Thursday Extra 2/8/18: Incorporating Data Science into Introductory CS Course

Thursday, February 8, 2018
4:15 p.m. in Science 3821
Refreshments at 4:00 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Science 3817)

A Functional Approach to Data Science in CS1, presented by Professor Samuel A. Rebelsky, discusses the new "data science" version of CSC 151 he has been doing with Titus Klinge and Sarah Dahlby Albright.

As part of the development of a new interdisciplinary initiative in data science that draws from statistics, mathematics, computer science, and the social sciences, we have developed a new introductory CS course that emphasizes data science and that we refer to as DataCSCi. Unlike other introductory data science courses, such as Berkeley's Data 8, our course retains the broad array of concepts necessary not only to introduce programming principles related to data science, but also to prepare students for the second course in our standard introductory computer science sequence. In particular, the course includes coverage of recursion (numeric and structural), unit testing, linked data structures, and other concepts we rely upon in subsequent courses in computer science.

At the same time, we introduce students to a wide variety of techniques and approaches that support them in their subsequent work in data science, including techniques for wrangling, cleaning, and visualizing data. We achieve this combination of breadth and depth through two core approaches: We focus on a spiral "use then implement" approach and we focus on a functional model of programming using Scheme/Racket. While Python and R are the most commonly used languages for data science, we find that Scheme works particularly well to introduce students to concepts both complex, like map-reduce, and simple, like list filtering.

CS Table 2/6/18: Digital Ownership

This week in CS table, we'll discuss what ownership looks like in a digital world. How have our expectations and rights around ownership changed in the wake of digital goods and services? What have we gained and lost as consumers?

To prepare for our discussion check out the first (sample) chapter of Aaron Perzanowski and Jason Schultz's 2016 book, The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy.

The reading gives an excellent overview of the considerations and problems in this space; take notes and try to form "the big picture" in your head of digital ownership. We'll begin our discussion by trying to capture these concerns. In addition, come equipped with one example of a consumer product that is beginning to shift (or has already shifted) from a physical to a digital good. We'll use these more specific examples to try to hone in how we can respond to these changes.

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 224A (inside the 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).

Thursday Extra 2/1/18: Diversifying Through Code Camps

Thursday, February 1, 2018
4:15 p.m. in Science 3821
Refreshments at 4:00 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Science 3817)

Diversifying the CS Pipeline through Innovative Code Camps shares the results of a summer research project by Caelin Bryant, Jonathan Gilmour, Bea Herce-Hagiwara, Anh Thu Pham, Halle Remash, Marli Remash, and Jonah Zimmerman.

The underrepresentation of women, students of color, and people from lower-SES backgrounds within computer science remains a national issue. Recent studies demonstrate one reason for this: persistent stereotypes about "who does computer science" can cause members of underrepresented groups to preclude interest in the field. Join us this Thursday to learn about how the use of art, data science, social good, and summer camps contributes to adolescent self-efficacy as well as the future diversity of our discipline.

CS Table 1/30/18: Security Vulnerabilities

At the January 30 CS Table we will discuss the recently-announced Spectre and Meltdown security vulnerabilities. These are complex security vulnerabilities that rely on two important features of modern processors: speculation and out-of-order execution. In addition to a technical discussion of these specific vulnerabilities, we’ll discuss the ways in which vulnerabilities are disclosed and fixed.

There are two assigned readings for Tuesday. The first gives a non-technical analogy for both vulnerabilities, and should be helpful for getting a handle on how these vulnerabilities work. The second looks at the implications for end users and the tech industry.

If you are feeling adventurous, you may want to read the original Spectre and Meltdown papers at https://meltdownattack.com/. These are relatively accessible and include a quite a bit of background information.

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 224A (inside the 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).

Thursday Extra 1/25/18: Summer Research

Thursday, January 25, 2018
4:15 p.m. in Science 3821
Refreshments at 4:00 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Science 3817)

A discussion of Summer Research Opportunities in Computer Science at Grinnell is presented by members of the CS faculty and a few guests. You'll hear about research projects with CS faculty members and about the application process. You'll also hear about opportunities from a few people from outside the department who would like to hire CS students. And we'll have an overview of the general policies for MAPs, 399s, and MIPs.

CS Table 1/23/18

At our first CS Table of the new year, we'll discuss potential topics for this semester.

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 224A (inside the 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).

Hiring Multiple Visitors in Computer Science

Grinnell College is hiring for several multi-year visiting positions in Computer Science. We invite interested parties to read more about these open positions, why consider visiting in CS at Grinnell, and some recent questions and answers about those positions.

Thursday Extra 12/7/2017: Summer Opportunities in Computer Science

Thursday, December 7, 2017
4:15 p.m. in Science 3821
Refreshments at 4:00 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Science 3817)

A discussion of Summer Opportunities in Computer Science is presented by Professor Samuel A. Rebelsky and the other faculty of the department of computer science.

If you enjoy computer science (or at least computer programming), summer is an opportunity to explore new approaches, to develop new skills, and perhaps even to make some money. But what kinds of things can you do? While students tend to focus on a few options (e.g., internships and research with faculty), a wide variety of opportunities are available. In this session, we will discuss goals you might set for the summer and some opportunities that can help you achieve those goals. Then during winter break you can be starting applications and preparing to build your portfolios.

Note that this is *not* the presentation of summer research offered within this department; this is a broad overview of the kinds of opportunities one might pursue off-campus.

CS Table 12/5/17: Esoteric Programming Languages

We’ll wrap up our semester with a fun topic for CS Table: Esoteric Programming Languages. These programming languages are intentionally designed to be complex, confusing, or funny, and often offer some clever commentary on the real programming languages we use.

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 224A (inside the 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).

Thursday Extra 11/30/2017: Computational Evolution

Thursday, November 30, 2017
4:15 p.m. in Science 3821
Refreshments at 4:00 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Science 3817)

Using Computational Evolution to Understand the Origins of Biological Complexity is presented by Charles Ofria, professor of computer science and engineering at Michigan State University and president of the International Society for Artificial Life. His research lies at the intersection of Computer Science and Evolutionary Biology, developing a two-way flow of ideas between the fields, with the primary goal of understanding how evolution produces complex traits, behaviors, and intelligent processes.

Understanding the evolution of complex traits and behaviors in nature has long been a topic of intense interest in evolutionary biology. Similarly, constructing evolving systems that exhibit similar open-ended dynamics has been a grand challenge in the field of Evolutionary Computation, where researchers try to apply these natural dynamics toward solving real-world problems. Of course, Darwin himself recognized the difficulty of explaining the origins of traits of "extreme perfection and complication" such as the vertebrate eye, but also provided profound insights into the process. Ofria will discuss research where inspiration is taken from Darwin's ideas to study populations of digital organisms as they evolve new, complex traits in environments where they must perform mathematical functions to metabolize resources into additional CPU cycles. He will illustrate the processes by which digital evolution can be made to produce targeted complex traits, and demonstrate the power of these artificial life systems to help explain the rich diversity of life that we see in the natural world.

Ofria is also founder and deputy director of the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, a $50 million NSF Science and Technology Center, and he is architect of the Avida Digital Evolution Research Platform, which is downloaded over a thousand times per month for use in research and education at dozens of universities around the world.

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