CS Table for 11/10: Building back doors into cryptographic standards

During the CS Table on November 10, 2015, we will be discussing the possibility of building back doors into cryptographic standards for use by law enforcement, and the broader issues surrounding privacy, cryptography, and law enforcement. There are three (brief) articles on the subject that give a good introduction to the technical and political issues around this debate.

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 12:00-12:45 in JRC 224C. 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. For the up-to-date CS Table schedule, please visit the CS Table webpage.

Thursday Extra on 11/5: Professor Walker on MyroC 3.0

November 5 at 4:15 pm in Science 3821
Refreshments served at 4:00 in the CS Commons
Everyone is welcome

Professor Henry M. Walker will present "MyroC 3.0: Update, Portability, Non-blocking, Threads, Processes, Coordination."

The MyroC project provides infrastructure and materials to allow the use of Scribbler 2 robots to support CSC 161, a course exploring imperative problem solving with C programming. The original work, now designated MyroC.1.0, was built upon a C++ package developed at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and incorporated into CSC 161 in Fall 2011. Due to issues in portability from Linux to other platforms, work started on a C-based infrastructure in Fall 2013 and was incorporated into CSC 161 in Spring 2015. Through versions MyroC.2.1-MyroC.2.4, the revised package provided several revised commands with both blocking and non-blocking options for robot movement and image display. Although written in Standard C, further refinements could improve efficiency, add functionality, and facilitate portability. This fall, a new MyroC.3.0 is being developed which will refine several previous commands, improve efficiency, and utilize different Standard-C libraries, yielding an infrastructure that will run on both Linux and Mac OS X platforms. Focusing on MyroC.3.0, this talk will highlight several new features and then focus on how concepts from operating systems and parallel processing (e.g., topics covered in CSC 213) are required to implement these new or updated features. Specific topics to be considered will include threads, processes, mutex semaphores, and synchronization via message passing.

Thursday Extra: Algorithms for Assembling the Tree of Life

October 29 at 4:15 pm in Science 3821
Refreshments served at 4:00 pm in the CS Commons

Join us for a talk by David Fernández-Baca from the Department of Computer Science at Iowa State University. His talk is titled "Algorithms for Assembling the Tree of Life."

The Tree of Life is a reconstruction of the evolutionary history of all living species. Constructing this tree is one of the fundamental problems in science. At present, however, we are far from solving this problem. Instead, we must be content with building phylogenetic trees (that is, evolutionary trees) for relatively small families of species. Even trees of such limited scope have important uses. They help biologists to decipher the function of genes by comparing these genes to similar ones in closely related species. Ecologists use phylogenetic trees to estimate degrees of biodiversity and analyze rates of species extinction. In medicine, phylogenetic trees model disease progression. Phylogenetic trees are also used outside of biology, to understand the development of human languages and political systems.

This talk will discuss the work Fernández-Baca's group conducts in computational phylogenetics -- the field that studies the construction of phylogenetic trees. The aim of their research is to develop algorithms, mathematics, and software for phylogenetics. Much of the work addresses the computational problems that stem from the scarcity of data for building trees and the conflict among the data that is available. In addition to tackling algorithmic challenges, they also collaborate with biologists to study specific questions in biology. A recent example is applying phylogenetics to the study of legumes. This is a family of plants that are notable for their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen -- a process that is essential for agriculture -- and that includes major food crops.

At the end of the talk, Fernández-Baca will give an overview of graduate study opportunities offered by the Computer Science Department at Iowa State University. The department has 31 faculty members covering a wide range of areas, including artificial intelligence, formal methods & verification, wireless networks and systems, robotics, software safety, software engineering, and theoretical computer science. The department participates in interdepartmental graduate programs in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Human-Computer Interaction, and Information Assurance. Almost all Ph.D. students are supported by research or teaching assistantships.

CS Table for 10/27: GHC Debrief

There are no readings this week, instead we will hear about student experiences at the Grace Hopper Celebration.

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 12:00-12:45 in JRC 224C. 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 for 9/6: Barbies and Data Privacy

This week we'll talk about the Internet of Things and its implications for security and data privacy. What are the benefits of connecting everything through the Internet, what are the downsides, and what are the technological challenges we will need to overcome to mitigate these downsides? 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 12:00-12:45 in JRC 224C. 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. For the up-to-date CS Table schedule, please visit the CS Table webpage.

Thursday Extra: IBM Watson and Innovation in NYC

October 8
4:15 pm in Science 3821
Refreshments served at 4:00 pm in the CS Commons.

Blake Creasey '16 will present: "IBM Watson & Innovation in New York City."

This summer I went to New York City for seven weeks to learn about IBM Watson and engineering entrepreneurship at the Cooper Union. Our IBM mentor taught us about the brand of Watson, how pieces of the technology work, and current implementations of the technology. We met with our client, the New York Public Library, to understand a problem in their book recommendation system, and we set out trying to use the Watson Experience Manager to build a solution. We interviewed potential users, reviewed existing survey data, extensively discussed technological feasibility, met with current IBM Watson business partners, and finally built an iPhone book recommendation application using IBM Watson's natural language processing capabilities. My main focus in this talk will be on IBM Watson and our prototype iPhone application, Shelf. I will also briefly discuss the companies that I toured-Google, Bloomberg, Microsoft, Gamechanger, IBM Watson's Experience Center-and the meetups that I attended. Thanks to the Wilson Program, I hope to share what I learned about innovation, and I hope to discuss my general impressions on what is happening with innovation-the cool, the incredible, the scary, and the future.

Thursday Extra October 1st

Peter-Michael Osera and Charlie Curtsinger will discuss graduate programs in computer science.

October 1st
4:15 p.m.
Noyce 3821

Snacks will be available in the CS Commons at 4:00 p.m.

CS Table for 9/29: Youtube, ContentID, and Fair Use

This week we'll be talking about Youtube and its efforts to enforce the rights of copyright holders with its ContentID system. In particular, we'll talk about the the history of ContentID and its effects on content creators and copyright holders over the last couple of years. 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 12:00-12:45 in JRC 224C. 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. For the up-to-date CS Table schedule, please visit the CS Table webpage.

Double Feature CS Talks on September 23 & 24

On Wednesday, September 23, Dr. Ursula Wolz gives a talk on two of her research projects: "Does Learning Computer Science Require a Teacher? Reflections on Automated Tutors and Learning Communities."

On Thursday, September 24, our own Samuel Rebelsky gives a short talk: "Scripting GIMP with Racket."

Both talks are in Science-3821 at 4:15 PM, preceded by refreshment in the CS Commons at 4:00.

Ursula Wolz will be teaching at Grinnell as a Noyce Visiting Professor in Spring 2016. Dr. Wolz is currently involved in two projects, one to create a very robust mechanical tutor using a sophisticated rule base, the other to create face-to-face communities of coders that remove, or at least reduce, the technology divide. She will provide a quick overview of both projects, and then invite stimulating discussion of the major technological and ethical issues involved.

Professor Rebelsky's talk is practice for an upcoming presentation at RacketCon in St. Louis. The GNU Image Manipulation Program, or GIMP, is an open-source alternative to Photoshop. In the early days of GIMP, the designers added a scripting language, Script-Fu, based on Scheme. Over the years, Script-Fu has been superseded by Python-Fu, although Script-Fu remains an option, albeit with a primitive IDE. Over the past few years, my students and I have built a library that allows programmers to script GIMP using Racket and the DrRacket IDE. In addition to providing the “glue” between GIMP and Racket, we also added a library of routines more amenable to novice programmers. In this talk, we will discuss the design of both the “glue” and the broader library. We will also discuss a related introductory course in CS that uses multiple models of image making as the motivating problem domain.

CS Table for Tuesday, September 15: "Automated Cars and Cybersecurity"

Our topic at this week's Computer Science Table will be software vulnerabilities in cars, as described in this article:

Gallagher, Sean. Highway to Hack: Why We're Just at the Beginning of the Auto-Hacking Era. Ars Technica, August 13, 2015.
http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/08/highway-to-hack-why-were-just-at-the-beginning-of-the-auto-hacking-era/

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 to 12:45 in Rosenfield 224C. 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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