Alan Turing was one of the chief architects of the ideas that we teach and research today in Computer Science today. Yet despite these contributions Turing was subjected to appalling systemic oppression on account of his identity. In response to the recent revelations first reported in the Montana Kaimin on October 11, 2021, the faculty of the Computer Science Department explicitly affirm that educational and professional equity for all of our students and colleagues is a fundamental right. Simultaneously, our departmental mission “to use computation, and train others in its use, to improve understanding and solve problems for the betterment of society” can only be accomplished by cultivating the full potential of each of our students in an environment of mutual respect. We have made significant strides in recent years towards cultivating this more diverse and inclusive department; nonetheless, recent events have resolved us to redouble these efforts, both to ensure that Montana has the diverse set of experts in computing that it needs, and also to strive towards a community that values the contributions and rights of all computer scientists.
Last Friday, 9 intrepid computer scientists (and an unknown number of dogs) completed Missoula’s Barmeyer Trail. Conversations about artificial intelligence and algorithmic complexity were juxataposed against the beautiful (if not a bit smoky) mountain scenery. More hiking club outings will be announced intermittently (at least until the snow begins to fly).
*Above image slightly modified
Student housing can be especially stressful for student living off campus. UM Computer Science students working on their senior software development projects created a database for the ASUM (Associated Students of the University of Montana) Renter Center. This database helps students identify the services they need to find dependable housing in Missoula. Details of the project, as well as a video of the final result can be viewed here.
Faculty in CS have been busy, rethinking what it means to study computation in 2020. We have identified three major trends in the economy, and adapted our curriculum accordingly. Beginning in the Fall of 2020, students will specialize by choosing one of the three following concentrations:
More details will follow, but a formal announcement is here.
A graphical overview of the new curriculum is below.
Addison Boyer, a newly graduated Masters student at UM CS elected to create a portfolio for his MS work. In doing so, he’s created a fantastic account of the assignments our students do. If you have any interest in coming to UM CS for a graduate degree, or even if you wonder what some of the senior level course work looks like, have a look at Addison’s portfolio.
Freshman spent the morning building structures with Keva planks last week. While it seems a stretch, Professor Johnson says – “This has all the hallmarks of programming. A clear problem to solve (highest tower), a small vocabulary (orientation of blocks), a need for repetition that can be expressed as an algorithm (the building’s structure), and limited resources (students only get 100 blocks).”
“And, it’s social. The greatest predictor of success for our students is the peer networks they establish. Exercises like this help them build those networks.” Johnson concluded. It does look like a good time.
UM’s CS department is in the news! Assistant Professor Doug Brinkerhoff is providing a machine learning approach to understanding the complexities of tidewater glaciers in Greenland as part of a brand-new collaboration with researchers from across the globe. The project, which is funded by the Silicon Valley-based Heising-Simons Foundation, seeks to inform advanced glacier models with an unprecedented collection of atmospheric, oceanic, and glaciological measurements. The effort recently made the cover of Science Magazine. Check out the article here: https://vis.sciencemag.org/greenlands-dying-ice/.