Friday, September 26, 2008


Friday, September 19, 2008

About that whole political outreach business

that I was talking about in this post, here's what I find in my RSS reader today:
The names of seven distinguished scientists nominated by the President to serve on the National Science Board (NSB) were sent to the Senate for confirmation on September 16, 2008. Drawn from industry and universities, and representing a variety of science and engineering disciplines and geographic areas, these four new and three incumbent NSB members were selected for their preeminence in research, education or public service. When confirmed by the Senate, they will serve six-year terms to expire in May of 2014.

Diane L. Souvaine, of Massachusetts

Diane Souvaine is a computational geometer, who is professor and department chair of computer science at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the department of mathematics. Her current research focuses on the design and complexity analysis of geometry algorithms to solve problems from a variety of venues, ranging from computational statistics to geometric modeling to self-assembly of nano-structures. She also directs summer week-long institutes involving computational thinking for middle school mathematics teachers, funded by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. From 1992 to mid-1994, she served first as acting associate director and then as acting director of the NSF's Science and Technology Center on Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS), while she was associate professor of computer science at Rutgers University. She has been a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and a member of the School of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ

Very cool indeed...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

CS advocacy in the political realm

Two articles caught my eye recently:
In the first article, Peter Lee makes the argument (with an assist from Peter Harsha) that there are good political reasons for CS folks to publish in Science, Nature and the like (even if many of us snigger at the kinds of CS research that ends up there: I know I have horror stories about articles that are accepted over the objections of the specialist CS reviewers). One argument is that of influence: whether we like it or not, CACM is not the preferred reading material for Congressional aides and staffers that have the ears of elected representatives, but Science/Nature are on the radar. Moreover, these publications have well-honed PR engines to get articles out to reporters: often embarassingly overhyped, but hey, you know what they say about publicity :).

Which brings me to the second article on Barack Obama's science advisors. What's interesting is that 4 of 5 of them are from the life sciences. This is not to demean the importance of life sciences in the current policy environment (GMO crops, stem cells and biofuels are all on the political radar), but there are a good number of technical hot-button issues as well (voting machines, copyright issues, electronic eavesdropping, privacy), and it definitely wouldn't hurt to have a CS-oriented person near the "ear of the man", so to speak, to articulate a view of the importance of these issues and how the research community is dealing with them.

I'm a lowly untenured professor, who used to be a lowly lab researcher, so I have no good ideas on getting personally involved in such matters. But I can see (partially thanks to CCC and the SIGACT Theory group) how advocacy can, over time, lead to fundamental changes in the landscape of support for our efforts, so at the very least, I can consider the idea of disseminating my work (when appropriate) beyond our "incremental" conferences and exhort others to do the same.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

SODA list is out

Some happy, some not so happy :)

Kudos to Claire Mathieu and the PC for not only including the list of papers, but also the list of abstracts !! Finally !!

As a public service, here's a TeX-formatted PDF of the list of abstracts, for those who find serif font easier to read than a stream of text on a web page. Warning, it's 44 pages long, and will have formatting errors. I wrote a perl script for the overall parsing and did lots of local fixing by hand for math-mode stuff, but it's not perfect.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Fonts !

John Holbo at CT does a not-review of books on fonts (or faces ? I'm confused now). In any case, this is clearly a book I need to get.

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