Exploration Sessions

Thursdays, 4:30-5:20pm, in ARC 147

Each week we will offer a different opportunity to explore extra topics in computer science. You will accumulate one "exploration point" for each week that you attend the lecture. At the end of the quarter, your total exploration points will be divided by 3 and will be added to your homework points. There will be approximately 150 homework points total, so this isn't adding a lot to your potential score. As an example, if you were to participate in 3 exploration sessions, you would have 1 point added to your homework points, which is like getting one more point on a weekly programming assignment. The idea is to give people a small reward, but not something that is so large that people feel obligated to participate in these optional sessions. You can get fractions of a point (e.g., getting two-thirds of a point for attending 2 sessions).

Please come prepared to listen to and ask questions of the guest speaker. We have a strict no-laptop policy in these sessions. If you are using a laptop, you will be asked to put it away or leave.

This schedule is subject to change. We will send an announcement email the day before each session with information about the topic for that session.

Week 10: Physical Computing - Thursday, December 7 from 4:30-5:20 in ARC 147

Speaker: Christine Betts

  • So you've got some Java programming under your belt and can write awesome programs to interact with on your computer, but what about interacting with the outside world? We'll discuss the realm of physical computing and hardware with the Raspberry Pi and Arduino along with an introduction to working with circuits and breadboards.
  • Slides
  • Code
  • Processing
  • Arduino
  • Raspberry Pi
  • More info
  • Recording

Week 9: On Data Center Design - Thursday, November 30 from 4:30-5:20 in ARC 147

Speaker: Tom Anderson

  • Data centers have become the primary computing platform for many services we take for granted, such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook. A single data center can be the size of an aircraft carrier, cost upwards of $1B, draw 10s of megawatts of power, and have several hundred thousand separate components: computers, disks, wires, switches, etc. This talk will be an overview of some of the engineering and research challenges in constructing a data center, from the mundane, like cooling, how the computers are wired together so they can work together, how we spread work to avoid bottlenecks, and wrapping up with some open research questions.
  • Recording

Week 8: Making with a Social Purpose - Thursday, November 16 from 4:30-5:20 in ARC 147

Speaker: Jon Froehlich

  • The goal of our research is to develop interactive tools and techniques that address pressing global challenges—so-called ‘wicked’ problems—in areas such as environmental sustainability, accessibility, and education. In this talk, I will describe two major threads of research in accessibility and STEM learning. The first thread examines how to make the physical world more accessible for people with disabilities. The second thread explores how wearables and e-textiles can be designed to promote and engage children in life-relevant, personally meaningful STEM learning experiences.
  • Recording

Week 7: Data Visualization - Thursday, November 9 from 4:30-5:20 in ARC 147

Speaker: Jeffrey Heer

  • The increasing scale and accessibility of digital data provides an unprecedented resource for informing governance, public policy, business strategy, and our personal lives. Yet, acquiring and storing this data is, by itself, of little value. We must make sense of data in order to produce value from it. Turning data into knowledge is a fundamental challenge for both computer systems and user interface research: it requires integrating analysis algorithms with human judgments of the meaning and significance of observed patterns. We'll discuss approaches to enhancing people's ability to understand and communicate data through the design of new interactive systems for data visualization and analysis. Motivating questions include: How can we support expressive and effective visualization designs? How might we enable users to transform and integrate data with minimal programming? How might our tools actually help us to become more effective data analysts?
  • Recording

Week 6: No Session (142 Midterm)

Week 5: No BS CS Career Talk - Thursday, October 26 from 4:30-5:20 in ARC 147

Speakers: Kasey Champion and Kim Nguyen (Microsoft)

  • What does it take to get an internship? What is it like when you're a full-time tech employee? How can you avoid the most common mistakes of recent college grads? UW alumni and former 14x TAs Kim Nguyen (a program manager) and Kasey Champion (a software engineer) have 3 engineering degrees and plenty of advice for how to not only find your place in tech, but how to get ahead. This will be an informal discussion on how to apply and general CS career talk with plenty of Q & A.
  • Recording

Week 4: Robotics - Thursday, October 19 from 4:30-5:20 in ARC 147

Speaker: Siddartha Srinivasa (siddh at cs dot uw dot edu )

  • When can I have my own Rosie the robot? If robots can beat chess grandmasters, why can't they make us a cup of coffee? Turns out, interacting with the physical world, which we humans do so effortlessly, is pretty hard for robots. In this talk, I'll describe some of our efforts on getting robots out of the factory floors into peoples homes, and fearlessly tackling the clutter and uncertainty that permeates our daily lives.
  • Recording (starts 10 minutes late)

Week 3: Binary - Thursday, October 12 from 4:30-5:20 in ARC 147

  • You might be familiar with the fact that computers are filled with 1's and 0's. But when you interact with a computer, you see a whole lot more than binary code -- so where are all those 1's and 0's hiding? In this session we will explore what binary is and how it makes your computer work
  • Recording
  • Secret message activity (requires Processing)

Week 2: What is a computer? - Thursday, October 5 from 4:30-5:20 in ARC 147

  • Computers have invaded every corner of our lives -- you probably have a personal computer, and you almost certainly have a smartphone in your pocket. But have you ever stopped to think about what a computer actually is? What differentiates a computer from other types of machines? We'll talk about the formal definition of a computer, and why computer scientists are interested in these questions.
  • Recording
  • Slides
  • Surprising Turing Completeness
  • JFLAP Turing Machine Simulator
  • Explanation of Halting Problem Proof

Week 1: No session