National Science Foundation Awards Williams $287,892 for Computer Sciences

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., March 8, 2001–The National Science Foundation (NSF) has recently awarded a $287,892 grant to Williams College in support of the work of computer science professors Kim Bruce, Andrea Danyluk, and Thomas Murtagh. The two-year Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement grant to the team is for their project “Making Interaction Fundamental in Object-oriented CS1: Programming Tools and Curricular Materials to Support Concurrency and Event-driven Programming.”

The grant is to support further work on the development of an innovative introductory course in computer science at Williams College. The approach will be “object-first,” requiring students to think from the start about the programming process with a focus on methods and objects. It will introduce event-driven programming early on, encouraging students to write programs which are highly interactive. The course will also try to engage students using graphics and animation. The team will develop sample programs, tools, and a textbook for the course.

Kim Bruce, the Frederick Lattimer Wells Professor of Computer Science, has been at Williams since 1977 and was instrumental in the original design and development of the college’s department of computer science. His research interests are programming language design and semantics, including type theory, object-oriented languages and models of higher-order lambda calculus. He teaches introduction to computer science, data structures and advanced programming, principles of programming language, and algorithm design and analysis. In 2000 Bruce was awarded a NSF grant to study the design of object-oriented programming languages. He received his B.A. from Pomona College and his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Andrea Danyluk, assistant professor of computer science, came to Williams in 1994 and has taught courses in artificial intelligence, data structures and advanced programming, theory of computation, and introductory courses in computer science. Her research focuses on machine learning algorithms, which were developed as a way for computers to self-encode vast knowledge for use in artificial intelligence programs. In 1998 she was awarded a NSF grant for her work on characterizing the effects of systematic data error on inductive machine learning algorithms. Danyluk received her A.B. from Vassar College and her Ph.D. in computer science from Columbia University.

Murtagh, professor of computer science, focuses on systems of computers interconnected by communication networks and on programming language implementation. His recent work with computer networks involves the development of techniques enabling computers to share very high-speed communication links efficiently. At Williams, he has taught upper level courses on a variety of topics including computer networks, operating systems, and language implementation. In addition, he has developed a very popular introductory course on computer networking technology. He received his A.B. from Princeton and his Ph.D. in computer science from Cornell.