Soundbyte: Fall 1999

Greetings from the Department Head

Our second open house, held on October 27th, 1999, was a vibrant event, as successful as the first one. As we enter a new millennium, this event has set the stage for the department's future, and has given us an opportunity to reflect on past accomplishments and on future prospects.

About 10 years ago, the department suffered from grave problems, and as a result the NRC ranking which was published in the early 1990s ranked us very low. A few years later we were able to hire a handful of outstanding young faculty members. This was possible partly because from 1992 to about 1995, there were very few academic jobs available in computer science. What a difference a few years make! In the years that followed, the department recruiting committees took advantage of this situation and made decisions that shaped the department. In effect the last ten years of the department have seen a complete renewal, both in terms of the research areas that are represented and by its composition. For example, as of January 1, 2000, the department average seniority will be 10.1 years. The number of faculty who joined the department since January 1, 1990, will be 11, or 42.3%.

The next 10 years will no doubt be more critical as well as exciting. The current revolution in Information Technology (IT) is creating an unsurpassed demand for IT specialists, causing virtually every Computer Science department in the nation to plan on sizable expansions in the years ahead. There are opportunities in multidisciplinary research on many different fronts, in which computer science will play a leading role. There are also unique opportunities in forging fruitful collaborations and alliances with industry. The department is now in its best position ever for meeting these challenges and opportunities in the years ahead. Our goal for the next 10 years is to become one of the best 10 to 15 departments in the nation. Given the right resources, and with some commensurate effort in hiring and retaining faculty, this goal is within reach.

On a related topic, our department has been in the news on quite a few occasions recently. External recognition of John Riedl's outstanding work in the area of collaborative filtering, and recommendation engines, seems to be ever increasing. A recent issue of the New-Yorker (October 4th, 1999, "The science of the sleeper," by Malcom Gladwell) had an interesting article for the general public on collaborative filtering. John has given interviews to several visible journals and magazines - and this has given the department excellent external visibility. Recently he, along with collaborators from NetPerceptions, won the prestigious "World Technology Award."

Another group that has been in the spotlight recently is the robotics group, with their work on distributed robotics. They were featured in the Star-Tribune, and then on NBC, on Kare11 news, and finally on CNN. Most of these shows, but not all, were on the "scout," a tiny robot designed by Nikos Papanikolopoulos and his team for military and civilian applications. The device is equipped with a camera and can transmit information to a remote computer. It is capable of navigating in uneven terrain by using a small jumping device. This research is a model of collaboration between academia (three different departments involved) and industry (three companies involved).

To conclude, and keeping in mind that recruiting is our most important task currently, I would like our friends from industry and alumni to help us identify good candidates for the four open positions, one of which is for a senior position as part of the Digital Technology Initiative. If you have any pointers please send me e-mail.

Yousef Saad
Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Computer Science & Engineering Takes Leading Role in University-Wide InformationTechnology (IT) Minor

Overwhelming demand from the local industry convinced the University that practically each and every one of its graduating seniors needs to have the opportunity to gain some exposure to information technology (IT) to obtain good employment in the present economy. To meet this goal a committee was assembled, with representatives drawn from College of Liberal Arts (CLA), College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, etc., with the lead being provided by the Institute of Technology (IT). In designing the minor, the committee designated three courses (all from Computer Science & Engineering) as core courses, and a long list of optional courses drawn from departments in the various participating colleges. One of the core courses is an introduction to Java, while the other two are new courses titled "Communication in the Internet Environment" and "Information in the Internet Environment." This minor will officially be launched starting Spring 2000, when two of the core courses will be offered.

MS in Software Engineering Program Continues to Grow!

The MS program in Software Engineering (MSSE) continues to grow and to deliver a high-quality professional education to practicing professionals in software development and management. Developed and administered in partnership with the Center for Development of Technological Leadership (CDTL), this program is tailored to the needs of working professionals. Students earn an MS degree in two years, attending classes on alternating Fridays and Saturdays. The curriculum is focused on state-of-the-art practice in software engineering, including topics such as object-oriented software engineering, software testing and validation, project management, and user interface design.

This past Spring, the program graduated its first class of software engineers. At the same time, the class of 2000 was being admitted--the most competitive admissions process in the program to date. Only half of the qualified applicants were able to be admitted. We look forward to receiving applications this Spring for the Fall 2000 semester.

For more information or application materials, contact Shelli Burns at CDTL. She can be reached at: or at 612-624-4380.

Computer Science and Engineering Holds Second Open House

CS&E Open House Fall 1999 - Image 1

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering held its second open house on Wednesday, October 27, 1999. More than 200 people attended the event, including Dr. Christine Maziar, U of M Vice President of Research and Dean of the Graduate School; Ted Johnson, CTO of Visio; and Dr. Ruzena Bajcsy, Assistant Director, Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering, National Science Foundation.


CS&E Open House Fall 1999 - Image 2 Several companies with close ties to the department came to demo products and meet with faculty and researchers. Companies represented were Honeywell Technology Center, IBM, Cisco, Sun Microsystems, Imation,,, SuperPC, Unisys, West Group , Vallon and DataCard. In addition, faculty members and graduate students participated in a poster session. Research topics included: Formal Modeling in Critical Transportation Systems (Heimdahl); Specification-Based Prototyping of Critical Systems (Heimdahl); High Performance Geographic Information Systems (Shekhar); Error Analysis of Speech Recognition Data (Boley); Mining Legal Documents (Boley); Agassiz Project (Yew); Graph Partitioning & Applications (Kumar/Karypis); Data Mining Algorithms & Applications (Kumar/Karypis); Javiz Project (Yew); GroupLens (Konstan/ Riedl); Video-Based Transportation Applica-tions (Papanikolopoulos); Internet Mobile Agents (Tripathi); and, Ajanta - A System for Mobile Agent Programming (Tripathi).

Yousef Saad,Ruzena Bajcsy,& Christine,Maziar Afternoon Speaker Dr. Ruzena Bajcsy, Assistant Director, Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering, National Science Foundation, spoke to the CS&E Women's Group at lunch and to an audience in the afternoon. Her afternoon presentation was titled "IT2: An Information Technology Initiative for the Twenty-first Century, NSF Plans for Implementation." Dr. Bajcsy divided her presentation into two parts. In the first part, she explained the IT2 Initiative in detail, elaborating on the scientific content of the program, posing some open questions, and outlining the past NSF plans to pursue to achieve the program goals. In the second part of the presentation, Dr. Bajcsy discussed the identity of computer science as a scientific discipline and its relationship to other physical sciences. She also focused on the information science of computer science and what lessons can be derived from other disciplines with respect to the representation of information contents. Bajcsy's lecture was followed by 30 minutes of intensive discussion.


Systems staff were on hand to answer questions during the self-guided tours. Tours included a look at the PC Classroom, using Windows NT and Linux; the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) student chapter office; the Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) Practice Lab, a joint venture between the department and Cisco Systems to assist employees of local industry to obtain Cisco certification; and the NSF-funded undergraduate robotics and visualization lab.

The first floor tour consisted of a stop at the offices of the Laboratory for Computational Science and Engineering, where a demonstration of the Power Wall was given; the main department computer room; and a workstation classroom using UNIX workstations from Sun Microsystems.

Reception and Dinner

A reception and dinner were held at the Radisson Hotel Metrodome following the tours. After dinner, Michael Christenson, Stageberg Beyer Sachs, Inc., Architects/Planners, spoke briefly on plans for the Digital Technology Center to be housed in Walter Library. Renovation is currently underway, with a projected completion date of Fall 2001. Some faculty and researchers from the department will be housed in the Digital Technology Center.

Dean H. Ted Davis, Institute of Technology, introduced the keynote speaker, Ted Johnson, co-founder, executive vice president and chief technology officer of Visio Corporation. Mr. Johnson spoke about his life, his education in architectural design received at the University of Minnesota, and experiences with entrepreneurial enterprises, including Visio Corporation.

Distinguished Alumnus Award

The day's activities concluded with the presentation of the first Computer Science and Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award, presented to Ted Johnson by H. Ted Davis in recognition of Johnson's innovations in technical diagramming software, and bringing them to practice as founding Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Visio Corporation.


CS&E Open House Fall 1999 - Image 3

CS&E Open House Fall 1999 - Image 4

CS&E Open House Fall 1999 - Image 5

CS&E Open House Fall 1999 - Image 6

CS&E Open House Fall 1999 - Image 7

Many Thanks...

We would like to express our thanks to the following alumni and friends. Your support is invaluable in helping the department. We look forward to continuing this partnership in the future. Thank you for your support!


  • Emerson Charitable Trust
  • IBM Corporation
  • IBM International Foundation
  • Silicon Graphics, Inc.
  • Vallon, Inc.


  • David C.Abramson
  • David P. and Jacqueline R. Beyer
  • Sourav Bhattacharya
  • Jeanne M. Blaskowski
  • Scott F. Bolte
  • Erik W. Brom
  • John Bull
  • Yigang Chen
  • Roger R. and Cathleen E. Clauson
  • Holwar B. Coleman
  • Benjamin G. Cooper
  • Forest W. & Mary S. Crowley, Jr.
  • Lawrence H. Daasch
  • Daniel R. Dahl
  • Daniel D. Dassow
  • Julie A.Federico
  • James A. Foster
  • Rohit Garg
  • Michael J. Gutmann
  • John J. Hanna
  • Scott P. Hanson
  • Theresa A. Henderson
  • David W. De Herder, Jr.
  • Bennett Hackner
  • Mary S. Hoxie
  • Kurt A. Indermaur
  • Richard R. Joos
  • Lyle M. Kraft
  • Jeffrey C.Lane
  • Greg Larson
  • Donald G. Lee
  • Donald and Constance J. Lee
  • Christine M. Litchy
  • Lee-Chin H. Liu
  • Timothy M. Maly
  • Timothy J. Meidinger
  • Stanley J. and Arlene J. Moren
  • C.A. Mikulich Ogren
  • R.S. Ogren
  • Paul N. Pazandak
  • Brian K. Pellot
  • Jeffrey A. Prentice
  • Henry W. Rahn
  • Robert H. Rockler
  • Tom E. Rosenthal
  • Jerred D. Ruble
  • Barbara A. Ruf
  • Nurtjahya Sambawa
  • Matt Sandnas
  • David R. Schaal
  • Dale A. Schnarr
  • Geralyn Stanczak Smith
  • Daryl L. Spartz
  • Hong Sun
  • Geoffrey W. Tranholme
  • Michael P. Vining
  • Sarah K. Westall

News Briefs

Interrante Recipient of NSF CAREER Award

Assistant Professor Vicki Interrante received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation for "Perceptual Issues in Data Visualization: Conveying 3D Shape and Depth through Texture," CCR-9875368, $273,936.

CS&E Grad Students Win Awards

Wade Muller won a SIGGRAPH Pioneer award ($1000).

Ahna Girshick won the 1999 Special Agnes Hansen Travel Award from Sigma Delta Epsilon (graduate women in science) Xi chapter to present her technical sketch "Real-Time Principal Direction Line Drawings of Arbitrary 3D Surfaces" at SIGGRAPH.

Editorial Board Appointments Announced

Professor Ravi Janardan has been appointed to the editorial board of the Journal of Discrete Algorithms.

Associate Professor Joseph A. Konstan has been named editor of SIGCHI Bulletin and appointed to the ACM SIGCHI Executive Committee.

Associate Professor Jaideep Srivastava has been named to the editorial board of the Knowledge and Information Systems Journal.

Distributed Robotics Demo was Successful

A University of Minnesota group participated with great success in the first year demo in Quantico, VA (September 14-16, 1999) of the project "Distributed Robotics." The group included Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos (Principal Investigator), Maria Gini , Richard Voyles, Paul Rybski, Sascha Stoeter, and Dean Hougen from Computer Science and Engineering, and Brad Nelson and K. Yesin from Mechanical Engineering, along with researchers from Honeywell, MTS,and Architecture Technology Corporation (ATC). The group demonstrated a team of "scouts" which are miniature robotic devices (40mm wide and 110mm long). The scouts rolled, jumped, and easily traversed a challenging obstacle course. The scouts carry miniature sensors such as cameras, microphones, magnetometers, and radar sensors. The team of robots survived an extensive testing. In particular, scouts were functional even after being tossed 87 feet.

Riedl and Konstan Receive GroupLens Grant

Associate Professors Joseph A. Konstan and John Riedl received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to support their work on "Reflective GroupLens: Collaborative Filtering in Self-Aware Communities." The grant is for $303,264 for the period 9/15/1999 through 8/31/2002.

Dovolis Named Best Instructor

Assistant Professor Chris Dovolis received a 1999 IT Student Board Best Instructor Award.

Kumar Organized Workshop

Professor Vipin Kumar co-organized the "Workshop on Scientific Data Mining" at the Army High Performance Computing Research Center (September 9-10, 1999). He also gave an invited lecture at the NSF Summer Institute at the University of Dayton (August 26) and at the Rocket Center at the University of Illinois (August 9).

Program Chairs Named

Associate Professor Joseph Konstan has been named program co-chair of the ACM Multimedia 2000 Conference to be held next fall in Los Angeles.

Jaideep Srivastava has been appointed the program chair for the IEEE International Conference on Multi-media Software Engineering to be held in Taipei, ROC, December 2000.

Grants Recently Received by CS&E Faculty

  • "Unsupervised Document Set Exploration Using Divisive Partitioning - REU Supplement," to Daniel L. Boley, from the National Science Foundation, $5,019, 11/30/98-08/31/00.
  • "CISE Experimental Partnerships: Prototyping the Superthreaded Architecture," to Pen-Chung Yew and David J. Lilja (Electrical and Computer Engineering), from the National Science Foundation, $336,086 (first year), 09/15/99-08/31/00.
  • "Structuring Formal Requirements Specifications for Reuse and Product Families," to Mats Per Erik Heimdahl, from NASA, $20,685, 10/1/99-11/30/99 (remaining funds to 9/30/00-$41,369).
  • "Y2K Testing," to Wei-Tek Tsai from the Army Research Office, $110,000, 10/1/99-12/31/99.
  • "Efficient and Scalable Streaming Techniques for Large-Scale Delivery of Stored VBR Video," to Zhi-Li Zhang, from the National Science Foundation, $104,154, 10/01/99-09/30/00.
  • "Multi-Constraint, Multi-Objective Graph Partitioning," to George Karypis and Vipin Kumar from the National Science Foundation, $286,544, 09/01/99-08/31/02.
  • "Structure Preserving Reduced Rank Approximation: Theory, Algorithms and Software," Haesun Park and J. Ben Rosen, from the National Science Foundation, $161,000, 09/01/99-08/31/02. "GroupLens: Scalable Collaborative Filtering for the Internet - REU Supplement," to John Riedl and Joseph A. Konstan, from the National Science Foundation, $15,000, 04/01/99-02/29/00.
  • "CAREER: Algorithmic Issues in Collaborative Filtering - REU Supplement, to Joseph A. Konstan, from the National Science Foundation, $10,000, 06/01/99-07/31/99.
  • "Dynamic Feature Extraction and Data Mining for the Analysis of Turbulent Flows," to Vipin Kumar, George Karypis, and Victoria Interrante, Computer Science and Engineering, and Ivan Marusic, Graham Candler, Ellen Longmire (Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics) and Sean C. Garrick (Mechanical Engineering), from the National Science Foundation, $1,462,500, 10/15/99-09/30/02.

Upcoming Cray Lectures

Nancy Leveson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will speak on "Building Safety into Computer Controlled Systems" March 20, 2000, 2:30 p.m. in Room 3-180 EE/CS Building.

Takeo Kanade, Carnegie Mellon University, will talk about "Virtual Reality: from Real to Virtual" on April 3, 2000, at 2:30 p.m. in Room 3-125 EE/CS Building.

For additional information, please call 612-625-4002.

Computer Science Associates Future Meeting Dates

Tuesday, March 14, 2000 (tentative)

Tuesday, May 9, 2000 (tentative)

For additional information, please call 612-625-4002.

Featured Faculty: Computer Engineering

David Hung-Chang Du

High-speed networking, multimedia applications, high-performance computing over workstation clusters, database design and CAD for VLSI circuits
(612) 625-2560

My research in the CAD area includes physical layout, timing verification, and delay fault test for high-speed circuits. My research in high-speed networking includes heterogeneous high-performance computing over high-speed networks, PC and workstation clustering, broadband connections to homes and desktops, and all optical networks. My research in multimedia applications includes video transmission over ATM networks, video-on-demand servers, distance learning using multimedia technologies, and mass storage systems for both video-on-demand and Internet Web servers.

Wei-Chung Hsu

Processor and system architectures, processor and system performance, compiler optimizations, run-time optimization systems
(612) 625-2013

For the next few years, I will focus my research on run-time optimization dynamic compilation/optimization techniques. Run-time optimization systems use run-time feedback information, via various profiling techniques, to identify hot code fragments and performance bottlenecks. Once the important code fragments are identified, the system modifies the binary on-the-fly to tune the program for its current usage and for the current processor it runs on. Run-time optimization systems are very useful for migrating applications to new architectures or new micro-architectures.

Pen-Chung Yew

Computer architecture, parallel machine design, parallelizing compilers, performance evaluation, parallel processing
(612) 625-7387

My main research research effort is on the design of future generations of high-performance computer systems, which include both microprocessors and multiprocessors. I am interested in issues related to their machine architectures, machine organizations, and compilation techniques. I am also interested in improving the performance of Internet applications, especially the performance of large Java applications.

Zhi-Li Zhang

Computer networking and multimedia systems
(612) 625-8568

My main research interests broadly lie in the area of computer networks and real-time, distributed, multimedia systems. One challenging and critical research problem in this area is how to provide Quality-of-Service (QoS) guarantees to support real-time multimedia applications in the emerging high speed, integrated services packet networks. My research has focused primarily on issues related to this central theme and addresses them from both the standpoint of network systems and of application or end-host systems.

Distributed Robotics Showcases its Research December 6

Imagine small robots scanning the inside of a building where a fire or hostage situation has occurred, paving the way for rescuers and limiting the loss of life. University of Minnesota computer scientist Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos demonstrated how these small, inexpensive robots jump, maneuver and transmit information during a showcase for the soup can-sized creations held on. Monday, December 6, in Kolthoff Hall on the University's East Bank.

The nine-ounce robots--called "scouts"--are powered by nine lithium batteries and are durable enough to be launched by a larger robot through glass. Scouts contain small computers that can transmit audio and video to remote operators; they can also relay other information, such as the presence of dangerous chemicals and lethal gases.

The robots are designed to function as tools in an array of police and military siutations, including defense surveillance, minesweeping and urban warfare. At roughly $200 each, the devices could inexpensively minimize the risk of injury and death to humans.

In conjunction with Eden Prairie-based MTS Systems, and Minneapolis-based Architecture Technology Corporation and Honeywell, University researchers from computer science and engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical and computer engineering worked 18 months on the project.

The robots are the result of a three-year project funded by a $4.9 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the central research arm of the Defense Department. The contract, which established the Center for Distributed Robotics in the University's computer science and engineering department, is one of the largest ever awarded to the University by DARPA.

Original article by:
Jim Thielman, University News Service
Nina Shepherd, Institutional Relations


Distributed robotics system demonstration - Image 1

Distributed robotics system demonstration - Image 2

Distributed robotics system demonstration - Image 3

Cray Lecture Series Upcoming Talks

Nancy Leveson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"Building Safety into Computer Controlled Systems"
March 20, 2000 2:30 p.m., Rooms 3-180 EE/CS Building

Takeo Kanade, Carnegie Mellon University

"Virtual Reality: from Real to Virtual"
April 3, 2000 2:30 p.m., Room 3-125 EE/CS Building

For additional information, contact
Computer Science and Engineering,