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April 30, 2006

Visit to Princeton

I was recently asked to join the advisory committee for the Computer Science department at Princeton. The committee meets every 18 months or so, and last week I went out for my first meeting.

We were there for a day and a half. We met with some undergraduates, some graduate students, some junior faculty, and some senior faculty. It was an incredibly impressive group. Princeton has a smaller CS department than the traditional CS powers such as MIT, Carnegie-Mellon, Stanford, and Berkeley, but the quality of the program is top-notch. The department has a new building (well, new since I went there; I guess it's about 15 years old now) and is growing.

Especially impressive is the collaboration between the department and others at Princeton. There's a genomics institure, a neuroscience institute, and a brand new information technology policy institute, headed up by Edward Felten. Someone had prepared a slide of all the departments or institutes that collaborated with CS and there were about 20. The statement was made that the natural sciences are becoming information sciences, because so much work in biology, chemistry, etc. involves modeling, simulation, and data analysis. Princeton is certainly a leader in this kind of collaboration. As I usually do when I look at the course catalog now, I wish I could go back and take all the classes that weren't available when I was there. One really cool-looking class is the quad-listed CHM/COS/MOL/PHY 231-4, "An integrated, quantitative introduction to the natural sciences," which is set of four courses that introduce physics/chemistry using examples from biological systems and computational labs.

At dinner on Thursday (filet mignon, served at Prospect House, entertainment by the Roaring 20), I was sitting across from both Peter Weinberger (formerly of Bell Labs, now at Google) and Brian Kernighan (who teaches at Princeton), so I had 2/3 of the authors of awk at my table.

Posted by AdamBa at April 30, 2006 10:03 PM

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