Department News

Syndicate content
CS@VT
Updated: 1 min 6 sec ago

PhD student Cory Bart wins Best Research Paper award at SIGCSE

Mon, 2017-03-27 16:25

Cory Bart, computer science PhD student, won the Best Research Paper award at the SIGCSE conference in March.  The SIGCSE Technical Symposium is the largest computing education conference worldwide organized by ACM SIGCSE.  It attracts around 1,300 researchers, educators, and others interested in improving computing education in K-12 and higher education. Ryan Whitcomb, computer science undergraduate student, along with CS faculty members: Dennis Kafura, Cliff Shaffer, and Eli Tilevich are co-authors of the paper.

ABSTRACT
To successfully bring introductory computing to non-CS majors, one needs to create a curriculum that will appeal to students from diverse disciplines. Several educational theories emphasize the need for introductory contexts that align with students’ long-term goals and are perceived as useful. Data Science, using algorithms to manipulate real-world data and interpreting the results, has emerged as a eld with crossdisciplinary value, and has strong potential as an appealing context for introductory computing courses. However, it is not easy to nd, clean, and integrate datasets that will satisfy a broad variety of learners. The CORGIS project (https://think.cs.vt.edu/corgis) enables instructors to easily incorporate data science into their classroom. Specifically, it provides over 40 datasets in areas including history, politics, medicine, and education. Additionally, the CORGIS infrastructure supports the integration of new datasets with simple libraries for Java, Python, and Racket, thus empowering introductory students to write programs that manipulate real data. Finally, the CORGIS web-based tools allow learners to visualize and explore datasets without programming, enabling data science lessons on day one. We have incorporated CORGIS assignments into an introductory course for non-majors to study their impact on learners’ motivation, with positive initial results. These results indicate that external adopters are likely to nd the CORGIS tools and materials useful in their own pedagogical pursuits.

 

 

Assistant Professor Kurt Luther receives National Science Foundation CAREER award

Tue, 2017-03-21 07:40

Assistant professor of computer science Kurt Luther has been recognized by the National Science Foundation with a Faculty Early Career Development Award to study and improve the capabilities of crowdsourced investigations. The issue is of particular importance in an era where speed can sometimes best factual and accurate reporting of news. Luther will use an innovative expert-led crowdsourcing approach to collect data using a platform called CrowdSleuth. The software will assist collaboration between crowds and experts, such as journalists, historians, and law enforcement, as they attempt to discover new information and verify details of investigations.

Read Full Story

 

Dr. Kurt Luther

Dick Nance, former CS department head, to be recognized by NC State Libraries

Fri, 2017-03-17 10:46

Dr. Richard Nance and his wife Barbara will be recognized by the NC State University Libraries (NCSU) as Life Members of the Friends of the Library.  Dr. Nance is an emeritus professor and former department head of Computer Science at Virginia Tech.  NCSU Life Members have made a long standing commitment to helping improve the collections and services of the NCSU Libraries.  Dr. Nance is one of the founding members of the Simulation Archive (http://d.lib.ncsu.edu/computer-simulation/) and continues to serve on the Advisory Board that guides the development and building of the Archive.  As a leader in the field of simulation, Dr. Nance has also contributed to a unique collection of oral history interviews with simulation pioneers.  Dr. Nance and his wife Barbara have also helped to build the Simulation Archive Endowment to enhance and sustain the Archive for generations of students and scholars.  They will be recognized at the annual Friends of the Library Spring Meeting, on Friday, March 31 at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library. The event is a lunch with an exclusive look at upcoming renovations of the D. H. Hill Library and a special viewing of rare books and materials from our Special Collections Research Center. Items from the Simulation Archive will be on view for attendees before the lunch.

He received BSIE and M.S. degrees from N.C. State University in 1962 and 1966 respectively, and the Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1968.  He has served on the faculties of Southern Methodist University and Virginia Tech.  Nance has held research appointments at the Naval Surface Weapons Center and at the Imperial College of Science and Technology (UK) as well as visiting appointments at Old Dominion University and Brunel University (UK).  He was also appointed Visiting Distinguished Honors Professor for the spring semester 1997 at the University of Central Florida. Nance is the author of over 150 papers on discrete event simulation, performance modeling and evaluation, computer networks, and software engineering.  He has held several editorial positions and was the founding Editor-in-Chief of the ACM Transactions on Modeling and Computer Simulation (TOMACS).

Nance has consulted for major private businesses and organizations, and his long-term research relationship with the U.S. Navy led to the establishment of the Systems Research Center at Virginia Tech in 1983.  He was named to the John Adolphus Dahlgren Chair in Computer Science in 1988. He was instrumental in the development of the Simulation Archive at N.C. State and currently chairs the advisory committee.  Nance has received several awards for his editorial and professional contributions, most recently the INFORMS Simulation Society Lifetime Professional Achievement Award in 2007.   He was elected a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery in 1996 and a Fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) in 2008.  In 2006 he was recognized by the faculty of the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering of N.C. State as one of the 12 Distinguished Alumni over the first 75 years of the department’s history.

Notes from Department Head Cal Ribbens

Tue, 2017-02-14 10:44

Today we are seeing a large spike in undergraduate computer science enrollment.  There have been two previous spikes in CS, one in the late 80’s (following the debut of the PC) and one in the early 2000’s (the “dot com boom”).  So here we go again?  Is this another enrollment bubble?  This one feels different to me.  While the current growth rate will surely level out, I believe CS enrollments will be sustainably high for the foreseeable future.  Computing is just so pervasive, and a CS degree is such good preparation for deep computational thinking and creative problem solving—exactly what is needed to address virtually all of the most important problems and opportunities society faces today.  And as we make progress on broadening participation in our field to include historically under-represented groups, the potential for new talent and growth is even more exciting.

Here are a few numbers, to give you a sense of CS undergraduate enrollment trends at Virginia Tech.  This year we will award almost 250 bachelor’s degrees, our largest group ever, and almost twice the size of the class that graduated only four years ago.  Our current sophomore class numbers 341, a number which ranks second in the College of Engineering, trailing only Mechanical Engineering.  The average GPA of this group is an impressive 3.37.

We are thrilled at the number of talented students that are streaming into our field!  It is a great privilege to help the next generation build on what has come before.  In a future post, I’ll have more to say about the great jobs our students are moving into, and about the exciting growth we are experiencing in other dimensions of the department.

 

Daphne Yao running for office!

Thu, 2017-02-09 16:30

Dr. Danfeng Yao, associate professor in computer science and Elizabeth and James E. Turner Jr. ’56 Faculty Fellow, will run for the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) SIGSAC secretary/treasurer officer position this spring. SIGSAC is the ACM’s society on security, audit and control. “I feel quite excited about the possibility of serving the community”, Dr. Yao said.  Her candidate statement is below.

ACM SIGSAC is a strong, successful, and inclusive organization. I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to serve this large international community that makes my 15-year academic life interesting and fulfilling. Besides the duties of managing SIGSAC finances and correspondences, the secretary/treasurer officer will be a member of the executive committee and participate in decisions that improve SIGSAC’s ability to support its members. Several challenges that I hope to help address include encouraging constructiveness in paper reviews, supporting women in security, and facilitating international exchanges. From serving on numerous PCs I found that security paper reviews tend to be overly negative and sometimes inconsistent, leaving junior researchers confused and discouraged. This is partly due to the critical nature of security and the breadth of the field. However, I believe that constructive criticisms foster our scientific community without reducing its competitiveness. I am also committed to increasing women’s participation in security. Diverse groups with the capacity of anticipating and working with alternative viewpoints are more innovative. The immense task of securing cyberspace demands a diverse and sustainable workforce.  Through organizing workshops and exchange programs, I will help create opportunities to broaden the participation of female security professionals around the world.

Read More

 

Danfeng Yao

Technology on the Trail

Thu, 2017-02-09 13:35

Through support from Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, Center for Human Computer Interaction, and Computer Science Department, we are beginning an initiative we call Technology on the Trail.

This initiative seeks to explore the influences, both positive and negative, of technology when used on extended trail hikes and similar activities. Technology is often targeted for use in heavily populated urban environments, but thousands of people take technology away from cities on their hiking adventures, raising questions about appropriate use when in a more isolated and natural environment. These environments provide some level of separation for most people from technologies, but a need for community and communication still exists for hikers and their friends and family. Widely available technologies and apps, including mobile devices, GPS, biometric sensors, photo and video apps, and mobile blogging tools allow the capture of data and information related to a hike, but the right ways to use it are not well understood.

Our Technology on the Trail initiative seeks to understand and develop ways that technology is used (or avoided!) on trails and in trail-like settings, such as extended and multi-day hikes, where different user goals and desires affect our behaviors and interactions with others.

We have divided this initiative into three main thrusts: preparation, experience, and reflection.

Read More

 

Scott McCrickard

 

Naren Ramakrishnan and colleagues explore big data analytics to plan for smart communities of the future

Wed, 2017-02-08 11:58

We already have smartphones, smart clothing, and smart appliances, but emerging “smart cities” are still a concept of our imagined future. A Virginia Tech team wants those smart cities to feature zero energy, zero outage, and zero congestion. Their tools: big data and interdisciplinary technology.

Walid Saad, the Stephen O. Lane Junior Faculty Fellow and assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering; Harpreet Dhillon, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Naren Ramakrishnan, the Thomas L. Phillips Professor of Engineering and director of the Discovery Analytics Center in the Department of Computer Science, are leading a three-year, $1.4 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to develop a new planning framework for smart, connected, and sustainable communities.

 

Read More

Danfeng Yao recognized as the VT Scholar of the Week

Mon, 2017-02-06 10:45

Dr. Danfeng Yao, associate professor in computer science and Elizabeth and James E. Turner Jr. ’56 Faculty Fellow, is being recognized as the Scholar of the Week by the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Read More

 

Danfeng Yao

Kurt Luther Awarded NSF CAREER Award

Fri, 2017-02-03 09:49

Dr. Kurt Luther, assistant professor of computer science, has been awarded an NSF CAREER award for his project entitled “Transforming Investigative Science and Practice with Expert‐Led Crowdsourcing.”  The prestigious NSF CAREER award recognizes creative and high-impact research proposals submitted by early-career faculty members.  Dr. Luther’s project will study how best to combine experts and crowds to improve the effectiveness, ethics, and efficiency of investigations, with applications in domains such as history, journalism, and national security.

Read More

 

Dr. Kurt Luther

3rd Virginia Tech High School Programming Competition

Wed, 2017-01-25 13:40

The 3rd Virginia Tech High School programming competition took place on Saturday, Dec 10, 2017. Dr. Godmar Back served as contest director and head judge. 101 teams from 25 high schools from 5 states took part at the 3rd online Virginia Tech High School contest that is run by volunteers from the ACM ICPC Programming Team at Virginia Tech. This was the first year that the event was advertised on a national site (Google CS4HS), which attracted teams from California, Alabama, North Carolina, and Maryland in addition to teams from Virginia.

The popularity of the event continues to expand. The competition has grown in 3 years from 24 to 58 to 101 teams. Dr. Back said, “We know that there is demand for more”.

More than 1,200 submission was entered in 5 hours, with 430 successful solutions. You can find the scoreboard and problem set (html, pdf). 100 out of 101 teams solved at least one, 56 solved 4 or more. The problems were developed by students from the programming team (Neha Kapur, Peter Steele, Harrison Fang, Daniel Moyer, Andriy Katkov) and Dr. Back.  Much to Dr. Back’s surprise, 4 teams solved all 10 problems (one in half the time).

To participate, teams needed to be sponsored by a teacher or parent coach. At most schools, the students got together at their school for the day with their teacher to participate in the contest. Teachers from several schools provided very positive and expressed that their students enjoyed the contest.

This year, for the first time, a team from Blacksburg High School participated. Prizes were sponsored by Eastman Chemical, the Computer Science Resources Consortium, and stack@cs

More detailed information about this year’s contest can be found here. Please spread the word about this contest to colleagues or teachers!

 

 

Virginia Tech Team Victorious at ACM-ICPC Regionals

Wed, 2017-01-25 13:21

For the fourth straight year a team from Virginia Tech has qualified for the prestigious ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) World Finals.  This year’s Mid-Atlantic regional contest, held on November 5, included 177 teams from over 100 schools.   Under the leadership of Dr. Godmar Back, ten Virginia Tech three-person teams participated in the regional contest this year.  The team consisting of CS majors Peter Steele, Chris Wu, and Andriy Katkov finished first.  They will be representing Virginia Tech at the 41st World Finals, to be held this coming May in Rapid City, SD.

The performance of all the Virginia Tech teams was outstanding, with four teams finishing in the top 14, and eight in the top 30.  According to Dr. Back, “I need to acknowledge the enthusiasm and hard work of all involved. This year, I had a group of 60-70 dedicated students that attended the Saturday practices. We did five full (five hour) practices on Saturdays during October and September, plus a qualification contest the week before, plus an additional six virtual contests on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I would also like to thank our sponsors, Eastman Chemical, stack@cs, and the CSRC!”

Congratulations to all the ICPC participants:

“PriorityQueues for President” – Peter Steele, Chris Wu, Andriy Katkov

“HashSets for President” – Jeff Robertson, Christy Coghlan, Nathan Lahn

“LinkedLists for President” – Andy Sin, Shengzhe Xu, Geson Chong

“TreeSets for President” – Daniel Moyer, Jamie Simon, Ariana Herbst

“ArrayDeques for President” – Eric Williamson, Lance Chao, Harrison Fang

“Hashtables for President” – Stu Harvey, Daniel Amick, Drew Maczugowski

“BitSets for President” – Luke Wolff, Andrew Lahann, Swaraj Dhumne

“TreeMaps for President” – Bryce Humphrey, Ryan Berft, Alexander Glasson

“ArrayLists for President” – Raju Nadimpalli, JooYoung Whang, Yevhen Pylypenko

“HashMaps for President” – Hunter Morris, Jameson Dyer, Bright Zheng

 

Godmar Back

Dr. Ed Fox named an IEEE Fellow

Mon, 2017-01-09 15:04

Dr. Edward Fox, professor of computer science, has been named an IEEE Fellow for leadership in digital libraries and information retrieval.

The IEEE Fellow grade is conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors upon a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. The total number selected in any one year cannot exceed one-tenth of one-percent of the total voting membership. IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement.

Dr. Fox directs the Digital Library Research Laboratory and the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations.  He is known for extraordinary contributions to technology-enriched learning activities in the classroom. When asked what this honor means to him, Dr. Fox said, “It is always an honor to be recognized in such a way and I’m grateful for all the people who have worked with me over the years.”

Fox has held multiple leadership positions in IEEE.  He is a member of the IEEE Thesaurus Editorial Board and a member of the Executive Committee of the Technical Committee on Digital Libraries; he served as chair of TCDL from 2004 to 2008. He has been an IEEE Senior Member since 2004. He was on the editorial board of IEEE Multimedia from 1997-2003. Fox was General Chair for the ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries in 2001, and has served on the JCDL steering committee since 2003, including as chair from 2010 to 2014. Fox also has served on the program committee of many IEEE conferences and workshops.

Fox has been (co)PI on over 123 funded projects.  He has co-authored and/or edited 18 books, and (co)authored 120 journal/magazine articles, 49 book chapters, and 211 refereed conference/workshop papers. These are in areas including digital libraries, information storage and retrieval, machine learning/AI, computational linguistics (NLP), hypertext/hypermedia/multimedia, computing education, and electronic publishing.  His work has been cited more than 14940 times and his h-index is 56 according to Google Scholar.  Fox has graduated more than 50 masters and Ph.D. students.

Dr. Ed Fox holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Computer Science from Cornell University, and a B.S. from M.I.T.  He joined the Virginia Tech Department of Computer Science in 1983.

The IEEE is the world’s leading professional association for advancing technology for humanity. Through its 400,000 plus members in 160 countries, the association is a leading authority on a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics.

Dedicated to the advancement of technology, the IEEE publishes 30 percent of the world’s literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields, and has developed more than 1300 active industry standards.  The association also sponsors or co-sponsors nearly 1700 international technical conferences each year.  If you would like to learn more about IEEE or the IEEE Fellow Program, please visit www.ieee.org.

 

Edward A. Fox

Successful corporate partnerships provide hands on learning experiences for CS students

Fri, 2016-12-16 18:24

Professor Eli Tilevich provided a great opportunity for students in his CS 4704 capstone course this fall.  Dr. Tilevich partnered with The MITRE Corporation, a member company of the department’s Computer Science Resources Consortium (CSRC) program.  The MITRE Corporation sponsored the course this fall and created hands-on learning experiences for students to work with real clients.  The MITRE Corporation managers met and one-on-one with students during the semester.  The results of the students’ hard work were displayed to company representatives on December 14.

Alexander DeRieux, Christie Goddard, Andrew Heatwole, David Pickle, Will Schrag presented on ERIS (Emergency Responder Information System)

Alex Martin, Anthony DiMarco, Riley Babcock, Victor Weiss presented onSkyBook (Aircraft Specification Aggregator)

Arman Bahraini, Zhizheng Chen, Taiwen Jin, Steffen Moseley, Sungha Song presented on GroupSafe (Group Location Safety System)

A summary of each team’s work is below:

ERIS (Emergency Responder Information System)

In times of crisis, effective communication and informed decision making can mean the difference between life and death. Modern-day first responder communication systems rely heavily on dispatch to control the flow of information among units. While this system has its merits, data flow to on the ground personnel is somewhat restricted to the speed that dispatch can process and disseminate information. In order to decrease response time, dispatch filters out much of the information they receive; some of which could actually be useful to responders. This tradeoff can lead to dangerous situations for firemen, police officers, and EMTs. ERIS aims to ease communication and data collection by creating a system to provide fast and detailed information sharing among first responders. ERIS application development was guided by the standard Android development paradigm, and utilized various APIs and SDKs to communicate with peripheral devices and remote services. The ERIS application provides users (responders) with relevant location and status information for incidents and other responders, and interacts with mobile phones and wearable computing devices (Recon Jet glasses, Motorola smartwatches, and Myo armbands) to facilitate collection and display of information.

 

SkyBook (Aircraft Specification Aggregator)

This project involves the aggregating, storing, and displaying of data on various types of commercial aircraft. The primary goal is to collect this data from multiple sources and make it accessible by two means: an intuitive web application and a RESTful API endpoint. This has been accomplished by utilizing a Python web-scraping library called Beautiful Soup to gather data from official manufacturer websites (Boeing, Airbus, etc) in addition to third-party sources like Aircraft Bluebook and storing that data in a SQLite database. A flexible Web API was created with use of the Django REST framework. Through making aircraft data available via these two highly useful mediums, this project resulted in a useful tool for the originally targeted users in addition to opening the door for a diverse variety of unplanned potential use cases.

 

 

GroupSafe (Group Location Safety System)

GroupSafe is an application designed to provide connectivity between all the members in a group at all times in order to ensure everyone’s safety. The goal of the application is to leverage current technologies available in modern smartphones to share and display locations on a map in real time. Users are able to create groups with unique names and passwords. Each group member shares his or her location and can chat with other members since websockets are utilized to provide a low overhead location and messaging system. In addition, the creator/host of the group can set up a radius which he/she expects everyone to be within at all time. If any member of the group is to wander past the radius set by the host, the application will send an alert to everyone in the group so they can react accordingly. For easy direct communication the app provides click to call or text. Google Maps is embedded in the app to show user locations, so in the event where a member does not respond to group chat, call, or text, everyone in the group will still be able to find the member by looking at the map. While the application was developed with college students and young adults as the primary clients in mind, other user bases may also find the app useful.

 

 

A family’s legacy continues in CS@VT

Fri, 2016-12-16 13:20

CS student Jeff Robertson will continue his family’s legacy at VT when he graduates summa cum laude on Friday, December 16.

Read More

 

 

Notes from Department Head Cal Ribbens

Mon, 2016-12-12 15:03

This semester we embarked on a new initiative to reconnect with our alumni.  It has been great fun to meet Virginia Tech CS alumni at events in San Diego, Austin, and Arlington over the last few months.  For those of you in the Bay Area or the Seattle area, we expect to announce opportunities to reconnect in those regions soon, as well.  We see many potential benefits to spending time on these efforts. For our alumni, we want to provide a way to stay connected to an important chapter in your life.  When you crossed that stage with a diploma, you didn’t cease being a CS Hokie!  Seeing how the university and the department continue to grow and impact the world is one way to add to the significance of that chapter in your own life. These events are also a fun way to meet fellow CS alums, to share stories of how a VT education has opened doors to an incredibly wide array of fulfilling careers.  For us in the department, these interactions help us continue to improve and grow our program.  Alumni are an important stakeholder group.  Frequent interactions with you all closes a critical feedback loop that enables continuous improvement.  So thanks to all of you who we’ve seen at recent alumni events, and be on the look out for future opportunities to reconnect!

 

Eli Tilevich awarded grant for computational exploration of music performance and composition

Mon, 2016-12-12 14:56

Eli Tilevich, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Charles Nichols in the School of Performing Arts have received a $10,000 grant from the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS) to create a Research Experiences for Undergraduates program that will focus on computational exploration of music performance and composition.

The goal of the program is to introduce undergraduates, with interests and background in both computing and music, in multidisciplinary research that creates computational and artistic approaches for exploring musical scores, with possible applications for automated performance guidance and advanced musical analysis.

In addition to serving as a Computer Science faculty, Tilevich is also pursuing a parallel career as a professional clarinetist, engaged with various orchestral and chamber music ensembles nationwide as well as in solo performances. Influenced by his music background and experiences, he has recently become interested in music informatics, applying computational approaches to music.  The ideas that influenced this work stemmed from his recent work with students Galina Belolipetski and Arman Bahraini.

 

Eli Tilevich