Archive for March 25, 2010

New CRA Taulbee Report Released: CS Majors up!

The latest CRA (Computing Research Association) Taulbee report is out:

The number of new students majoring in computer science increased 8.5 percent over last year. The total number of majors increased 5.5 percent, yielding a two-year increase of 14 percent. Computer science graduation rates should increase in two to three years as these new students graduate.

via CRA Taulbee Report: CS Enrollments, New Majors Up For 2nd Straight Year.

I have two caveats to mention on this report.  First, this is the CRA — research-focused, PhD-granting institutions.  I don’t know if it’s the same at the smaller schools, and I don’t know who measures that.  From what I’ve heard, things have flattened out at smaller schools, but are not much better.

While these are positive signs, it’s kind of like the signs that the economy is improving.  Yeah, it is, but there sure are lots of unemployed people and boarded up stores yet.  Look at this graph that I’m copying from the CRA website:

Are the number of new majors increasing?  Absolutely!  But there is a huge gap between 2000 and 2009.  It’s better, but it’s not what it was.

March 25, 2010 at 7:35 am 1 comment

Microsoft is all about cloud computing and parallelism

I don’t know a lot about parallel computing, so there may be no conflict here.  Let me explain my confusion.  First this:

Microsoft is “all in” for cloud computing, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a large crowd at the University of Washington’s Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering early this month.

Currently, about 70 percent of Microsoft’s 40,000 employees are “doing things that are entirely cloud-based or cloud-inspired,” he said, adding: “And by a year from now, that [number] will be 90 percent.”

via Technical Career News.

Then this: At the final plenary of SIGCSE 2010, Michael Wrinn of Intel exhorted, cajoled, and insisted that all the educators in the audience teach parallelism to students.  For example, he encouraged us to move away from languages like Java and C, towards C#, but even better, toward functional languages like Haskell and OCaml because these can be more easily and more efficiently parallelized.  Microsoft and Intel have funded two large research centers (about $10M each, I understand) to improve our ability to program multi-core, parallel computers, at Berkeley and at UIUC.

Here’s where I’m confused: As I understand it, clouds are massive server farms, but each server could be programmed in traditional serial style (even if they are multi-core, which they most certainly will be in the future), right?  So is Microsoft hedging its bets, by going “all in” on the Cloud and pushing toward more parallel programming?  It’s important for us as educators.  To move our curricula to all functional is (for most schools) a big change.  Is the future about parallelism, or does the cloud make an emphasis on parallelism less critical, except as an optimization technique to better utilize the multiple cores?

March 25, 2010 at 7:20 am 8 comments

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