CS Table

CS Table 8/29: Welcome Back!

We begin CS Table with our standard meet-and-greet and discussion of current events in technology and society; there is no reading for this initial meeting. As a reminder, CS Table is the CS department’s lunch discussion group for issues at the intersection technology and society. You don’t need to be a CS major to join the discussion!

The first CS Table of the year will meet at 12:00-1:00pm on August 29 in the Whale Room in the JRC Marketplace. (The Whale Room is the big room in the back of the dining hall.)

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00-1:00pm in the JRC Marketplace. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the JRC front desk).

CS Table 5/9: Comics!

The end of the semester is busy, so we are taking a fun detour from our usual readings. For the final CS Table of the year, we will look at comics about technical topics, political issues, and the downfall of society. If you have any comics you would like to include, send them to Professor Osera or Curtsinger. (If you don't send some, they will resort to showing Marmaduke and Dinosaur comics!)

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00-1:00pm in JRC 224B. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.

CS Table on 5/2: Random Number Generation

This week we will consider a more technical issue: How does/might one generate random numbers. We will consider two articles:

  • John David Stone (1996). A portable random-number generator. (Internet archive)
    A call to the random-maker procedure presented here yields a dynamically constructed procedure that acts as a random-number generator. When the dynamically constructed procedure is invoked with no arguments, it returns a pseudo-random real value evenly distributed in the range [0.0, 1.0); when it is invoked with one argument (which should be a positive integer n), it returns a pseudo-random integer value evenly distributed in the range [0, n); when it is invoked with two arguments, the first of which should be a positive integer and the second the symbol reset, it changes the seed of the random-number generator to the value of the first argument.
  • Greg Taylor and George Cox (2011). Behind Intel's New Random-Number Generator.
    [I]n 2008 Intel set out to make a random-number generator that uses only digital hardware. Intel researchers based in Hillsboro, Ore., and at the company's Bangalore Design Lab in India started by tackling a key part of the problem—how to make a random source of bits without using analog circuitry.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00-1:00pm in JRC 224B. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.

CS Table 4/25: Algorithmic Accountability

Algorithms are essential to computer science, and increasingly they are essential to modern decision making on all levels. But are they unbiased? The emerging field of ‘Algorithm Accountability’ is beginning to identify cases in which inherent bias is imbedded in the inference structure of algorithms. The articles for this week’s CS Table run the gamut from popular press to general audience special interest to technical position papers to ACM recommendations for basic principles. The question is no longer ‘are algorithms biased’, but how to determine whether they are, and if so how to prevent them from being so.

Linda Oyolu, Ruth Wu, and Ursula Wolz will be leading our discussion on April 25, 2017. The following readings will give you a good sense of the area; please do your best to read at least some subset of these articles before our CS Table discussion:

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00-1:00pm in JRC 224B. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.

CS Table 4/18: Automation

In the CS Table on April 18, 2017, we will discuss the role of technology in the workforce, specifically at benefits and downsides of automation. There is one reading for this week:

For a little context, here is a twitter feed that regularly features impressive manufacturing robots. These videos are fascinating to watch and can give you a sense of just how disruptive technology can be, particularly in fields that involve significant manual labor.

  • Philippe Chabot. HumanVsMachine Twitter Feed.
  • Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00-1:00pm in JRC 224B. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.

    CS Table 4/11: Technical Interviews

    This week in CS table we will take a critical look towards the technical interview process employed in the software industry. Like the industry itself, our expectations about how interviews are conducted have rapidly changed over the last decade. Our readings, spaced 10 years apart, showcase what were some of the concerns back then versus the concerns now:

    In addition to the readings, I encourage you to reflect on your own experiences interviewing for internships or jobs and bring them to share.

    Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00-1:00pm in JRC 224B. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.

    CS Table 3/7: Can computers write poetry?

    Systems for generating poetry and other writing use a variety of techniques to produce text from a combination of structural rules and examples. Some results are quite compelling, while others are less impressive. Even in the best cases, we could reasonably ask: Did the computer actually write this? Is it really a poem?

    Our reading for this topic is an academic paper about a sonnet generator. This program uses a combination of classic language models from natural language processing (NLP), an interesting model of rhyme and slant-rhyme, and finite state machines that control poem structure. Generating Topical Poetry. Marjan Ghazvininejad, Xing Shi, Yejin Choi, and Kevin Knight. In Proceedings of the 2016 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing.

    In addition to the reading, there are three example text generators you should try out before Tuesday. These vary *significantly* in their level of sophistication. Play with them, and see if you can figure out how they work:

    Taking a look at the leaderboard at BotPoet is highly recommended. You can find the most human-like computer-generated poems, but also the most computer-like computer-generated poems, most human-like human-written poems, and most computer-like human-written poems.

    Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00-1:00pm in JRC 224B. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.

    CS Table 2/28: What's in a face?

    On February 28, 2017, we’ll be looking at applications of machine learning to judge people by their faces. Faces have the potential to convey much information about a person’s emotion and intent, but extracting that information from a face alone is a difficult task (and arguably impossible or impractical depending on which side of the research you fall on). Computers equipped with machine learning and computer vision algorithms have the capacity to perform these sorts of analyses on faces. What is possible with this sort of technology? Are there any ethical ramifications to consider? Paper copies of the readings are available outside Prof. Curtsinger's office. Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00-1:00pm in JRC 224B. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.

    CS Table 2/21: Net Neutrality

    During our CS Table on net neutrality, we'll run through the basic principles and history, discuss previous actions to strengthen or erode net neutrality, and think about the consequences of possible upcoming changes from the FCC. As always, we strongly encourage you to complete the readings before the discussion, but you are welcome whether you have read or not.

    1. Net Neutrality: A Guide to (and History of) a Contested Idea. Alexis C. Madrigal and Adrienne LaFrance. The Atlantic. April 25, 2015.
    2. Net Neutrality Foe to Head the FCC. Larry Greenmeier. Scientific American. January 30, 2017.
    3. What Happens If Net Neutrality Goes Away? Mike Orcutt. MIT Technology Review. January 20, 3017.

    Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00-1:00pm in JRC 224B. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.

    CS Table 2/14: On Technology, Slots, and Whales

    This week in CS Table, we’ll be examining the use of technology in the gambling industry to create games that everyone can enjoy (perhaps a little bit too much…)! Modern-day slot machines are a beautiful combination of technology, psychology, and data science that power a $150 billion industry. And more recently, the video game industry is looking towards them to understand how to power experiences that are not “gambling” at first glance, but are heavily inspired by it. We’ll discuss what goes into a modern-day gambling experience as well as its ethics.
    1. Brendan I. Koerner. How one man hacked his way into the slot-machine industry. Wired.com. July 15, 2011.
    2. Andrew Thompson. Engineerings of addiction: slot machines perfected addictive gambling. Now, tech wants their tricks. Theverge.com.
    3. Robert Rath. Why cops are raiding arcades over a fishing game. Vice.com. November 23, 2016.
    4. Mike Rose. Chasing the whale: examining the ethics of free-to-play. Gamesutra.com. 2013.
    5. Finally, here’s an extra fun “reading” video: an example of a modern day Japanese pachinko machine (warning, NSFW Aussie language).
    Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00-1:00pm in JRC 224B. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.
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