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.

Thursday Extra 3/2: Student Research Presentations

Thursday, March 2, 2017
4:15 p.m. in Science 3821
Refreshments at 4:00 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Science 3817).
Everyone is welcome to attend!

Students from the Rebelsky and Osera research teams will be presenting aspects of their summer research in preparation for their trip to SIGCSE in Seattle.

  • The Rebelsky group will be discussing the design of its code camp for middle schoolers and lessons learned.
  • The Osera group will be discussing issues of proof and/or program generation.

Then during the March 14 CS Table, these groups will debrief on their experience at SIGCSE.

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.

Thursday Extra: "The Future of MathLAN"

On Thursday, February 23, John Stone, Manager of the Mathematics Local-Area Network, will present a concise account of the history, present status, and possible future directions for MathLAN.

At 4:00 p.m., refreshments will be served in the Computer Science Commons, Noyce 3817. The talk, “The Future of MathLAN,” will begin at 4:15 p.m. in Noyce 3821. Everyone is welcome to attend!

Thursday Extra 2/16: Joint 4-1 BA-MCS program with UIowa

Thursday, February 16, 2017
4:15 p.m. in Science 3821

Presentation and Q&A for the new joint 4-1 BA-MCS program with The University of Iowa. Representatives from The University of Iowa will be here and we expect an interesting discussion.

Students will apply in their third year at Grinnell and online UI graduate courses are started during senior year. This year's application deadline is March 1 for the joint program. Refer back to Prof. Rebelsky's program announcement (email January 11) or UI's website for more information, and bring your questions to the meeting.

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.

CS Table 2/7: Privacy and security

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has put together a detailed guide of a number of recommended practices used to maintain privacy and security at https://ssd.eff.org/, which we will rely on for this week's discussion. Please complete the following readings before Tuesday:

  1. An Introduction to Threat Modeling. EFF Surveillance Self-Defense Guide.
  2. Seven Steps to Digital Security. EFF Surveillance Self-Defense Guide.
  3. At least one other overview, topic, or briefing from the SSD guide.

If you have specific practices that you use and would be willing to share, please come prepared to demonstrate or describe them. When you choose additional readings, you are encouraged to look for guides that you think are relevant to your own use of technology.

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.

Thursday Extra 2/9: Impact of image based rendering on photography

Thursday, February 9, 2017
4:15 p.m. in Science 3821
Refreshments at 4:00 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Science 3817).
Everyone is welcome to attend!

Image Based Rendering and its Impact on Studio Photography is presented by Gary Meyer, Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota.

A new computer graphic technique, called image based rendering, has the potential to fundamentally change how professional photographers take still life and portrait pictures. Instead of lighting the object or the person in their studio and capturing a few images, we are developing a system in which the photographer takes a comprehensive set of simple pictures with an attached flash and then uses a virtual studio lighting setup and camera to synthesize the final images. Projective texture mapping is used to blend the original pictures and project them onto a mesh that is also derived from the photographs. To achieve the desired relighting effect, the images are carefully weighted as part of the interpolation process. The result is, by definition, photorealistic because it is derived directly from the original pictures, and the method goes beyond traditional studio photography because it allows complex relighting using environment maps and it permits the production of animated flybys in addition to static shots. In addition, new lighting setups and pictures can generated any time in the future using the original set of flash photographs. The talk will be illustrated using images produced in collaboration with the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

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