SIGCSE 2007 Invited Talks

"To teach is to touch life forever"

Judith Gal-Ezer
The Open University of Israel
Ra´anana Israel
Thursday, March 8, 8:30 am


The title of this talk comes from a little book that I bought years ago, compiled by S.M. Scott. It includes fictional stories and quotations about teaching, reminiscences by former pupils about their teachers, etc. The title of the book is what caught my eye, since this is how I like to view the role teachers ought to play in people's lives.

I truly believe that teachers constitute the cornerstone of any successful implementation of a program of study, on any level. Moreover, I think that beyond the mastery of the actual professional material they plan to teach, good teachers should also have deep and broad knowledge of the entire subject of which that material is part, and they must have the ability to convey the material to others correctly and reliably, to provide perspective, and to infuse the students with interest, curiosity, and enthusiasm. All this requires an educator to be more of an intellectual, at least in what concerns the relevant field at large.

In the talk I'll try to elaborate on the teachers' role, and to discuss the principles that should underlie a good study program, while emphasizing high school computer science curricula. Thus, I will touch upon what I think should be the core issues for computer science education research. I will also share some anecdotes from my own life, which at the time motivated me to get involved in teaching and educating, in designing computer science study programs and in their implementation, and paved the way to my doing research on teaching the fundamentals of computer science.

Biographical Sketch

Judith Gal-Ezer is a professor of computer science at the Open University of Israel. She served as Vice President for Academic Affairs between 1999 and 2005, prior to which she served as head of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department. Gal-Ezer was an active member of the committee that put together the CS curriculum for Israel high-schools, and today she chairs that committee. After several years of research on wave propagation and seismology (especially as part of her M.Sc. and Ph.D. studies), her research activity took on two main directions - the teaching of computer-integrated mathematics, and computer science education - on which she spends most of her current time.

Readn', Writ'n, 'Rithmetic...and Code'n

Grady Booch
IBM Fellow, IBM
Boulder, CO USA
Friday, March 9, 8:30 am


In so many ways, software-intensive systems touch the lives of every individual, corporation, institution, nation, and contemporary civilization. Nonetheless, the gap between the technological haves and have-nots is growing and the gap between academia and the industries that create these software-intensive systems continues to be much lamented. I enter this presentation as one firmly planted in the pragmatic creation and evolution of such systems, and yet look outside industry for sources of state-changing innovation. In this talk, I'll examine the current state of software-intensive systems in the world, the forces that fall upon such systems and the people who develop, deploy, and operate them, and the means whereby we can keep the pipeline of innovation open and the academia/industry dialog vibrant. Along the way, I'll cover little-discussed topics including the moral dimension of software, the appreciation of beauty in software, and the privilege and responsibility of being a software developer.

Biographical Sketch

Grady Booch is recognized internationally for his innovative work on software architecture, software engineering, and modeling. A renowned visionary, he has devoted his life's work to improving the effectiveness of software developers worldwide. Grady served as Chief Scientist of Rational Software Corporation since its founding in 1981 and continues to serve in that capacity within IBM. Grady is one of the original authors of the Unified Modeling Language (UML) and was also one of the original developers of several of Rational's products. Grady is the author of six best-selling books, including the UML Users Guide and the seminal Object-Oriented Analysis with Applications, and has published several hundred articles on software engineering, including papers published in the early '80s that originated the term and practice of object-oriented design. He is an IBM Fellow, an ACM Fellow, a World Technology Network Fellow, a Software Development Forum Visionary, and generally just a really nice and gentle fellow. Grady was a founding board member of the Agile Alliance, the Hillside Group, and the Worldwide Institute of Software Architects, and now also serves on the board of the International Association of Software Architecture. He also serves on the boards of Neumont University and the Iliff School of Theology. Grady received his bachelor of science from the United States Air Force Academy in 1977 and his master of science in electrical engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1979. Grady lives in Colorado. His interests include reading, traveling, singing, and playing the harp.

The Games Computers Play... Perfectly

Jonathan Schaeffer
The University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Saturday, March 10, 1:30 pm


Artificial intelligence has had notable success in building high-performance game-playing programs to compete against the best human players; Deep Blue is the obvious example, but there are many more. However, the availability of fast and plentiful machines with large memories and disks creates the possibility of solving a game. This has been done before for simple or relatively small games. Checkers is a popular game of skill with a search space of 5x1020possible positions. Within a year, checkers will be solved; our program will never lose (assuming that perfect-play checkers is a draw, as seems likely). But getting from the idea of solving checkers to the final result, well, thereby hangs a tale...

Biographical Sketch

Jonathan Schaeffer is professor and chair of the Department of Computing Science at the University of Alberta. His research interests are in artificial intelligence and parallel/distributed computing. He is best known for his work on computer games. He is the creator of the checkers program Chinook, which in 1994 became the first program to win a human world championship in any game. He is also a co-developer of the commercial Poker Academy software, which is the world's strongest poker-playing program. Most of his research today is on artificial intelligence applied to commercial computer games, working with industrial partners Electronic Arts and BioWare.