Category Archives: Computer Science


What Google’s New Open-Source Software Means for Artificial-Intelligence Research

Google wants the artificial-intelligence software that drives the company’s Internet searches to become the standard platform for computer-science scholars in their own experiments.

On Monday, Google announced it would turn its machine-learning software, called TensorFlow, into open-source code, so anyone can use it.

“We hope this will let the machine-learning community — everyone from academic researchers, to engineers, to hobbyists — exchange ideas much more quickly, through working code…


A New Department Marks the Rise of a Discipline: ‘Computational Media’

Pixar movies, interactive video games, smartphone applications—all are forms of computational media, the marriage of computer science to the arts and humanities. Signaling a deeper investment in that fast-growing if slippery field, the University of California at Santa Cruz announced the creation on Monday of what it called the first computational-media department ever.

“There’s always been, in the heart of computing, a concern with human communication and media,” said Noah Wardrip-Fruin, …


10 Times the Computing Capacity, at Only Twice the Electricity

Staff members put the finishing touches on Deepthought2, a new supercomputer at the U. of Maryland.

Staff members put the finishing touches on Deepthought2, a new supercomputer at the U. of Maryland. (Photo courtesy of U. of Maryland)

The University of Maryland at College Park has a new Ferrari of a supercomputer, and it’s students who are taking it for a test drive.

Some 60 students enrolled in the university’s high-performance-computing boot camp, now in its second of two weeks, are the first to make use of Deepthought2, the newest supercomputer in higher education. The $4.2-million machine …


Dartmouth Pops the Champagne as Basic Programming Language Turns 50

Basic, the programming language that revolutionized computing by making it accessible to people beyond the worlds of science and engineering, turns 50 this week, and it’s getting a birthday party.

Basic—an acronym for “Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code”—was developed at Dartmouth College by two mathematicians, John G. Kemeny, who was later Dartmouth’s president, and Thomas E. Kurtz, along with a team of undergraduates. It was done in tandem with the creation of a time-sharing sys…


Cornell U. Researchers Put Robots in Conversation, and the Result Is Surprisingly Human

When the machines take over, much will change. But perhaps not the exquisite frustrations of a halting philosophical debate.

Researchers at Cornell University’s Creative Machines Lab have demonstrated this by putting two artificially intelligent avatars in conversation with one another. The avatars, called Cleverbots, are sophisticated versions of the classic Eliza program, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1960s. The Cornell researchers—two doctoral students and an…


U.S. Agencies, Industry, and Academe Team Up to Compute Media’s Future

As risky as predictions are, here’s a fairly safe one: The future of media is bound up with computers. That doesn’t mean that print and other older forms of media will fade away. It does mean that newer media, whatever shape they take, will be created, shared, and used with the help of computers. If it’s not love, it’s apps that will bring us together.

That recognition has brought together the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Hu…


MIT Is Still Working on Its Response to Aaron Swartz Case

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is still trying to figure out how to answer criticism of its response to the controversial federal prosecution of Aaron Swartz, the hacker and activist who was arrested on the MIT campus in 2011.

On Thursday university officials charged with reviewing MIT’s existing policies and practices flagged several ways the university could do more to protect digital privacy and encourage open-access publishing, according to an update from MIT’s news office.

But no…


QuickWire: Yahoo Offers Data Access to Carnegie Mellon U. Researchers

A new five-year partnership will give researchers at Carnegie Mellon University access to Yahoo’s data services in real time, the university announced on Wednesday. The university said access to the information would help researchers create better personalized mobile-user experiences “by using machine-learning algorithms to more accurately predict user needs and intentions.” The partnership also includes a Yahoo Fellowship program that will provide financial support for computer-science students…


Georgia Tech Designs Its Udacity Pilot to Avoid Failure

G.P. (Bud) Peterson, president of the Georgia Institute of Technology, is determined not to become the next casualty of a failed MOOC experiment.

Mr. Peterson saw what happened at San Jose State University earlier this year: An experiment with Udacity, a company that specializes in massive open online courses, turned into an embarrassment for Mohammad H. Qayoumi, San Jose State’s president, after its first run, in the spring semester, produced underwhelming results.

Georgia Tech is taking precau…


Vermont Tech Nanosatellite Is Among 11 Rocketed Into Space

Before Tuesday evening, Carl Brandon had never seen a rocket launch. But at about 8:15, when a U.S. Air Force Minotaur I rocket took off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, in Virginia, he not only saw a launch, but the rocket carried a satellite he helped build.

Mr. Brandon, director of the CubeSat Lab at Vermont Technical College, spent the past two years with a few of his students building what’s sometimes referred to as a nanosatellite—or, specifically, a CubeSat, after a set of specifica…