JENNIFER CUNNINGHAM: Good morning, everybody. We're going to get started now. My name is Jennifer Cunningham, class of '92, from the Office of Alumni Affairs. Thank you all for coming. I'd like to remind you to turn off your cell phones, please. And I'm just going to introduce Dean Huttenlocher and let him take it away.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: Hey, everyone. Thanks for getting up early in the morning. So I wanted to talk a little bit about computing and information science, what we're doing in this sort of Information Age that touches on every discipline. But I also wanted to make sure I have a few current students here and let them do some of the talking, since frankly, deans are usually confused and less knowledgeable about what's going on than students are.
So I just wanted to start out for a second just framing this by what I view the Information Age as being. It really dates back 60 years now, back to the 1950s, with a lot of the early development of computers. And I really see the Information Age in three separate areas. There's the era of hardware, which was the '50s-'80s. The sort of roomful of computers all the way to things like the first national networks, things like the ARPANET that were developed in the '70s.
And then there was an era that was really driven by software. And I'll even put Google into sort of the tail end of that era.
And we're now in some new era. And it's an era that I don't know how to name yet. Right? I mean, one of the things about when things are changing quickly is that it's very difficult to name and characterize things. But we're in some era that's fundamentally different-- of Facebook and Twitter and devices in your pocket that have always on connectivity. And it's not that in this ubiquitous connectivity era, there's no software and hardware anymore. Right?
The question is what's driving the innovation? What's driving the value? There's still hardware. There's still software. But the drivers are something else. And that's really what we're getting at in the route of computing and information science.
So I think it's also illustrative to look at history a little bit as a guide. And if you think about the creation of engineering colleges, back about 100-150 years ago, it was really the Industrial Age that led to the creation of engineering schools. And it wasn't like engineering schools predated the Industrial Age.
In fact, the practice in the Industrial Age got way out ahead of the understanding. And in many ways, that's where we are in the Information Age right now. The practice is way out ahead of our understanding. And a really critical thing to emphasize in the Information Age is that this is not just about science and technology, it's as much about the culture in society that we live in and the arts as it is about the sciences and technology.
And so, in fact, if I had to predict that these are the sort of kinds of images of the early Industrial Age, I think if I have to predict what 100 years looking back, the images of this age will be about, they're the notion that they are completely different spaces. So this is trying to put into a physical map today's online world. And I think that those are the things that are going to be indicative of this age.
So our mission in CIS is to build the intellectual foundations for this. There's something going on out here. It's huge. We don't understand what it is. Just like early mechanical engineering departments were called things like mechanical arts. And that name didn't survive. I don't think the names of what we call this are all that relevant these days.
But within CIS, we have three core departments-- computer science, information science, and statistics. And the students here are majors out of both the CS and IS programs. CIS is really different from any other unit in the university. So we're a collection of departments just like a college is, but we're not yet another college. Cornell already has seven undergraduate schools and colleges, which is at least enough. Let's just put it that way.
And I don't know how many of you have started getting the propaganda about one Cornell, but our strategic planning process that we've gone through on the academic side of the university over the last year is very focused on Cornell as the entity rather than individual colleges. And that's not to say that colleges don't play a critical role at the university, it's to say university first, college second, rather than the other way around, which has often been the case at Cornell.
So in many ways, we're a sort of pan university unit. We educate undergraduates across the university. So we offer undergraduate majors both through arts, CALS, and engineering, the three big undergraduate colleges. And we really-- I'm very proud of the fact that we take a big national leadership role both in research in the disciplines of computer science and information science and interdisciplinary research, which is a bit of the focus today and teaching at all levels. We're really recognized nationally as being leading teaching programs.
So here's just sort of an example of interdisciplinarity of things through an introductory class. Oh, all right. Yea. Computers. Through--
AUDIENCE: Disconnect it.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: Exactly. It's OK, I can wave my hands even if the computer stops. I'm very good at that.
But this is a class that's been developed over the last three years growing out of our information science program. It's co-taught by David Easley, who has a joint appointment in economics and information science, and John Kleinberg, who has a joint appointment in computer science and information science. They have a new textbook out called Networks, Crowds, and Markets. There's a PDF of it online if you feel like just kind of browsing it. But if you really wanted to read it, the book is like this thick. So probably the PDF is annoying unless you have a Kindle or something.
And this class is a distribution course across the big colleges and has over 400 students in it. And just to give you a sense of the kinds of interdisciplinary topics in here. So there's things about bargaining and power in networks. Your location in a social network really influences the degree of power you have over other participants in a bargaining process.
Understanding how web search works by analyzing the hyperlinks, links from one page to another. How do sponsored search markets work? They're generating billions of dollars of revenue online these days. Rich get richer dynamics and the role of networks in that. The small world phenomenon, the fact that there tend to be a very small number of hops of friendship between you and other people at least in the parts of the world that most of us live in.
So you can see that this is a class with very broad appeal to students these days. A lot of the topics are based on the Information Age. And I sort of liken it to an introductory psychology or an introductory economics class. Why do so many students take intro psych or intro econ? Well, in part, it's because in the transition from high school to college, from adolescence to adulthood, there are these things that you've been experiencing in your life in your late teens that you don't really understand very well. So the economic world, the psychological understanding of other people around you, and so these classes give students some more theoretical insight into experiences in their daily lives.
And this class is starting to provide that same kind of broad role in the networked age. It's helping students understand that networked world that they're living in these days that always are on Twitter, Facebook, I can't stop texting kind of age that younger people are living in these days. Not old people like me, I can't deal with it. I just study this stuff.
So information science major is a relatively new major and a brand new department. The department was just formed last year. And we graduated-- I think it was our fifth class-- I've got to look over at the students and ask. Was it our sixth undergraduate class, something, fifth or sixth. But with about 40 bachelor students last year. The major's offered in the three big colleges and it's a minor in all the colleges.
In terms of its appeal, computer science probably suffers even worse than the rest of engineering from a very low percentage of women in computer science major, usually about 15% nationally. Information science, with a much broader set of impacts, in fact is about 40% women. It varies a little bit college to college. We also have quite a high proportion of under-represented minorities in that major compared to the more traditional technology oriented disciplines.
So I'm not going to say anything about faculty excellence except to say that with the 50 faculty that we have in computing and information science, there's just an amazing number of accomplished people. And several of them have one major national awards in the past year.
But the student excellence is the other thing that I think is really important here. This set of programs that we're offering are attracting many of the best and brightest students in the university, because of this ability to take things in the Information Age and apply them to almost any discipline in any interest.
So for example in computer science, there's a national award given by the Computing Research Association for Undergraduate Research. We've had three students in the last 15 years win that prize. And there are only three other CS programs in the country that have done. That so we're one of the top few undergraduate programs in CS.
Our students are in very high demand both by graduate schools and employers. Last year, the average bachelor's starting salary in computing science and information science was in the mid-seventies, that's thousands of dollars per year. I sometimes think I should quit and start over again.
And our graduate students also are incredibly successful in national fellowship competitions. All the big sort of companies in this space, the National Science Foundation, all the very highly competitive fellowship programs. And we do very well in those.
So I did want to touch on something which is Gates Hall, which I'm extremely excited about. I have my little toy up here if anyone wants to see it afterwards. So we're building a 100,000 square foot, $60 million building for computer science and information science. It's actually going to be right out-- when you leave here, you can look out. There's a little parking lot right next to the baseball field to which people say how can you fit a building on that site. And that's the great thing about parking lots is they're usually bigger than they look.
We've hired Thom Mayne and more Morphosis, a firm that's based in LA and New York. And I don't know if anyone's seen any of Thom's buildings, but he's a really interesting architect. And I could go on and on about that. But I'm not going to.
The thing I want to point out is that we're doing this without incurring any debt, which I think is a very important piece of a project in this age when the university, like all universities, is definitely having to be very careful with how it spends its money. So half of this is being paid for by a grant from the Gates Foundation and interest that we've accrued because we've actually been sitting on $25 million of their money for the last five years, which luckily was not in the endowment or it wouldn't be $25 million anymore. Right?
We were going to spend it any day, so it was sitting in short-term investments generating like 4% per year interest Which after five years on $25 million is a lot of money. And then a quarter from fundraising, which we're in the middle of doing and needs to be completed-- or more than in the middle. We're sort of 2/3 of the way through-- which needs to be completed by the end of the year. And then a quarter from university funds. And we'll move both the computer science and information science departments into this space.
And the real sort of this is going to be an Information Age building. It's going to have very open and connected spaces, a lot of natural light. One of the things that Morphosis is very known for is having at least 70% of the square footage of the floor space in their building have natural light in it, which if you think about it is quite a trick, because usually people put offices around the perimeter and they eat up all the light and then there's some dead core in the middle.
And I think both for energy conservation but also for the health of the people in it, and the collaborative environment, it's critical. So this just sort of shows where the building's going next to the ball field. It's a little easier to see in this illustration of an early design concept. And then this just sort of shows the size of it. Oh, it doesn't quite project. But there is kind of Barton looming behind it. So this is sort of looking from the ball field over. And it's a five story building with a big covered outdoor plaza on one end.
Is Is any of it underground?
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: So It's right there. It's a mechanical story and half a program story below ground and then 4 and 1/2 program stories above ground. So the building will be about the same height as the tower part of the hotel school that just got completed. So there's--
AUDIENCE: Will it have protective nets for baseballs.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: Well it's going to have protective building for baseballs. So I don't know if you can see from here, but one of the things Thom Mayne does is on the outside of their buildings, they have sort of a almost a mesh like structure. Those of you who are from the New York area, may have seen-- because it got covered a lot in the press when it opened in the fall-- Cooper Union opened a new building quite recently. And Thom's firm did that building. So that's sort of the style of buildings that he does. So they almost have a cage around them.
AUDIENCE: Is it a green building?
It is. So the Cornell standards right now are that new buildings need to be at least LEED Silver in terms of LEED points. And then there is a energy consumption standard, ASHRAE, and I have forgotten the number. And we have to get 30% better than that standard. So in fact, right now the mechanical contractors, subcontractors for architects are pulling their hair out trying to figure out how they're going to make this building actually meet the energy standards.
So the energy usage will actually be better than LEED Gold. But people who know about LEED, it's a complicated system. And the university has this set of policies that involve some amount of LEED points and then some amount of the actual operating costs and energy footprint in the building.
So I think, just in summary here, I think Cornell CS is something you should really be proud-- CIS-- is something should really be proud of. We have very highly ranked programs, but more importantly really outstanding students. Great faculty, our students are very highly sought after, and really we're helping create the future in this area. Because it's an area where, as I said, the practice is out ahead of the understanding.
Now I want to quickly channel Daniela before I turn to the other students. So Daniela is the president of the Information Science Students Association. And she really wanted to be here today, but she's at Stanford. So this is a senior undergraduate who's being very heavily sought after by really top programs in the country for graduate school. So she's actually out there visiting this weekend.
But this whole table full of iPhones is part of a project, research project, that involved undergraduates, masters, and PhD students that she was very actively involved in, that you might have actually seen. It got covered, a fair amount of coverage in the press about an iPhone application that helps people with respect to their eating habits.
AUDIENCE: Could you lower the lights so we can see the screen a little better?
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: Um.
JACOB BANK: They tried, it turned out it was the overhead.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: I see. Unfortunately, I don't normally teach in this room. So I don't-- we'll get one of AV guys to try again.
So you can see that there's a whole big pile of iPhones. And you can almost see there's a little doggy here that sort of interacts with you, makes you think about your eating. And what I wanted to show is just Daniela's take-- ah, excellent. Daniela's take on her favorite classes.
So just to give you a sense of the breadth of course is that she's taken. So things like design and programming for the web, human-computer interaction design. And these are sort of illustrations of project outcomes from the various kinds of classes that she's been involved with. And then on the social system side, the networks course I mentioned, a class on law of the internet and e-commerce, deception in the networked age. So it's a very broad range of things that go from the technical programming side to the interaction of the individual in the computer to more society and computation.
And with that, I think I've already spoken way longer than I wanted to which is-- I told these guys deans can never shut up-- but let me let me turn it over to the students here.
SARAH SPRAGUE: Hi everyone. My name is Sarah Sprague. And I'm a senior studying information science systems and technology. So that's that IS major inside the College of Engineering. And I'm just going to talk to you a little bit about how I came to decide on ISST as my major and then why I'm happy I decided to be an ISST major.
I came into Cornell engineering completely undecided. I really had no idea what I wanted to major in. And I also had no idea what computer science was. I had never taken any kind of computer science class in my high school. And all engineers are required to take an introduction to a computer science course. So my second semester of freshman year, I took Introduction to Java. And I really enjoyed the class. It was something new. And I didn't want that to be my last computer science class. So I started looking into more majors that incorporated computer science classes.
And I didn't necessarily want to be a computer science major, because it was the only computer science class I had ever taken. And I felt like jumping into a complete computer science major maybe wasn't the smartest thing for me. And I also wanted something that combined a lot of different interests as opposed to strictly computer science.
And so that's when I decided on information science systems and technology, because looking at the classes, I got to take some computer science classes, but also I took an econ class. And it combined a lot of things outside of the engineering school. And so I'm really happy I decided on that.
And I'm just going to talk to you a little bit about what I did this summer. There's a engineering program that's called the Kessler Fellows program. And this program really wants engineers to get experience more on the business side of things and within the world of entrepreneurship.
So I actually worked at a startup company for the summer. And what I worked on was I had the opportunity to work on projects. So I started off doing market research on some ideas that they had for new products. And I was able to work on the whole from the start of just having the idea and then through the implementation of the actual product. So like I said I started off doing market research. And then I started off working on requirement documents and the functionality of the actual product. And then I actually got to program and implement the product. And then I got to work on the other side of the marketing and go to market strategy and all that.
And so I think the information science systems and technology major really prepared me well for that because I could do other parts of the project than just straight programming. You know the way I think about it is who really cares if you can program this amazing website if the users don't like going to the website. You know you have to understand how people actually interact with the website, what makes an enjoyable experience. And that's what's really important when it comes to this new Information Age.
And I think my employer was really happy with how I understood that when I was coming up with the products. I didn't just think of what would be a really cool technology, I thought of what do our users want out of a technology? What's going to make them happy. And I was able to incorporate that into my design for the actual idea. So that's just kind of a summary of what I think you can do with an ISST major and why I think it's such an interesting field and why I'm happy that I ended up choosing a major that I really enjoyed.
PHIL ADAMS: Nice. Hello everyone. My name is Phil Adams. I'm a first year PhD student in information science. I've previously studied both computer and information science here at Cornell. I thought I would also just share with you a little bit about how I got drawn into information science and then try to exemplify some of those reasons with a little bit of a research project that I'm working on right now.
So similar to Sarah, when I arrived at Cornell I had no idea what I wanted to study. I had no idea what information science was or computer science. I think my first semester, I took courses in biology and Spanish and linguistics and history. And for a bit of a laugh, I took the introduction to programming and design for the web. Because my experience in that class, and the people I met there, and a couple of other classes I took the next semester in information science, I sort of got hooked.
And when I think about what it is about information science that's really intrigued me, I think there are sort of two big picture ideas. The first is that information science is really it's a theoretical field, but that we care greatly about impactful applications. So we spend a lot of time with models and theories from econ and stats and computer science and psychology and communication and so on. But we also go out into the world and we build systems and tools that are useful and are used in the wider world. And I guess I also really enjoyed that all of our thinking and our code and our ideas really have to be based in theory, and very precise, and correct, and mathematical, but at the same time there's a lot of creativity and interpretive flexibility in what we do. And that's very attractive.
And I think a lot of that stems from the fact that in information science, it's really all about the people. Right? All the computing and the models, it's all about the human context. And I value that greatly.
I think the second big picture idea that really attracts me to information science, especially in comparison to some of the other departments in my experience, is that to be an information science, you're really a part of a motivated and passionate and forward moving and really inclusive community. And that community sort of extends full membership to everybody. That full membership idea can work cross-experience. So from the dean, through right the way down through professors and grad students and undergrads, everybody is expected really to participate in the conversation.
I guess Jacob's going to talk a little bit about some of those things. But maybe a good way of looking at this cross-experience path part is by seeing what undergraduates do outside of their coursework. So there's really widespread use of undergraduate teaching assistants in computing and information science. And it's valuable, I think, for both those in the class and those teaching the class. You see a lot of CIS students get involved in undergraduate research. I sort of started off in the model of looking to go into industry and got sucked into research and loved it. And decided to come to grad school.
You also see that all the stakeholders, I think, in the community really have a seat at all of the tables and all the committees. For example, I think something that really hit home with many of my peers as an undergrad was that information science, the undergrads and the graduate students have representation on, for example, the curriculum committee. You know, a seat at the table helping to define what information science is at Cornell and what it looks like.
I think the full membership component also really works cross-domain. We do a lot of-- to be in information science really is to collaborate with people across different fields and to work with them and to invite them in. Maybe to motivate that, give an example of one of the projects, I'm working on right now.
So the motivation of this project is that for a long time now in clinical trials, there hasn't really been a good way to assess the emotional state of subjects. And this is pretty important because for the doctors and for the researchers because of all the connections between emotion and health. Emotion both indicates and also impacts your physical and mental well-being.
It turns out it's pretty difficult to measure this, partly because emotions are a bit of a fuzzy thing, partly because a lot of the scales and measures that are out there tend to be long and unwieldy and kind of interrupts the context in which the subject is really working in on a day-to-day environment. So as a result, affect tends to be measured infrequently and often at a point removed in time from when you really want the measurement to be taken. So this can lead to all sort of problems with like self-report and recall issues.
So to try to remedy some of this the lab I work in, Geri Gay's Information Design Lab, in collaboration with a bunch of researchers and doctors down a Weill, we developed PAM, the photographic affects meter. So the interface is such that the subject is encouraged to share their current mood by selecting a photo from a set developed specifically for this purpose. It runs on mobile phones. And it enables the researcher to sort of poll quickly and unobtrusively the emotional state of subjects in their current context. And because it's so quick and unobtrusive, you can get many more data points than you would normally.
So we're still validating the scale, although preliminary results look pretty good. We've recently presented the work to the wider Weill and New York City medical community. And there seems to be a lot of excitement there. It really seems like the sort of work could have potential for changing the way data is gathered during clinical trials.
And you can also imagine wider applications for such work and the sort of scale, the sort of measure running on mobile devices perhaps as a part of an improved outpatient support system. Or even in the business world, I think it makes sense to have a finger on the emotional pulse of the employees in a building or in a company. And so this sort of collaborative work and this sort of inviting everybody in I think is the norm in information science rather than the exception. And I guess that's sort of why I got drawn in and why I'm interested in information science.
JACOB BANK: Hi I am Jacob bank. I am a senior in computer science. And I think a very important thing to mention first is that the quality of teaching in these departments is really, really excellent. Professors in CIS are very devoted to their teaching. And the students get a quality of education that reflects that.
And one way you can see this quality of education manifested is in how badly companies want Cornell CIS students. They come. They feed us pizza. They tell us about their company. And they beg us to work for them. Really. And it's just it's tough to find disciplines where that's the case in this particular job market. So that's pretty cool.
And in my personal experience, so the two things beyond my coursework that have really enhanced my education, are undergraduate TAing, which Phil mentioned briefly and research. So as an undergrad TA, I've TAed for four semesters an advanced programming course, kind of a core CS data structures and functional programming class. And I've also tiered for three semesters, networks, the interdisciplinary course that Dean Huttenlocher was talking about.
And undergraduate TAing is very valuable both for the TAs and the students. For the TAs, it gives you a deeper understanding of the course material, the ability to communicate technical and non-technical subjects to technical and non-technical students. And for the students, I think it really builds a community among undergraduates, a very collaborative community.
One hears horror stories about premeds at Johns Hopkins that go to the library, check out the chemistry book, rip out all the valuable pages, and then check it back in so other students can't use it because all their classes are curved and they want to get a competitive advantage. And in Cornell computer science, though all of the classes are curved and though it is very difficult, the environment is totally different. Everyone helps everyone out. And people are all working on the same project. And someone says, oh, you know, I'm experiencing this bug. Someone else says, oh, I actually had that yesterday. Here are some strategies I used. And this eventually worked. So that's a pretty cool environment to have in a rigorous academic setting.
And as far as research goes, I came in wanting to be a computer science major kind of on the pure technical side. But my research has actually had a lot of Information Age infused into it. So I'll talk a little bit about a project that I'm currently working on. I'm working with a computer science professor named Thorsten Joachim, whose specialty is machine learning. And our project is called dynamic ranking for information retrieval.
So here's the basic idea. We all interact with search systems a lot. I'm presuming. Pick your favorite one. So suppose you go to a search system and enter the query jobs. J-O-B-S. And you're looking for information about Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple. If you enter that query, the first 10 links, maybe the first 100 links, even if you page through all the results, will be related to employment. You'll get monster.com, Yahoo jobs, et cetera. But for the user whose information need is Steve Jobs, that ranking provides no utility.
So a big focus in the search ranking community the past few years has been about diversifying rankings, which basically says I want to provide some result in the top 10 that satisfies a majority of users. So for the query jobs, you might see monster.com to cover people who want to see employment, Steve Jobs' Wikipedia page to cover people who want to see Steve Jobs, maybe an eMedicine article about job syndrome, something like that.
But a diverse ranking has a fundamental flaw, too, in the sense that most people who enter the query jobs are probably looking for employment. And that should be reflected in the search results. So the problem is that a single linear list is limited in its expressive power.
So the project we're working on is dynamic ranking, which basically means when a user clicks on a document or when a user skips a document and clicks on a document below it, they're telling the search engine more about what they mean by their query. And a good search system should learn from that information and create a different ranking as a result. This is part of this having a technical layer, but also kind of having a social layer of interaction that's becoming so important.
But now the ranking problem becomes much more challenging. It's a lot easier to predict a list than it is to predict this huge tree of results that a user could possibly go down. And that's the machine learning problem that we're currently working on.
Yeah. So that's a bit of my experience. And computer science and CIS have both been great departments for me to work with over my time at Cornell.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: So I think you see from the students and their stories about the interdisciplinarity really infusing all the way down into the undergraduate level. One thing that I want to mention is-- that I didn't say before probably enough or didn't emphasize enough and it's very apparent here-- is that in these majors, we have students from multiple colleges working together in junior and senior level classes.
And much of the structure of Cornell is that in introductory classes, you have students from multiple colleges. But by the time you get into your major, they're all engineers, that are all CALS, that are all arts. And I think a piece of this culture that you hear the students talking about, this collaborative it's bringing together people with different sets of backgrounds and interests in a common place where they share a piece of their interests but not all of their interests. And if you think about life and the workplace, this is much more like the real world than the narrow academic world where you're always surrounded exactly by people like you.
So with that, I think we should turn it over to questions. And all I guess I'll try to somehow call on people in some order.
AUDIENCE: I graduated from Cornell in the engineering school.
AUDIENCE: Can't hear.
AUDIENCE: I said I graduated from Cornell in 1947, class of '46 slightly delayed by a war. Then I went to Harvard Business school. And since then I've been working at MIT in computer sciences with a man named James Forrest, who invented the random access memory before which IBM was a typewriter company. And he recently developed a program called system dynamics which is non-linear computer model. It's related to topics you're talking about.
And I have brought it to Cornell and it's in CALS. I interested that none of you have used it. It's a way of looking at complex decisions that turns corners with feedback dynamics. Somebody used the word dynamics. I forgot. One of you did, right? And I've been trying to convince Horton that it should be taught in a number of places in the university. And he said, well, first, we've got to see it working at CALS. So I'm surprised that none of you in computer science have taken that course. I know it's being given because I just met with the people who are involved with it, Chris Barrett and some other people that did the CALS.
And every major corporation and every major government in the world is using it for this long range decision making because it gives you the options of trying to find things in the computer model before you try them in real life and go wrong. It tells you which ones work best. And most importantly, it tells you the unintended consequences that might come out of the decision that you make. So I'm wondering why that isn't more in the school setting till it gets more use in CALS, they're not going to try to sell it in engineering and other places. So I'd be interested if you know about it. And if you know that the course was offered or anything about that.
JACOB BANK: Which departments is it taught through?
AUDIENCE: The answer is I don't know. I thought it was in the computer science area in CALS.
JACOB BANK: So I think this sounds like a theoretical and applied mechanics course, system dynamics, right?
PHIL ADAMS: I don't know.
JACOB BANK: But I don't think it's taught by the computer science department.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: I mean a lot of the classes in CIS--
AUDIENCE: Who teaches that subject besides-- that would be just the college.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: A lot of the classes in CIS are taught jointly with the colleges. Most of the teaching that we do jointly with CALS tends to be either in statistics or in the human computer interaction user experience area sort of at the border with the communications department. But I am certainly happy to look into this one. You know in a university that's big and complicated like Cornell, there are often-- and this is part of what we try to do with CIS is to bring things together under one rubric so that people know where to look for it, regardless of where it's actually being taught in the university So this is, I think, another example.
AUDIENCE: One of the very strong cross Cornell programs that's existed for many years is the entrepreneurship program. And it would seem that every college, graduate level, and so on, at Cornell has one or more offerings in entrepreneurship except I guess architecture, art, and planning, where it's pretty needed but not there. The students now in CS and information science, and so on, do you have entrepreneurship courses or do the students have electives or requires courses that relate to entrepreneurship?
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: So a lot of the CS students take entrepreneurship classes. But generally, it's based on the college that they are in. Because remember, our students are all in a college. And so the requirements that we impose are generally requirements that are specific to the technical content of the major. And then they fulfill their own college requirements. But entrepreneurial activity is extremely alive and well. A lot of our students take-- there's an entrepreneurship for scientists and engineers class offered through the Johnson School that I know a lot of students take. But you guys may have--
SARAH SPRAGUE: I actually took introduction to entrepreneurship in the Johnson School that was a seminar.
AUDIENCE: Was it BenDaniel, probably?
SARAH SPRAGUE: What?
AUDIENCE: Was it with David BenDaniel?
SARAH SPRAGUE: No, it wasn't. I--
AUDIENCE: That's all right.
SARAH SPRAGUE: There was Zach Schulman was the professor.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: It was also-- Yeah.
SARAH SPRAGUE: And I really enjoyed that class. It was one of my favorite class last semester, actually. And there were about maybe 15 other engineers with me. So I know that we do take entrepreneurship classes, yeah.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: And on that entrepreneurship front, there is a class that I'm hoping that we will be introducing in CIS in the next year or so, which I'm actually interested in being involved in teaching, which as a dean is a little dicey because of my travel schedule. But there is one aspect to this sort of new age of whatever we're going to call it. I don't quite want to call it software, because it's not software in the traditional sense, but of this sort of ubiquitous, highly connected world, where it's extremely important to get your product out in front of users extremely early and iterate it many, many times with users.
And in fact and part of what Sarah was talking about in her own internship, she had that kind of experience. That's very particular to the tech world and not the rest of entrepreneurship. And so I think there is a place for a very technology focused entrepreneurship class where you do something much like Sarah's internship. You do the design. And you build the thing. And you get it in front of customers all in a three month time period, because that's actually possible in the tech world.
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: Someone near the back just for some diversity.
AUDIENCE: Just to think about, again, I think the United States made its mark by innovating and then a lot of the basic things get offshore. So where's the future going where we can continue to be innovators and keep the best and the brightest and the best jobs here in the United States.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: I'm going to make them answer that. I'm the past.
I mean I'll take a shot at it, but if you guys have a--
SARAH SPRAGUE: I don't actually--
PHIL ADAMS: You want to start?
SARAH SPRAGUE: You can start.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: I can start? OK. So I mean, to me, I think that first of all my crystal ball is terrible. I mean I have enough of a history here to be able to point to all of my failed predictions.
But I think that one area that's extremely important right now in the United States, and it's not going to be surprising given where I've been investing my time, is in this mix of the technical and the social. I think that that's a place where the US is leading. All right. If you look at the sort of the "tech companies" quote unquote that have arisen and become successful lately, the sort of Twitter and Facebooks of the world, and even sort of some of the late developments in Google, they're in this social software space. And it's something that it's extremely hyped right now. But that doesn't mean that there isn't a lot of value in it.
I think like many of these things, picking individual winning companies or products is extremely hard. But I think that that space is going to continue to deliver an incredible amount of value. You know, if you think about the science fiction views of the world where the boundary between the physical world and cyberspace-- whatever you want to call it-- is completely vague, where you're sort of living in a simultaneous physical and virtual world. You can see that we're taking the very first steps in that direction with a lot of these things. But the amount of development that can happen there to get us all the way to that science fiction and turning that into reality is that there is huge, I think, opportunities there.
I mean even now the sort of not knowing the facts is almost inexcusable in this age, because you can just look them up really quickly. And that's-- just think about that. That's an unbelievable change in the last five, eight years. And I think we're going to see more and more things in that direction with just sort of always connected, always on, always interacting kinds of things.
AUDIENCE: How does that affect how you build the curriculum in how do you think of the future this department in this area.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: So I think that big data and analyzing lots of data, which includes statistics, so we require both in the IS and the CS majors a statistics or probability of statistics class. My view of big data is that if you're analyzing big data and you don't know any statistics, it's kind of like having a gun and no license. I mean it's really dangerous. And so that's a piece of it.
I think the social sciences are unbelievably important here. I think the whole sort of nature of human interaction is getting another dimension to it where it's mediated by machines and networks. And those are fundamentally social science questions and not technology questions. So I think in addition to excellent education and the technology fundamentals, what you might call the engineering part of the problem, the social sciences and the sort of statistical sciences are really critical.
SARAH SPRAGUE: And I can speak a little bit I think through the way the courses are taught. One of my favorite classes that I took was data driven web applications. And the philosophy of the professor was technology is always changing. So if I just teach you specific technologies, I'll be doing you kind of a disservice.
So what he'd like to do is teach us the concepts in class and then teach us skills on how to teach ourselves new technologies. And I think that kind of answers, it doesn't just teach us what's hot right now, it teaches us how to learn what is going to be hot in the future on our own. And so I think that was definitely one of the most valuable courses I've taught because that was how he taught us.
PHIL ADAMS: I also think that when you speak about the issue of being always connected, always on, you ask about how that impacts the curriculum. It impacts the way that learning is happening as well. Many of the courses we take, it's not-- you don't go to class for an hour three times a week. There's a course community either through Twitter or through a blog or something. You're always connected. And you're sort of always discussing through your phone or through your computer and through the people you're seeing face to face with. You're always communicating and learning from the course. You're sort of always in class, if you will, and always thinking about these issues.
AUDIENCE: With all the utility of the internet and technology. They're also dangerous in things that you have to worry about. So is there a technical, legal, kind of component to how you not only train the students but [INAUDIBLE].
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: Yeah, there is. And in fact, if you look at a couple of Daniela's favorite classes, they are things about law of the internet and eCommerce, deception and in a networked age. A piece of the social science side gets all the way over more to issues of morality and behavior and risks. This is an area that's been particularly challenging for us to actually identify and hire good faculty in. But we do offer-- we think it's a really important part of the undergraduate and graduate education, so we offer the classes. But it's often people teaching a course, because that's a side interest of theirs, it's not their direct research area.
And I think this is a place where as leaders in this new emerging area, it's really important for us to identify, hirer, and nurture junior faculty who are going to define these areas from an intellectual perspective. I'm sort of not happy with the current state in that-- I mean I think the classes are generally pretty good. But I'm not happy with the state in the sense that we're not yet doing the research that's going to be so important for understanding these things. And it's not just us. I mean this is a national issue. But I think given the leadership that we are showing in this whole arena, it's very important for us to take a leadership role there.
Now that said, you have to be careful who you hire, right? So it's something that we're really struggling with. We've had open searches for a few years in some of these areas around technology and policy and ethics kinds of issues. But we just haven't found people that we think are really looking at these issues deeply and in a fundamental way. .
AUDIENCE: Would the panelists share with us some of the humanities courses, non-technical courses, that they're taking, so that I get a sense of whether we're graduating students who can just speak computer to computer rather than human being to human being.
JACOB BANK: So within the computer science major, there's what's called a CS specialization, which involves taking three 300 level courses in some field outside of the CS. So I've done mine in history. I've taken five history courses. This semester I'm in a seminar on modern Chinese history where we read a few hundred pages a week and write a few papers per semester.
So outside of that, in information science, specifically, there's a very heavy focus on psychology and econ, which social science-y type things to broad in the tech-- to give students more than just the technical. Though there are CS majors, I agree with you that stick more to speaking in computer, the option is there to get breadth. And most people take that option.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: I don't if you also had comments to that questions?
SARAH SPRAGUE: Well, just specifically in the College of Engineering, we're required to take six liberal arts classes. So I've been taking French classes. And I really enjoyed that because it works a completely different side of your brain. It's a completely different atmosphere. And I've really enjoyed that.
And also, currently I'm taking an engineering communications class which is really great because our projects are giving presentations, making PowerPoint, writing-- actually the presentation I have to give next week is to describe a technical topic for a non-technical audience. So it's really difficult, but I'm really happy I'm having this opportunity to learn how to do it before I have to do it out in the real world. And I think that's a really, really valuable class. And I'm happy that I'm taking it now.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: Yeah.
AUDIENCE: There have been a couple of comments made about human and basically software ergonomics and human system interface, but I guess I'm surprised that there isn't a greater connection into architecture, art, and planning just because design is so fundamental to this. And also, as you were kind of alluding to the coming world of augmented of augmented reality and the overlay of technical worlds onto the physical world.
It seems maybe, you know, maybe extrapolating, but it seems like it will be much less abstractly a very much a program of architecture, a problem of architecture and where architecture and system design and human experience all coalesce. I'm just curious whether there's any-- whether the guys [INAUDIBLE] squad have ever heard of you.
PHIL ADAMS: I think that's--
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: Go ahead.
PHIL ADAMS: I think that's-- I think they certainly have. One of the great things about this program, and also-- when you're in it, you view it almost as a limitation-- there are so many different ways of engaging in information science. It's endless. So we're not fully representative of what's out there. But there are many, many, many people who either double major in information science or have a minor in information science from all sorts of places.
So in my lab alone, there are two undergraduates who are AAP majors but are doing research in information science and bringing that in. So while we ourselves don't know much about that, they're involved in the discussion, because our works are collaborative. That's how that works.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: Right. So yeah, I was going to say both the information science minor, which actually AAP was the second to last college to-- because especially architecture, it's a very rigid program in part. And so it's hard-- you can't keep adding things--
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: You can't keep adding things to the students' requirements, you've got to take something off the plate. But we worked very diligently, both on the AAP side and on the information science side to get IS as a minor there. And actually a lot of students there are taking advantage of that. So that's the first piece.
The second piece is historically in the computer graphics area there--
AUDIENCE: Context exclusively related to software.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: Right. And there's an extremely strong interaction between the computer graphics program and architecture here.
But the third piece is that Kent Kleinman, the dean of Art, Architecture, and Planning, and I looking more in the future are looking at building up very close ties more on the art side between-- Kent is very focused on design and the importance of design transcending art and architecture. And so we are working together to look at future hiring of faculty, actually student programs probably more at that MFA type level to begin with where students would do projects in information science, but be MFA students. But that's still to come as opposed to extant at the moment.
JENNIFER CUNNINGHAM: And we can take one more question before we have to break.
AUDIENCE: The potential course you were talking about before with students there starting with the product concept idea bringing it to market, if you weren't strictly structuring it so that the student had to come up with the idea, how open would you be and how would you handle possibly paring up alumni product ideas with the students. Because the three months is actually a nice time frame.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: So this is a piece where I'm still sort of working out course design. So don't hold me to anything I say here. But I think that for these to be successful, the student teams should sort of be two to three students who've agreed on something they want to do together. And that they need a fairly engaged group of advisers, probably two or three advisers, who ideally are alumni rather than faculty.
But I think it is important that what they're doing is their passion and not somebody else's. So the product idea coming from somebody else, I would probably be resistant to unless the students really took it on as their own passion. But the guidance from somebody who's been there and done that in that industry or a related industry, I think is absolutely critical to their success. So that's the way I'm currently thinking about it. But like I said don't hold me to the--
JACOB BANK: In CIS, there is a course called software engineering which students organize into teams of four or five. And they get a real world client, usually a local business from the Ithaca area that needs some software project done. And over the course of the semester, they work with that client and actually deliver a software product at the end. So that kind of exists.
DANIEL HUTTENLOCHER: So, actually that might be a better match. Thanks, Jacob. Because there the ideas, it's really focused on the software side instead of the building your own business side. And those students really do need a problem from somebody else. So that might be-- and we do get a lot of not just local Ithaca businesses, but I'm often pairing alumni with that course. All right. Well thanks very much, everybody.
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Cornell's Faculty of Computing and Information Science (CIS) engages with every college at Cornell and shares the information revolution with every Cornell student to invent the fields of tomorrow. The mission of CIS is to integrate computing and information science--its ideas, technology, and modes of thought--into every academic field.
Utilizing the $25 million Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant from 2006, CIS will build the 100,000-square-foot William H. Gates Hall on the current site of the Hoy North parking lot, on Campus Road across from Barton Hall. The building will bring together several units of CIS in a collaborative working and learning environment.
This event was part of the Trustee Council Weekend 2010 activities.