CS Table 2/5/19: Machine Learning (meets in CS Commons)

NOTE: This Tuesday we will meet in the CS Commons at noon. Please bring your own lunch; we'll try to have some drinks and snacks, too.

This week in CS Table, we will consider some applications of machine learning that show both potential benefit and great risks: The use of ML algorithms in decisions related to bail, sentencing, and parole. We have two readings:

CS Table 1/29/19

Most CS Tables for the spring semester will meet in JRC 224B, though a small number will be in an alternate dining room, so watch each week for the location.

This week we will return to a classic: Ken Thompson’s Turing Award lecture, “Reflections on Trusting Trust.” In this lecture, Thompson reveals a security vulnerability he implemented for UNIX. This thought-provoking lecture raises questions about what it takes to build secure software. We’ll follow that reading up with Bruce Schneier’s summary of Thompson’s work and one attempt to counter this type of attack. You can find both readings below, or in the clear folder on the door to room 3827.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm inside the Marketplace. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

CS Table POSTPONED: Software Failures

In one of the early spring CS Tables, we will have a (hopefully) fun discussion focused on software failures. As an example, consider this particular famous Windows blue screen. Regardless of whether or not you are able to attend, please send suggestions to me by email before noon on Monday, December 17th. We will have a projector, so please share relevant images or videos if you find any.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm in JRC 224C (inside the Marketplace). Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

CS Table 12/4/18: Open Source and Security

This week's discussion topic was suggested by an alumna, who writes:

Recently an NPM package author handed over control of his open source project to a stranger who promised to maintain the package for future users. The stranger added malicious code to the package, which was then downloaded by millions of users. This raises questions about responsibility in the open source world. What responsibilities does the owner of an open source project hold? What responsibilities are up to the user? What can developers do to utilize open source projects in a safe and secure manner?
There are two recommended readings for the CS Table discussion; the first is an account of the recent event we’ll discuss, and the second is a perspective on security and open source from Bruce Schneier, written in 1999.

You may also find these resources helpful or informative as you prepare for our discussion:

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm in JRC 224C (inside the Marketplace). Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

Thursday Extra 11/15/18: Graduate School in Computer Science

Thursday, November 15, 2018
4:15 p.m. in Science 3821
Refreshments at 4:00 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Science 3817)

Professors Anya Vostinar and Charlie Curtsinger will discuss what graduate school in computer science is like, why you might consider it, and how to choose and apply to graduate programs. There will be ample time for discussion, so come prepared with questions.

CS Table 11/13/18: Student Perspective on Being a CS Major

This week at CS Table we will have an informal discussion led by the Computer Science SEPC.

  • The structure of the major
  • Classes at Grinnell (in and out of the department)
  • What does all this mean for pre-registration?
We can also answer other basic questions related to declaring or advising.

No faculty will be present in order to ensure students are comfortable asking questions. Come to hear or share student perspectives and take time out of your week to plan ahead!

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm in JRC 224C (inside the Marketplace). Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

CS Table 11/6/18: Tech Company Jobs, Then and Now

This week we’ll look at an interesting article that compares the situations for janitors at two tech companies in two different eras: Kodak in the 1980s, and Apple in 2017. The article paints an interesting picture of how employment at tech companies has changed over the last four decades. In addition to the specifics in the article, I hope we’ll have an opportunity to discuss the role that tech companies (or any employer) might play in economic inequality, the availability of blue-collar jobs, and the changing landscape of career opportunities.

To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now. Neil Irwin. The New York Times. 3 Sept 2017.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm in JRC 224C (inside the Marketplace). Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

CS Table 10/30/18: Secure Voting

In light of the upcoming midterm elections we’ll look at some of the challenges in conducting a secure and verifiable elections with electronic voting systems.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm in JRC 224C (inside the Marketplace). Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

Thursday Extra 10/18/18: Moving Software Testing Outside of the Box - An Expedition Beyond its Walls

Thursday, October 18, 2018
4:15 p.m. in Science 3821
Refreshments at 4:00 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Science 3817)

Myra B. Cohen, Lanh and Oanh Nguyen Endowed Chair of Software Engineering at Iowa State University, presents this Thursday Extra.

Software testing researchers have developed many sophisticated techniques to model and test complex and highly configurable systems. These techniques need to be automated and scalable to work on modern software applications, which has led researchers to use bio-inspired approaches that mimic nature, such as evolutionary algorithms. While this research continues to advance the state of the art in software testing, there is a bigger opportunity to leverage what has been learned outside of the boundaries of software testing.

Cohen will discuss some of her research on software testing and then show how they have used techniques built for software testing on living systems. Her recent work flips the nature-inspired paradigm for assurance and prediction of both natural and synthetically engineered biological organisms.

CS Table 10/16/18: Experience of blind software engineers

We will discuss two articles that describe the experiences of two blind software engineers. My hope is that our discussion will wander into a broader consideration of accessibility, the challenges that people with disabilities face when they work in the computing industry, and the responsibilities of all software developers to consider accessibility.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm in JRC 224C (inside the Marketplace). Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

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