From the Dean

I've just passed the five-year mark as dean of the School of Computer Science. Time has gone by very quickly, yet many things have transpired during that period.

In 2004, we were in the earliest stages of thinking about building new space for computer science. Now, a large part of the school is about to move into the Gates Center for Computer Science and the Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies. These buildings are both stunning, and they will serve the needs of our students, educators and researchers much better than our existing spaces. We look forward to the official opening ceremony on Sept. 22.

During the past three years, we also expanded into buildings on neighboring Craig Street, part of the business district of the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. These buildings house more than 200 students pursuing professional master's degrees in software engineering, electronic commerce and human-computer interaction. We published our first edition of The Link in conjunction with CS50, our celebration of 50 years of computer science at Carnegie Mellon (dating back to when the first computer arrived on campus, and when Alan Perlis, Herb Simon and Allen Newell began working together).

Our Center for Automated Learning and Discovery was transformed into the first machine-learning department in the world (see Tom Mitchell's article in this issue). Computational biology became a major focus for SCS, the university and our collaborators at the University of Pittsburgh and elsewhere. We started graduating computer science students at our campus in Doha, Qatar, and in many other ways we have become a more global institution.

We have begun a major focus on data-intensive scalable computing, focusing on the challenges and opportunities for performing computation over terabyte-scale data sets. This form of computing will provide revolutionary capabilities in science, business and society. In the past few years, we received access to very large-scale computing facilities through the generosity of Yahoo!, Google, IBM and Intel, and we procured two major cluster facilities. Still, there is much more work to be done in making these machines more reliable and efficient, finding better ways of programming large-scale computations and solving important, real-world problems.

Jeannette Wing introduced the term "computational thinking" to express the idea that computer science embodies a fundamentally new set of ideas and principles for formulating and solving difficult problems and for designing and implementing complex systems. We have plans to redesign our introductory computer science courses to put more emphasis on computational thinking rather than simply the mechanics of programming, and we want to foster this approach at other universities, in middle and high schools and as a basis for interdisciplinary collaborations in science, humanities and the arts.

I've just been reappointed for another five-year term, and with you, I look forward to the many developments that will take place during this time. Stay tuned as we keep you updated about the many activities by the students, faculty and alumni of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science.
For More Information: 

Jason Togyer | 412-268-8721 | jt3y@cs.cmu.edu