Self Assessment The Discipline

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Self Assessment

The Discipline
Computer Science, as a discipline has reach the maturity of established fields like mathematics, physics and Electrical Engineering, where computation is both a deep and intricate field with its own fundamental challenges and intellectually profound innovations as well as strong and indispensable interdisciplinary connections with critical importance to diverse fields in engineering, social sciences , biological sciences, humanities, etc. Computer Science is the focus discipline for the information revolution that has transformed society, industry and everyday life patterns. Computers and how they manage, process and compute information are at the center of the discipline.
a. What trends are currently evident in the discipline, both nationally and internationally? What subfields are currently growing or attracting major attention, and what subfields are declining?
The field is rapidly changing and is driven by both deep theoretical results as well as pragmatic practical innovations. Traditionally, Computer Science has been a discipline with no rigid boundaries, either within or with other discipline, and hence has been interdisciplinary by its very nature with faculty moving easily between different sub disciplines and fields. Many of the current trends in Computer Science are foundational, and have their roots in well established subfields. Something about theory. Designing trustworthy computing systems is a general trend that is expanding, and involves the design of computing systems that are inherently secure, available and reliable. Examples of such large scale systems are cloud computing systems. Network science is another recent trend that is based on the study and analysis of networks, as they manifest themselves in different contexts, be they physical computer networks, social networks, information networks or biological systems. Much of this has been driven by the deluge of different types of data that needs to be analyzed, processed and managed. As has been the trend since its inception, interdisciplinary computing has been a driving force for many of the innovations in computer science.
b. How is the department positioned in the discipline? What is the strength of the department in each of its major subfields? How is this strength likely to be affected by anticipated retirements?

The Computer Science Department at UCSB is a medium sized and relatively young department with 33 faculty. Due to our size, we have historically concentrated on emphasizing areas of strength, while at the same time ensuring broad coverage of all areas of computer science. This approach has been very successful in ensuring that we have a highly visible stature in some critical areas, visible and growing presence in the field in general, ensure we have enough diversity to enable us to pursue competitive large scale grants, and allow us to successfully fulfill our instructional mission to educate and produce the next generation of computer scientists, both at the undergraduate as well as at the graduate level.

The Computer Science Department has several faculty who have achieved national recognition: Petzold is a member of the NAE, Ibarra, Kemmerer and Suri are all IEEE fellows, Ibarra and Kemmerer are ACM Fellows and Suri is an ACM Distinguished Scientist, Gilbert and Petzold are SIAM fellows. Belding, Zhao and Zheng are MIT TR Top 35, and the junior faculty in our department has garnered 15 NSF Career awards over its history. Both the Scientific Computing and the Multimedia groups have received NSF IGERT awards. Krintz has received the Anita Borg Early Career award. The security group is viewed by many objective measures as one of the top 5 in the nation. The Alexandria Digital Library, which was one of the main driving forces in the evolution of search on large image and geo-referenced information, was developed under he leadership of Smith. Many of our faculty are playing leading roles in professional national and international organizations, especially in the areas of Databases and Information Systems, Networking and Security. Finally, several successful startups were initiated by CS faculty, including Expertcity (later Citrix online) by Schauser; Teoma (later acquired by by Yang; Eucalyptus by Wolski; and RightScale by von Eiken, who was an adjunct faculty while incubating some of the cloud computing ideas at UCSB.

c. What measures are available to assess national standing, and how widely are they accepted in the discipline? What is the department's standing in the discipline on these measures?

The traditional metrics of excellence are used in Computer Science, with the notable exception that conference publications are highly valued, often more so than journal publications. Various national and international metrics have been used for ranking computer science departments. GIVE EXAMPLES. Unfortunately, the most objective ranking, that is conducted by the Computing Research Association (CRA) has been mired in controversy. The last ranking by the CRA was conducted in 1994, and we were ranked 49th. This was just after our department started its PhD program (PhD program in CS started in 1988, first PhD was granted in 1990). The most visible ranking is the US News and World Report ranking. This ranking is solely based on the opinions of senior academics, administrators and members of the industry. In 200X we were ranked 49. We are now ranked 35. This is the most significant jump in ranking. By analyzing the ranks and scores, our department is .1 shy of ranking #28. We strongly believe that with a little bit of effort, we would be at that ranking. Our overall goal is to move into the top 20 within the next 10 years. (work more on this and check numbers).

d. How do other strengths at UCSB contribute to the department's standing in the discipline?
Computer Science has strong relations inter-disciplinary relationships with different departments at UCSB, and these strengths have been well leveraged. We list some of the most prominent. Within COE, CS faculty have strong connections with ECE faculty (CE in teaching terms, as we both house the CE program, as well as strong research connections with the image processing group with large joint grants) and the ME faculty (various joint appointments, and joint grants). CS faculty have strong connections with the Media Arts and Technology Program (with students supervision and joint grants), CITS, Biology and Physics (joint appointments and student supervision), and Chicano/a Studies (joint grant).

e. What forms of extramural funding are available in the discipline? How does the department compare to others nationally in its record of funding?

The department has been very successful in terms of extramural funding. The main sources are NSF, NIH, DOE, DOD, DARPA, Army, etc. as well as a significant number of grants from industry, including Google, Intel, Cisco, etc. The department has also been very successful in soliciting donations that resulted in 4 Chairs and funding for graduate students. When compared to others, the department’s funds are very good.


  1. Comment on the continuing productivity and influence of the faculty.

The faculty are very productive and their influence on the field can be detected in various ways. We enumerate some of the highlights:

  • In the Foundations of Computer Science, we have two strong groups covering Algorithms and Complexity; and Computational Science and Engineering. These 2 groups are well established with members in national and international institutions including the National Academy of Engineering, ACM, IEEE, AAAS, ASME, SIAM, IASTED, the European Academy of Science and the Academia Europaea. Ibarra was awarded the Blaise Pascal medal, and both Ibarra and Petzold are included as ISI highly cited Researchers (2003, 3006). The junior faculty have been awarded NSF Career awards and a Sloan Research Fellowship. The CSE group has garnered the highly competitive NSF IGERT. The theory group is expecting a retirement in the near future and would clearly benefit from a generalist computational hire.

  • The Systems group, which broadly includes networks, distributed systems, programming languages and architecture is quite diverse with highly visible impact both academically as well as in the industrial world. The junior faculty were awarded NSF Career and Anita Borg Early Career awards, 3 were chosen as MIT Technology Review’s top investigators, a World Technology Network Fellow, and Computer World Top IT innovators under 40. Chaired some of the major conferences, including MobiCom, Secon, MobiHoc and SIGPLAN leadership. Several keynote presentations at major conference including CONCUR, PASTE and MEMOCODE. Wolski founded Eucalyptus, the leading open source cloud computing software system has had a significant impact on cloud computing. Yang, co-founder of Taoma and, The Neptune middleware developed at UCSB also became the cornerstone at for providing fault tolerance, replication management, and resource scheduling to manage thousands of online service machines, and has garnered several highly visible awards in the domain of searching and the internet.

  • The Security group is a small but very visible and nationally highly ranked group. In addition to including an ACM and IEEE fellow, the junior faculty were awarded NSF Career awards, several keynote speeches in diverse forums, and has been able to garner large funding, including multiple MURIs. Any retirements from this group in the near future would need to be immediately replaced to sustain and maintain the high level of activity and visibility.

  • The Information and Intelligent Systems area includes the database and information management group and the human computing and vision group. Strong inter-disciplinary group, with high impact and visibility, originally with the Alexandria Digital library, an NSF IGERT, and currently an Army Information Network grant. Leading positions in the main research venues including VLDB, PODS, SIGSPATIAL, SIGMOD, MultiMedia, and Multimodal Interfaces. The junior faculty were all awarded NSF Career awards. This group has also placed several of their PhD students in leading academic institutions, including ETH, Purdue, University of Florida and Ohio State University.

b. Comment on the balance in the department in terms of senior and junior appointments, diversity (women and underrepresented national minorities), and Senate versus non-Senate appointments. Describe the supply of potential faculty recruits, in relation to the need to achieve an appropriate balance in these categories.

The department has 22 Full Professors, 8 Associate Professor, 2 Assistant professors, 1 LSOE, and 1 PLSOE. From the Full Professors, one is retiring end of June 2010, and we expect at least 2 more retirements in the next 5 years. The chart below breaks down the gender of our faculty by rank and compares with the national average. Total, our department faculty is 14.5% female, while nationally departments are 16.6% female (Taulbee data 2007-08). In terms of under-represented national minorities (urm), one of our faculty members is of Hispanic descent (2.94% of our faculty). According to the 2007-08 Taulbee survey, 20.6% of Ph.D. graduates in CS were female, while 3.3% were urm. Of all Ph.D. graduates, it is not known what percentage of the total and what percentage of women and urms pursue academic careers. The data indicate that we are slightly below the national averages in percentage of female and minority faculty. In the past 10 years, however, we have made drastic improvements in hiring (and retaining) female faculty.


UCSB CS Females (%)

National Female % (Taulbee data)

Full Professor


2 (9%)


Associate Professor


2 (25%)


Assistant Professor


0 (0%)


Teaching Faculty


1 (50%)


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