# Computing: The Science of Nearly Everything

Computer Science…Research, Education and Policy

## CAS paper at SIGCSE’13: “Bringing Computer Science Back Into Schools: Lessons From The UK”

Further to the CAS paper presented at Koli Calling 2011 in Finland in November 2011, Neil Brown (University of Kent) presented a paper entitled: Bringing Computer Science Back Into Schools: Lessons From The UK at SIGCSE’13, the 44th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, in Denver in March.

Computer science in UK schools is a subject in decline: the ratio of Computing to Maths A-Level students (i.e. ages 16–18) has fallen from 1:2 in 2003 to 1:20 in 2011 and in 2012. In 2011 and again in 2012, the ratio for female students was 1:100, with less than 300 female students taking Computing A-Level in the whole of the UK each year. Similar problems have been observed in the USA and other countries, despite the increased need for computer science skills caused by IT growth in industry and society. In the UK, the Computing At School (CAS) group was formed to try to improve the state of computer science in schools. Using a combination of grassroots teacher activities and policy lobbying at a national level, CAS has been able to rapidly gain traction in the ﬁght for computer science in schools. We examine the reasons for this success, the challenges and dangers that lie ahead, and suggest how the experience of CAS in the UK can beneﬁt other similar organisations, such as the CSTA in the USA.

### Bringing Computer Science Back Into Schools: Lessons From The UK

Neil C. C. Brown, Michael Kölling, Tom Crick, Simon Peyton Jones, Simon Humphreys, Sue Sentance
SIGCSE ’13 Proceeding of the 44th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, 2013

Written by Tom

6 May 2013 at 9:15 pm

## Tiny Transactions on Computer Science

Tiny Transactions on Computer Science (TinyToCS) is the premier venue for computer science research of 140 characters or less.

This is certainly an interesting concept: computer science research papers whose body fits into 140 characters, although the abstract may be longer (up to 250 words), plus references. However, the abstract is not allowed to elaborate on the result; see, for example, Safe Haskell. TinyToCS focuses on the sound bytes to draw readers in and convey key ideas, but provides background and references to those who want to dig deeper.

As per the Call for Papers and the Chairs’ Note in Volume 1, the creators hope that TinyToCS contributes to the growing discussion on academic publishing in the modern era. While similar initiatives using 140 characters have been used for science communication on Twitter, this is the first time I have seen a serious attempt at disseminating computer science research — it will be interesting to see how this project develops.

Written by Tom

10 September 2012 at 8:40 pm

## A set of top Computer Science blogs

This started out as a list of top Computer Science blogs, but it more closely resembles a set: the order is irrelevant and there are no duplicate elements; membership of this set of blogs satisfies all of the following conditions:

1. they are written by computer scientists and focus on computer science research;
2. they are of consistently high quality;

N.B. I have deliberately excluded blogs primarily focusing on computer science education (for another time).

• The Endeavour by John D. Cook (@JohnDCook)

John’s blog cuts across using computing, programming and mathematics to solve real-world problems, pulling in his wide expertise as a mathematics professor, programmer, consultant, manager and statistician. Some great posts across the technical and socio-technical spectrum. Also runs a number of useful Twitter tip accounts, including @CompSciFact, @UnixToolTip, @RegexTip and @TeXtip.

• Serious Engineering by Anthony Finkelstein (@profserious)

Anthony is Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Sciences at UCL, having previously been the Head of the UCL Computer Science. His regular blog posts are an insightful and thought-provoking journey across computer science, engineering, research and academia.

• Computational Complexity by Lance Fortnow (@fortnow) and Bill Gasarch

Since 2002, the first major theoretical computer science blog; computational complexity and other fun stuff in mathematics and computer science.

• Daniel Lemire’s blog by Daniel Lemire (@lemire)

Daniel Lemire is a professor in the Cognitive Computer Science research group at LICEF in Canada, with his popular blog covering topics across his research areas (databases, data warehousing, information retrieval and recommender systems), as well as programming, education, economics and open science.

• Gödel’s Lost Letter and P=NP by Dick Lipton (@rjlipton) and Ken Regan

This is a blog on $\mathrm{P} = \mathrm{NP}$ and other questions in the theory of computing, named after the famous letter that Gödel wrote to von Neumann which essentially stated the $\mathrm{P} = \mathrm{NP}$ question decades before Cook and Karp. Defined by the authors as a personal view of the theory of computation, it talks about the “who” as much as the “what”.

• Editor’s Letters by Moshe Vardi (@vardi)

Moshe Vardi, a distinguished and award-winning theoretical computer scientist, has served as Editor-in-Chief of Communications of the ACM since 2008, discussing a wide range of topics across computer science, research and technology. Certainly worth following on Twitter too.

• Alan Winfield’s Web Log by Alan Winfield (@alan_winfield)

Alan is the Hewlett-Packard Professor of Electronic Engineering at UWE and his blog is mostly, but not exclusively, about robots. It also touches upon artificial intelligence, artificial culture, ethics and biology, highlighting his definition of robotics as both engineering and experimental philosophy.

• Lambda the Ultimate, the Programming Languages Weblog (@lambda_ultimate)

This site deals with issues directly related to programming languages and programming language research, as well as forays to bordering issues such as programmability and language in general. This is a community, but not for specific programming problems in some language; unfounded generalisations about programming languages are usually frowned on.

• BLOG@CACM by Communications of the ACM (@blogCACM)

The Communications site publishes two types of blogs: the on-site BLOG@CACM expert blogs, as well as a blogroll of syndicated blogs, essentially covering the spectrum of computer science, research, education and technology. Something for everyone!

The latest news on Google research, focusing on some of their key areas of interest: e-commerce, algorithms, HCI, information retrieval, machine learning, data mining, NLP, multimedia, computer vision, statistics, security and privacy.

Clearly this set is incomplete — please post your CS research blog recommendations in the comments below; I’d be particularly interested in blogs covering hardware and computer architectures.

Written by Tom

7 May 2012 at 9:25 pm

## Pretend publications and counterfeit conferences

Further to the recent blog post by Anthony Finkelstein on pretend publications, this afternoon I received the following unsolicited email:

Dear Dr.,

I am chairing the IADIS International Conference Applied Computing 2012 and would like to invite you for the scientific committee of this conference that will be held in Madrid, Spain (please see http://www.computing-conf.org/).

As a member of the committee, you will get some papers to review in the topics you select (topics list available http://www.computing-conf.org/topics.asp). You are entitled to be part of the proceedings book and CD-ROM and also have free entrance to the conference except if you are author or co-author of a paper and wish to present it yourself or get it published in the proceedings in case none of the co-authors registers for the conference.

Can I just ask you for a couple of names that could also be part of this committee? The idea is to increase the number of members in the committee in order to reduce the committee members’ workload.

Also, can you please send me your address so that we can send you a CD-ROM with the proceedings of this year’s edition?

Could you please let me know whether you accept this invitation the soon
as possible?

Hope to see you being part of this IADIS conference.

Best regards,
Applied Computing 2012 Conference Chair

I frequently receive emails inviting me to submit a paper to sham conferences or journals (or, better yet, to say that my “paper” has already been accepted for publication), but this is my first programme committee invitation. Needless to say, I am honoured.

More seriously, this is a worrying (and steadily increasing) phenomenon, particularly in computer science. An example that frequently tops lists of fake conferences is WORLDCOMP (see scathing critique here); agents purportedly representing this conference recently threatened the owner of the comp.compilers list that I follow.

Let’s be clear: these are not credible outlets for disseminating academic research, so how can we rid ourselves of these deceptive venues? Echoing the sentiments of Anthony, it will not be by exposing and condemning the organisers (potentially problematic from a libel perspective), but by systematically discouraging people from submitting. Spread the word.

Written by Tom

18 April 2012 at 5:14 pm

## CAS at Koli Calling 2011

In November, as part of our work with Computing At School (CAS), Dr Sue Sentance (Anglia Ruskin University) and I submitted a paper for Koli Calling 2011, the 11th International Conference on Computing Education Research. Our paper, entitled Computing At School: Stimulating Computing Education in the UK, describes the rationale and motivation for CAS, presenting the current state of computer science education in the UK, as well as its range of initiatives to support teachers and drive curriculum and policy change.

As part of the Koli Calling 2011 programme (Sue had the pleasure of travelling to Koli National Park in Finland!), we had to produce a short video clip summarising our paper:

### Computing At School: Stimulating Computing Education in the UK

Tom Crick, Sue Sentance
Koli Calling ’11 Proceedings of the 11th Koli Calling International Conference on Computing Education Research, 2011

Written by Tom

15 January 2012 at 10:21 pm

Posted in CS education, Research

## Best paper awards in computer science

with one comment

Check out this excellent research resource: the Best Paper Awards in Computer Science, a collection of the best paper awards of some of the major computer science conferences since 1996 by Jeff Huang.

This listing contains a couple of the conferences that I’m interested in, especially PLDI; however, it’s a shame that it does not collate POPL‘s Most Influential Paper Award (presented annually to the authors of a paper presented at the POPL held 10 years prior to the award year).

It’s also of interest to see the institutions with the most “best papers”.

Written by Tom

10 January 2012 at 11:58 pm

## EPSRC Fellowships announced

with one comment

Last week, the EPSRC announced the 43 successful researchers who have been awarded fellowships totalling £36M to “help develop their potential as the next generation of world-leading scientists and engineers.

After a recent reorganisation of their fellowship programmes, the EPSRC now provide a number of personal fellowships to early career and well-established researchers to carry out ambitious programmes of research, usually over a five-year period. These fellowships fund the recipient and enable them to build a research team around a specific topic area; they are prestigious and highly coveted by those within the EPSRC‘s remit.

However, as discussed on the Dundee Physics blog, the EPSRC‘s press release appeared to focus more on the funding infrastructure and process (perhaps indirectly supporting Shaping Capability), rather than highlighting the excellence of the researchers (who, seemingly as an afterthought, were named at the end of the press release). This is in stark contrast to the recent announcement of the Royal Society’s 2011 University Research Fellowships.

All of the following information has been taken from Grants on the Web (with thanks to David McGloin for first collating it):

### Career Acceleration Fellowships

EPSRC Ref. PI Organisation Title Value (£)
EP/J002062/1 Ross, Dr J University of Cambridge Links between Algebraic Geometry and Complex Analysis 693,701
EP/J002658/1 Dembele, Dr L University of Warwick Explicit methods for algebraic automorphic forms 589,359
EP/J001317/1 Jeffrey, Dr M University of Bath When Worlds Collide: the asymptotics of interacting systems 349,723
EP/J001686/1 Majumdar, Dr A University of Oxford The Mathematics of Liquid Crystals – Analysis, Computation and Applications 501,887
EP/J00149X/1 Haynes, Dr A University of Bristol Circle rotations and their generalisations in Diophantine approximation 590,969
EP/J002437/1 House, Dr TA University of Warwick Disease transmission and control in complex, structured populations 632,534
EP/J001872/1 O’Hara, Dr C University of Strathclyde Chiral Concepts in s-Block Metal Amide Chemistry 907,993
EP/J002194/1 Hofferberth, Dr S University of Nottingham Few-Photon Nonlinear Optics in Ultracold Rydberg Gases 1,142,329
EP/J002208/1 Kerridge, Dr A University College London Theoretical studies of actinide complexation with macrocyclic ligands: identifying synthetic targets and real-world applications 594,433
EP/J002615/1 McLain, Dr S University of Oxford Structural studies of atomic interactions in membranes: bridging the gap between physics and membrane biology 1,345,845
EP/J001821/1 Leek, Dr PJ University of Oxford Strong coupling and coherence in hybrid solid state quantum systems 892,726
EP/J002275/1 Hayward, Dr T J University of Sheffield MAGNETISM YOU CAN RELY ON: Understanding Stochastic Behaviour in Nanomagnetic Devices. 698,105
EP/J002542/1 Galan, Dr M University of Bristol Novel ionic-based tools for glycoscience 920,060
EP/J002550/1 Kar, Dr S Queen’s University of Belfast Next generation laser-driven neutron sources for ultrafast studies 617,279
EP/J002518/1 Graham, Dr DM The University of Manchester Terahertz electron paramagnetic resonance: A window on biological exploitation of quantum mechanics 755,989
EP/J002577/1 Eden, Dr SP Open University Electron attachment to biomolecular clusters: probing the role of multiple scattering in radio-sensitivity. 618,329
EP/J002348/1 Zair, Dr A Imperial College London CADAM: Capturing Attosecond Dynamics in Atoms and Molecules 697,864
EP/J001538/1 Bull, Dr JA Imperial College London Novel strategies to access chiral heterocycles as potential lead compounds in drug discovery 723,115
EP/J002305/1 Barnes, Dr P R F Imperial College London Charge Carrier Dynamics and Molecular Wiring in Hybrid Optoelectronic Devices 722,816
EP/J002534/1 Greaves, Dr S J University of Bristol Dynamics of Gas-Liquid Reactions; The Pseudo-Surface Approach 1,059,463
EP/J002259/1 Hubert, Dr C Newcastle University DEEPBIOENGINEERING 985,943
EP/J002186/1 NGODUY, Dr D University of Leeds Advanced traffic flow theory and control for heterogeneous intelligent traffic networks 480,598
EP/J002380/1 Eames, Dr M University of Exeter The development of an early stage thermal model to protect against uncertainty and morbidity in buildings under predicted climate change 506,058
EP/J002356/1 Dean, Dr P University of Leeds Coherent detection and manipulation of terahertz quantum cascade lasers 695,589
EP/J002224/1 Brotherston, Dr J Queen Mary, University of London Logical Foundations of Resource 465,503
EP/J002607/1 Sadrzadeh, Dr M University of Oxford Foundational Structures for Compositional Meaning 529,968
EP/J002526/1 Yamagishi, Dr J University of Edinburgh Deep architectures for statistical speech synthesis 741,163
EP/J001953/1 Mather, Dr M University of Nottingham Self-assembling Liposome Nano-transducers 733,385
EP/J002402/1 Ebbens, Dr S University of Sheffield Using Self-Assembling Swimming Devices to Control Motion at the Nanoscale 896,741
EP/J002100/1 Reddyhoff, Dr T Imperial College London Triboemission and Boundary Film Formation 719,805

EPSRC Ref. PI Organisation Title Value (£)
EP/J003948/1 Gelfreykh, Dr V University of Warwick Unstable Dynamics in Hamiltonian Systems 821,038
EP/J004022/1 Luczak, Professor MJ University of Sheffield Stochastic models for epidemics in large populations: limiting and long-term behaviour 952,949
EP/J003840/1 Adjiman, Dr CS Imperial College London The molecular frontier: extending the boundaries of process design 1,278,003
EP/J004081/1 Reynolds, Dr P University of Sheffield Advanced Technologies for Mitigation of Human-Induced Vibration 1,056,999
EP/J003867/1 Alavi, Professor A University of Cambridge Quantum Monte Carlo meets Quantum Chemistry 968,120
EP/J003875/1 Bongs, Professor K University of Birmingham Dipolar Quantum Magnets 1,325,121
EP/J003832/1 McKenna, Professor P University of Strathclyde Multi-PetaWatt Laser-Plasma Interactions: A New Frontier in Physics 1,330,510
EP/J003859/1 Bresme, Dr F Imperial College London Novel thermo-molecular effects at nanoscale interfaces: from nanoparticles to molecular motors 1,181,480
EP/J003999/1 Gregoryanz, Dr E University of Edinburgh Synthesis and Studies of Novel States of Matter at Extreme Conditions 1,103,039
EP/J004049/1 Colton, Dr S Imperial College London Computational Creativity Theory 970,170
EP/J004057/1 Cohen, Professor N University of Leeds WHole Animal Modelling (WHAM): Toward the integrated understanding of sensory motor control in C. elegans 1,185,968
EP/J004111/1 Krasnogor, Professor N University of Nottingham Towards a Universal Biological-Cell Operating System (AUdACiOuS) 1,026,408
EP/J003964/1 Rosser, Dr SJ University of Glasgow A synthetic biology approach to optimisation of microbial fuel cell electricity production 960,594

Written by Tom

20 December 2011 at 3:14 am

Posted in Research, Science

## Research on STEM careers in Wales

Chwarae Teg, in partnership with the Science Council, are undertaking comparative research in the career paths of men and women across Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries in Wales. The survey is intended to be completed by men and women who either live or studied in Wales and hold a post-16 STEM qualification; for most people this will mean education and training undertaken after having completed your O-Levels/GCSEs.

Targeted subjects include: Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Computer Science, Engineering, Biology, Geography, Geology, Forensic Science, Psychology, Sports Science and Archaeological Sciences.

The research will explore why women and girls do not progress into STEM careers in Wales; it forms part of the Agile Nation project run by Chwarae Teg, funded by the European Social Fund and Welsh Government.

Please complete the survey (also available in Welsh) and pass along to your colleagues and networks in Wales. The deadline for the survey is Tuesday 20th December 2011.

Written by Tom

17 December 2011 at 3:18 pm

## Technology and innovation in Wales

In October, Iain Gray (CEO of the Technology Strategy Board), ahead of a visit to Wales, compiled a list of 50 high-technology and innovation-led businesses and organisation across North and South Wales; I made a Storify of the tweets before I found his blog post.

The Welsh Government has identified six nine priority sectors in which to support industry-led investment as part of Economic Renewal: A New Direction:

• Creative Industries
• Information, Communication and Technology (ICT)
• Energy and Environment
• Life Sciences
• Financial and Professional Services
• Food and Farming
• Construction
• Tourism

The list correlates to the first five of these priority sectors — it is in no particular order, and there are, of course, many businesses not included. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see the diverse range of innovation and high-value R&D in Wales across these five sectors, highlighting that there is a strong underpinning research base from Welsh universities, along with investment from both government and industry (but clearly more is needed). I have particular interest in the composition of this list due to the importance of the ICT sector (with its associated key priorities): I sit on the Welsh Government’s Strategy Group for the Digital Wales Research Hub, which aims to develop organisational and funding strategies to complement the RCUK Digital Economy Programme. The Hub will bring together industry, universities and funding bodies to facilitate the delivery of open, innovative and collaborative R&D related to the Digital Economy; creation of the Hub is a cornerstone of the Welsh Government’s Delivering a Digital Wales agenda.