University of Colorado at Boulder

Computer Science Newsletter, Spring 1996

CU Engineering Center

hello, world

This is the inaugural issue of a departmental newsletter to let our alumni and friends know how we are doing. We are only guessing about what kind of information you will want to see. If you think the newsletter is a good idea, or have suggestions for how it could be made better by changes, let us know. We would also appreciate your contributions in the way of any news about yourself or CU alums out there in the world. Send your comments to Gary Nutt ().

For this first issue, we are sending the newsletter to you in hardcopy form, but we expect to take advantage of the Internet in future editions by publishing it on our web page. (If you have not looked at our web page, check it out! ) If web pages are not easy for you to read, but you would still like to get the newsletter, we can send you hardcopy -- let us know.

Alumni Notes

The Department is over a quarter of a century old. Lloyd Fosdick, Professor Emeritus, was the original Chair during the formative years, then resumed the duties again in the 1980s. The Undergraduate Program started in 1984, with the first graduates in 1987. We would like to hear from you so we can inform your fellow alumni about what you are doing.

Alums in Touch

Professor Scott Henninger (Ph.D., 1993) now on the faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Professor David Redmiles (Ph.D., 1992) now on the faculty at the University of California at Irvine have each been awarded a CAREER grant from NSF. Congratulations Scott and Dave!

Ross McConnell (Ph.D., 1994) has accepted a faculty position in the Computer Science Department at Willamette University, after two years as a Visiting Professor at Amherst College. He continues research in his doctoral area of algorithms for perfect graphs and k-structures.

... now this from Bruce

If you came through the undergraduate program, you definitely know who Bruce is ... all majors have the pleasure of spending many hours on the Senior Project with Bruce Sanders, usually a highlight of the program. 336 of you have now completed the Senior Project. 166 of these graduates are employed by 96 different companies -- in Colorado and beyond. The biggest employers of CU students are Hewlett-Packard and NCAR with 9 each. US West has 7 alums, Microsoft and Quark each have 6, with 4 grads going to American Management Systems, Andersen Consulting, CU CNS, Great West Life, Motorola, and Qualcomm. Finally, Antalys, Astrobyte, Bell Northern Research, Coral Systems, Green Mountain Geophysics, Storage Technology Corporation, United States Air Force, and XOR Network Engineering all have 3 Buffs on their payroll. You can read more about this year's Senior Projects on the web.

Student Enrollment Increases

The Department continues to grow in the Undergraduate program, but has leveled off in the Graduate program. In the Fall of 1995, 65 Freshmen, 50 Sophomores, 64 Juniors, 55 Seniors, and 46 Fifth year Seniors enrolled in the program for a total of 280 students. 78 M.S. students and 77 Ph.D. students enrolled at the same time. At the campus level, the total enrollment was 24,440 students. Of these enrollees, 4,182 were Freshmen -- 54% of which were Colorado residents.

Faculty Notes

We are fortunate to have an unusual number of excellent teachers in our Department, and the Fall FCWs reflect their skills. We would like to recognize the following professors for the Fall term:

        Name            Course  Enroll  Course  Instr
                                        Rating  Rating
        Main            2270    124     3.42    3.51
        Main            1300     71     3.50    3.56
        Bradley         3653     67     3.31    3.78
        Sanders         4308     57     3.42    3.58
        King            3287     38     3.59    3.72
        Zorn            5535     21     3.75    3.88
        Martin          5832     20     3.61    3.83
        Wolf            4900     12     3.36    3.64
        Gabow           6454      8     3.43    3.71
        Martin          7135      7     3.67    3.67
        Nemeth          4830      7     3.00    3.50
        Zorn            7135      7     3.67    3.67
        Byrd            6686      3     2.67    3.67

NSF Young Investigator Awards

The NSF recognizes new faculty with special awards. The NYI and PYI programs are the most prestigious of these programs, though others are also important for new faculty members. In the last five years, Computer Science has had five faculty winning these NSF awards: Liz Bradley, Mike Eisenberg, Mike Mozer, Liz Jessup, and Xiao-Chuan Cai.

Zorn and Grunwald Awarded Tenure

Assistant Professors Ben Zorn Dirk Grunwald will be promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in August, 1996. Most of you know from your years at CU that this is a tremendous milestone in their careers. The Department is extremely pleased about the promotion and tenure award, and look forward to continued great work from Ben and Dirk.

Hello to our Newest Faculty Members

Kirk Johnson completed his Ph.D. at M.I.T. in December and joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in January, 1996. Kirk's thesis is concerned with distributed virtual memory. His research area is a cross between operating systems and computer architecture -- he is a systems person. Just before his first week on the job, Kirk broke his foot while playing hockey. I guess we have some insight into this new professor's personality.

Alex Repenning and Clive Baillie have been working in the Department as postdoctoral researchers for the last several years, and both have just been appointed as Research Assistant Professors in Computer Science. Now Alex is working with Gerhard Fischer in the new Center for Lifelong Learning and Design. Alex completed his Ph.D. with Clayton Lewis a few years ago. Clive earned his Ph.D. in Physics and has been working with Oliver McBryan on Grand Challenge problems. Welcome Alex and Clive!


The faculty continues to change, albeit at a slow pace. Last year, Paul Smolensky left CU to join the Department of Cognitive Science at Johns Hopkins University. We will miss Paul for his brilliance, his insightful research, his teaching, his natural knack for administration, but most of all for his being a friendly, congenial colleague. Good luck Paul!

We also lost 75% of Bobby Schnabel to the Dean's Office. In August, Bobby accepted an assignment as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in College of Engineering and Applied Science. He is the first Computer Science faculty member to take an appointment in the Dean's Office.

Changes in the Staff

The guard is changing in the Computer Science office. Last year, Dotty Foerst, Graduate Secretary, retired after serving the Department for about 20 years.

Vicki Emken is now the Graduate Secretary, moving from the Receptionist position to handle the difficult job Dotty did for so many years. Vicki is also doing a great job. Pat Libhart took Vicki's receptionist job, and now directs all of us to the right places when we are lost. In February, Arlene Hunter, Undergraduate Secretary, also retired after about 20 years.

Pam Compo has just begun as the Undergraduate Secretary. Pam has "hit the ground running", and is also doing a great job. Laura Vidal has also joined the Department as an administrator to assist Alex Wolf, Roger King, and Dirk Grunwald -- welcome Laura! All of us miss Dotty and Arlene, and wish them well in their retirements, and welcome all the new staff members. Harriet Ortiz, the Departmental administrator, is leaving at the end of May. Harriet and her husband Richard are moving to Seattle, where he has taken a position with Starbuck's. Harriet has been the engine in the Department for 20 years; she knows more about how the Department/College/University work, than anyone else. We are extremely indebted to her for all those years of dedication and service and wish her the best in her pursuits in Seattle. Finally, Carolyn Mich, the Chair's assistant, has (re)joined Bobby Schnabel as his assistant in the Dean's office. Carolyn is a 9-year contributor to the Department, and we will sorely miss her as well.

Changes in the Laboratory Space

WE HAVE A WING. Okay, so it is the same space we already had, but with a renumbering of rooms in the building. It is the portion of the old Engineering CR wing we currently occupy. It will be renamed the Computer Science Wing in May. The space committee is now working on plans to request that old ECCR1-12 become lab space. The Department will continue to occupy space around the building, though we finally have an area where many of us are colocated.

MIT Officemates Have Huge Impact on CS Program

In 1991, Assistant Professor Mike Eisenberg graduated from M.I.T., and joined the Department and the Institute for Cognitive Science. In 1992, his officemate at M.I.T, Liz Bradley also joined the Faculty as an Assistant Professor in Computer Science. Since coming to CU, both have won NSF NYI awards. Professors Eisenberg and Bradley work in different areas, but each is making a substantial impact on the Department and their respective disciplines.

Eisenberg's HyperGami Project

Mike Eisenberg and Ann Nishioka have built HyperGami, a program that they describe as an "educational CAD system" for creating paper polyhedral models and sculptures. The basic idea behind the program is that it allows users to design three-dimensional polyhedral forms on the computer screen; HyperGami then "unfolds" those shapes into two-dimensional patterns, called "folding nets". These nets may be decorated on the screen by employing (among other methods) solid color "fills", gradients, user-drawn figures, and geometric (program-created) patterns. Once the user has created a decorated net, she can send it as output to a color printer; and finally, she can cut out the printed pattern and fold it into a tangible geometric model. (A fuller description of the program can be found in Brian Hayes' column in the November/December 1995 issue of American Scientist magazine.) In the past two years, Mike and Ann have worked with elementary- and middle-school-aged children, tutoring them in creating customized mathematical shapes with HyperGami. Mike and Ann have themselves employed the software to make an entire menagerie of (as they put it) "gleefully weird" paper sculptures -- penguins, mushrooms, a caterpillar, and dozens more. Visitors to their web site ( can participate by downloading sample patterns to construct a polyhedral sea monster. More recently, Mike and Ann have been using the program to explore new types of creations: customized mathematical puzzles, science toys, working paper machines, and even wax polyhedral candles. Their sculptures will be exhibited later this year both at CU's Norlin Library and at the Boulder Public Library. For Eisenberg, one of the important themes in the development of HyperGami is the way in which it blends "low-" and "high-tech" activities. Users spend much of their time designing abstract forms on the computer screen; but afterward, they bring those efforts to fruition using traditional materials -- scissors, paper, and glue. It is this blending of craft and computational media that Eisenberg and Nishioka are planning to explore further in their future work.

Bradley's Design Automation and Chaos Science Research

Liz Bradley is an over-achiever with a long track record. Besides graduating from a school with an overwhelming male population, she was a rower on the 1988 Olympic team (her team finished fifth, just out of the medals). Since arriving at CU, Liz has begun to build a strong program in artificial intelligence and chaos science, along the way winning prestigious NSF NYI and Packard Fellowship awards. This program attacks two intellectual frontiers: computer programs that reason about engineering design and practical uses of chaos.

Bradley's long-range research plan is highly interdisciplinary in its focus, its approaches, and its techniques. Specific elements of this plan are the extension of chaos and its properties to practical uses, the construction of a suite of programs that explore different high-level analysis and design paradigms and metaphors, the examination of the hard questions that those tasks pose, and the investigation of the unifying principles in the good answers to those questions.

The Center for LifeLong Learning and Design Shifts into High Gear

Last year the Center for LifeLong Learning and Design began operation as an interdisciplinary center with the Institute for Cognitive Science to study human and machine learning. L3D is directed by Professor Gerhard Fischer. The Center is an educational and research unit whose mission is the ongoing development of conceptual frameworks and computational artifacts, as well as the cultivation of an understanding of their social and organizational contexts. To this end, the center conducts research and creates learning opportunities with other academic, research and industrial partners nationally, and internationally, to develop innovative educational models to prepare learners and workers for the challenges of the 21st century. To this aim, L3D activities are focused on:

In March, L3D hosted a meeting to introduce the Center to various University dignitaries, including President Buechner, Chancellor Park, Chancellor Lesh-Laurie (UC-Denver), Vice Chancellor Loh, and various others. The Center was extremely well-received by the visiting dignitaries.

More information about the center can be found on its web page.

Getting in Touch

The Department continues to be housed in the College of Engineering, with the Departmental offices on the seventh floor. Our home page contains information about both programs and people, have a look.

Dept of Computer Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0430, 303-492-7514 (Dept. Office), 303-492-2844 (Fax), .