Published: November 2014,  Issue: Vol. 26/No.10, Download as PDF

Archive of articles published in the November 2014, Vol. 26/No.10 issue.

That Was Then This is Now

A quarter of a century ago, Computing Research News: The Quarterly Newsjournal of The Computing Research Board published its first two issues, Volume 1, No. 1 in Summer 1989 and Volume 1, No. 2 in Fall 1989. A look through the back issues provides some interesting contrasts in what’s changed and what hasn’t. This is the first of a series of occasional articles looking back at the hot topics in CRN 25 years ago.

Exciting Events at the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

The 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, held in Phoenix from Oct. 8th – 10th, hit several milestones this year. First, conference attendance dramatically increased to 8000 attendees from 4700 in 2013. Also, the first-ever Male Allies plenary panel, with top executives from Google, Facebook, GoDaddy, and Intuit, occurred; this panel was a well-intentioned session, but created more controversy among the attendees than the Grace Hopper Conference attendees have ever seen. And with a remark during his keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made the issue of pay equality for men and women front page news and brought the conference to the attention of the world. These milestones led to several interesting hallway conversations, some of which verged on arguments with significantly different points of view. One thing was clear, however; most of the attendees (perhaps all) agree that we need men (and women) to solve the diversity challenges that exist. So kudos to Satya and the other top male executives for having the interest and courage to come to an event that is 95% female. And further kudos to the companies that are implementing changes in their organizations based on what transpired during this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Until women represent close to 50% of those in the computing industry, we need to continue these important conversations.

Majority of Undergraduates Plan to Continue Pursuing Computing

During the spring semester of 2014, we asked a sample of undergraduate students who were graduating/had graduated during the 2013-2014 academic year about their plans for the after graduation. 84% of students planned to continue pursuing computing in some capacity. The vast majority of students (62%) had plans to work in a computing field right after college. Of the full sample, only 9% planned to pursue a PhD in the field of computing.

CCC Uncertainty in Computation Workshop

The Computing Community Consortium’s (CCC) Uncertainty in Computation Visioning Workshop was held in Washington DC in mid October, led by Bill Thompson and Ross Whitaker from the University of Utah. The workshop brought together over 40 scientists from different disciplines including simulation and data science, engineering, statistics, applied mathematics, visualization, decision science and psychology. The overarching goal of the workshop was to open a discussion between experts with diverse scientific backgrounds about the topic of uncertainty/risk and its communication. The attendees worked to articulate grand research challenges in understanding and communicating uncertainty inherent in computational processes — as an integral part of various scientific disciplines.

Computer Science Education Week

The sixth annual Computer Science Education Week —CSEdWeek for short — is just around the corner! Endorsed by Congress as December 8-14, 2014, in recognition of Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper’s birthday (Dec. 9th, 1906) and her many contributions to the field of computer science, CSEdWeek is “a call to action to raise awareness of computer science education and computing careers for students, educators, and the public.”

Broadening Participation in AI

At AAAI-13, several attendees remarked that the number of women and underrepresented minorities in attendance seemed even lower than in previous years, and they started talking about what could be done. So for 2014, with the encouragement of AAAI and financial support from the CRA-W and Coalition to Diversify Computing (CDC) through the Discipline Specific Workshops program, we – Maria Gini, Adele Howe, Monica Anderson, and Andrea Danyluk – organized a set of activities aimed at increasing the number of women and members of other underrepresented groups in AI by encouraging and mentoring students and post-docs.