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Exploration Sessions

Thursdays, 4:30-5:20pm, in GUG 220

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: Ethics in Technology - Thursday, May 31 from 4:30-5:20 in GUG 220

Speaker: Jared Moore

  • The thinking goes that a tech employee has no responsibility to consider the societal implications of her work. To do so would disrupt the ideal, in Facebook’s words, to “move fast and break things.” Moreover, tech employees feel that their work is replaceable, that tech allows little room for the expression of values. Tech’s reach suggests otherwise. Indeed, we’ve recently seen employees at both Facebook and Google speak up on ethical grounds. So, what role does a computer scientist have in considering the ethics of her work? What are the societal implications of an ‘engineering’ decision? We’ll explore these questions and ask some more as a first step in developing a sense of ethical responsibility.
  • Recording

Week 9: How Computers Learn to See - Thursday, May 24 from 4:30-5:20 in GUG 220

Speaker: Sanchit Singh

Week 8: An Interactive Intro to Web Dev - Thursday, May 17 from 4:30-5:20 in GUG 220

Speaker: Christine Betts & Olga Andreeva

Week 7: Security - Thursday, May 10 from 4:30-5:20 in GUG 220

Speaker: Tapo Bhattacharjee

  • Can robots help us in our day-to-day lives? We do have robot vacuum cleaners in our homes but we still do not have our own Rosie the robot, that can make a cup of coffee or cook us a meal. What makes it challenging? Turns out that robots are not nearly as good as humans in physically interacting with the world. In this talk, we will focus on some of our research directions that make these physical interactions feasible. We will also talk about what important roles computer scientists can play in making this a reality.
  • Recording

Week 6: No session

Week 5: Borrowing from Nature to Build Better Computers - Thursday, April 26 from 4:30-5:20 in GUG 220

Speaker: Luis Ceze

  • DNA data storage is an attractive option for digital data storage because of its extreme density, durability and eternal relevance. This is especially attractive when contrasted with the exponential growth in world-wide digital data production. In this talk, I will present our efforts in building an end-to-end system, from the computational component of encoding and decoding to the molecular biology component of random access, sequencing and fluidics automation. I will also discuss some early efforts in building a hybrid electronic/molecular computer system that has the potential to offer more than just data storage.
  • Recording

Week 4: No BS CS Career Talk - Thursday, April 19 from 4:30-5:20 in GUG 220

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 (there were issues recording this week; this is from fall 2017)

Week 3: Binary - Thursday, April 12 from 4:30-5:20 in GUG 220

Speaker: Hunter Schafer

  • 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, April 5 from 4:30-5:20 in GUG 220

Speaker: Christine Betts

  • Computers have entered 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, the context in which computers first came about, 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