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. They are not for credit, but are an excellent place to learn more about computer science and see what fields you may or may not be interested in.

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 8: CS in Context - Thursday Mar 1 from 4:30-5:20 in GUG 220

Speaker: Christine Betts

  • Trying to figure out how to use what you're learning in 142 and 143? We'll talk about a variety of applications, with an emphasis on using programming to make the world a better place. We’ll also delve into the world of git and contributing to open source projects.
  • Slides
  • Recording

Week 7: Robotics - Thursday Feb 22 from 4:30-5:20 in GUG 220

Speaker: Maya Cakmak

  • Robots that can assist humans in everyday tasks have the potential to improve people’s quality of life and bring independence to persons with disabilities. A key challenge in realizing such robots is programming them to meet the unique and changing needs of users and to robustly function in their unique environments. Most research in robotics targets this challenge by attempting to develop universal or adaptive robotic capabilities. This approach has had limited success because it is extremely difficult to anticipate all possible scenarios and use-cases for general-purpose robots. Instead, my research aims to develop robots that can be programmed in-context and by end-users after they are deployed. To that end, my students and I have been developing new techniques and tools that allow intuitive and rapid programming of robots to do useful tasks. In this talk I will introduce some of these techniques and tools, demonstrate their capabilities, and discuss some of the challenges in making them work in the hands of potential users and deploy them in the real world.
  • Recording

Week 6: Developer Tools - Thursday, Feb 15 from 4:30-5:20 in GUG 220

Speaker: Melissa Medsker-Galloway

  • Mac or PC? Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer? jGrasp or Eclipse? Tabs or spaces? There are a lot of tool "battles" you may hear about in today's world of technology, but it turns out that for many developers, each has their own toolkit that works for their needs and programming style. In this week's exploration session, join us for a discussion on why there's no "universal development toolkit", and get a peek at one TA's toolbox including the Bash command line (that little black screen you may have seen on some computers) and the Vim text editor. We'll cover a short demo of how to use the Bash-and-Vim toolbox as an alternative to jGrasp for writing and running your own Java programs!
  • Recording
  • Slides

Week 5: Machine Learning - Thursday, Feb 1 from 4:30-5:20 in GUG 220

Speaker: Kevin Jamieson

  • Whether it be what music shows up in your Spotify Discover Weekly, what you see in your Facebook feed, or even whether your resume will make it past the automated screening at a hot tech startup, machine learning algorithms are having a large impact on your life even if they remain largely unseen. I will describe the basics of this automation revolution and dive into some specific examples that I personally have worked on in my research.
  • Recording

Week 4: Binary - Thursday, Jan 25 from 4:30-5:20 in GUG 220

  • 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 3: No BS CS Career Talk - Thursday, January 10 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

Week 2: What is a computer? - Thursday, January 10 from 4:30-5:20 in GUG 220

Speaker: Hunter Schafer

  • 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.
  • There were issues with recording this week so no recording is available.
  • Slides
  • Surprising Turing Completeness
  • JFLAP Turing Machine Simulator
  • Explanation of Halting Problem Proof

Week 1: No session