CS Table

Friday Extra: "Why so many?"

At noon on Friday, October 2, in Science 3821, Professor David G. Kay will give a presentation entitled Why so many?: A historical view of the early development of programming languages:

Java. Scheme. C++. Python. There are dozens of programming languages in common use today. Each has its adherents -- often highly partisan adherents. High-level programming languages have been available at least since Fortran in 1954; why haven't we agreed on a common language by now? Why is there so much heat (and so little light) when programming languages are compared? We try to answer these questions with a historical look at how and why some of the major programming languages were developed. We find that, as with many technical issues, the ultimate success of a programming language depends as much on social, economic, and historical factors as it does on the technical merits.

Professor Kay teaches in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, where he holds appointments in the departments of Informatics and Computer Science and serves as Vice Chair of Informatics. He has degrees in linguistics, law, and computer science; his current academic interests include computer law, computer science education, software engineering, human-computer interaction, and the teaching of writing and other communication skills.

Pizza and soda will be served before the talk. Everyone is welcome to attend!

This talk also serves as this week's CS Table.

Computer Science Table, September 25: Software, Copyright, Patent, and Beyond

This week in Computer Science Table, we are exploring an intersection of software and the law. In particular, we're considering some issues of copyright and patent in software, and what those issues reveal about the U.S. intellectual property system.

Boyle, J. (2009). What intellectual property law should learn from software. Commun. ACM 52, 9 (Sep. 2009), 71-76. DOI=http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1562164.1562184

CS Table meets at noon on Fridays in JRC 224A. All are welcome. Computer science students and faculty are particularly encouraged to attend.

Computer Science Table, September 18: Under the Hood

This week in Computer Science Table, we're exploring a different side of things. In particular, we are considering some under the hood issues in some common programming areas, such as strings, memory allocation, and databases.

Spolsky, Joel (2001, December 11). Back to Basics. Joel on Software. Web page at http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000319.html.

Some questions to think about for this meeting: How are strings represented internally in your favorite programming languages? If you had a choice of how to represent strings internally, what would you do? Are all versions of malloc created equivalent? What flaws do you see in Spolsky's comments?

CS Table meets at noon on Fridays in JRC 224A. All are welcome. Computer science students and faculty are particularly encouraged to attend.

Computer Science Table, September 11: Technology and Disability

On Friday, September 11, the topic of CS Table is Technology and Disability.

Shinohara, K. and Tenenberg, J. 2009. A blind person's interactions with technology. Commun. ACM 52, 8 (Aug. 2009), 58-66. DOI=http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1536616.1536636

Copies of the reading will be available outside Sam Rebelsky's office, Science 3824.

CS Table meets at noon in JRC 224A. All are welcome. Computer science students and faculty are particularly encouraged to attend.

Computer Science Table

Computer science table is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. 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.

Current Schedule (Spring 2018)

This semester, CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00-1:00pm in JRC 224A.

  • 1/23: Welcome back; topic discussion
  • 1/30: Security vulnerabilities (Spectre and Meltdown)
  • 2/6: Digital ownership
  • 2/13: Computer science accessibility
  • 2/20: Privacy, security, and revenue on the Web
  • 2/27: SIGCSE debrief
  • 3/6: Artificial Intelligence
  • 3/13: open discussion
  • Spring break 3/20 and 3/27: No CS Tables
  • 4/3:
  • 4/10:
  • 4/17:
  • 4/24:
  • 5/1:
  • 5/8:


For questions, comments, and recommendations on topics to cover in CS table, please contact Charlie Curtsinger or Peter-Michael Osera.

Archived Topics for CS Table

2017-2018 series (Fall 2017)

  • 8/29: Welcome Back
  • 9/5: Doxing, the public broadcasting of someone's personally identifiable information (PII)
  • 9/12: Machine Ethics
  • 9/19: Activism
  • 9/26: No Topic (concurrent Google session)
  • 10/3: Tapia 2017 Debrief
  • 10/10: Grace Hopper Celebration 2017 Debrief
  • Fall break 10/17: No CS Table
  • 10/24: Interactive and connected toys
  • 10/31: The Google memo criticizing workplace diversity
  • 11/7: Computer-aided gerrymandering
  • 11/14: Robot citizenship
  • 11/21: Games and the Gig Economy
  • 11/28: No CS Table
  • 12/5: Esoteric programming languages

2016-2017 series

  • 8/30: Meet and greet
  • 9/6: Passphrases, multi-factor authentication, and security hygiene
  • 9/13: Data privacy in higher education
  • 9/27: Tapia 2016 Debrief
  • 10/11: The intersection of music and computing
  • 11/1: Echochambers
  • 11/8: The state of JavaScript
  • 11/15: Algorithmic bias
  • 11/22: CS education initiatives
  • 11/29: Election hacking
  • 12/5: Health, technology, and regulation
  • 12/12: One-line programs
  • 1/31: Current events and topics for future CS Tables
  • 2/7: Privacy and security
  • 2/14: On technology, slots, and whales (gambling industry)
  • 2/21: Net neutrality
  • 2/28: Facial analysis
  • 3/7: Can computers write poetry?
  • 4/4: Project Gadfly (scripts for contacting elected officials)
  • 4/11: Technical interview process
  • 4/18: Automation
  • 4/25: Algorithmic accountability
  • 5/2: Random number generation
  • 5/9: Comics

2015-2016 series

  • 9/1: Google and elections
  • 9/15: Automobile hacking and cybersecurity
  • 10/27: Debrief after Grace Hopper Celebration
  • 11/10: Cryptographic back doors
  • 11/24: Trans-Pacific Partnership implications for computing and intellectual property
  • 12/8: Comics
  • 2/2: Facebook's Free Basics
  • 2/9: U.S. Copyright duration and fair use: Mickey Mouse, the NFL, and David Bowie
  • 2/16: Data science
  • 2/23: Software patents
  • 3/1: The FBI and Apple
  • 3/8: Public key cryptography
  • 3/15: End-to-end verifiable internet voting
  • 4/12: Data science and elections
  • 4/19: Scrubbing search results, SEO, and the right to be forgotten
  • 4/26: The left-pad kerfluffle (JavaScript node package management)
  • 5/3: Property and ownership of digital media
  • 5/10: End-of-year discussion

2014-2015 series

  • 8/29: Meet and greet
  • 9/12: Social robots and autistic children
  • 9/19: Browser fingerprinting and web tracking
  • 9/26: Privacy, anonymity, and big data in the social sciences
  • 10/3: Serendipity and computing
  • 10/10: Evolutionary art
  • 10/17: Debrief for Grace Hopper Celebration
  • 11/14: "Shellshock" bug
  • 12/5: Back to basics: strings, memory allocation, and databases
  • 1/30: Redundant arrays of inexpensive disks (RAID)
  • 2/20: Onion routing
  • 2/25: "Research priorities for robust and beneficial artificial intelligence"
  • 4/3: Terac-25 incidents (computerized medical devices)
  • 4/24: HTTP 2.0 Standard

2013-2014 series

  • 8/30: What I did this summer
  • 9/6: Turing on artificial intelligence
  • 9/13: Trusting trust
  • 9/20: Pair programming
  • 9/27: "The story of Mel"
  • 10/4: Software-based legal assistance systems
  • 11/8: The network time protocol
  • 12/6: "Beyond efficiency"
  • 12/13: "The reactive manifesto"
  • 1/24: 3-D printing
  • 1/31: The ACM Code of Ethics
  • 2/7: The classic "P vs. NP" problem
  • 2/21: Skip lists
  • 4/11: Lambda expressions in Java 8
  • 4/18: Privacy in the age of big data and analytics

2012-2013 series

  • 9/7: Radical bricolage
  • 9/14: Generative art
  • 9/21: Computers and creativity
  • 10/5: Aesthetic computimg
  • 10/12: Live coding (performance art)
  • 10/19: Digital pioneers
  • 11/2: Computer art and constructivism
  • 11/9: Early computer artists' writings on computer art
  • 11/16: Programming language for artists
  • 2/1: Women in computing (WIC)
  • 2/15: WIC: Mentors and role models
  • 2/29: WIC: Perceptions of (under)enrollment in CS
  • 4/5: WIC: Women and games
  • 4/12: WIC: "Brogramming"
  • 4/19: WIC: K-12 computer science education
  • 4/26: WIC: Adria Richards incident
  • 5/3: WIC: Recruiting and hiring technical women

CS Table, Friday, September 4: Why Humanities Students Should Learn to Program

On Friday, September 4, the topic of CS Table is Why Humanities Students Should Learn to Program.

Kirschenbaum, Matthew. (2009). Hello World: Why Humanities Students Should Learn to Program. The Chronicle Review 55 (20), January 23, 2009, pp. B10-B12. Available online at http://chronicle.com/article/Hello-Worlds/5476/.

Copies of the reading are available outside Sam Rebelsky's office, Science 3824.

CS Table meets at noon in JRC 224A. All are welcome. However, computer science students and faculty are encouraged to attend.

CS Table: What I did this summer

The first meeting of Grinnell's "CS Table" will be this Friday, August 28, at noon in JRC224A. The topic of the first CS Table will be What I did this summer. Yeah, it's old hat, but we'd like the opportunity to catch up with everyone.

For this first meeting, the department will cover the cost for students not on board. Sign in at the ID station.

We look forward to seeing you there! (We also look forward to your suggestions for topics for CS table.)

Community events

Outside the classroom, several activities help create a sense of community among computing students and faculty.

  • The department organizes picnics in the fall and spring, often held in cooperation with the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
  • Faculty and students get together informally for lunch at noon on Fridays.
  • Most weeks, students and faculty meet for our Thursday Extras lecture series, with refreshments and conversation before a talk by a student, faculty member, or visitor.
AI with Henry Walker
  • The Computer Science Student Educational Policy Committee (CS SEPC), elected by majors, organizes study breaks most weeks — typically Monday evenings starting at 8:00 pm, as well as other events.

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