News & Events

CS Hosts Class of ’60s Speaker James Mickens, Harvard

Thursday, March 07 @ 8:00pm, Wege Auditorium (TCL 123)

“Blockchains are a Bad Idea (More Specifically, Blockchains are a Very Bad Idea)”

Blockchains have been proposed as the best storage technology for a variety of use cases, e.g., supply chain management and the administration of medical records. Unfortunately, in almost all of these use cases, blockchains are a terrible fit for the actual needs of the higher-level applications. OH NO CNBC HAS LIED TO US. Using a combination of technical insights and lurid Castro-style rants, I will describe why cryptocurrency abstractions and smart contracts are not a good way to earn currency or be smart. I fully expect that somebody in the audience will challenge me to a duel; since I am a lover, not a fighter, my weapons will be poignant haikus, composed in real time, that sarcastically lament the volatility of the Bitcoin market.

Friday, March 08 @ 2:35pm, Wege Auditorium (TCL 123)

Q + A with James

James Mickens is an IEEE Knight of the Republic, an ACM Templar for Non-Open Access, and a Royal Proceeding of Her Majesty’s Royal Proceedings. His appreciation for syntactically correct code has led him to be called “a semicolon in human form.” His online shopping habits have too many dimensions to be categorized, so he is only shown ads about dinosaurs and ancient siege machines. This does not bother James Mickens, and explains why he spends his summers attacking France with triceratops horns. During the rest of the year, he is an associate professor of computer science at Harvard. #TrueStory

Class of ’60s Poster

Pill Pack Recruiting Events

Join Williams CS alumni Mary Imevbore ‘18 and Noah Grumman ‘16, PillPack software engineers, for an informational session or the CS Colloquium talk to learn more about opportunities with this company.

There will be snacks and swag, and students who attend one or more of these events may be invited to an on campus interview!

Thursday, October 11, Schow 030A @ 7:30pm

Info Session about life at PillPack

Friday, October 12; TCL 123 (Wege) @ 2:35pm

Computer Science Colloquium, “Engineering at a High Growth Startup: the (sometimes counterintuitive) things that we’ve learned in our time at a startup and wish we had known as undergraduates.” Colloquium credit for attending this event.

“Mapping the World with Deep Learning” – Facebook Tech Talk

Thursday, Sept 20, 6pm, TPL 203.

“Mapping the World with Deep Learning” – Facebook Tech Talk by Derrick Bonafilia ’17, Yitong Tseo ’17, Sam Blackshear ’10, and Baoxiang Yiang.

Satellites today are capable of capturing geo-referenced imagery of almost the entire globe at resolutions ups to 50cm per pixel. Using this imagery, things like buildings and roads can be located, usually within cm to meters of their actual location. However, this imagery is a massive dataset and it would take many lifetimes to map it all out by hand. Learn how Facebook is leveraging deep learning to massively speed up the process, and how we’re working with partners like CIESIN, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap and the Red Cross to use this data for humanitarian efforts and to get it widely and freely available to anyone looking to make the world a better place.

Class of ’60s Speaker – Chris Umans ’96

Thursday, April 26 @ 8:00pm; Wege Auditorium (TCL 123)

“Algorithmic Magic: Behind the Scenes of Modern Computer Science”

Algorithmic advances have been responsible for some of the most remarkable applications of computation today, from search engines to machine learning to error-correcting codes, cryptography and scientific computing. Yet, even now, some of the most basic algorithmic questions remain unanswered, and among these are open problems with far-reaching implications for computer security and beyond.

In this talk, I will describe how computer scientists identify and abstract these key problems from a diversity of computing applications, and how some of these puzzles encapsulate deep questions about the nature of computation itself.

I’ll illustrate how computer scientists come up with fast algorithms, and what sorts of ideas are used, by focusing on the prominent problem of multiplying matrices. Many researchers have contributed to a decades-long race to find an optimal algorithm for this problem, which lies at the core of many applications. I’ll describe the surprising and clever ideas in play, and a promising new approach developed by myself and collaborators, that may have a chance to finally yield an optimal algorithm. No mathematical background will be assumed.

Dr. Umans received his undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Mathematics from Williams College and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Berkeley in 2000. After spending two years as a postdoc in the Theory Group at Microsoft Research, he joined the Computer Science faculty at Caltech in 2002, where he is currently Professor of Computer Science. His research interests are in theoretical computer science, especially computational complexity, randomness in computation, and algebraic complexity and algorithms. He serves as an editor of the Journal of Computer and System Sciences, Algorithmica, Computational Complexity, ACM Transactions on Computation Theory, and Theory of Computing. He is a member of the scientific board of the Electronic Colloquium on Computational Complexity and the moderator for the Computational Complexity section of the arXiv. Dr. Umans is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, and a Simons Foundation Investigator award, as well as several best-paper and teaching awards.