Message from the Dean

Five things I’ve learned this semester

 Ten months in, and I’m still enjoying my job as dean—and every day I’m humbled by the amazing things going on, and the amazing people doing them. In ascending order of importance, here are the top five things that I’ve learned this past semester.

 1.) The number of great companies locating in Pittsburgh is on the rise.

This is essential for us in SCS. I hope we all agree that we are among the very small set of groups of people in the world that are responsible for deciding what the year 2040 is going to be like to live in. To make these things happen, we must have very intimate partnerships with the companies, agencies and health care systems that are disrupting the future.

 2.) We can’t just sit and wait for companies to show up.

Our people and our thinking are what draw the world to Pittsburgh, but the availability of real estate near campus and around the city is actually a huge determinant of our success. I am very happy with the way that CMU President Subra Suresh and the university’s real estate teams are being forward thinking, and actively working to shape development near campus. (See

 3.) Mistakes with admissions processes are unacceptable.

As you no doubt have heard, we dropped the ball on our systems for admitting students to our Master of Science in Computer Science degree program, and the extent to which this caused pain and sadness for hundreds of people was a cause of great regret for me. This was a failure on my part, and it can’t happen again.

4.) A.I. will be the next “data science.”

Through many dinners, strategy meetings and problem-solving sessions, I have become even more convinced that the maturing of the field of data science is going to lead to even larger growth in the technology of decision-making, as well as building autonomy on top of the massively sophisticated probabilistic models that can be derived from data.

Artificial intelligence is re-emerging as a worldwide phenomenon, and it traces many of its roots back to CMU and to collaboration between faculty and students in Statistics, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Tepper School of Business (formerly GSIA). Ever since Newell and Simon did their pioneering work in the 1950s, A.I. has been at the center of our culture, and it is vibrant right now. Look, for example, at our record-breaking autonomous CoBots. Look at our world champion poker A.I., Claudico, which is now (almost) beating professional human players in games that involve deliberate, coordinated deception and misdirection.

Look at the recent DARPA Robotics Challenge: Like the other robots in the competition, CMU’s CHIMP fell down—a catastrophic failure—but unlike the other robots, CHIMP’s autonomous systems allowed it to recover, stand up, and complete its mission perfectly—that is a moment for robot history. And look at the way that the data-driven intelligent tutors built by Emma Brunskill’s team are teaching kids by adapting to them, and then personalizing the teaching strategy for each student.

 5.) SCS degree holders rule the world.

 Our graduates are the ones that everyone wants: this has been shown by an array of external studies. But—oh boy—we cannot stand still here! In fact, I feel as if we’re surfing a giant wave, and if we don’t wipe out, our education will have more influence on 2040 than all of our amazing research work combined.

We describe this challenge in the Summer 2015 issue of The Link, and in a future issue of The Link, we’ll talk more about how our faculty members are involved in a whole suite of innovations in computer science education across the board. 

Andrew W. Moore
Dean, School of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University