2011

Jennifer Widom

Summer 2011
 

Dear Computer Science Alumni and Friends,

Although summer can be a relatively relaxing time for faculty (with an emphasis on "relatively"—most of us never really relax), there's a surprising amount to do as department chair. It all starts with commencement, where the department chair's duty is to stand in the sun, hand over about 250 diplomas, shake 250 hands and pose for 250 photos, and in my case do it all in elevated heels to slightly reduce the height gap between myself and your average computer science graduate. (Thankfully I wasn't department chair in the late 1990's when basketball star Kate Starbird got her CS degree.)

With commencement in the bag, it's then time to plan the upcoming academic year. Starting with the easy tasks, I schedule the faculty meetings and faculty retreat, and begin planning the speakers for our weekly informal faculty lunches.

Next up is to form a small committee for each faculty member up for promotion. Although annual reviews for faculty are lightweight compared with, say, a typical corporation, promotions in rank are a big, big deal. To assess research impact, the committee solicits detailed letters from 15 senior professional colleagues at other top institutions. We expect our faculty to be assessed at the very top of their peer group, worldwide. Teaching evaluations, department and university service, and service to the professional community are scrutinized. The entire package makes its way from the promotion committee to the department to the school to the university. If all goes well, after several months the faculty member receives a congratulatory letter from President Hennessy and license to edit his or her letterhead and home page—changing "assistant professor" to "associate professor" or "associate professor" to "professor." There’s not even a salary bump! It can actually be a bit anticlimactic.

With promotions underway, my next job is to form departmental committees. Here inertia is on my side. We're not a department fraught with politics or power struggles; quite the opposite. So when a faculty member is doing a good job running a major committee, his or her arm is twisted to keep doing it. I'm very grateful to stalwart committee chairs Profs. John Mitchell (Ph.D. program), Alex Aiken (faculty search), Andrew Ng (Ph.D. admissions), David Cheriton (M.S. admissions), Mendel Rosenblum (Computer Forum), and last but hardly least Mehran Sahami (associate chair for education). Wow do they make my job a lot easier.

Even though CS faculty don't tend to get wrapped up in internal politics, that doesn't mean they're incapable of whining; quite the opposite once again! So I make sure to send out committee-membership assignments when the maximum number of faculty are on a summer holiday. It's amazing how much less important certain things can seem to a faculty member when dealing with a week or two's worth of email backlog.

So there you have it—the summer life of a department chair. Oh right, there's one more task that rolls around every summer: writing this newsletter. Please enjoy the many departmental highlights of the 2010-11 academic year.

New, Promoted, and Retired Faculty

We've been very busy hiring wonderfully talented new faculty. First of all, I somehow neglected to announce in last year's newsletter that Luca Trevisan joined us as full professor in January 2010; that oversight is certainly not a reflection of Luca’s importance to the department. This spring, we hired Ryan Williams who will join as assistant professor in fall 2011, and Percy Liang who will join as assistant professor in fall 2012. Here's a bit more about our three new faculty:

·    Luca Trevisan joined us from UC Berkeley, where he had been on the CS faculty for about ten years. Luca received his Ph.D. from the University La Sapienza in Rome, was a post-doc at MIT, then joined the faculty at Columbia University before he was recruited to Berkeley. Luca has some amazing results in computational complexity; he brings great strength and senior leadership to our theory group.

·    Bolstering up our theory group even further, we’re delighted that Ryan Williams is joining us this fall. Ryan received his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon in 2007, then was a post-doc at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose. When Ryan decided to accept our offer, he famously tweeted “Next fall I will be a professor at Stanford. So that worked out but I'm less optimistic about my new complexity theory startup, ‘MyPSPACE’."

·    Also joining the ranks as a new assistant professor, although not starting until fall 2012, Percy Liang bridges the areas of machine learning, natural-language understanding, and programming languages. Percy is finishing up his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley; he’ll be a post-doc at Google in New York before settling at Stanford a year from now. Incidentally, Percy is also an active and very accomplished concert pianist, demonstrating that computer scientists really can have significant lives beyond the office.

We had several promotions this past year (see the newsletter introduction above for a bit more about what that entails): Scott Klemmer, Subhasish Mitra (joint with EE), and Tim Roughgarden were promoted to associate professor with tenure, while Balaji Prabhakar (joint with EE) was promoted to full professor. Congratulations to all four highly valued and productive members of our faculty!

January 2011 marked the retirement of Prof. Jean-Claude Latombe, who has been on the faculty since 1987. Jean-Claude played a leading role in the revival of the Robotics and AI Lab, and he served ably as department chair from 1997-2000. Recently, Jean-Claude has been heading up our CS partnership with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)—an ambitious new university in Saudi Arabia described in last year's newsletter. Jean-Claude is extremely well known for his research (and his widely-used textbook) in robot motion planning—he performed seminal work on probabilistic roadmap planners, a technique allowing the solution of problems with many more degrees of freedom than was possible before. He also pioneered applications of robotics techniques in diverse fields such as medical surgery, integration of design and manufacturing, and graphic animation of digital actors. In recent years he became interested in algorithmic problems in computational structural biology regarding the shape and motion of proteins and other biological macromolecules, collaborating with many biologists. Prior to joining Stanford, Jean-Claude was a professor at the National Polytechnic Institute of Grenoble, and founder/CEO of the French company ITMI (Industry and Technology for Machine Intelligence). Jean-Claude has garnered many awards in his distinguished career; one of the coolest is his recent ordainment as a Knight in the Ordre national du Mérite. Despite his large number of academic accomplishments, Jean-Claude steadfastly maintains a second life: he's an adventurer par excellence, focusing most of his far-flung travels on trekking and mountaineering. As just one example, Jean-Claude celebrated his retirement by completing a traverse of Nepal on foot, something very few people have done. Jean-Claude will remain as a part-time "recalled" faculty member for the next two years; he'll be splitting his time between the department and the rest of the world, literally.

New and Retired Lecturers

In addition to the new faculty hires, we’ve hired a terrific new lecturer, Keith Schwarz. Keith is one of our own recent alumni, receiving his BS in 2010 and his coterminal MS in 2011. We knew to expect great things from Keith when he created and taught his own course, as a sophomore! The course, "Standard C++ Programming Laboratory," received outstanding reviews and grew to over 100 students during the years that Keith taught it. Keith was no academic slouch either; when he received his BS he was named the 2010 Ford Scholar—the senior with the highest GPA across the entire School of Engineering. We simply couldn’t let Keith get away after graduating; he will be joining the full-time CS lecturer staff this fall.

At the other end of the career spectrum, lecturer Bob Plummer retired this spring after 15 years of much appreciated service to the department. Bob taught a variety of courses including introductory programming, mathematical foundations of computing, a course on .NET programming, and the Senior Project course. As part of the Senior Project course, Bob created the well-known Software Project Faire, where each spring students demonstrate their projects to a broad array of attendees, including other students, faculty, and members of industry, venture capital, and the local community. Bob was also involved in several other initiatives including a study on the efficacy of “pair programming,” serving as a liaison with corporate partners, and helping instruct the Design Innovation course (ME310) in the Mechanical Engineering department. We will miss Bob and wish him well on his next adventure, which we understand will involve a fair bit of travel and relaxation.

Loss of Beloved Administrator

Last fall our department lost a beloved and dedicated administrator. In November 2010, Suvan Gerlach, manager of the Stanford AI Lab (SAIL), was injured in a devastating car accident; she tragically passed away about three weeks later. Suvan moved from Engineering Research Administration to SAIL in 2008 and quickly became the heart and soul of the lab. In addition to her impeccable skills in managing a complex organization involving multiple faculty and many students, she was a wonderful human being: She was always happy, brightening the day of everyone around her. She continually looked for ways to make life a little bit better—for students, faculty, and staff. Suvan was greatly loved and admired by everyone who knew her, and she is sorely missed.

Education Update

There's been a lot happening in the education side of the department, at all levels. In this newsletter we give an update on how our significantly revised undergraduate curriculum is faring three years after its introduction. We also outline a recent overhaul to our MS degree requirements and some welcome changes to the structure of the Ph.D. program. Finally we highlight a course that partners student projects with industrial sponsors.

New Undergraduate Curriculum: 3 Years After

As you may recall from previous newsletters, we did a major revamping of our undergraduate curriculum in 2008-09. Three years into it we’re happy to report that the change continues to be a huge success. In its first two years alone we saw an 83% increase in the number of students declaring CS as a major, with a leveling in the 3rd year but no sign of a decline. CS is now the largest undergraduate major in the School of Engineering, by far, and in the top four majors university-wide. This coming year we’re further extending the undergraduate curriculum by officially folding the old Computer Systems Engineering program into Computer Science as a "Computer Engineering" track. Such changes help us continue to provide rigorous and flexible options for students to pursue their passion in computing. Also noteworthy is that enrollment in introductory computer science classes at Stanford has reached record levels, with over 1000 students taking CS106A (Programming Methodology) this past year. Across all of the introductory course options in computing, we now estimate that 90% of undergraduates take a CS course sometime during their Stanford career.

New Masters Curriculum

Continuing with the theme of curricular revision, this past year we rolled out a significant update of the Masters curriculum. Goals of the new program were to provide more flexibility in exploring a variety of CS areas, and to promote involvement in research. Students can now choose either a single concentration area (as before), or they can pursue a program with a dual concentration—to highlight work spanning multiple subdisciplines. At the same time, the overall program is more streamlined, giving students more elective choices (for additional breadth or depth, depending on taste), and more options for incorporating research as part of a student’s program requirements. While the new program has only been in effect for a year, we’ve received uniformly positive feedback, with several students reporting that the program's flexibility has allowed them to pursue interdisciplinary work in CS that they otherwise would not have considered.

Innovations in Ph.D. Program

Our Ph.D. program has always been low on rules and structure, focusing instead on turning our Ph.D. students into productive independent researchers as quickly as possible. For example, unlike all of our peer top-rated CS graduate programs, our Ph.D. students have no course requirements whatsoever. Granted we've always had a set of "comprehensive exams" to ensure all Ph.D. students have basic knowledge of the field, a "qualifying exam" to ensure depth of knowledge in the student's chosen area and capability for original research, and of course a dissertation defense at the end. Last year we loosened things up even further, abolishing the comprehensive exams in favor of a simple breadth requirement, often satisfied by a Ph.D. student's undergraduate coursework. Our Ph.D. students are arriving more prepared than ever before, many with a fully loaded undergraduate CS transcript and significant research experience to boot. And for those students with a less conventional background (I wish we admitted more—I was one myself back in the day), the new requirement can be satisfied by taking or sitting in on a few classes.

            The other change we made to our Ph.D. program is, in my opinion, far more intriguing. Instead of asking students to settle on a research area and find an advisor during their first quarter at Stanford, we've introduced a rotation system: Students spend each of their first three quarters working with a different faculty member—getting to know each of their labs, research areas, research styles, and other students in the group. At the end of the year, both students and faculty can make an informed decision about the best match. In addition, students have the opportunity to form significant connections with faculty and students in research groups they don't end up joining; a frequent student complaint prior to the rotation system was limited interaction outside of their chosen research group.

            First-year graduate student rotations are fairly common in other fields, especially in the biological sciences, but we're the pioneers in computer science as far as we know. Our inaugural rotating class has just completed their first year; feedback is overwhelmingly positive so far.

Student Projects with Industrial Partners

In continuing to invigorate our curriculum with relevant new course offerings, we just completed our third year offering CS210, a project-based course in which Stanford student teams collaborate with global corporations on software challenges. During the two-quarter sequence, student teams work on open-ended project themes provided by industrial partners. The partners make a substantial commitment to the teams in time and resources, as students work closely with them to understand real-world needs and develop innovative solutions. The teams take their projects all the way from concept to completion, which includes defining requirements, iterating through ideas and prototypes and, ultimately, producing a final “product.” Projects span all industries with a focus on applying the latest software approaches and techniques to the problem domains. The project teams present their final results at our annual Software Faire as well as to the industrial partners, often including the company’s senior executives. Project collaborators have included AOL, BMW, Facebook, Meebo, Microsoft, Samsung, and Yahoo. If you think your company might be interested in sponsoring a CS210 project, contact the course instructor, Jay Borenstein.

Admissions Statistics

Have you ever wondered how difficult it is to be admitted to CS graduate school at Stanford? Here are a few statistics. This past year we had 692 applicants to our Ph.D. program. We accepted 71, with about 50 of them taking us up on our offer. Now 10% might not seem like terrible odds as compared with, say, getting into Stanford as an undergraduate (7% admission rate). But those 692 applicants were already a somewhat self-selected group. For our Masters program we had 667 applicants, we accepted 123, and 92 of them have taken up our offer. What may surprise you is that we do have a graduate program with a nearly 100% accept rate! Our special "coterminal" program, where undergraduates apply to extend their stay at Stanford and receive an MS degree along with their BS, accepted 88 out of 91 applicants this year. That's not to say any Stanford undergraduate will be accepted; the admissions criteria are fairly clear, so students generally have a good idea whether or not they'll be accepted even before they apply.

The Job Market in Computer Science is Hot (and it's not due to global warming)

Not only is the weather hot this summer, but so is the CS job market! The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that “Computer Scientist” is one of the fastest growing job sectors this coming decade. With the high-tech economy taking off, more students are also considering career choices in computing. A recent front-page article in the New York Times, which prominently quotes our own Prof. Mehran Sahami, reported on this trend. While that article perhaps overplays the significance of the movie "The Social Network" on students' decision-making, it is nevertheless clear that computing is an area that students are increasingly attracted to. As mentioned earlier with respect to enrollment numbers, at Stanford we’re experiencing that student interest in spades, with a dramatic increase in the number of CS majors and 90% of Stanford undergraduates taking at least one CS course.

New National Research Council Rankings Finally Out

Rankings of university programs can play a fairly significant role both externally (affecting where students decide to apply and ultimately go) and internally (affecting how a program is viewed by university administration). Undergraduate programs generally aren’t ranked down to the level of individual departments, but graduate programs are. US News & World Report puts out a ranking each year. It’s not taken terribly seriously since it’s based primarily on simple surveys, although it certainly has an effect. US News & World Report typically ranks our CS graduate program tied for first with some or all of MIT, UC Berkeley, and Carnegie Mellon. Much more comprehensive and scientific—and therefore taken much more seriously—are the rankings performed by the National Research Council. Until this year, the most recent NRC doctoral program ranking was way back in 1995. (At the time we were ranked first, followed by MIT and then UC Berkeley.)

The next NRC ranking of doctoral programs was launched in 2005, but it was delayed and delayed, and further delayed. What could they have been doing that took a full five years? When the rankings were finally published in September 2010, we found out: Complex and mysterious formulas were used, and instead of simple rankings, rank ranges were published, of two different types. The rankings contained many surprises, including basic errors in data collection (mostly corrected in a quick follow-up to the first published ranking), inconsistencies in data interpretation, and factors balanced in ways nobody expected. Needless to say, there was quite a response to the rankings, ranging from outrage on the part of departments expecting to be near the top but nowhere near, to glee and boasting from those experiencing the converse.

And how did we fare? Let’s just say there were very few complaints emanating from Stanford Engineering as a whole, or from our department, although we did sympathize with some of our peer departments who seem to have gotten short shrift. Our “rank range” by both measures was [1,2], with the next highest CS department (Princeton—a significant jump up for them) receiving a range of [1,4]. There’s been plenty of controversy surrounding the rankings, especially in computer science. Try a web search for “NRC doctoral programs” or check out the Wikipedia page to find the latest..

VMWare Founders Professorship in Computer Science

As mentioned in last year’s newsletter, the university granted approval for the CS Department to increase in size by up to ten regular faculty members, but we need to raise funds to support the growth. Each additional faculty position requires an endowment of $2.5 million, to be augmented by School of Engineering funds.

Our first endowment to support departmental growth was bittersweet: a Google-funded professorship honoring Prof. Rajeev Motwani, who passed away in a tragic 2009 accident.

This year I’m pleased to report the second professorship, under nothing but happy circumstances. Edouard Bugnion, Diane Greene, and Mendel Rosenblum—three of the founders of the VMWare Corporation—created the VMware Founders Professorship in Computer Science. The new professorship is designated “to support faculty in the Department of Computer Science who are known for their past and ongoing contributions to disruptive technologies— technologies that fundamentally change the course of computer science, science, and engineering.” Prof. Marc Levoy has been named to the endowed position; Marc’s long history of extraordinarily innovative research more than satisfies the criteria set out for the new professorship.

Distinguished Visitors and Lecturers

Under the able leadership of Prof. David Dill, our Distinguished Lecturer and Visitor program was in its second year and is going strong.

For the 2010-11 academic year we hosted George Varghese as a Distinguished Visitor. George was on sabbatical from his faculty position UC San Diego. Although George is widely known for his many years of research contributions in computer networking, he spent much of his time at Stanford branching out to apply computer science abstractions to biological problems. His enthusiasm was infectious, and he educated many of us about biological problems that can benefit from computer science techniques.

We hosted three Distinguished Lecturers this year: Jeff Dean from Google, Jon Kleinberg from Cornell, and Barbara Liskov from MIT. All three talks were highly engaging and complimented each other perfectly; we hope to attract equally exciting speakers next year.

Research Activities

As always, a tremendous amount of exciting research is going on in the department. For this newsletter I decided to feature research projects led by some of our younger faculty. All of our assistant professors are doing truly innovative work; please enjoy these three samples, and visit the CS Department website to learn about ongoing research across the entire field.

New Languages for Data Visualization

The increasing scale and availability of digital data presents an unprecedented opportunity to inform public policy, scientific discovery, business strategy, and even our personal lives. But for such data to prove valuable, we must be able to make sense of it. In concert with data management systems and statistical algorithms,  analysis requires contextualized human judgments regarding the meaning and significance  of the patterns discovered in data. By leveraging the remarkable capabilities of human visual  perception, visualization provides a powerful means of understanding data. However, creating  effective visualizations for data exploration and communication can be difficult and time-consuming.  

To accelerate the design of custom visualizations, Ph.D. student Michael Bostock and his advisor Prof. Jeffrey Heer are developing declarative, domain-specific languages for data visualization. Their Protovis language provides a grammar for authoring expressive visualizations by mapping data to the visual properties of graphical primitives. Protovis statements  serve as functional style sheets for data, requiring only limited programming ability. The primary implementation in JavaScript  provides interactive browser-native visualizations using HTML5. Subsequent work implementing the Protovis model in Java leverages the declarative nature of the language to optimize processing, leading to 20x scalability improvements over existing information visualization  frameworks. Protovis developers already number in the tens of thousands, including researchers, companies and journalists (e.g., The Washington Post).
 Protovis also ships as part of Mozilla Thunderbird to enable visualizations of email. Building on the Protovis approach, Mike and Jeff are now developing a new system: Data-Driven Documents (D3). Rather than map data to a specialized vocabulary of graphical marks, D3 binds data directly to elements of a web page. Using D3, designers can generate data-driven text and graphics to create rich, interactive data displays.

Full Duplex Radios

Radios today cannot receive and transmit simultaneously on the same frequency. The reason is simple: a radio's own transmission is millions to billions times louder than something it might hear from another radio. Trying to receive while transmitting is like trying to hear a whisper while shouting. This limitation is a basic assumption of wireless systems today. A recent breakthrough by Profs. Sachin Katti and Philip Levis invalidates this assumption. Their research groups have developed the first "full duplex" radios that can send and receive on the same frequency simultaneously. Doing so immediately doubles the possible data capacity of the network, and has many other advantages that will likely lead to even faster and more efficient networks in the future. For example, full duplex can greatly improve mobile wireless coverage indoors, a major problem in  rural and dense urban areas. It does so by enabling a repeater that simultaneously hears a quiet signal from a distant phone base station and repeats it at a higher power for nearby mobile phones.

The basic insight behind full duplex is that the radio already knows what its transmitted signal is, so a specially-designed circuit can filter that signal out from its receiver. In essence, the radio subtracts its transmitted signal from what it hears and feeds the result to its receiver. The idea is simple, but there are numerous challenges stemming from the fact that these are analog signals, not digital values. For example, circuitry can distort or corrupt the signals. Prof. Katti and Levis’ research groups have been able to overcome these challenges well enough to demonstrate a full duplex Wi-Fi access point, and they are working towards other wireless technologies. Please visit their Full-Duplex website for more information.

Mind Reading of Brain Activities by Computers

Since the dawn of human civilization, an eternal scientific quest has been to understand the workings of the brain, the most powerful computing machine ever known. Prof. Fei-Fei Li and her group have been focusing their studies on one of the most complex and intricate systems of the brain: the visual system. After looking at a photograph for only a fraction of a second, a human can give rich descriptions about the layout of the scene and all of the objects in it. The mechanisms our brain uses to perform this feat are still a mystery, and even the fastest supercomputers are not nearly as good at scene understanding as the average person. Prof. Li’s group is using cutting-edge brain scanning techniques to study the brain activity of human subjects performing visual tasks. Then they apply advanced statistical and machine learning tools to ask questions such as: What brain areas are responsible for scene perception, and how are they connected? How is visual information represented in the brain? Which types of visual tasks require attention, and which can be performed subconsciously? This combination of advanced neuroscience imaging and computational methods is termed "mind reading" in the popular press.

Here are a few examples of Prof. Li’s results: Her group discovered a brain area near the hippocampus involved in categorizing complex scene classes (e.g., “kitchen,” “highway,” “urban,” “beach”). One of the group’s recent studies showed that line drawings of scenes are represented in the same way photographs, demonstrating the power of the visual system to generate abstract descriptions of the world around us. The group also pioneered a new method for mapping connections between brain areas using information theory, showing that it is possible to predict the type of scene a subject is viewing (e.g., a beach or a forest) by looking only at the subject's brain activity. Working at the intersection of neuroscience, psychology, and computer science, Prof. Li’s interdisciplinary research is helping to unravel the complex brain activity that occurs every time we open our eyes.

Faculty and Staff Awards

Once again our faculty have garnered a wealth of major awards:

·         Don Knuth—BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award
·         Daphne Koller—NationaI Academy of Engineering
·         Jure Leskovec—Microsoft Faculty Fellow
·         Fei-Fei Li—Sloan Fellowship
·         Nick McKeown—National Academy of Engineering
·         Ken Salisbury—IEEE Inaba Technical Award for Innovation Leading to Production
·         Sebastian Thrun—IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society Outstanding Researcher Award; Max Planck Forschungspreis; AAAI Feigenbaum Prize
·         Terry Winograd—SIGCHI Lifetime Research Award

Three endowed professorships were named: Alex Aiken to the Alcatel-Lucent Professorship, Marc Levoy to the VMWare Founders Professorship, and Daphne Koller to the Rajeev Motwani Professorship. Daphne was also named one of Newsweek magazine’s "10 most important people in 2010," as well as one of Huffington Post’s “100 game changers for 2010.” Prof. Sebastian Thrun was designated the “5th most creative person in business 2011” by Fast Company, a runner-up as “The smartest academic person in tech” by CNN Money magazine, and his driverless car project at Google was named one of Time magazine’s “50 best inventions of 2010.” It’s certainly a testament to the breadth and depth of our faculty that we find them being named as Sloan Fellows, inducted into the National Academy, and gracing numerous “top N” lists in the popular business press, all in the same year.

A particularly gratifying award this year went to Peche Turner, who has been the department manager since 1996. Peche is an extraordinary individual with a huge impact on the smooth functioning of Stanford CS. With an onslaught of enthusiastic nominations from across the department, Peche was named one of the 2011 winners of the university-wide Amy J. Blue award, the highest honor the university has for staff members. The award couldn’t have gone to a more deserving individual. I encourage you to read the Stanford News article about Peche to gain some appreciation for all that she brings to our department.

Student News

Our students continue to do wonderful work and receive a variety of accolades.

·         School-Wide Academic Honors—This year David Tobin was recognized as the Ford Scholar in the School of Engineering, an award given annually to the undergraduate student with the highest GPA across the entire school. Congratulations David!

·         Undergraduate ResearchEmily Stark won the Wegbreit Prize for Best CS Undergraduate Honors Thesis, as well as a university-level Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research. Emily’s thesis, entitled "The Case for Prefetching and Prevalidating TLS Server Certificates," was advised by Prof. Dan Boneh.

·         Ph.D. ResearchNicolas Lambert received the department’s Arthur Samuel Award for outstanding Ph.D. thesis. Nicolas’s thesis, titled Information Elicitation, Incentives, and Markets, was advised by Prof. Yoav Shoham.

·         Teaching AwardChris Piech was awarded the department's George Forsythe Memorial Award for Excellence in Student Teaching, for his outstanding work as a Teaching Assistant and Teaching Fellow in Computer Science. Chris will be continuing his CS studies at Stanford as a Ph.D. student after taking a year off.

Computer Forum News

The Computer Forum is our long-standing industrial affiliates program, facilitating connections between Stanford's CS and EE departments and over 80 companies worldwide. Despite the sagging economy, this past year we welcomed 28 new companies to the program! Computer Forum activities range from research collaborations to recruiting events. The Annual Meeting is always very popular, with hundreds of participants from Stanford and member companies. This year's meeting, chaired by Prof. John Ousterhout, included talks by faculty and industry leaders with an overall technical theme of data centers. There was also a well-attended evening reception featuring 60 student posters. As usual, focused all-day workshops were held before and after the main event; this year’s topics were Computer Security and “POMI” (Programmable Open Mobile Internet). The 2012 Computer Forum Annual Meeting will be April 9-13; we look forward to seeing you there.

Until the next newsletter, have a terrific year.

Jennifer Widom
Fletcher Jones Professor
Chair, Department of Computer Science