Soundbyte: Spring 2000

Greetings from the Department Head

Another excellent academic year for the department is ending, one that is marked by several important transitions. This has been our first academic year under the semester system. This transition was fairly smooth thanks to the hard work of many faculty and staff members. I would like to thank in particular Philip Barry for having put an exceptional amount of effort and devotion into the coordination of the revision effort in the previous two years.

Another transition, undergone by the entire University, is the switch to the PeopleSoft entreprise system. Everything from registration, to payroll and proposal preparation is now done online. This transition, which is nearing completion, has not been as smooth. I would like to thank all our staff for their patience and effort in dealing with the changes of the last two years. The department has done quite well in dealing with the new system. The learning process was tedious but rewarding for everyone because, in the end, the system is starting to facilitate many of our day-to-day tasks. For example, recently faculty members from our department submitted a total of 18 proposals to NSF which had the same due date. Prior to the entreprise system, this would have been difficult to process.

Finally, another important transition is the changing of the guard, or to be precise the changing of department leadership. As I planned, 3-1/2 years ago, I am ending my term with this academic year, on June 19th to be exact. The next department head is Professor Pen-Chung Yew, who has been a faculty member here since 1991.

The department has undergone an extraordinary transformation for the better in the last few years and the gains are likely to continue in the years ahead. Significant among these transformations are the change of the image projected to the outside world and the fact that faculty and staff have come to work together as a cohesive unit toward the betterment of the department. I was lucky during my tenure to have received exceptionally good support and help from several members of the department. I would like to thank, in particular, all the department office staff, as well as Philip Barry, and Ahmed Naumann, without whom the department would not have functioned as smoothly. I receive many compliments from colleagues on campus on how well organized our department is in many areas such as student advising, student records, and course scheduling, to name just a few items. What these colleagues do not realize is that the good work has come at a time when our workload has also increased significantly due to higher enrollments, as well as higher faculty activity.

I will be taking a sabbatical leave next year and will return as a regular faculty member in Fall of 2001. I am happy and very proud to have had the opportunity to serve the department for three of its most critical years so far. I am confident that my successor will do very well and I urge everyone to give him her/his support.

-Yousef Saad

Undergrad Experience Enriched by Working on Research Projects

Research universities provide an unmatched opportunity for undergraduates to experience hands-on learning and close mentorship through involvement in research projects. The University of Minnesota supports undergraduate research through several channels, including Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) grants, research scholarships funded by corporate and individual donors, and external research funds from government agencies, corporations, and foundations.

Undergraduate research is quite literally a win-win-win situation. The students complement their classroom education with hands-on experience, surrounded and mentored by more experienced students and faculty. The faculty sponsoring the projects get to work with motivated students who often make surprisingly significant contributions. The sponsor, whether philanthropic or commercial, reaps the dividends of improved education for the student and more rapid progress on research.

The GroupLens research group has had very fruitful experiences with undergraduate researchers. Over the past six years Professors John Riedl and Joseph Konstan have worked with three to five undergraduates at a time, helping them develop the ability to carry out research projects and expanding their research capacity.

Three students were asked to comment on their experiences as undergraduate research-ers. Each of them has been supported by a combination of UROP awards, National Science Foundation awards for Research Experiences for Undergraduates, and other University-administered scholarships.

Nathan Good

Before I left my old job and went to the University of Minnesota, my employers urged me to find a research group I was interested in and get involved. The moment I got here I did, and have loved it ever since. My research group is a small, tightly knit group of talented undergrads, grad students, and professors at the University. We share common goals and direction, are very helpful and supportive of one another, and have a lot of fun together. In the two years that I have been involved, I've had the opportunity to travel to conferences and workshops, meet the top researchers in computer science, and make contact with many people in the field. I've also been able to work closely with grad students and faculty, something that I would not be able to do if I weren't in a research group.

I've learned about the rigors of scientific exploration, experimental methodology, and the importance of criticism and peer review. I've learned that no matter what one's status is in the "outside world," science requires one to present strong evidence to defend one's ideas. I've learned how to take an idea, research previous work on it, create experiments and publish for review and critique. The most important thing that I have learned though is that science is a creative process. Research is the perfect avenue for both technical and creative exploration.

I've learned that to be a good researcher, you need to have three traits: ability to communicate, technical skill, and drive. The most important trait is drive. If you have the drive, then a research university, your group and your professors can teach you the first two, and you will be on your way to a successful research career.

Being in a research group has changed my view about what I would like to do in the future. Before I was content to get a BS degree, get a job and move up the ladder. Now, I would like to go to grad school and eventually work with the top researchers in developing the future of computing.

Tim Lee

I was hired last summer to maintain, improve and upgrade MovieLens. MovieLens is a web site maintained by Grouplens to showcase its collaborative filtering technology and to provide a platform upon which to do further research. I participated in several projects, including adding features, moving the system to a new server, and rewriting code to make it faster and more efficient.

I initially saw it simply as a summer job, but I've discovered it to be much more than that. Not only have I gained valuable skills, but I've had the opportunity to see first-hand how research is done, and to work with a group of talented people working to advance the frontiers of knowledge in the computer field. Participating in research as an undergraduate helps me better understand life in academia, and will be a valuable experience when I have to choose my course after graduation. And working for GroupLens has been fun--I'm given more flexibility in choosing tasks and setting my own schedule than I would in most jobs.

Shyong (Tony) Lam

I became involved in undergraduate research during my freshman year as a part of the Undergraduate Assistant Scholarship, an award which gave me the opportunity to assist a faculty member (or research group) with their research. While the research aspect of the scholarship was not explicitly mandatory, it seemed quite the opportunity to me, so I decided to find a suitable project to work on.

All my work so far has been done with GroupLens, a research group which works with collaborative filtering, information filtering, and online communities. My work has primarily involved improving MovieLens, a movie recommender run by GroupLens used to conduct experiments. My contributions have made the system easier to use for other researchers to set up and conduct experiments with MovieLens.

Being involved in undergraduate research has given me first-hand experience in the research process. In addition, it has allowed me to see what types of things I might be doing in graduate school or a future career. Both of these factors have enriched my college experience by a great deal and can be quite beneficial to me in the future.

-Joseph A. Konstan & John Riedl

Zhang and Interrante Receive Awards

Professor Zhi-Li Zhang, Computer Science and Engineering, was one of twelve Year 2000 recipients of the University of Minnesota Graduate School's McKnight Land-Grant Professorship. The goal of this program is to advance the careers of the most promising junior faculty at a crucial period in their professional lives. Recipients are honored with the title McKnight Land-Grant Professor, an endowed chair which they will hold for two years. The award consists of a $25,000 research grant in each of two years, summer support, and a research leave in the second year.

Winners were chosen for their potential for important contribution to their field; the degree to which their past achievements and current ideas demonstrate originality, imagination, and innovation; the potential for attracting outstanding students; and the significance of the research and the clarity with which it is conveyed to the non-specialist.

Professor Zhang's research focuses on the development of new network architectures and mechanisms to transform the current Internet into a multimedia network. The Internet is the driving force behind the information revolution today. Its potential to integrate multiple media types in a seamless fashion offers exciting new possibilities, with many challenging problems.

Click here for additional information about the McKnight scholarship.

Vicki Interrante was one of 60 individuals nationwide who received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) on March 14, 2000, at the White House.

The Presidential Awards are intended to recognize some of the finest scientists and engineers who, while early in their research careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge during the twenty-first century. The awards foster innovative and far-reaching developments in science and technology, increase awareness of careers in science and engineering, give recognition to the scientific missions of participating agencies, enhance connections between fundamental research and national goals, and highlight the importance of science and technology for the nation's future.

The Presidential Award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. The awards are conferred annually at the White House following recommendations from participating agencies. To be eligible for a Presidential Award, an individual must be a U.S. citizen, national or permanent resident. Each Presidential Award will be of five years duration. Individuals can receive only one PECASE award in their careers.

For additional information, please visit:

Women in Computing Scholarship Created

In memory of Vivian R. Borst, family and friends have donated money to create a scholarship fund for undergraduate women in computer science. The scholarship is a very fitting tribute to a woman who improved the climate for women in the department in many lasting ways.

As a student in computer science, Vivian led and encouraged other women through her work as an undergraduate advisor. After receiving her bachelor's degree, she launched her graduate career in 1998. She brought her characteristic enthusiasm to research in machine learning methods as part of an National Science Foundation-funded project.

"In the year she had worked on the project, Vivian developed several novel approaches, especially in the area of incremental updating schemes" Professor Daniel Boley said. "She was the driving force behind many of the activities in the project -- organizing group seminars, exploring new applications, trying out new ideas, and getting others interested in working on the project."

Vivian's initiative also turned a desire for a women's group in computer science into a reality. Independently, she sought and won a grant from the Office for University Women for a one-year program beginning April 1999. The grant paid for luncheons and speakers who focused on women in the field. Under Vivian's leadership, the luncheons provided a safe atmosphere for women to share their experiences in navigating through a predominantly male field and to develop personal relationships, even across cultures. The sense of community fostered by the program has significantly changed the departmental climate for graduate women in particular. Efforts are being made to secure financial support for next year; however, the group will continue to meet with or without formal support.

Vivian began the program to address the issues that contribute to retention and recruitment of women in computer science. The scholarship, initiated by husband Jerry Houston following her death in April, complements this program and continues her efforts to encourage women to pursue a degree in computer science.

All contributions to the scholarship fund are greatly appreciated. Checks made out to the University of Minnesota Foundation, with a notation the contribution is for the Women in Computing Scholarship, can be sent to:

Women in Computing Scholarship
Computer Science and Engineering
4-192 EE/CS Building
200 Union Street S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455

For larger donations, please contact Jennifer Clarke at the Institute of Technology, 612-626-9354.

-Amy Larson and Peg Howland

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!


  • 3COM Corp.
  • Dell USA LP
  • Industries Fdn.
  • Silicon Graphics, Inc.
  • U.S. West Fdn.


  • Edward F. Ambrose
  • Janifer Y. Au
  • Thomas K. Austin
  • David P. Bianchi
  • Curtis N. Boger
  • Christopher T. Bovitz
  • Eugene V. Byland
  • Douglas P. Chesney
  • Aloysius Chu
  • Bruce W. Clark
  • Brian D. Colvin
  • Thomas P. Crowley
  • Steven D. Diederichs
  • John P. Dyar
  • Richard S. Farrell
  • Bernadette B. Ganino
  • Michael A. Haapala
  • Michael T. Hanson
  • Allen T. Hauwiller
  • Richard J. Hedger
  • Steven N. Hidy
  • J. Andrew Holey
  • Kurt A. Indermaur
  • David M. Jacobi
  • George D. Jelatis
  • Brian P. Johnson
  • John J. Jones
  • Patrick Julik
  • Gerald V. Kauma
  • John C. Kelly
  • Mike W. Kersch
  • Marlys A. Kohnke
  • John P. Kucera
  • Kraig A. Kuusinen
  • Ya-Hsiung Lin
  • Kamran Makki
  • Kathleen A. Mallery
  • Blaine W. McKeever
  • Kevin J. Meehan
  • F. Brendan Murphy
  • Roger P. Nelson
  • Thomas M. Niccum
  • Richard A. Olson
  • Michael W. Pease
  • Lee P. Prissel
  • Anthony M. Prokott
  • Anastasia G. Pullum
  • Karuna Ramdas
  • David E. Rasmussen
  • Marcia T. Reich
  • Richard J. Roiger
  • Tom E. Rosenthal
  • Timothy J. Salo
  • David R. Schaal
  • David L. Schmidt
  • Kent R. Schnaith
  • Kurt A. Schneewind
  • Paul A. Seifert
  • Charles M. Sheaffer
  • Raymond L. Slisz
  • Warren R. Geralyn S. Smith
  • Katherine A. Splett
  • Bradley Stamas
  • Charles D. Steigerwald
  • John P. Strait
  • Susan M. Swenson
  • Thomas S. Tyler
  • Khoi Vu
  • Laura J. Walch
  • Robert J. Weber
  • Weldon L. Whipple
  • Gary Whit
  • Mark A. Wolcenski
  • Rita Y. Wu
  • John D. Zamow

CS&E News Briefs

Pen-Chung Yew Is Named New CS&E Department Head

On March 14, 2000, Dean H. Ted Davis announced the selection of Pen-Chung Yew as the new head of Computer Science and Engineering. Professor Yew’s appointment will begin on June 19, 2000 and will continue for five years.

Guidant Foundation Creates Fellowship Fund

The Guidant Foundation has made a commitment to establish an expendable fellowship fund. Funds in the amount of $16,666 will be disbursed to Computer Science each year for a two year period and will be used to provide fellowship grants to no more than three students in a calendar year. Each recipient will be designated as a Guidant Foundation Grant Recipient.

The Guidant Corportion is a world leader in the design and development of cardiovascular medical products. Guidant’s devices help patients with heart disease return to active and productive lives. The Guidant Corpora-tion provides physicians with leading-edge technologies for improved patient management and clinical outcomes.

Gopalan Nadathur Begins Work in the Department

Gopalan Nadathur officially joined the department on February 1, 2000, as an associate professor with tenure. Nadathur received his B.Tech. in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur,his M.E. in Automation from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include programming language design and implementation, declarative and specification languages, compilation techniques, reasoning about programs, program transformation, formal methods, meta-programming, computational aspect of logic, and knowledge presentation. Nadathur comes here from Loyola University in Chicago.

Baoquan Chen Accepts Faculty Position

Baoquan Chen will join the department faculty Fall Semester. He received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Xidian University, China, his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Tsinghua University in Beijing, and a second M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from SUNY at Stony Brook. His research interests include computer graphics and scientific visualization, especially on image-based rendering, volume rendering and manipulation, volume multi-resolution representation, antialiasing of texture mapping, graphics architecture design, physical-based modeling of natural phenomena and texture synthesis. He comes to the department after doing a postdoc at the Media Research Laboratory of New York University.

Distributed Robotics Wins Award

The Center for Distributed Robotics team under the directorship of Professor Nikos Papanikolopoulos, won “The Best Video” award, with a cash prize of $1000, at the IEEE-ICRA 2000 conference held April 24-28, 2000, in San Francisco.

Faculty on Leaves of Absence and Sabbaticals

Faculty on leaves of absence Fall Semester will include Jaideep Srivastava and David H. C. Du. Both are working at startup companies in California.

Yousef Saad will be on sabbatical, spending half the year in France and half at the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute working on research projects.

Returning from sabbatical are Maria Gini and Dan Boley. Wei-Tek Tsai is returning Fall Semester from a leave of absence, part of which was spent at Arizona State.

Vipin Kumar Co-organizes Workshop

Vipin Kumar co-organized an IMA workshop on Text Mining April 17-18, 2000. The workshop was jointly sponsored by West Group, IMA (Institute for Mathematics and Its Applications), AHPCRC (Army High Performance and Computing Research Center), and MSI (Minnesota Supercomputing Institute).

Jaideep Srivastava Promoted to Professor

Jaideep Srivastava was promoted to a full professor, with tenure effective June 19, 2000.

Professors David Fox and James Slagle Have Retired

James Slagle announced his retirement effective January 17, 2000. Jim had been with the department for 15 years. He plans to make his home in Houston, Texas.

David Fox, former department head, announced his retirement effective Fall Semester 1999. David had also been with the department 15 years. He will divide his time between his lake home in Michigan and a new home in South Carolina.

Recently Received Grants

  • "Algebraic Recursive Multilevel Solvers: Advances in Scalable and Robust Parallel Linear System Solution Methods" to Yousef Saad and Maria Sosonkina (UM, Duluth), National Science Foundation, $469,839, 06/01/2000-05/31/2003.
  • "VHS to VRML: Extensions to the 3-D Video Camera-Based Modeling" to Richard Voyles, Point Cloud Inc., $78,773, 05/15/2000-05/27/2001.
  • "Localized Approach to Quality-of-Service Routing" to Zhi-Li Zhang, National Science Foundation, $299,919, 07/01/2000-06/30/2003.
  • "High Performance Spatial Visualization of Traffic Data" to Shashi Shekhar, CTS/USDOT, $122,929, 01/01/2000-02/28/2001.
  • REU supplement to "CAREER: Resource Management for Parallel and Distributed Systems" to Jon Weissman, National Science Foundation, $5,000, through 07/31/00.
  • "Real-time Ethernet for Process Control" to Zhi-Li Zhang, Honeywell, Inc., $32,002, 01/01/2000-12/31/2000.
  • "Binary Code Re-Optimization for IA-64" to Wei-Chung Hsu, Intel Corporation, $132,849, 03/01/2000-02/28/2001.
  • "CISE Research Instrumentation: Cluster Computing for Knowledge Discovery in Diverse Data Sets" to George Karypis, Maria Gini, Joseph Konstan, John Riedl and Shashi Shekhar, $74,516, 02/01/2000-01/31/2003.
  • "Bounds of Net Delays and their Application for Timing Optimization in Routing" to Eugene Shragowitz, Intel Corporation, $50,000, 12/15/1999-06/14/2001.
  • "Detecting Driver Fatigue through the Use of Advanced Face Monitoring Techniques" to Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos, USDOT/CTS, $79,218, 12/01/1999-12/31/1999.
  • "Monitoring Weaving Sections" to Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos, USDOT, $99,138, 12/01/1999-11/30/2000.
  • "CISE Experimental Partnerships: Prototyping the Superthreaded Architecture" to Pen Yew and David Lilja (ECE), National Science Foundation, $336,086, 09/15/1999-08/31/2000.

Featured Faculty: Computer/Software Engineering

Mats Heimdahl

Software engineering, safety critical systems
(612) 625-2068

Computers are controlling many aspects of our lives; they control systems ranging from microwave ovens and watches to nuclear power plants and aircraft. Computer-related failures can, in many of these applications, have catastrophic effects. The goal of my research is to develop methods and tools to help us minimize the number of safety-related problems caused by software. Research in this area spans all aspects of system development ranging from concept formation and requirements, specification through design and implementation, to testing and maintenance.

Eugene Shragowitz

Computer engineering, computer-aided-design of computers, application of fuzzy logic in CAD
(612) 625-3368

My current research interests are in computer-aided design (CAD) of electronic systems, soft computing and combinatorial optimization. In CAD we are developing methods, algorithms and software tools for automated design of chips, multichip modules, and printed circuit boards. Our algorithms and tools were used by industry for design of the most advanced electronic systems. We are now concentrating on physical design problems in Design Automation. This includes placement, routing and signal integrity issues. We are actively working on timing and signal purity aspects of physical design on all levels. This work requires application of a variety of mathematical techniques ranging from solving of systems of partial differential equations to advanced optimization techniques and soft computing. CAD systems belong to the category of the largest and the most complex software systems. Final products of our research very often have the form of very large computer programs. We also are working on application of fuzzy logic for solving CAD problems. Fuzzy logic and other soft computing techniques allow us to address problems which are poorly handled by traditional mathematical methods.

Wei-Tek Tsai

Software engineering, Internet and intranet computing and software systems
(612) 625-6371

In software engineering, we are investigating software testing including testing techniques for object-oriented software, regression testing, user interface testing, and testing techniques for Internet applications. We are also investigating object-oriented techniques such as frameworks, patterns, and architecture. Software reuse (including test case reuse, requirement reuse, and domain engineering) is another project in which we are involved. We have been involved in software reengineering for a number of years; recently our research results (including generalized program slicing, ripple effect analysis, variable classification, and data-centered approach) have been used to address year 2000 problems. We are developing a framework and software tools for scalable Internet electronic commerce. We are investigating database issues, object modeling, layer architecture, and software evolution.

MSSE Class Of 2000 Graduates!

I am delighted to announce the graduation of our second class of MS students in Software Engineering. The MSSE program, launched in Fall 1997 to address the needs of industry for highly skilled software engineers, has become one of the department's most successful and popular programs. The program's innovative, software-focused curriculum and professional-format instruction have led to tremendous demand for the limited number of seats we have available. At the time of this writing, we are filling the seats for the class of 2002. At the same time, our first alumni (the class of 1999) have been gathering together monthly for professional and social networking.

For more information on the program, please visit the MSSE web page.

Congratulations Class of 2000! It has been a pleasure working with you, and we look forward to seeing you again in the future

Joseph A. Konstan
Director of Graduate Studies, 1999-2001
Master of Science in Software Engineering

MSSE Class of 2000

  • S. Ola Bildtsen, Network Computing Services
  • Dave DeCesare, Lifetouch
  • Azure Duan, Left Hand Side Inc.
  • Steve Esboldt, Rosemount Inc.
  • Ralph A. Foy, Cargill Inc.
  • Kurtis Halvorson, Hutchinson Technology
  • Michael Herrman, Lawson Software
  • David Hertwig, Datacard Inc.
  • Mohammad S. Khan, Hutchinson Technology
  • Liana Kiff, Honeywell International Inc.
  • Peter Kwan, Guidant Corp.
  • Narayan G. Lakshmy, iDLX Technology Partners
  • Maria L. Lulich, Lockheed-Martin Tactical
  • Peksun Mak, West Group
  • Matthew D. Moore, West Group
  • Farhan Muhammad, Norstan Consulting
  • Michael Neill, Trans-Consolidated Inc.
  • Corey Ney, Medtronic Inc.
  • Brooke Nielsen, Maxim Group
  • Richard J. Novak, Lockheed-Martin Tactical
  • Jay Peterson, Check Technology
  • Michael Quinn, United Defense
  • Jeff Steil, St. Paul Companies
  • Richard Stevens, IBM Corp.
  • Ming H. Tan, West Group
  • Hoa Thu Tran, IBM Corp.
  • Phillip True, Compuware Corp.
  • Dan Waseen, Watlow Controls inc.
  • Ronald P. Wirth, University of Minnesota

Cray Lecture Series Upcoming Talks

Lawrence A. Rowe

University of California-Berkeley
September 18, 2000, 2:30 p.m.

Shamkant B. Navathe

Georgia Institute of Technology
October 2, 2000, 2:30 p.m.

Barbara Liskov

M.I.T. Laboratory for Computer Science
October 16, 2000, 2:30 p.m.

Juris Hartmanis

Cornell University
October 30, 2000, 2:30 p.m.

Mostafa Ammar

Georgia Institute of Technology
April 2, 2001, 2:30 p.m.

Locations and titles to be announced.
For additional information, contact Computer Science and Engineering at 612-625-4002