general research interests are in the areas of trustworthy computing, specification and verification, concurrent and distributed systems, programming languages, and software engineering. Her current interests are on the foundations of trustworthy computing, with a focus on the science of security and privacy.

Professor Wing was or is on the editorial board of twelve journals. She is a member of Computing Research Association Board and the Microsoft Trustworthy Computing Academic Advisory Board. She has been a member of many other advisory boards, including: the Networking and Information Technology (NITRD) Technical Advisory Group to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), the National Academies of Sciences’ Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, ACM Council, the DARPA Information Science and Technology (ISAT) Board, NSF’s CISE Advisory Committee, the Intel Research Pittsburgh’s Advisory Board, and the Sloan Research Fellowships Program Committee. She served as co-chair of NITRD from 2007–2010. She is a member of Sigma Xi, Phi Beta Kappa, Tau Beta Pi, and Eta Kappa Nu. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).

The Keys to Solving the World’s Top Engineering Challenges
Brian H. Powell
Wednesday, September 21

ABSTRACT When LabVIEW was first released in 1986, we had dreams of where it might go and how it might be used, but mostly, we were just hoping people would want to use it. Over the years, we learned that our strength was in giving non-programmers a productive programming tool. We took physicists, mechanical engineers, and other domain experts, and lowered the barrier to software development — they could build the software themselves. We found ourselves facing, researching, and solving challenges in end-user development and end-user software engineering.

LabVIEW is one of the few programming languages that literally scales from kindergarten through rocket science. With the help of the LEGO Group and organizations such as FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), we’re reaching hundreds of thousands of children — especially girls and minorities. We’re keeping them interested in science, math, and engineering. They are using the same tools used by the world’s leading engineers who are tackling the top engineering challenges — creating nuclear fusion, studying the universe, providing access to clean water, and performing cutting edge medical research.

In this talk, I’ll look back at some of the design decisions we made that led us through the last 25 years. Many of those decisions turned out to be quite fortunate, such as our early decision to use by-value dataflow semantics, allowing our users to enjoy the benefits of multicore computing with no changes to their programs.

Ultimately, though, our success is measured by the success of our end users, as they take on the world’s problems. We need to continue to empower our end users with new capabilities. I will also discuss areas of future research, including formal verification of LabVIEW programs, our efforts to incorporate multiple models of computation and graphical system design, and our continuing efforts to help our end users engineer good software without being programming experts.

BIO Brian Powell is a Principal Software Architect at National Instruments Corporation, in Austin, Texas. Before joining NI in 1988, Brian’s research interests included artificial intelligence (with an emphasis on automated deduction, working for Dr. Woody Bledsoe), as well as computer science education (with an emphasis on syntax-directed editing). At NI, Brian has filled technical development, technical management, and technical marketing roles, all associated with the LabVIEW visual programming language. On the LabVIEW R&D team for 23 years, Brian has been involved in many areas of development — compiler technologies, software/hardware interaction and API design, real-time and embedded systems, and robotics. In his current role, Brian manages a team of experienced engineers working in top accounts to increase LabVIEW proficiency.

Brian has a Bachelor of Arts degree (1984) from the University of Texas at Austin, is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Austin Lyric Opera, and is a wildlife and nature photographer.