1999

August 1st, 1999

Dear Alumni and Friends:

Each summer it is the tradition for the Chair of the Computer Science Department to send news to the department alumni and friends. Each year this is a great opportunity to recall events that occurred during the academic year that just came to a close, and it gives me great pleasure to do so. The '98-99 academic year, the last of the millennium (I am sure that some of you will argue that the 21st century only begins on January 1st, 2001), has been a great productive year for our department.Paradoxically, this is a far-from-obvious performance in a Silicon Valley where the Internet economy sizzles, employment is at an all-time high, and venture capitalists see a potential new startup in almost each one of our faculty and students.I remember that in '97-98 journalists were questioning us about the shortage of workers specialized in information technology and what we were doing to train more of them. This year, most inquiries were about faculty members leaving universities, students dropping from their programs to join companies, and a student applicant pool dwindling (especially at the PhD level).Fortunately, nothing of that has happened to usat least, so far.

So, let me tell you what happened...

New faculty 

Four new faculty members joined the department as assistant professor. Balaji Prabhakar, who arrived in September 1998, was the first to join. Balaji got his PhD from Stanford in 1994 and was Research Scientist in the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems at MIT prior to joining Stanford on a joint EE/CS position.His research interests are in the field of computer networks. Chris Bregler joined in January 1999, with a PhD from U.C. Berkeley. Since he arrived Chris has started a research and teaching program in graphic animation that spans both the Graphics Lab and the Robotics Lab. Dawson Engler also came in January 1999 on a CS/EE position, just after getting his PhD from MIT. He conducts research in operating systems, compilers, reverse engineering, and program verification. Armando Fox joined in January with a PhD from UC Berkeley.Armando's research areas are the design and deployment of large-scale Internet services and mobile/pervasive computing. He started developing a new curriculum covering the fundamental technologies of Internet applications.

For many years, many CS students had expressed the wish that we search for a faculty member in the area of natural language processing. Finally, in '98-99, we did so and conducted this search jointly with the Linguistics Department in the School of Humanities & Sciences. As a result, Chris Manning, a Stanford graduate (PhD'95) and currently a faculty member at the University of Sydney, will join Stanford in the fall on a CS/Linguistics Assistant Professor position. With the explosion of information in natural language available on the Web, we think that the timing is just right and we are very excited that Chris has chosen to join Stanford. We also look forward to greater interaction with the Linguistics Department.

One CS faculty member left this year. Anoop Gupta, who was on leave at Microsoft, chose to stay there. We will regret losing him very much, but Anoop nevertheless remains a Consulting Faculty member in the department. In addition, Andrew Stuart, an Associate Professor of Scientific Computing in ME and CS, will take a chaired position in Mathematics at the University of Warwick in England this coming fall.

Promotions 

Mendel Rosenblum was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure.Mendel's research focuses on system software and simulation systems for high-performance computing architectures.Since he joined Stanford, Mendel's research group has generated a stream of major results, including SimOS (a fast simulator to study operating systems at a fine level of detail), Hive (a scalable OS kernel for large multiprocessor machines), and Disco (a thin layer of software allowing unmodified OS to run on new machines). SimOS has become a standard tool in the computer system research community.

Jennifer Widom, who already was an Associate Professor, was granted tenure and is now an Associate Professor with tenure. Jennifer conducts research in the InfoLab, focusing on the management of semistructured data (Lore system) and data warehousing (Whips project).

Honors 

Each year our faculty members distinguish themselves by winning a number of prestigious awards. This year again they have not failed in this tradition.

John Hennessy, the Willard and Inez Kerr Bell Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, became Stanford's new Provost on July 1st, 1999. John was the Chair of CS in '94-96, before becoming the Dean of Engineering. We are very proud that a computer scientist was chosen for the Provost position. Jim Plummer, the current Chair of EE, will succeed John Hennessy as Dean of Engineering.

Pat Hanrahan was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for his contributions to the field of Computer Graphics. Pat is currently involved in several research projects, including the Immersive Television and the Interactive Workspaces projects.

Hector Garcia-Molina won the 1999 ACM SIGMOD Innovations Award for "innovations in numerous areas of database systems, including main memory database systems." Terry Winograd received the 1999 ACM SIGDOC Rigo Award, which honors lifetime contribution to computer documentation.

Leo Guibas was elected Fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM). Craig Partridge was elected Fellow of the IEEE Society "for contributions to the development of Internet protocols that support larger and faster networks." Russ Altman was elected a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.

Yoav Shoham was elected Charter Member of the Game Theory Society.This new society gathers a number of famous economists, including several Nobel Prize winners. Only five computer scientists are Charter Members.

Dan Boneh and Terry Winograd were selected for IBM University Partnership Faculty Awards. Dan also received a Sloan Research fellowship from the Sloan Foundation.

Daphne Koller won an ONR Young Investigator Award to support her research in Artificial Intelligence. This year ONR had received 216 proposals; there were 21 awards, only two of which were in Computer Science.

Our four new faculty membersChris Bregler, Dawson Engler, Armando Fox, and Balaji Prabhakarwere named Terman Fellows by the Dean of the School of Engineering.In addition, Armando was named Noyce Family Scholar.

Oussama Khatib is the General Chairman for the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation that will be held in San Francisco in April 2000.

 

Spotlight on some research projects 

THE SECURITY LAB: As you all know, network security is an increasing concern as the Internet continues to grow.Skilled hackers are repeatedly breaking into computer systems and corrupting web sites and files.It seems that the information super-highway goes through some bad neighborhoods. This led us to put computer/network security at the top of our priority list in our faculty search strategy in '97-98, and as a result we recruited Dan Boneh. After starting several research projects of his own, ranging from cryptography to electronic purses, Dan, along with John Mitchell, set up a Security Lab that brings together faculty and students with an interest in security research.Current faculty lab members include Mary Baker, Dan Boneh, David Dill, Ed Feigenbaum, Daphne Koller, John Mitchell, and Gio Wiederhold.Research projects in the lab focus on secure network management, intrusion detection, cryptography, formal verification of security protocols, digital copyright protection, and database access control.For more information please contact Dan Boneh, dabo@cs.stanford.edu.

 

MODELING HUMAN MOTIONS: Daphne Koller is leading a new project for understanding human motion at a symbolic level, using video as input. Chris Bregler, Carlo Tomasi, Jean Heegaard (Mechanical Engineering Department), and Diane Frank (Dance Division in the Drama Department) are also working on the project. Models of human motion are developed at many different levels, from image appearance at the bottom, to the kinematics and dynamics of human bodies in the middle, to people's mental states and interaction habits at the top. The top-level models are symbolic descriptions of situations such as "the teacher is writing on the board," represented as nodes of a Bayesian network. Low-level trackers feed inferences at the high level, and high-level reasoning constrains the trackers. The initial application domain will be the interpretation of dance movements. Other possible applications include any domain in which it is necessary to track or interpret human motion at a symbolic level. Examples include sports medicine, remote instruction, human-computer interaction, aids for the vision-impaired, entertainment, and video database annotation.

INTERACTIVE WORKSPACES PROJECT: This project has developed from an earlier project called the "Information Mural," which supported multi-person interactive work on a large, high-resolution, wall-mounted interactive display. The Interactive Workspaces project extends the mural to working space with multiple interconnected devices, including tablets and PDAs. Current research focuses on designing a scalable display architecture that provides: (1) a single virtual display abstraction to the programmer, (2) an interaction architecture allowing users to control computation and display with gesture and motion of simple devices tracked by multiple cameras, and (3) a flexible multi-device networking that allows devices to be easily introduced into (and removed from) the workspace. A number of applications are being explored to test the effectiveness of the workspace, including construction management, computer system and networking monitoring, radiology, molecular biology, and learning spaces. CS faculty members involved in this project are Pat Hanrahan, Terry Winograd, Mary Baker, Mendel Rosenblum, Armando Fox, and Russ Altman.For more information see http://graphics.stanford.edu/projects/iwork/.

The Bio-X project

The university has launched a major interdisciplinary initiative centered around Biology and Life Sciences, which involves the Schools of Engineering, Medicine, and Humanities & Sciences.The goal of this initiative, called Bio-X, is to build upon existing strengths in these three schools and to foster the coming together of leading-edge research in basic, applied and clinical sciences to enable advances across the full spectrum from molecules to organs.The Bio-X project raises considerable enthusiasm throughout the university, and CS is a major partner in this initiative, with interests ranging from computational biology, to data mining of genomic data, to medical imaging, vision-guided surgery and robotics.In the long run, the Bio-X project may also help CS design new computational schemes and computer organizations.Bio-X will start a new seminar series and will contribute new interdisciplinary courses in '99-00. A specific Bio-X building that will house 40 to 50 faculty members and their research groups is also being planned at a location between the Gates building and the Medical School. For more information, see http://cmgm.stanford.edu/biochem/biox/.

Student news 

UNDERGRADS:This year has seen our largest graduating class of undergrads majoring in computer science and engineering, with 108 degrees delivered. With the enrollment in CS increasing sharply (399 declared CS majors in '98-99, 325 in '97-98, and 278 in '96-97), we expect an even bigger graduating class next year.

For the third time in the past 4 years, and the second year in a row, a CS undergrad, Douglas Anderson, won the Ford Scholar Award, the highest award given to undergrads by the School of Engineering. In addition, four CS students, Douglas Anderson, Dragomir Angelov, Martin Gavrilov, and Chad Whipkey have received the Frederick E. Terman Award for Scholastic Achievement in Engineering. The Terman Awards are the most selective academic awards for undergraduate students in the School of Engineering.

To allow for undergrads who wish to get a significant research experience by working with a faculty member over an extended period of time, we recently created the BS degree with Honors. This degree requires completing at least 9 units of research under the direction of a faculty member and an Honors thesis. We have delivered our first BS degrees with Honors this year to Dragomir Angelov and Benjamin Chelf.Ben Wegbreit, the founder of Epiphany, is generously supporting this program, and the Wegbreit Prize for Excellence in UG Research was awarded to Dragomir Angelov. We expect this program will encourage more undergrads to do research and go for PhD studies (at Stanford or elsewhere).

We started implementing the curriculum changes proposed in '97-98 by a committee led by John Mitchell. The new curriculum provides more flexibility to the students. In addition, Eric Roberts co-chairs the joint IEEE-ACM committee "Curriculum 2001" that develops new curriculum guidelines for Computer Science.

MASTERS:We delivered 135 Masters degrees in June '99.As in the CS Major, we recently created a new Masters with Distinction in Research program that requires completing three quarters of research with a faculty advisor. Stephane Kasriel was the first student to graduate in this program.

The department is helped in its teaching mission by many students who serve as teaching assistants. One CS teaching assistant, Marissa Mayer, received the very prestigious Centennial Teaching Assistant Award, which recognizes outstanding teaching by Stanford TAs in the Schools of Engineering, Humanities & Sciences, and Earth Sciences.

A Memorial Fund in the memory of Christopher Stephenson has just been created. Starting in '99-00, this fund will allow us to offer the Stephenson Prize of Excellence in Masters Research to the most meritorious students.Christopher J. Stephenson spent most his career at IBM doing research in computer software, and spent a year teaching at Stanford during the '72-73 academic year. The fund was set up at the request of his friends and colleagues at IBM.

PHD:Between October 1st, 1998, and September 30th, 1999, about 35 students will get the PhD degree. In September '98, 31 new students started in the PhD program; in September '99, 37 PhD students (selected from a larger pool) will join the department.

Sudipto Guha, a student advised by Rajeev Motwani, was awarded an IBM Graduate Fellowship Award.

We had a special hooding event at this year's Commencement Ceremonies. Wilfred Hansen got his PhD in CS in 1971. He was unable to attend the hooding ceremony, and he has regretted that all these years.He came this year with his family and was hooded by Michael Genesereth.

The Arthur Samuel's Thesis Award is given to at most two PhD students who have graduated the previous year. A specially appointed committee selects the winning theses from among those nominated by the faculty advisors. The winners in '98 were Eric Veach (advisor: Leo Guibas) and Luca de Alfaro (advisor: Zohar Manna). The selection committee consisted of Rajeev Motwani,

Prabhakar Raghavan, Victor Pereyra, and Stan Rosenschein.

In '98-99, for the first time, we provided a laptop computer equipped with a wireless modem to about two-thirds of the new PhD students. This is a first step toward transforming the Gates building into a more interactive environment. Students can use their laptops throughout the building, including the classrooms in the basement, and outside around the building.Thanks to the hard work by Tom Dienstbier and his team, this program was very well received by the students.The wireless network was recently upgraded from 2 to 6Mbits, and next year we will renew the program for all the incoming PhD students. In the future, if costs allow, we will equip several meeting rooms in our building with the technology developed in the Interactive Workspaces project (see above).

Freshman and Sophomore Seminars 

The CS Department continues to participate enthusiastically in the Freshman and Sophomore Seminars programs initiated by President Casper two years ago.These courses, which present advanced topics in computer science to freshman and sophomore students, are extremely well received by the students. In '99-00, we will give the following seminars:

- Downside of Computing Systems, by Mary Baker

- The Science of Art, by Marc Levoy

- Great Ideas in Computer Science, by Rajeev Motwani

- Business on the Information Highways, by Gio Wiederhold

- Computer Security in the Electronic Age, by John Mitchell

- Digital Actors, by Jean-Claude Latombe

- How Are We to Know?, by Nils Nilsson

- Computer and Information Security, by Dan Boneh

- Ruler, Compass, and Computer: Computational Representations of Geometry, by Leo Guibas

- Smart Computers and Other Technological Opportunities, by John McCarthy

- Sophomore College, by Eric Roberts.

 

Equipment upgrades in Gates 

The CS Computer Facilities group led by Tom Dienstbier has upgraded the Gates building wireless network to a system that is 802.11 compatible. This increases the speed of the wireless network to about 6Mbit. This upgrade was made possible by a donation from Lucent Research Labs.

We currently have 1GB Ethernet connection between the Gates building and the new Packard Electrical Engineering building across Serra Street.This provides us the opportunity to share VLANs between the two buildings, a real benefit to research groups that will soon be spread between the Gates and Packard buildings.Lucent has provided us two Cajun P550 switches for this purpose.

We are also in the process of adding more 100MB ports to the Gates building network.This will bring the number of 100MB switched ports to 456, up from 120.In addition we have 1000 10MB switched ports. The Cisco switches (22 catalyst 5000's) are connected to a 100MB backbone.

We expect to be upgrading the PUP cluster used by students with new Intel-based systems by mid-year 2000. These systems donated by Intel will be using the new Merced CPU. We currently have twenty-two systems for students to use. Eight of these systems are running MS NT and the rest are running SUN Solaris.

Computer Forum

The Computer Forum Affiliates Program continues to prosper in its mission to connect our department and the Computer Systems Lab to companies.The current membership stands at 78 industrial affiliates. Joining Director Oussama Khatib and Manager Suzanne Bentley this year on the Forum team are Member Services Associate/Recruiting Coordinator Kersten Farah and Web

Coordinator Nuriya Janss.Student recruiting continues to be a peak event among Forum affiliates.The Forum website has a new look and a new logo.For up-to-date information about Forum events and programs, visit their website at http://www-forum.stanford.edu.

The Computer Forum held its 31st Annual Affiliates Meeting in March, chaired by Leo Guibas.Over 150 participants from academia and industry gathered to hear about the research currently taking place in the Computer Science Department and the Computer Systems Lab.Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo and former CSL student, was guest speaker at the Forum's banquet. Following the Annual Meeting, a well-attended workshop chaired by Dan Boneh focused on the research under way in the Security Lab.

In May, the Forum co-hosted a workshop with SIMA (the Stanford Integrated Manufacturing Association) on Motion Support in Virtual Prototyping. It was chaired by yours truly and was attended by over 75 academic and industry researchers.More of these focused workshops on

current topics are being planned for the year 2000.Originally scheduled for this fall, the second of the World Symposia Series will now take place next year in Paris.

Alumni news

After a 15-year career with Tandem Computers, Richard Carr (CS MS '73, PhD '81) started an independent company to build and market a database gateway that enables Tandem customers to upgrade their applications from the original Tandem file system to SQL with no programming changes.Despite the acquisition of Tandem by Compaq, Carr Scott Software is thriving with customers from the major banking, stock brokerage, 911 services, resort hotels and retailing markets.Unlike many of his peers, Richard enjoys the life of an independent entrepreneur and has no desires for going public.

Malcolm CasSelle (CS MS '94) in 1994 co-founded NetNoir, the first (and most popular) online community, content provider and commerce space for African Americans.

Bill Coughran (CS PhD '80) is now in Palo Alto and is co-director of Lucent's new laboratory.

Ron Crane (EE/CSL MS '74), who was considered by 3COM founder Robert Metcalfe to be a founder too, left 3COM in 1990.In 1992 he founded LAN Media.LMC's mission is to provide high-performance, low-overhead solutions for broadband Intranet and Internet connectivity using standard platforms.David Boggs (EE MS '73, EE PhD '82) is LMC's Chief Engineer.

Judy Estrin (EE/CSL MS '77) became Chief Technology Officer of Cisco Systems, Inc. in April 1998 when Cisco acquired Precept Software, the company she founded with her husband, Bill Carrico, in March 1995.

Robert Filman (Math BS '74, CS MS '74, CS PhD '79)left Lockheed Martin and is now safely ensconced in the Variational Design group at NASA/Ames, working on frameworks for distributed computing. He is also working on IEEE Internet Computing, where he is the Associate Editor in Chief and has a column in which he tours the web.

Mark Horowitz (EE/CSL PhD '84) and Mike Farmwald (CS PhD'81) founded Rambus in 1990 and took it public in May 1997.Rambus designs, develops, licenses and markets high-speed

chip-to-chip interface technology to enhance the performance and cost-effectiveness of consumer electronics, computer systems and other electronic systems.

Hemant Kanakia (EE/CSL PhD '91) left Bell Labs in 1996 and founded Torrent Networking Technologies Corporation in Silver Spring, MD. Torrent is developing an Internet traffic directora combination of chips and software to route data throughout the Internet at record speed with advanced sorting capabilities.

Richard Karp (CS PhD '80) founded Catapult Communications in 1985 to develop telecom test solutions, and went public in 1999 on the Nasdaq exchange, trading as CATT. Catapult's test systems support the most protocols and variants on the market, and their customers include the leading names in the field. Richard designed Catapult's test system in 1985, and the architecture remains fundamentally unchanged today.Richard said, "The basic design survived so long, in large part, because of all the good stuff I learned while I was working on my dissertation!"

Dinesh Katiyar (CS PhD '94) worked at Sun for three years and then founded Mayasoft in 1997.Their core technology raises the bar on frameworks for building publish-subscribe applications. It is privately held.

ccRewards.com was founded by Sanjai Tiwari (CS MS, PhD CE '94) and Arthur Keller (CS MS '79, PhD '85) in late 1998. Ron Burback (CS MS '82, CS PhD '99) joined as VP Engineering in April 1999.Jeff Ullman (CS Prof.) is an advisor.ccRewards.com's mission is to connect online buyers and sellers by delivering savings and convenience.ccRewards.com released its initial service in July 1999 and plans a full launch in the fall.

John Levy (CS PhD '73) recently retired from Quantum and is now a consultant living in Inverness.

Sriram Sankar (CS PhD '89) started Metamata, a Java developer tools company in November 1997 along with three others.One of the other founders, Anagha Raje, is also a Stanford alumnus (MBA 1989).Their motto is Debugging + JAVA =3D Metamata.

Anton Schwartz (CS MS '96) produced a CD-ROM, "When Music Calls."Jazz tenor saxophonist Anton followed his heart and is making quite a splash in the jazz community. To be added to his distribution list, visit http://www.antonjazz.com.

Margaret Wright (CS PhD '76) is now a Lucent Fellow.

More happy events

Kersten Farah, Dan Boneh, and Eric Roberts got married. Nick McKeown had a daughter, Jessica.

... So, this is what happened (among many other things), and now we are looking forward to another fruitful academic year.In closing, the CS faculty, staff, and students join me in thanking you for your continuing support and wishing you the best for yourselves and your families.

Sincerely,

Jean-Claude Latombe