Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science

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The School of Computer Science (SCS) at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US is a leading private school for computer science established in 1988. It has been consistently ranked among the top computer science programs over the decades. U.S. News & World Report currently ranks the graduate program as tied for 1st with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and University of California, Berkeley.[1]

The Gates-Hillman Complex, home to Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science.

In the past 15 years, researchers from Carnegie Mellon' School of Computer Science have made developments in the fields of algorithms, computer networks, distributed systems, parallel processing, programming languages, robotics, language technologies, human–computer interaction and software engineering.


On July 1965, a group of faculty, including Allen Newell, Herbert A. Simon, and Alan J. Perlis, as well as the faculty from the Graduate School of Industrial Administration (now called the Tepper School of Business), staff from the newly formed Computation Center, and key administrators created The Department of Computer Science, one of the first such departments in the nation. Their mission statement was "to cultivate a course of study leading to the PhD degree in computer science, a program that would exploit the new technology and assist in establishing a discipline of computer science." The educational program, formally accepted in October 1965, drew its first graduate students from several existing academic disciplines: mathematics, electrical engineering, psychology, and the interdisciplinary Systems and Communications Sciences program in the Graduate School of Industrial Administration. The department was housed within the Mellon College of Science.

With support from Newell, Simon, Nico Haberman, Provost Angel Jordan and President Richard Cyert, the department of computer science began a two-year status as a "floating" department in the early months of 1986. Then, the Department began to grow, both academically and financially. In 1988, the Department was officially elevated to the status of a School of Computer Science, among the first such schools in the country.

Structure in the 1980s

During the 1980s, the department offered only a PhD study program, with no master's degree as an intermediate step. The PhD program required a minimum of six years of residency. It was called the "do or die" program among the graduate students, because a student could not drop a PhD and receive a master's degree. It had quickly focused on computer networking, operating systems (Mach), and robotics.

SCS today

Organizational units

Doctoral programs

  • PhD in Computation, Organizations and Society (COS)[2]
  • PhD in Computational Biology
  • PhD in Computer Science
  • PhD in Computer Science/Dual Degree Portugal
  • PhD in Computer Science/Neural Basis of Cognition
  • PhD in Human-Computer Interaction
  • PhD in Language and Information Technologies
  • PhD in Language and Information Technologies/Dual Degree Portugal
  • PhD in Machine Learning
  • PhD in Machine Learning/Neural Basis of Cognition
  • PhD in Robotics
  • PhD in Robotics/Neural Basis of Cognition
  • M.D./PhD in Robotics
  • PhD in Software Engineering
  • Joint PhD in Statistics & Machine Learning

Academic masters

  • Masters in Computational Biology
  • Masters in Computer Science
  • Masters in Language Technologies
  • Masters in Machine Learning
  • Masters in Robotics
  • Masters in Robotic Systems Development

Professional masters

  • Masters of Science in Computational Data Science (MCDS)[3]
  • Master of Science in Music and Technology
  • Masters in Biotechnology Innovation and Computation
  • Masters in Entertainment Technology
  • Masters in Human-Computer Interaction
  • Masters in Educational Technology and Applied Learning Science (METALS)[4]
  • Masters of Information Technology in Ebusiness Technology[5]
  • Masters in Software Engineering
  • Masters in Software Engineering Management
  • MBA Track in Technology Leadership (joint SCS/Tepper program)
  • Master of Science in Information Technology in Robotics Technology (MSIT/RT)
  • Masters of Science in Information Technology—Embedded Software Engineering
  • Master in Business Administration/Master of Software Engineering
  • Master in Intelligent Information Systems (MIIS)[6]

Undergraduate programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Computational Biology
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
  • Minor in Computer Science
  • Minor in Language Technologies
  • Minor in Robotics
  • Minor in Software Engineering
  • Minor in Neural Computation
  • Minor in Human-Computer Interaction
  • Minor in Machine Learning
  • Additional Major in Computer Science
  • Additional Major in Robotics
  • Additional Major in Human-Computer Interaction
  • Fifth Year Masters in Computer Science (Carnegie Mellon, CS undergrads only)
  • MBA – Computer Science 3-2 Program (Carnegie Mellon, CS undergrads only)

Student organizations

Women@SCS is an educational program at Carnegie Mellon whose mission is to create, encourage, and support women's academic, social and professional opportunities in the computer sciences and to promote the breadth of the field and its diverse community. Women@SCS has initiated programs, such as the Big/Little Sister program for undergraduates, the invited Speaker Series for graduates, as well as dinners and other social and academic events. Women@SCS also sponsors outreach projects such as "Is there a robot in your future?" workshop for middle school girls. In general, the committee strives to promote a healthy and supportive community atmosphere.

SCS4ALL is an umbrella organization at Carnegie Mellon that promotes diversity in the School of Computer Science and coordinates outreach programs to broaden interest, understanding, and diversity in computing. SCS4ALL shares many of the core goals of Women@SCS and has expanded to develop more inclusive programs. Within SCS, the organization works to develop social and professional activities and leadership opportunities, such as the social trivia night, the "Develop Your Elevator Pitch" event, panel discussions with industry leaders, and the annual celebration of diversity SCS Day. In outreach, the organization organizes interactive presentations about computer science at local elementary, middle, and high schools. SCS4ALL is open to all students in the SCS and seeks to involve all communities in SCS in shaping the organization and its events.

Gates and Hillman Centers

Gates and Hillman Centers
The Randy Pausch memorial bridge has LEDs that glow different colours at night.

The Gates Center for Computer Science and the Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies are home to much of the School of Computer Science. The $98 million complex was opened in 2009.[7] It has 217,000-square-foot (20,200 m2) of floor space, including about 310 offices, 11 conference rooms, 32 labs, 8,000 square feet (740 m2) of project space and the Planetary Robotics Center. It also houses 12 classrooms, including a 250-seat auditorium.[8]

Additionally, the Gates Center connects to the Purnell Center, which houses the School of Drama, via the Randy Pausch Memorial Footbridge. The bridge represents Professor Pausch's own devotion to linking computer science and entertainment, as he was a co-founder of Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center.[9]

Mack Scogin Merril Elam Architects of Atlanta, Georgia were the lead architects.[7] The centers were designed to achieve at least a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver rating.[8]


  • Carnegie Mellon's Mobot Races, now in their 14th year, are hosted by the School of Computer Science during every Spring Carnival celebration. The Mobots (short for mobile robots) follow a slalom course painted in the sidewalk outside of Wean Hall. The Mobot Races used to include a MoboJoust competition, but it has not been held since 2002[10] to avoid damaging the Mobots.[11]
  • SCS Day is a yearly celebration of computer science that started in 2003. The event features a variety of activities, including exhibits, workshops and games, in addition to an evening talent show.[12]

Smiley face

SCS research professor Scott Fahlman is credited with the invention of the smiley face emoticon. He suggested the emoticon on an electronic board in 1982 as a way for board readers to know when an author was joking. The text of Fahlman's original post was lost for nearly 20 years but was later recovered from backup tapes:[13]

19-Sep-82 11:44    Scott E  Fahlman             :-)
From: Scott E  Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c>
I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:
Read it sideways.  Actually, it is probably more economical to mark
things that are NOT jokes - given current trends.  For this, use

Tartan Racing

Tartan Racing is a collaboration between Carnegie Mellon and General Motors Corporation that competes in the DARPA Grand Challenge. The Grand Challenge is a competition for driverless cars sponsored by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Tartan Racing is led by Carnegie Mellon roboticist William L. "Red" Whittaker.[14]

In 2007, Tartan Racing won the DARPA Urban Challenge, in which 11 autonomous ground vehicles raced over urban roadways. In the challenge, team vehicles were required to obey all California driving laws, share the road with other drivers and robotic cars, and complete the course in under six hours. Tartan Racing won the $2 million cash prize with Boss, a reworked 2007 Chevy Tahoe. Averaging about 14 miles (23 km) an hour for a 55-mile (89 km) trip, Boss beat the second-place team, Stanford Racing, by just under 20 minutes.[15]

SCS honors and awards

The School established a number of honors and awards.[16]

  • SCS Endowed Chairs
  • Finmeccanica Chair
  • A. Nico Habermann Chair in the School of Computer Science
  • Litton Faculty Fellows
  • Allen Newell Award for Research Excellence
  • Herbert A. Simon Award for Teaching Excellence in Computer Science
  • The Robert Doherty Prize for Excellence in Education
  • Carnegie Mellon University Undergraduate Academic Advising Award


Faculty members from the School of Computer Science have received international recognition for achievements within their fields. These honors include memberships and fellowships in the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Computing Machinery, the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.[17] Twelve SCS faculty and alumni have won the A. M. Turing Award, the Association for Computing Machinery's most prestigious award,[18] often called the "Nobel Prize of computing." These include Raj Reddy, Manuel Blum and Edmund M. Clarke of the active faculty, in addition to Emeritus Faculty Dana Scott.[19]

Notable faculty

  • Luis von Ahn is an associate professor in the Computer Science Department, where he also received his PhD in 2005. Von Ahn was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2006 (called the "genius" grant).[22] He also created Games With a Purpose, a website where users can play games to help train computers to solve complicated problems.
  • William L. "Red" Whittaker is a roboticist and research professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon who led the Tartan Racing team to victory in the 2007 DARPA Grand Challenge. He is also leading a team of Carnegie Mellon students to win the Google Lunar X Prize.[23] Whittaker is the Fredkin Professor of Robotics at the Robotics Institute and the director of the Robotics Institute's Field Robotics Center[24] since its creation in 1983. Whittaker earned his master's and doctoral degrees in Civil Engineering from Carnegie Mellon in the late 1970s.[25]
  • Hans Moravec is a research professor at the Robotics Institute with interests in mobile robots and artificial intelligence. He worked in the RI's Mobile Robot Lab, a research space designed to produce robots able to move through intricate indoor and outdoor areas.[29] He also helped develop Moravec's paradox in the 1980s, which states that it is more difficult for computers to learn basic human instincts than human reason.
  • Manuela M. Veloso is the Herbert A. Simon Professor at the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University. She is the President of the International RoboCup Federation that she co-founded and the President Elect of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. She is a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of IEEE. Her research focus on the scientific and engineering challenges of creating teams of intelligent agents in complex, dynamic, and uncertain environments, in particular adversarial environments, such as robot soccer, that Cooperate, Observe the world, Reason, Act, and Learn. She currently researches and develops effective indoor mobile service robots aiming at contributing to a multi-robot, multi-human symbiotic relationship, in which robots and humans coordinate and cooperate as a function of their limitations and strengths.

See also


  1. "America's Best Graduate Schools 2009". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved June 17, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Program News - Master of Computational Data Science".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Masters in Educational Technology and Applied Learning Science".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "MSIT (Master of Science in Information Technology) - eBusiness Technology at Carnegie Mellon University".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Carnegie Mellon University. "Feb. 20: Henry L. Hillman Foundation Gives Carnegie Mellon $10 Million For Research Building in New Computer Science Complex".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1
  9. "Error - Page Not Found".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Mobot".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "SCS Day 2015 - A Celebration of Diversity in SCS".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "SMILEY:31 YEARS OLD AND NEVER LOOKED HAPPIER!".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Tartan Racing @ Carnegie Mellon".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Carnegie Mellon University. "Nov. 4: Carnegie Mellon Tartan Racing Wins $2 Million DARPA Urban Challenge".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "SCS: Achievements". Retrieved June 9, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "A.M. Turing Award".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "SCS FACULTY AWARDS".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Untitled Document".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "President Obama Honors Nation's Top Scientists and Innovators". The White House.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Google to Finance Moon Challenge Contest".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "William L. "Red" Whittaker".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Fenton 2000, p.197.
  26. "rrlong".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Fenton 2000, p.200.

Further reading

  • Fenton, Edwin (2000). Carnegie Mellon 1900–2000: A Centennial History. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press. ISBN 0-88748-323-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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