Martin Weiner Lecture in Computer Science: Anita Sarkeesian, Feb. 9th 2015

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Software for Violin Makers

On January 8 and 9, computer science professor Harry Mairson ran a workshop for a group of luthiers (string instrument makers) on using software he is developing for the design and historical analysis of instruments from the violin family.  His software is based on the extraordinary research and book of French luthier François Denis, “Traité de lutherie”, which explains the historical methods of design, founded on classical ideas from architecture and geometry in the tradition of Vitruvius, Alberti, and Palladio.  Denis’s text is a tour de force synthesis of practical lutherie with the history and philosophy of both science and art.

Those luthiers attending the workshop, who heard an extended presentation Harry made on this project at the Violin Society of America this past September, included laureates from the Society’s instrument competitions, the director of a school of violin making, and other accomplished makers.  Computer science undergraduate Eden Zik ’16, who understood the software and programming environment, was a big help to the workshop participants.  The software is intended as a contemporary design tool, as a method for describing the relevant drafting methods (so that luthiers can exchange information on their method, as well as their final product), and to facilitate a greater understanding of the evolution of instrument forms during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Continue reading

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$16M startup competition!

What if you were asked to allocate $16,000,000 among 7 student led projects? Ok, the money was funny, but we suspended disbelief!

On December 15, 2014 students of Cosi 165a – IT Entrepreneurship presented their projects to a panel of experts and an audience of classmates and others of the Brandeis community.

The course, taught by Pito Salas is based on the “Lean Startup” methodology focuses on “getting out of the building” to refine and validate product concepts and design growth models that can lead to sustainable businesses.

THE PROJECTS

The format of the day was that the students were given timed slots of 8 minutes to present as a team the basic business concept, product, user interface, business model and pricing for the ideas. 8 minutes seems like very little but similar pitch event in the industry often limit entrepreneurs to as little as 5 minutes!

And to keep it interesting, the judges were given $16,000,000 (in funny money) to invest in any of the projects that they deemed worthy. No further instructions were given: they could put it all in one, or give each project an equal chunk. They did neither.

Read past the break to see the projects and results. Continue reading

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2014 Brandeis CS Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year

On October 21, we held a Career Fair in conjunction with the Hiatt Center as well as an alumni networking event. We named David Litwack ’68 as our 2014 entrepreneur of the year.

David Litwack ’68 received his BA in Mathematics and worked as a software developer, an executive and a director at numerous companies. He is best known as the founder of Powersoft in 1989, which was acquired in 1995 by Sybase, in one of the largest high-tech mergers at that time.  He went on to found Silverstream Software in 1997, which was acquired by Novell in 2002. Mr. Litwack recently began an entirely new career as a speculative fiction author, and he has published three novels, well reviewed on Amazon.

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Career Fair and Alumni Networking Night

On October 21st, we held a career fair for our students with about 30 high-tech companies, many who employ our alumni, and then in the evening presented our Computer Science Alumni Entrepreneur of the year award to David Litwack, ’68. Click on the picture for a picasa slideshow of the evening.

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Industry Field Project

  • “What is the future of documents?”
  • “How would you disrupt Acrobat?”
  • “If you were to start clean with Reader, what would it look like?”

Those are some of the questions that four Brandeis CS students will be investigating during a semester long Adobe Field Project with Prof. Pito Salas. This collaboration between Brandeis and Adobe’s Entrepreneur in Residence will engage our students with top innovators at Adobe, pursuing projects in requirements gathering, ideation and prototyping. We hope to make this a regular independent study opportunity, and are on the way to another similar project next semester with Pearson Education!

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Computational Instrument Geometry

Professor Harry Mairson has received two grants, one from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and one from the National Science foundation for his research on developing a programming language for describing the body shape of stringed instruments such as violins and cellos. He presented his work recently at the Violin Society of America.

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JBS Product Presentations

This year’s summer Justice Brandeis Semester was about building voice enabled applications. On 8/7 five student groups presented their projects to a public audience in Olin Sang Auditorium.

B-improved will improve the quality of life on campus. With B-improved, any Brandeis student, faculty member or administrator can file an improvement and it will be recorded. With the speech feature, filing an improvement is quick and convenient. Then, facilities will review what needs fixing and take action. Members of the Brandeis community will have confidence that their voices are being heard.

Fridgebay is a website created to give students on various campuses a platform to buy and sell their items to other students on a simple, clean interface. As a part of our innovative interface, students can use our virtual speech assistant to navigate and browse our site. Our website has been created to be used on chrome browsers across all platforms using responsive web design and speech recognition native to the chrome browser.

Jeeves is a voice-powered personal assistant designed to help optimize your time by allowing you to listen to the news, email, or weather through a conversational dialogue. Jeeves is designed for “hands-busy, eyes-busy” environments. Forget about finding 20 minutes to shut yourself away to face your ever-increasing mountain of email. With Jeeves, simply listen to them on your morning commute!

The Rose Art Museum App (or RAMA) allows visitors of the Rose Art Museum an opportunity to learn more about the art and artists without disrupting the intended experience of a museum by seamlessly integrating speech commands to play audio. This ensures that the visitor is able to focus on the art!

YoWakeUp! is a social, interactive alarm clock which sends a text message to your friend when you snooze or miss an alarm. By alerting your friends, they can take action to ensure you wake up!!

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CS Department Annual Reunion

Every year for the past 5 years we’ve held a get-together for all the students from the 5-year classes (79, 84, 89…09) invited to reunion. Click on the picture for a Picasa album.

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Graduating Seniors 2014

Here is a photo from our graduation lunch, May 14th. At least 75% of our students have jobs in the field!

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