Princeton’s already enormously popular introductory computer science classes soon will be available on the new online learning platform Coursera. The first, on algorithms, created by Robert Sedgewick and jointly developed over the past decade by Sedgewick and his colleague Kevin Wayne, will be online late in the summer.
Sedgewick tells EQN that while it will be fabulous to have videos of his lectures online as part of Coursera, the courses already have a huge reach thanks to innovative course-related websites that Wayne and he have been developing for years.
More than half of all Princeton University undergraduates, regardless of major, take one of Sedgewick and Wayne’s computer science courses. Moreover their Princeton course websites already have a global reach: in 2011, they had 1.5 million unique visitors from across the world.
The algorithms course is based on a series of books by Sedgewick that have been bestsellers for decades (the most recent edition coauthored with Kevin Wayne). A second Sedgewick course, “Analytic Combinatorics,” based on the seminal textbook on the subject written by Philippe Flajolet and Sedgewick, will be offered in Spring 2013.
Sedgewick’s Algorithms textbooks have had wide influence on the teaching of computer science since the first edition was published in 1983. They are characterized by elegant implementations in real programming languages and demonstrate at the same time a wide range of real-world applications in graphics, animation and different scientific disciplines.
While non-Princeton students will benefit from free online access to these world-class computer science courses, Princeton students also will profit from the Coursera relationship, Sedgewick says.
“This will lead to more and better web content, improving what Princeton students already use,” he said. “It will provide extensive and powerful tools for their preceptors, who will then have more time for personal interaction with students.”
Take note: the Princeton Laptop Orchestra, a k a PLOrk, is performing at Richardson Auditorium this Saturday.
How exactly does one go about making an orchestra out of laptops? “That’s a question we try to answer with every piece of ours,” Rebecca Fiebrink, the current co-director of PLOrk and an assistant professor of computer science, tells the Daily Princetonian.
“It might be analogous to a conventional instrument in that every time the student makes a physical gesture a sound is triggered, and the way that person makes the gesture changes the nature of the sound, such as key strokes and mouse clicks, and for a lot of pieces we use the motion sensor that’s built into the laptop.”
Photo by Lorene Lavora.
A new article on Politicocasts doubt on efforts to predict election results by monitoring social media.
The article features research by Mung Chiang, a professor of electrical engineering, and postdoctoral researchers Soumya Sen and Felix Ming Fai Wong. They recently published a paper analyzing the correlation between postings on Twitter (“tweets”) and box office revenues for popular movies.
And? After scrutinizing 15 million tweets on 34 different major movies they found that “even accounting for the hype and the approval level in Twitter may be insufficient to predict a movie’s rating from the general online population.”
By the way, Chiang just won a big award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and last fall he taught a fascinating undergraduate course on the fundamentals behind the networked life.
Twitter Logo Map 09 courtesy thenextweb via Creative Commons.
National Geographic recently featured “100 Scientific Discoveries That Changed the World.” Among them is a research breakthrough in regenerative medicine by Princeton engineering alumnus Cato Laurencin.
Laurencin’s work may drastically improve patients’ ability to recover from tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), one of the most common knee injuries.
Laurencin, who is director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering at the University of Connecticut Health Center, graduated from Princeton in 1980 with a degree in chemical engineering.
Laurencin and other prominent alumni recently spoke with EQuad News magazine about what he sees as the major challenges for health.
Last week J. Alex Halderman co-presented a paper explaining how he and a team of graduate students tested the Washington D.C. school board’s electronic absentee ballot system by hacking into it, flooding it with votes for the hard-drinking cartoon character known as Bender from the TV show Futurama and embedding the system with an audio clip of the University of Michigan fight song.
The hack, done at the invitation of the school board, “brought the city’s brief dalliance with internet voting to an ignominious halt,” The Washington Post reports.
Halderman, who earned his undergraduate degree and Ph.D. from Princeton in computer science, is now an assistant professor at the University of Michigan. The paper was presented in Bonaire at the Financial and Cryptography and Data Security Conference.
Lynn Loo, professor of chemical and biological engineering at Princeton, has been named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum for 2012. Loo is one of 192 young leaders from 59 countries honored this year for their outstanding leadership, professional accomplishments and commitment to society.
Past Young Global Leaders — a k a YGLs — include Maria Bartiromo, anchor and managing editor of the Wall Street Journal Report on CNBC; David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Larry Page, co-founder and chief executive officer of Google; and Zhang Xin, chief executive officer of SOHO China.
Loo, who is deputy director of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, is a leading researcher in plastic electronics, a young and growing field (described in the video below) that can potentially change the quality of human life in a wide range of ways.
Time magazine’s Michael Lemonick this week reports on competing technologies coming out of Jeremy Kasdin‘s High-Contrast Imaging Laboratorythat could prove crucial for detecting exoplanets — earth-like planets beyond the sun’s orbit that can support life.
One of those technologies, being jointly developed by Kasdin and the Jet Propulsion Lab is a scheme that Lemonick describes as “breathtaking in both its simplicity and its audacity.”
Lemonick explains that exoplanets are hard to detect because the much-brighter light that streams from the stars they orbit washes out the image of faint bodies nearby.
The idea is to block out enough of the sun’s glare so that orbiting planets become visible, much as someone here on earth might hold a hand up to the sky to block the sun’s glare so that the road ahead is visible.The JPL/Princeton team proposes flying a giant “starshade” — otherwise known as an “occulter” — in space, Lemonick reports, “positioning it tens of thousands of miles away from a big orbiting telescope and covering up just enough stellar light to make a planet pop into view.”
Another technology Kasdin’s lab is developing is a “coronograph,” which Lemonick explains would put starlight-blocking technology directly into a telescope. Read the full Time report here.
Photo courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech
Yesterday the Baltimore Sun profiled Vorbeck Materials, a company started by Princeton Engineering alumnus John Lettow.
Last week the Department of Energy announced that it had selected Vorbeck as one of three startup companies for the title of America’s Next Top Energy Innovator. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recognized Vorbeck for its work on improving lithium ion batteries, done in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and researchers in the Princeton laboratories of Ilhan Aksay within the department of chemical and biological engineering.
Photo by John Morse, via the Baltimore Sun.
Physics Today highlights a new paper showing that the performance of diesel and rocket engines may be improved by exploiting size differences in droplets. The paper is by Chung Law, Robert H. Goddard Professor of Engineering, and researchers Chenglong Tang, and Peng Zhang.
Read the full report here.
About this blog
EQN is a blog from Princeton University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science that highlights faculty, students and alumni who, through innovation and leadership, are changing the world.
- Jennifer Rexford ’91 one of top 10 ‘cloud trailblazers’
- Dan Boneh *96 wins prize for advances in cryptography
- Computer science researchers untangle a hairy problem
- Technology Review: mining cellphone data without violating privacy
- Dean H. Vincent Poor elected fellow of Royal Society of Edinburgh
- Bob Kahn wins Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering
- Saving lives, gathering data: Laura Ray’s ‘cool robot’
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