The University of Texas at Austin Computer Sciences Department
Chairman J Strother Moore teaching a class
Chairman J Strother Moore

FALL 2007

We have kicked off another academic year and want to keep you informed of news, events and life in the Department of Computer Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. We are excited to share updates with you about our new Dell Computer Science Hall, events, alumni program news, recent accomplishments, partner and donor activity, and a retrospective on spring and summer happenings.

Because it is important to us to stay in touch with you, we have launched a new web site and now offer RSS feed subscriptions to help you stay abreast of UTCS news. We hope you like these changes and, as always, please send your thoughts and comments to
We would love to hear from you!

J Strother Moore
Chair, UTCS

Capital Campaign: Dell Computer Science Hall

Exciting, initial work has begun on the Dell Computer Science Hall. Architects are in the throes of planning, demolition work is in process, and additional funding activity is underway to complete the funding campaign continues.

The new UTCS home, Dell Computer Science Hall, is a crucial component in our strategy to maintain and integrate the vibrancy, innovation and relevance of our research and educational missions. The building will provide the flexible space necessary to allow our faculty, students and visiting researchers from diverse backgrounds to pursue cutting-edge, high-risk research. By having undergraduate classrooms, instructional labs and student organizations incorporated into the research lab environment with faculty and graduate students, we can more easily inspire our undergraduate students with the entrepreneurial activity represented by funded research.

The campaign was kicked off by a generous gift from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. To celebrate the foundation's lead donation in the construction of Dell Computer Science Hall, the Department of Computer Sciences, the College of Natural Sciences, and the University of Texas at Austin have jointly inaugurated the Dell Distinguished Lecture Series. Each year, the University will invite an international leader of the digital revolution to come to the University to give a public lecture.

The first Dell Distinguished Lecture will be held on November 15, 2007 with speaker Narayana Murthy, the co-founder of InfoSys, one of the largest software companies in the world. Also attending will be Michael Dell and UT President Powers.

If you are interested in the capital campaign, please contact UTCS Chair, J Strother Moore at

Accident claims the life of UTCS junior, Danny Toole

photo of Danny Toole
Danny Toole

Daniel (Danny) Gregory Toole, 20, passed away after a fall from his dormitory balcony on Sunday, October 21, 2007. He had planned to become a software entrepreneur and pursued that goal through participation in Turing Scholars an elite honors program for University of Texas computer science students. In the summer of 2007, he was employed as a software engineering intern at BorgSolutions, Inc. in Austin, Texas. Besides his lifelong interest in computer science, Danny was also interested in politics, philosophy, music and the human condition. The Danny Toole Memorial Turing Scholarship Fund has been established to benefit future Turing Scholars. "We would be interested in giving it to people who have a broad range of interests like Danny and who would be thinking of various ways for technology to solve problems and make life better," his father said. Danny is survived by his parents, Shaun and Nan Toole; as well as his brother, Eric Toole, all of Houston.

Major Department Awards and Recognition

UTCS is pleased to note a number of recent, significant awards and honors. The department is deeply honored by the peer and public recognition of our work. Continually updated awards and recognition as well as press releases are available as an RSS feed or as UTCS Spotlights.

UTCS Event Retrospective

To view photo captions, bring mouse to top of movie window.

UTCS hosts events throughout the year with the goal of honoring achievements, assisting students, engaging the community, solidifying industrial and economic relationships and thanking our donors. Spring and summer 07 events included:

  1. CNS Spring Career Fair brings employers and students together for recruiting, education and networking. The Career Fair focuses on full-time, part-time and intern hiring.

  2. UTCS Scholarship Luncheon, with the theme “Love Our Students, Love Our Donors!," aptly describes this event that brings scholarship donors, FoCS members and student recipients together for fellowship and appreciation.

  3. The campus-wide Explore UT event reaches out to the community-at-large for a full day of family fun and educational activities.

  4. GradFest is UTCS’s graduate student recruiting event. A weekend of activities illustrates the depth and breadth of our graduate curriculum and research.

  5. Lights..Camera…Action! A campus-wide Film Festival, replete with popcorn, is sponsored by UTCS.

  6. The CNS Research Forum highlights students' research and presentation of work to industry and academic judges. The event is followed by an awards reception with Dean Mary Ann Rankin.

  7. The TRIPS Processor Unveiling honored eight years of work designing a revolutionary new polymorphous microprocessor architecture designed and built by a research team at UTCS.

  8. The CRA-W Programming Languages Summer School conference was attended by women and under-represented minority graduate students and faculty with research interests in programming languages.

  9. The UTCS “C2” (Commencement Celebration) wishes departing UTCS grads success and encourages them and their families to stay connected to the department with a “Phone Home” campaign.

UTCS Fall 2007 Events
CNS Career Fair and UTCS FoCS Career Brunch

The 2007 College of Natural Sciences Career Fair and exclusive FoCS Career Brunch was held on Monday, September 24th. These events bring students and employers together for an energetic kickoff to the academic year. The brunch was an overwhelming success and surpassed expectations for industry recruitment of computer science talent. Only FoCS members and top invited CS students attend the event.

Visions Lectures and Reception

The annual Visions Lecture, to be held on the evening of Monday, November 5, 2007, honors CS faculty who have garnered high honors for their work. The 2007 honorees will be Dr. Peter Stone for receiving the 2007 Computers and Thought Award from the International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) and Dr. Fred Chang of the UT Center for Information and Assurance and Security for receiving the National Security Agency Director's Distinguished Service Medal. Read more-->

UTCS And You –Partners For The Future!

With only l8% of the university’s funding coming from state funding, the need for active donors is key to our ability to innovate, educate and change the lives of the people who will change the future through technology and science. There are many unique ways to support UTCS that will make a difference. Give online on the College of Natural Sciences web site by selecting "Computer Sciences, Dept of" from the pulldown menu, or contact Nancy P. Hatchett at 512.471.9793 or to discuss ways to get involved.

robot in maze with students watching
First Bytes campers and staff watch the students' robot competition.

Academic Outreach and Initiatives

First Bytes 5.0

Fifty Texas female high school students attended First Bytes, a week long residential camp where they participated in activities designed to overcome barriers to women in computing. The camp is partially supported by, Cisco, Lockheed Martin, and Schlumberger. Read more-->

First Bytes High School Teachers' Camp

Twenty Texas high school computer science teachers spent three days at UTCS this summer collaborating, learning and exchanging ideas. Following the 2006 workshop, the department, and teachers worked to encourage the Texas State Board of Education to approve AP Computer Science as a course option satisfying the fourth year math requirement for a high school diploma.

Diversity outreach efforts

Females currently make up 13% of undergraduate students and 15% of graduate students in the Department of Computer Sciences. The department is dedicated to increasing this number through internal and external outreach initiatives with the hire of a full-time assistant director of academic initiatives and increased support of the Women in Computer Sciences (WICS) program.

UTCS Alumni Staffers

Dan Machold, Mary Esther Middleton and Chris McCraw
UTCS alumni Dan Machold, Mary Esther Middleton and Chris McCraw.

Mary Esther Middleton, B.A. 1983, has been the director of two community outreach programs for three years — First Bytes, a computer science summer camp for high school girls and the UTCS Teachers' Camp. She receives great personal satisfaction from the success of First Bytes and the growth of the students during camp. About 50% of the campers have matriculated to UT Austin. This year four students will join our department.

Upon graduation, she worked for start-up companies before spending 17 years at Tandem, which later became Compaq and HP. Upon retiring from the tech industry, she started a yoga instruction business. Her personal interests revolve around living well—cooking, gardening, reading and exercising. Her advice to students is “Follow your passion!”

Chris McCraw, B.A. 2001, maintained 500 Linux machines and helped users with problems. After three years with UTCS, he recently embarked on a grand biking adventure. This summer he rode his bike from Austin to Alaska with the Texas 4000 as a cancer research fundraiser. To find out more about Chris’ adventure, read his journal blog.

Chris began his career working in startups, but the 90-hour weeks took their toll. Not particularly motivated by money, he states, “The incredibly supportive environment is a great fit with my personality.” Professionally, he is interested in how scripting languages have been evolving into first-class development languages. He’s also nearly completed two novels in the past three years. His advice to students: “Follow your heart, not the almighty dollar. Enjoy life -- find work that you enjoy.”

Dan Machold, B.A. 2003, is a programmer in a position that includes technical support, backups and restores, programming and organizing the UTCS film festival. The technologies he is currently learning are database and web programming. He has been at UTCS over seven years, after nearly becoming a music teacher, but changing his mind the last semester of his senior year at East Carolina University in Greenville. It was his interest in music that brought him to Austin for SXSW in 1996 and he never left. He maintains a photography web site of his work,, as well as a listing of Austin music shows, His advice to students: "Take advantage of the often unexpected opportunities life presents."

UTCS Alumni Reconnect

Alumni Update: Tom Keller, (Ph.D., 1976)

Tom Keller was recently promoted to the rank of IBM Distinguished Engineer for his contributions to the management of power in computer systems. UTCS professor, J.C. Browne and K.M. Chandy were co-supervising professors for his dissertation research in operating systems performance modeling.

Tom’s career has alternated between research and product development, with stops at J.C. Browne’s Austin consulting company (now Hy-Performix), the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, the UT Computation Center and Austin’s MCC before joining IBM in 1989. It was at MCC that Keller’s performance team developed the now-infamously long-lived TPC-C benchmark.

Keller’s area of work, systems power, is one of the newest and most challenging problems facing computer developers today. He was among the first IBMers to recognize the importance of the power problem to continued competitiveness and has been a central figure in power-related activities. Keller’s research team at the Austin Research Lab is the focus of system-level power management for the company, co-developing the PowerExecutive™ feature, a power measurement and management product for IBM systems now shipping in x86 platforms and upcoming System p POWER6 systems. Keller joined IBM as technical lead of the AIX (Unix) operating system performance group but has worked the last decade in the IBM Research Division.

Tom recently gave the June talk for the Austin Forum at the UT Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) titled “Commercial Computers: Backbone to the I.T. Revolution… Big, Hungry and Growing” exploring the explosive growth in electric consumption by data centers and their power and cooling problems. He was back on campus in the early 2000’s for several years as IBM Research’s campus relationship manager.

He and Merily married while U.T. students and have lived in the same house in West Lake Hills for almost 30 years. Both their sons held jobs as computer consultants – Sed as a campus computer consultant while a student at Emory and Chase as a lead web developer at Austin’s while in high school. Sed is a high school physics teacher in Northern New Mexico.

Both Tom and Merily are active in state mental health issues, in particular suicide prevention, after the loss of Chase to depression in 2000.

Research Corner: Computer Vision
UTCS Professor Kristen Grauman

photo of Kristen Grauman
Professor Kristen Grauman

The visual world is a rich and complex source of information. We as humans constantly draw on it, whether for purely practical purposes—such as navigation, recognition of familiar people and objects, or manipulating tools and devices, or for purposes that are more intricate and subtle—such as inferring the function of an unfamiliar object, interpreting gestures and facial expressions, or detecting abnormal activity. The broad goal of computer vision research is to automate visual perception --- that is, to develop the algorithms and representations that will allow a machine to “see” or autonomously analyze images and videos. Achieving this goal stands to have a significant impact on our productivity and understanding.

However, the flexibility and scalability demanded from computer vision algorithms expected to operate in real-world conditions is staggering. To approach human-level performance, not only must they identify objects under a wide range of illuminations, against different backgrounds, or in a variety of poses, but they must also allow instantaneous recognition of tens of thousands of object categories. Recent years have shown much progress in the development of rich image representations, but current paradigms for learning and recognizing visual categories typically ignore the issue of scalability, often relying on carefully supervised (manually labeled or annotated) data, or having such high computational costs that artificial limits must be placed on the size of image descriptions or the amount of data from which object models are learned. Clearly, to be successful, vision algorithms must not only capture an incredible level of robustness, but they must do so efficiently and with minimal human intervention.

photo of panda bear with highighted areas on ears, eys, nose and legs
The highlighted areas are most
important for object recognition in
computer vision.

Ongoing research led by Kristen Grauman and the UT computer vision research group aims at making recognition and content-based image retrieval practical on a large-scale. They address the issue both by providing algorithms with significant computational advantages, as well as by developing unsupervised and semi-supervised strategies for learning visual categories with minimal manual input.

Prior to joining UTCS in January 2007 as an assistant professor, Grauman completed her Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

More information about vision research in UTCS.

FoCS Welcomes New Members

The very effective and popular Friends of Computer Sciences (FoCS) program continues to grow. Please help us welcome new members: NetIQ, KITS, Valero and Invodo. UTCS welcomes our new members and thanks our longstanding members for their support and interest in our endeavors.

The UTCS Friends of Computer Sciences (FoCS) program creates and supports mutually beneficial collaboration and recruiting opportunities between UTCS and industry. View a list of current members, benefits and the membership application.

photo of faculty and staff in 1966
The UTCS faculty and staff, circa 1966. Front row, from left to right: Robert E. Lynch, Norman Martin, Suzanne Kain Rhoads (secretary), Robert T. Gregory (chairman), Alfred G. Dale. Second row: David M. Young, Jr., Woodrow W. Bledsoe, Terrance W. Pratt, John C. Loehlin, Erna Pearson and Angus Pearson. Not shown: Clarence L. Coates, Jr., Howard Burl Baltz and Victor Bunderson.

Alumni Program

CS alumni are encouraged to keep their contact information updated by emailing You may also apply for a free, lifetime email account and a cross link to your personal or business web page from the CS alumni site.

If you are interested in participating in the planning process of the alumni program launch, please email

Staff and Faculty on the Move

  • Lorenzo Alvisi – Professor (promoted)
  • Phyllis Bellon – Administrative Associate, Accounting (new)
  • Haran Boral – Adjunct Associate Professor (new)
  • Sarah Moak – Administrative Associate, Academics (new)
  • Jason Pepas – Senior Operating Systems Specialist (new)
  • Bruce Porter – Prof. & Associate Chair of Academics* (new)
  • William Press – Professor (new)
  • Michael Scott – Senior Lecturer (promoted)
  • Peter Stone – Associate Professor (promoted)
  • Cathe Thomas – Assistant Director of Academics (new)
*RSVP required
Major events and deadlines

September 2007
  • 24 – College of Natural Sciences Career Expo, 1-6 p.m.
  • FoCS Career Brunch, 8:30-10:30 a.m. - Erwin Center
  • 28-TGIF
  • *Faculty Forum Lunch, Wednesdays @ Noon
  • *Grad Tea Time, Wednesdays, 3:30
October 2007
  • 26 – TGIF
  • *Faculty Forum Lunch, Wednesdays @ Noon
  • *Grad Tea Time, Wednesdays, 3:30
November 2007 December 2007
  • 10 – UTCS Holiday Party - Alumni Ctr.
  • *Faculty Forum Lunch, Wednesdays @ Noon
  • *Grad Tea Time, Wednesdays, 3:30
January 2008
  • 25 – TGIF
  • *Faculty Forum Lunch, Wednesdays @ Noon
  • *Grad Tea Time, Wednesdays, 3:30
February 2008
  • 6 – College of Natural Sciences Spring Career Fair & FoCS Info Session
  • 14 – Scholarship Luncheon - Alumni Ctr.
  • 29 – TGIF
  • *Faculty Forum Lunch, Wednesdays @ Noon
  • *Grad Tea Time, Wednesdays, 3:30
March 2008
  • 1 – Explore UT
  • 28-29 – GradFest ‘08
  • 28-TGIF TBD
  • *Faculty Forum Lunch, Wednesdays @ Noon
  • *Grad Tea Time, Wednesdays, 3:30
April 2008 May 2008
  • 16 – Commencement Celebration, “C2”
  • *Faculty Forum Lunch, Wednesdays @ Noon
  • *Grad Tea Time, Wednesdays, 3:30
June 2008
  • *Faculty Forum Lunch, Wednesdays @ Noon
July 2008
  • *Faculty Forum Lunch, Wednesdays @ Noon
August 2008
  • *Faculty Forum Lunch, Wednesdays @ Noon
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The University of Texas at Austin, Computer Sciences Department
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