Thursday, November 16, 2017

Harvard CS Concentrators Jump Again

During my time as Area Dean for computer science, the number of computer science majors at Harvard more than doubled.  Growth has continued, and according to the Crimson, we're now clearly the second largest concentration at Harvard.  (It looks like we just barely surpassed Government last year, and now we're clearly larger.  Economics is still bigger.)

When you consider that Applied Math is the 4th largest major group, and that's a group that is largely composed of people who do some mix of Math/Computer Science/Economics, I think the numbers actually underestimate the growth in CS at Harvard. 

It's been an exciting time since I started at Harvard in 1999.  One could see what was coming.  Though, sadly, the administration still seems far from having caught up -- we (like many other CS departments) really could use some more resources coming our way.   Universities are a bit slow to respond (sometimes for good reasons), and the speed of these changes is, in context, just remarkable.  And, I'd have to say, have added to the fun of being a CS professor.  Back in 1999, CS was incorrectly perceived to be a backwater at Harvard, small and unnoticed, but where there was a lot of excitement and energy.  Fast forward less than two decades, and now we're clearly at the core of Harvard and its future. 

Thursday, November 09, 2017

BARC, Copenhagen

A few summers ago, I had an opportunity to visit Copenhagen, and work with Rasmus Pagh for a month.   I (and the family) liked it so much we went back the next summer for a hashing workshop.  While algorithms and data structure people were already familiar with Denmark's Aarhus and MADALGO, it was clear to me that Copenhagen was on the rise as an algorithmics center.

That's now been formalized, thanks to a huge new grant for algorithms research centered around a collection of fantastic researchers in Copenhagen -- and they're looking for graduate students, post-docs, visitors, and faculty.  Rasmus sent me a blurb that I'm posting below, introducing the new Basic Algorithms Research Copenhagen, or BARC.

This is wonderful in so many ways.  First, it is always great generally for our community when algorithmic work is recognized and funded.  Second, this is a fantastic group of researchers -- for example, obviously I am biased, but Rasmus and Mikkel Thorup, both individually and together, have just been knocking it out of the park over and over again for years in algorithms and data structures (particularly with regard to hashing).  Third, for many, this is a marvelous opportunity.  Copenhagen is just a wonderful city, and the chance to go and work there with the top people is something many people will enjoy.  (And don't we do better work when we're someplace we enjoy being?)

With all that, let me put up the blurb on BARC, and point you to the home page at and the Facebook page at  (Note there are deadlines coming up for some of the positions.)

BARC (Basic Algorithms Research Copenhagen) is new center for foundational research in design and analysis of algorithms. The center, which will be inaugurated onDecember 1, is led by Mikkel Thorup. It aims to "attract top talent from around the world to an ambitious, creative, collaborative, and fun environment” in Copenhagen, Denmark. Other core scientists in the center are Stephen Alstrup, Thore Husfeldt, and Rasmus Pagh. The center is part of a larger effort increasing the number of faculty members in algorithms research, and making Copenhagen a hub for algorithms research. The BARC center has received funding of over 6 million USD for the next 6 years from VILLUM Fonden to employ graduate students and post-docs, and to attract a stream of long- and short-term visitors. People interested in BARC should visit the web pages at or follow @barcdk on social media — the first assistant/associate professor, post-doc, and PhD student positions are already announced, with deadlines in November and December.