Category Archives: Computer Science

News and Updates from Computer Science. For more news and information about the department, please visit:

Jacob elected ACM Fellow

Professor Robert J.K. Jacob of the Department of Computer Science

Professor Robert J.K. Jacob has been elected a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) for his contributions to human-computer interaction, particularly new interaction modes and novel user interface software formalisms.

The title of fellow is the ACM’s highest honorary grade of membership, reserved for members who have exhibited professional excellence in their technical, professional, and leadership contributions. At most, 1% of the ACM membership may be fellows.

“Fellows are chosen by their peers and hail from leading universities, corporations, and research labs throughout the world. Their inspiration, insights and dedication bring immeasurable benefits that improve lives and help drive the global economy,” says ACM President Vicki L. Hanson.

View the full list of ACM fellows.

Souvaine elected AAAS Fellow

Professor Diane Souvaine

Diane Souvaine, professor of computer science, has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Souvaine was elected as part of the computing and communication section, and cited for her “contributions to the field of computational geometry and for exemplary service on behalf of the computing community, including serving on the National Science Board.”

Read more about Souvaine and her election as an AAAS Fellow.

A packed house for Tufts Polyhack

Students and mentors at the 2016 Tufts Polyhack

Mentors (wearing purple shirts) and student participants listen as the 2016 Tufts Polyhack gets underway. Photo courtesy of Ming Chow.

Tufts Computer Science Exchange hosted the annual Tufts Polyhack hackathon on October 14 and 15, in the Collaborative Learning and Innovation Complex at 574 Boston Avenue. Nearly 300 students participated, spending a whirlwind 20 hours developing computer science projects of their choosing. There were 34 projects submitted. This year, 20 mentors also participated. A mix of current students and alumni, mentors led workshops and helped students troubleshoot questions and problems with their projects.

One outstanding design for a hackathon team came from Julie Sanduski, A17, who worked on Streetspot, an app conceptualized as the equivalent of Rate My Professors for landlords. Other winners included Linda Cameron, E19, Jake Rochford, A19, and José Lopez, A17, who won Polyhack’s design war sprint competitions, which were created as a way to encourage more designers to attend hackathons and collaborate with developers. Cameron, Rochford, and Lopez designed everything from logos to wireframes within short time constraints. All four students were among the winners chosen to have their portfolios sent to Polyhack’s sponsors for review.

Tufts attends Grace Hopper Celebration

The 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration kicks off in Houston. Photo courtesy of Sara Amr Amin.

The 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration kicks off in Houston. Photo courtesy of Sara Amr Amin.

In late October, a group of Tufts students and faculty attended the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) in Houston, Texas. GHC is the world’s largest technical conference for women in computing, where women technologists and leaders in computing convene to highlight the contributions of women to computing. Named in honor of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, GHC is co-presented by the Anita Borg Institute and the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM).

This year, Tufts attendees included 16 undergraduates, two graduate students, and one faculty member. Students were able to make connections across the industry, from engineers at Otto, Uber’s self-driving semi-truck company, to Google X project leads, computer science Ph.D. students, and recruiters hiring for open positions.

“Most valuable was meeting people on specific teams at companies I’m interested in, because that’s how I want to think about potential,” says Alice Lee, a senior who’s interested in programming languages and embedded systems. “I was inspired by the women who are actively breaking glass ceilings and ready to talk about just how they did it.”

Tufts team wins international computational biology competition

A team of Tufts computer scientists and mathematicians won top prize in the Disease Module Identification DREAM Challenge, which is an “open community effort to: (1) Systematically assess module identification methods on a panel of state-of-the-art genomic networks, and (2) discover novel network modules/pathways underlying complex diseases.” The competition is driven by the interconnected nature of multiple genes interacting within molecular pathways to drive physiological and disease processes.

Out of 42 teams from across the globe, Team Tusk won first place with its response, “A Double Spectral Approach to DREAM 11 Subchallenge.” Team members included, from the Department of Computer Science, Professor Lenore Cowen, Professor Donna Slonim, Assistant Professor Ben Hescott, and master’s student Jake Crawford; and, from the Department of Mathematics, Assistant Professor Xiaozhe Hu and Ph.D. student Joanne Lin.

Communicating health risks with visualizations

Associate Professor Remco Chang creates visualizations to help communicate health risks to patients.

Associate Professor Remco Chang creates visualizations to help communicate health risks to patients.

Associate Professor Remco Chang, students, and collaborators at Maine Medical Center (MMC) created a project to investigate how older men with prostate cancer use visualizations to better understand their own health risk information. Chang, master’s student Anzu Hakone, E16, recent graduate Nate Winters, E16, doctoral recipient Alvitta Ottley, EG16, postdoctoral researcher Lane Harrison, and MCC collaborators Dr. Paul Han and Caitlin Gutheil have a paper entitled “PROACT: Iterative Design of a Patient-Centered Visualization for Effective Prostate Cancer Health Risk Communication” appearing at the 2016 IEEE InfoVis conference. The web-based visualization prototype, PROACT, supports patients to learn about their cancer risk and the possible side effects of different treatment options.

Combining cloud and internet to support VR

Doctoral student Osama Haq and Assistant Professor Fahad Dogar work on improving virtual reality applications.

Doctoral student Osama Haq and Assistant Professor Fahad Dogar work on improving virtual reality applications.

Assistant Professor Fahad Dogar and doctoral student Osama Haq are working on providing a suitable network support for emerging real-time applications (e.g., virtual reality). They are exploring how the highly reliable, but expensive, cloud network infrastructure could be combined with the best-effort, but cheaper, Internet paths. The goal is to provide guaranteed bandwidth and low-latency for such applications. The preliminary idea and feasibility of this work appeared in ACM HotNets 2015. The ongoing research in this project also involves collaborators from Boston University’s Department of Computer Science.

Driving the Autobahn

Professor Kathleen Fisher, Remy Wang, and Diogenes Nunez worked on a Haskell program called AUTOBAHN.

Professor Kathleen Fisher, Remy Wang, and Diogenes Nunez created a Haskell program called AUTOBAHN.

A paper by doctoral student Diogenes Nunez, senior Remy Wang, and Professor and Chair Kathleen Fisher, entitled “AUTOBAHN: Using Genetic Algorithms to Infer Strictness Annotations,” will appear at the 2016 Haskell Symposium. This work, which started as a project in Associate Professor Norman Ramsey’s functional programming class, tackles the long-standing problem of how to improve the performance of Haskell programs by telling the compiler which program fragments should be evaluated eagerly. Currently, inserting the appropriate annotations is a black art, known only to expert Haskell programmers. The Autobahn tool developed by Nunez and Wang automatically suggests appropriate places to put annotations to improve a number of performance metrics.

Souvaine appointed to NSF leadership role

Professor of Computer Science Diane Souvaine has been elected vice chair of the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation. It’s the first time in NSF history that women hold the three top leadership positions: director, chair and vice chair.

The 24-member NSB serves as an independent advisor to both the president and Congress on policies related to science and engineering, and education in those disciplines. President Barack Obama first appointed Souvaine to the NSB in 2008 and reappointed her to a second six-year term in 2014.