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Overlap in computer modeling holds key to next-generation processing, Virginia Tech researchers find

Tue, 2017-06-20 14:48

Exascale computing — the ability to perform calculations at 1 billion billion per second — is what researchers are striving to push processors to do in the next decade. That’s 1,000 times faster than the first petascale computer that came into existence in 2008.

Achieving efficiency will be paramount to building high-performance parallel computing systems if applications are to run in environments of enormous scale and also limited power.

A team of researchers in the Department of Computer Science in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering discovered a key to what could keep supercomputing on the road to the ever-faster processing times needed to achieve exascale computing — and what policymakers say is necessary to keep the United States competitive in industries from everything to cybersecurity to ecommerce.

“Parallel computing is everywhere when you think about it,”said Bo Li, computer science Ph.D. candidate and first author on the paper being presented about the team’s research this month. “From making Hollywood movies to managing cybersecurity threats to contributing to milestones in life science research, making strides in processing times is a priority to get to the next generation of supercomputing.”

Li will present the team’s research on June 29 at the Association for Computing Machinery’s 26th International Symposium on High Performance Parallel and Distributed Computing in Washington, D.C. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.


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Daphne Yao receives $1.2 million Office of Naval Research (ONR) grant

Mon, 2017-05-22 16:51

Daphne Yao, computer science associate professor, Elizabeth and James E. Turner Jr. ’56 Faculty Fellow and L-3 Faculty Fellow, is the principle investigator on a new 3-year $1.2 million Office of Naval Research (ONR) grant, title “Data-driven Vulnerability Repair in Programs with a Cloud Analytics Architecture for Practical Deployment”. Na Meng, computer science assistant professor, and Trent Jaeger, computer science professor at Penn State University, are co principle investigators on the grant. A summary of the project is below.

Abstract: The proposed effort is toward a secure software ecosystem that enables the automatic attack detection, vulnerability localization, code repair against attacks including stealthy exploits. In this project, we will focus on vulnerability location and code repair that leverage and build upon existing security detection solutions, i.e., detection-guided localization and repair. In preparation for near-term deployment, we will also develop a new cloud data analytics framework that minimizes the client-side effort and substantially enhances the transparency and usability of data-driven security tools. Danfeng Yao


Na Meng

Distinguished Lecture Series Finale

Sun, 2017-04-30 18:21

Keith Sturgill, vice president and chief information officer for Eastman Chemical Company, was awarded the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award by the Department of Computer Science on April 21.  Mr. Sturgill was welcomed back to campus by faculty and students, and gave the final lecture of this year’s Distinguished Lecture Series.  Sturgill spoke about technology’s ability to solve problems in the corporate arena and how young professionals can harness that ability in their careers throughout various disciplines.

“Virginia Tech was a key factor to the successful trajectory of my career,” said Sturgill. “I received an education that prepared me to think broadly and thrive and be innovative in an environment that was ever changing and touched many areas of not only information technology but also the chemical industries.”

Sturgill joined Eastman in 1986 as a systems analyst after graduating from Virginia Tech. He has had various and growing responsibilities around implementation of enterprise wide technologies that have significantly impacted the business strategies and financial health of Eastman.

A native of Wise, Virginia he earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Virginia Tech in 1986. Sturgill is also a graduate of the Tuck Executive program at Dartmouth College, and has served various roles in multiple IT associations. He has been Chairman of the Board of Directors of America’s SAP User Group since 2011.

Currently he leads the strategy, use, and delivery of information technology services to Eastman’s global businesses. He is also responsible for driving improvements and productivity across Eastman through the widespread use of Six Sigma methods and leadership. Under Sturgill’s tutelage his organization delivers technology to nearly 11,000 Eastman employees spread throughout the company’s international operations.



NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing

Mon, 2017-04-24 10:33

As part of an effort to encourage more young women to choose careers in technology, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) and the Virginia Affiliate Award for Aspirations in Computing program recognized 65 high-school women for their accomplishments and aspirations in computing and technology.  The award event was held at the Bank of America facility in Richmond, Virginia, and featured a welcome by Mr. Victor Branch, Senior Vice President – Bank of America, and a keynote speech by Mr. Michael Karafotis, Global Wholesale Banking, Production Support Executive at Bank of America.  The event was chaired by Ms. Libby G. Bradford, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Student Engagement in Computer Science at Virginia Tech.

The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing is a program of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, a coalition of over 900 universities, corporations and organizations dedicated to increasing the meaningful participation of women in computing. The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing was created to acknowledge the computing aspirations of young women, introduce them to leadership opportunities in the field, and generate visibility for women’s participation in computing-related pursuits. Award-winners have been selected for their outstanding aptitude and interest in computing and desire to pursue computing-related studies. The NCWIT Aspirations in Computing program is sponsored nationally by AT&T, Bank of America, Bloomberg and Microsoft with additional support from Google, Intel, Motorola Solutions Foundation and Northrop Grumman.

“It feels so good to be involved in this.  We see real progress happening.  Young women who might have been overlooked or discouraged now actively moving into computing with support and encouragement from people in the field.  But there is more than that.  There is an overall feeling that this is good, this is working.  Then, even more, a feeling that this is awesome!   We are making this happen together–the balance is changing!” said Ms. Jennifer Rupert, Academic & Career Advisor Virginia Tech and Virginia Affiliate committee member.   In the affiliate’s six year history, 239 students have been recognized.

Paul Bui, a teacher at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia, received the 2017 Outstanding Educator award from the affiliate.

Virginia Affiliate winners are:

First Name Last Name School Rebecca Abbott-McCune Blacksburg High Janna Almokhtar Orange County High School Navya Annapareddy* Battlefield High School Brooke Barlow* Mclean High Bilguunzaya Battogtokh Yorktown High Sarah Bolstad* Midlothian High School Katherine Cinnamon* Forest Park High School Lidya Etissa South Lakes High School Lydia Fozo* Forest Park High School Rachel Fulk Rockbridge County High Sydney Howard* Grassfield High School Elizabeth Hu* Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Laurel Hunter Governor’s School of Science and Technology Danielle Kaldmaa Falls Church High School Anika Kumar* South Lakes High School Kirthi Kumar* Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Hannah Lewis Albemarle High School Kimberly Louie Chancellor High Tian Low Woodbridge High Jocelyn Marencik Deep Run High Eleanor Ozer Galax High School Samhita Pendyal Deep Run High Christina Pfab Powhatan High School Britney Phan Oakton High School Kara Probasco Washington Lee High Margaret Richey* Western Albemarle High Caylor Scales Cumberland High Riley Schnee Loudoun Valley High School Marissa Sumathipala Broad Run High Michelle Wu Princess Anne High


Virginia Affiliate Honorable Mentions are:

First Name Last Name School Grace Barrett-Johnson Albemarle High School Madison Crouch Western Albemarle High Brianna Croye Hidden Valley High Neha Damaraju* Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Ally DeVall Colonial Forge High ErinGrace Drake Battlefield High School Heather Eichman Nansemond River High Salonee Ferrao Hampton Roads Academy Emily Haggard Loudoun Valley High School Ankita Khera Forest Park High Crystal Lee Woodson High Mengyun Lee Hidden Valley High Katie Liu New Horizons Gov School melanie massie Radford High Caroline McCain Rockbridge County High Elizabeth Moar Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Lisa Moshiro Battlefield High School Clara Na Briar Woods High Cora Ormsby Floyd Kellam High Angela Pastore Albemarle High School Emma Peck Washington Lee High Amber Perkins Powhatan High School Grace Qian Oakton High School Shravya Shetty Deep Run High Caroline Spruell Cave Spring High Destiny Stern Forest Park High School Aiesha Suarez Del Real Stuart High Hiwot Temesgen Washington Lee High Sajni Vederey* Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Faith White Richlands High Carol Yang Albemarle High School (Virginia)


*Also NCWIT National Honorable Mentions

Also recognized at the Virginia Affiliate Ceremony were sixteen NCWIT National Honorable Mentions:

First Name Last Name School Navya Annapareddy Battlefield High School Brooke Barlow Mclean High Sarah Bolstad Midlothian High School Katherine Cinnamon Forest Park High School Neha Damaraju Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Jessica Edwards St Stephens & St Agnes School Lydia Fozo Forest Park High School Kriti Ganotra Rock Ridge High School Sydney Howard Grassfield High School Elizabeth Hu Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Anika Kumar South Lakes High School Kirthi Kumar Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Rachel Naidich Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Hojung Park Albemarle High School Margaret Richey Western Albemarle High Sajni Vederey Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing offers both national and local affiliate competitions to generate support and visibility for women’s participation in communities nationwide. The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) works to correct the imbalance of gender in technology and computing because gender diversity positively correlates with a larger workforce, better innovation, and increased business performance.

The “Aspirations in Computing Awards” event and the gifts received by the winners this year were funded by Bank of America, Eastman Chemical, The Washington Post and Virginia Tech.  Additional support was provided by General Motors, George Mason, Google IBM, and the University of Richmond.  Winners receive prizes from multiple companies and two trophies: one for the winner and one to be displayed at her high school.

For more information on the Aspirations program please visit here.


Back row (l. to r.) Amber Perkins, Jessica Edwards, Hojung Park, Hannah Lewis, Janna Almokhtar, Cora Ormsby, Christina Pfab, Margaret Richey, Lisa Moshiro, Salonee Ferrao, Shravya Shetty, Danielle Kaldmaa, Anika Kumar, Katherine Cinnamon, Lydia Fozo
Middle row (l. to r.) Riley Schnee, Emily Haggard, Aiesha Suarez Del Real, Laurel Hunter, Caylor Scales, Mengyun Lee, Angela Pastore, Grace Barrett-Johnson, Kriti Ganotra, Sydney Howard, Heather Eichmann, Caroline McCain, Tian Low, Rachel Fulk, Rebecca Abbott-McCune, Marissa Sumathipala
Front row (l. to r.) Samhita Pendyal, Britney Phan, Crystal Lee, Ally DeVall, Jocelyn Marencik, Kirthi Kumar, Navya Annapareddy, Neha Damaraju, Sarah Bolstad

Clifford Shaffer receives XCaliber Award

Mon, 2017-04-24 10:25

Clifford Shaffer, professor of computer science in the College of Engineering, has received the university’s 2017 XCaliber Award.

Established in 1996 by the Office of the Provost, the XCaliber Award is presented annually by Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies to recognize individual faculty members or teams of faculty and staff who integrate technology in teaching and learning. The award celebrates innovative, student-centered approaches.

Shaffer received the award for his development of the computer science course, CS3114 Data Structures and Algorithms.

This course plays a central role into the curriculum of the computer science program and is essential for learning fundamental programming skills. The course is also notorious for its exceptional difficulty, resulting in an unusually high drop rate, which was Shaffer’s inspiration for innovative pedagogy.


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Notes from Department Head Cal Ribbens

Tue, 2017-04-04 12:42

“It’s a good time to be a CS major!”  This upbeat observation was one of academic advisor Terry Arthur’s favorite ways to encourage students.  (We miss you, Terry!)  The context for this remark was usually the promising employment prospects of our graduates.  But it’s more than that, isn’t it?  It’s always good to be in CS for many reasons!   After almost forty years in and around computer science, I am still grateful every day to participate in such a rich discipline, marked by a unique confluence of analytical precision, theoretical elegance, creative innovation, powerful impact, and broad application.

Of course, it’s still a good time to be a CS major in terms of career opportunities as well.  Many of our alumni have fond memories of the career fairs organized by our corporate partnership program, the Computer Science Resources Consortium (CSRC).    The CSRC continues to play a significant role in the department, under the direction of Laurie Brogdon, Director of External Relations.  Besides two career fairs each year, the CSRC helps connect over seventy companies with CS majors and minors throughout the year, and provides critical support for student activities and scholarships.   The CSRC’s impact can be measured in many ways: last fall the career fair was attended by nearly 1000 students; in a survey of graduating seniors this semester, nearly 90% reported that they have had career-related internships, most with companies in the CSRC;  and the annual university survey of recent graduates always ranks CS graduates near the top in all the usual measures of employment.  So as May commencement draws closer, we trust that our newest alumni will agree that their decision to study CS at Virginia Tech was a very good one!



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.

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 ( 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.

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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 ( 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.