Newsletter for Winter 2007

In this issue…

Message from the Chair

Dear alumni, students, and friends,

Greetings from the Boston University Department of Computer Science. The snow is falling, exams are (finally) over, and our students, faculty, and staff are leaving campus for a well-deserved winter break.

2007 has been a productive and exciting year.

Warm-hearted congratulations to all the students who completed their degrees in Computer Science during 2007! We wish everyone the best of luck as you embark for life beyond BU. Congratulations also go to three of our current CS undergraduates, Steven Li, Guyomar Louise Pillai, and Varnit Kothari, who were awarded scholarships from Transition Consulting Limited this fall.

I’d like to convey kudos to Professors Hongwei Xi and Leo Reyzin, who both received tenure and promotion to the rank of Associate Professor in September. And special recognition and gratitude goes to Professor Azer Bestavros, who enthusiastically led our department for seven years, and has accomplished so much during that time.

The Department of Computer Science continues to be “lean and mean.” During the past year, the faculty and students energetically pursued both scholarly and research activities. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked our department 7th in the nation last year, in terms of the faculty scholarly productivity. In 2007 CS faculty members were awarded eight new research grants, totaling $2.4M. In addition, the faculty continued their involvement in a range of cross-disciplinary grants, including a new $2M grant for research in sensor networks with the Center for Information and Systems Engineering.

Also in 2007, our department launched a number of new courses, including an introductory course for non-majors in Databases and Data Analysis, as well as upper-level courses in Machine Learning, Data Mining, Algorithmic Aspects of Networks, and Computer Network Security. And since its inception three years ago, the interdepartmental Center for Reliable Information Systems and Cyber Security (RISCS) has continued to grow in prominence, as a designated National Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

This year we launched a couple of initiatives that may be of interest to alumni: the CS Connections program and the Alumni Distinguished Award. Details of these initiatives are provided later in this newsletter. We welcome your participation.

Please stay in touch; we would love to hear from you.

With best wishes for a happy and healthy 2008,

Stan Sclaroff, Chair
Computer Science Department
Boston University

Congratulations and Welcome BU/CS Class of 2007!

The 2007 CS Convocation ceremonies reflected the many achievements of the class of 2007. The ceremonies were held on May 20th in the College of Fine Arts Auditorium and featured very well-received speeches: a strong student speech by Matt Coles (CAS’07) and an inspiring convocation address by Dr. Anukool Lakhina.

In his speech, Matt Coles, our student speaker, who joined Google in New York City emphasized the importance of the basic and fundamental education that he received in the Department — education that he noted to be in the best traditions of the liberal arts. Anukool Lakhina, BU/CS Class of 2001, is Founder and President of Guavus, Inc., a network data mining startup. Anukool founded Guavus in 2006 to commercialize research that he completed as part of his PhD in Computer Science at Boston University, under Mark Crovella.

Three students were presented with excellence awards during the convocation in May 2007. The Computer Science Department’s Academic Achievement Awards were presented to Lukas Lepicovsky and Kyle Olszewski. Maria Shugrina won the College Prize for Excellence in Computer Science for her academic achievements. Three of our graduating senior students have been elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa by the Epsilon of Massachusetts Chapter at Boston University, in recognition of their high level of scholarship and academic achievements. They are: Lukas Lepicovsky, Kyle Olszewski and Maria Shugrina..

Congratulations to all members of the BUCS Class of 2007! Pictures from the convocation exercises are available from

Nominations Sought for BU/CS Distinguished Alumni Award

To recognize the many achievements of its alumni, the CS Department is pleased to announce the establishment of the CS Distinguished Alumni Award to be given annually to a CS alumnus or alumna who has excelled in his or her professional career. The winner of the first CS Distinguished Alumni Award will be announced in the Spring of 2008, as the Department begins its 25th anniversary celebrations throughout 2008/09.

All alumni are invited to submit nominations for the award. Nominations will be accepted via email sent to, or using a web interface soon to be accessible through the BUCAN web site. A nomination must include current contact information for both the nominator and nominee, and a short (1-2 paragraph) justification. Self nominations are welcome.

CS Connections Brings Career Opportunities to CS Students and Alumni

This Fall, the CS Department launched the CS Connections program which is designed to facilitate communication between our students and potential employers. Over the years, we have been contacted by many potential employers; the CS Connections program is intended to provide a central organization of such contacts about job and internship opportunities for our students. Students may join the mailing lists and view archived opportunities as well as attend events starting in spring 2008 to learn more about the companies and distribute their resume. We welcome you to check out more about CS Connections..

fissure segmentation framework

Research Excellence Awards for 2007 Announced

The BU/CS Research Excellence Award was established to recognize Ph.D. students who have produced outstanding research results over the course of their careers at Boston University. For 2007, Jingbin Wang won the award. Quoting from the citation for the award: “Jingbin has shown excellent taste in selecting or defining the tough problems that are central in his field. His algorithms are not only theoretically interesting, but also solve important practical tasks.” Problems that Jingbin worked on are important for a number of applications ranging from the design of seamless human-computer interfaces to the effective diagnosis of lung cancer using computed tomography (shown). Commenting on Jingbin’s achievements, his advisor Margrit Betke notes that “Jingbin’s most important strength as a computer scientist is his enormous creativity. This is not some innate, absolute characteristic, but is connected with his respect for and curiosity about the contributions of other scientists, and his hard work, resourcefulness, and motivation. And a wonderful sense of humor.” Jingbin defended his PhD thesis in the Spring of 2007 and has since joined Google in Mountain View, CA.

Currently, the Department is funding REA awards through discretionary funds available to individual faculty members. Suggestions for other means to support this initiative are welcome! For more information on the REA awards, please refer to this link.

Department Hosts NSF Workshop on Research Infrastructures

On June 4th and 5th of 2007, the CS Department hosted a national workshop on Computing Research Infrastructures (CRI) sponsored by the NSF. The workshop was by invitation only and attracted over 150 PIs from almost every corner of the US. A number of NSF officers have also participated in the meeting. Our department hosted this event as we were recipients in 2002 of a $1.6M research infrastructure award to set up a video sensor network (the Sensorium), which was “on display” throughout the event. President Brown delivered the meeting’s opening remarks, in which he underscored the changing infrastructural needs of computer scientists, and stressed the importance of federal support of experimental infrastructures for CS research and the transformative effect of such support on the research careers of faculty members, allowing up-and-coming departments to realize their ambitions. President Brown used our department — which has received two CRI awards in a row, allowing it to build up its presence in applied computer science — as a case in point. Provost Campbell introduced the workshop’s plenary speaker, Ed Lazowska, a preeminent computer scientist from the U of Washington, who gave an inspiring talk about the bright future of CS research. A number of faculty members from the Department participated actively in the workshop, with Margrit Betke and Azer Bestavros making a presentation about Sensorium projects, and Ibrahim Matta leading a breakout session on urban mesh networks and the possibilities and opportunities for networking research atop these networks. For more details on the workshop, please refer to

Mark Your Calendar for IAP Research Day on March 19, 2008

On Wednesday March 19, 2008, our department will be holding its 8th Annual Industrial Affiliates Program (IAP) Research Day. This is an opportunity for our students to show off results from their research work and to get feedback from a broad audience. More importantly, it is a wonderful opportunity for members of our larger community—including alumni of the Department—to get acquainted with the various research projects undertaken by members of our faculty.

The main event in our IAP Research Day is a Poster Session, which will be held in the CS Research Lab from 10:00am to 2:00pm (with Lunch served at 12:30pm). During this poster session, attendees are invited to walk through the lab, browse through the dozens of posters on display, listen to on-demand brief presentations and demonstrations by graduate students, and chat with faculty members. The format of the Poster Session is intentionally flexible and informal to accommodate the wide interests and time constraints of our guests, who are welcome to come for any part of the session (noting that the period from 1:00pm-2:00pm will also be open to undergraduate students of our department). A list of poster abstracts will be available form the IAP program web page.

Please let us know if you will be able to attend by sending an email to For more information on our IAP program, please refer to: Industrial Affiliates Program

Join BUCAN on Facebook!

Interested in connecting with fellow CS alumni? Interested in getting updates about departmental events and activities? With social networking, it’s now easier than ever! Just join the BUCAN group on Facebook at and spread the word!

Department Holiday Party Held at The Castle!Xmas.020.JPG

The BU/CS Department faculty and students were treated to an end-of-semester party at the BU Castle on December 12th. With family and friends we celebrated the end of a wonderful year with many successes that made us all proud! It was a blast!

Pictures and special moments from this event are available on the Web at