Introducing People of ACM – An Interview with David Patterson

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Courtesy of http://www.acm.org

In the February 28, 2013 second installment of Introducing People of ACM interview, David Patterson, director of the Parallel Computing Lab at UC Berkeley and former ACM president, answers questions, revealing his insight into the pervasive and booming expansion of big data now inherent in the computing technology field.

He describes his successes over 35 years as researcher and professor at Berkeley as the embodiment of projects developed by grad students that would later be adapted into commercial products, most notably:

Patterson discusses how his AMP lab – algorithms, machine, people – will address the expectations of big data analytics in the field of health care, and in particular, cancer research through the intersection of machine learning, cloud computing, and crowd sourcing. As he notes, faster and more efficient software pipelines will need to be built in order to handle the data stored in the proposed “Million Genome Warehouse” in the hopes it can reveal critical information gleaned from millions of DNA signatures, tumor tracking, and treatment/outcomes records.

Finally, Patterson advises prospective data analysis technologists to look into the study of statistics and machine learning, as well as taking courses in databases and operating systems, all the while taking part in development of software as a service agile programming languages such as ruby on rails, python, and django.

Full interview found at http://www.acm.org/membership/acm-bulletin-archive/february-28-2013-introducing-people-of-acm-david-patterson-1. Transcript added below:


In this second installment of “People of ACM,” we are featuring David Patterson.

David Patterson is the founding director of the Parallel Computing Laboratory (PAR Lab) at University of California, Berkeley, which addresses the multicore challenge to software and hardware. He founded the Reliable, Adaptive and Distributed Systems Laboratory (RAD Lab), which focuses on dependable computing systems designs. He led the design and implementation of RISC I, likely the first VLSI Reduced Instruction Set Computer.

A former ACM president, Patterson chaired ACM’s Special Interest Group in Computer Architecture (SIGARCH), and headed the Computing Research Association (CRA). He is a Fellow of ACM, IEEE, the Computer History Museum, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences. He received the Eckert-Mauchly Award from ACM and IEEE-CS, and ACM’s Distinguished Service and Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Awards. He served on the Information Technology Advisory Committee for the US President (PITAC).

Patterson is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where he earned his A.B., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. He has consulted for Hewlett Packard, (HP), Digital Equipment (now HP), Intel, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems, and is on the technical advisory board of several companies.


As a researcher, professor, and practitioner of computer science, how have these overlapping roles influenced both your career and the direction of computing technologies?

My research style is to identify critical questions for the IT industry and gather interdisciplinary groups of faculty and graduate students to answer them as part of a five-year project. The answer is typically embodied in demonstration systems that are later mirrored in commercial products. In addition, these projects train students who go on to successful careers.

When I look in the rear view mirror at my 35 years at Berkeley, I see some successes. My best-known projects were all born in Berkeley graduate classes:

  • Reduced Instruction Set Computers (RISC): The R of the ARM processor stands for RISC. ARM is now the standard instruction set of Post PC devices, with nearly 9B ARM chips shipped last year vs. 0.3B x86 chips.
  • Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks (RAID): Virtually all storage systems offer some version of RAID today; RAID storage is a $25B business today.
  • Networks of Workstations (NOW): NOW showed that Internet services were an excellent match to large sets of inexpensive computers connected over switched local area networks, offering low cost, scalability, and fault isolation. Today, these large clusters are the hardware foundation of search, video, and social networking.

The research shapes the teaching too. The RISC research led to the graduate textbook Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach and the undergraduate textbook Computer Organization and Design: The Hardware-Software Interface, both co-authored with John Hennessy of Stanford University.

How is your AMP Lab involved in addressing the challenges of Big Data research? What can we expect over the next decade in the development of Big Data research and its impact on cancer tumor genomics and other health care issues?

Quoting from our web site, working at the intersection of three massive trends: powerful machine learning, cloud computing, and crowdsourcing, the AMP Lab integrates Algorithms, Machines, and People to make sense of Big Data. We are creating a new generation of analytics tools to answer deep questions over dirty and heterogeneous data by extending and fusing machine learning, warehouse-scale computing, and human computation.

We validate these ideas on real-world problems, such as cancer genomics. Recently, biologists discovered that cancer is a genetic disease, caused primarily by mutations in our DNA. Changes to the DNA also cause the diversity within a cancer tumor that makes it so hard to eradicate completely. The cost of turning pieces of DNA into digital information has dropped a hundredfold in the last three years. It will soon cost just $1,000 per individual genome, which means we could soon afford to sequence the genomes of the millions of cancer patients.

We need to build fast, efficient software pipelines for genomic analysis to handle the upcoming tsunami of DNA data that will soon be flowing from these low-cost sequencing machines. Then we need a safe place to store the results. If we could create a warehouse that stores the DNA signatures of millions of cancer patients, tracks how the tumors change over time, and records both the treatments and the outcomes, we could create a gold mine of cancer fighting information. By participating, computer scientists can help ensure that such a “Million Genome Warehouse” is dependable, cost effective, and secure, and protects privacy.

We can’t yet know how many cancer patients the faster software pipelines and Million Genome Warehouses will help-it could be tens, hundreds, thousands, or millions each year-but the sooner we create these tools, the more lives we can save.

What advice would you give to budding technologists who are considering careers in computing in this burgeoning new era in data analysis?

Study statistics and machine learning along with traditional CS courses like databases and operating systems.

As Big Data will surely be in the cloud, practice developing for Software as a Service (SaaS) deployed in the cloud rather the shrink-wrap software aimed at ground-bound PCs. Since Agile development is a perfect match for fast-changing SaaS apps, take a modern software engineering course to learn about Agile as well as productive programming environments for SaaS apps like Ruby on Rails or Python and Django.


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UNHM Professors to Hold Workshops at Girls Technology Day Event

On Thursday, March 14th, 2013 (better known as “Pi day”) Professor Mihaela Sabin and Michael Jonas will be holding two workshops at Girls Technology Day. The event is being held for the first time, and will be taking place at the New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord. Over 200 girls, grades 8-10, are expected to participate in the event. Catherine Blake, Lecturer in Marketing from the University of New Hampshire who received her M.B.A from Harvard University, will be the keynote speaker.  The event will host ten workshops, of which the girls can choose four (including Cybersecurity, VEX Robotics, Careers in Technolgy Round Table, Cisco VoIP Lab, Making Ethernet Cables 101, and more) to experience first-hand what it is like to use a variety of different technologies in computing and engineering.

Students participating in Sabin and Jonas’s workshops can look forward to programming a multiplayer board game in the Greenfoot interactive Java development environment, and creating their own mobile apps for the Android operating system.

Visit NHTI to Host “Girls Technology Day”  for more information.

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UNHM Student Gains Valuable Experience from Internship with DEKA

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Source: UNH Manchester News

In this economy where the jobs are sparse and the market competitive, it’s almost expected that college students will graduate with some sort of hands on, practical experience.

Alumni that participated in the Internship Program as undergraduates have reported higher starting salaries and higher positions available upon graduation than college students without previous experience.

For Scott Adie, a Computer Information Systems major at UNH Manchester, his internship with DEKA, a research and development corporation in Manchester challenged him.

“I had to learn a new programming language from the start,” he says. “I had never touched it before. And that entire summer I learned it and am very competent in it now. Now it’s one of the languages I use the most. So it really benefitted me.”

Adie’s summer internship worked out so well, his supervisors at DEKA asked him to come back for another internship in the fall.

“Internships get us into the real world, and give us a glimpse of what we are going to be doing,” says Adie. “And it prepares us even more than the University can because we’re dealing with co-workers, we’re dealing with deadlines, we’re doing projects, things like that.”

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Alumni Corner – Interview with Matt Vartanian

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We recently interviewed alumnus Matt Vartanian. Here’s what he had to say about his time before and after graduating from UNH Manchester!

Where do you work?

I am a Network Engineer at Philips Healthcare in Andover, Massachusetts. I work on a team that creates specifications for hospital networks running Philips patient monitoring devices. We validate and verify a wide variety of configurations for networks that carry real-time physiological patient data.

What do you like about your job?

I enjoy problem solving, and there is plenty of opportunity for that at my job! While I have key objectives and projects to focus on, I also have the freedom to think independently and focus on areas in our systems that I think need attention. However, I think the most rewarding part of my job is realizing that the documentation and consulting provided by my group improves the lives of patients in hospitals all over the world!

What advice do you have for current CIS majors?

Study hard! The curriculum at UNHM is excellently designed for providing a well-rounded platform from which to start. You increase your value to a company by maintaining a wide variety of skills. At my job, I have used skills I learned from courses focused on databases, object oriented programming, excel spreadsheets, and networking concepts. When you graduate with knowledge of the basics of software engineering, database management, computer networking and administration, you can apply for entry level positions in any one of them, and choose your focus later.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In a couple of years, I expect to become a Senior Network Engineer for Philips. This comes with greater responsibility and I expect to take on more challenging and exciting work during the years to come.

Was there anything you wish you had done?

I wish I had made time for math and basic electronics classes to supplement my CIS courses. Maybe I’ll return someday!

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Open Source Projects and Multi-Player Games Featured in Two Conference Papers by CT Faculty

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Mihaela Sabin and Michael Jonas in the Computing Technology Program at UNH Manchester recently had their academic papers approved for presentation at the 18h Annual Northeast region Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges Conference (CCSC-NE 2013), hosted April 12-13 at Siena College in Loudonville, New York.

Sabin authored, in collaboration with Allen Tucker of Bowdoin College and Bonnie MacKellar of St. John’s University, a paper titled “Scaling a Framework for Client-Driven Open Source Software Projects: A Report from Three Schools.” In it, the authors document the experiences of growing real world, student-oriented and client-driven humanitarian open source projects at UNH Manchester, Bowdoin College, and St. John’s University. Sabin’s presentation will detail the three schools’ implementations of these projects as well as ways humanitarian open source development can be adapted and enhanced to meet the needs of a diverse student population.

Jonas’ paper is titled “Teaching Introductory Programming using Multiplayer Board Game Strategies in Greenfoot.” His presentation will be about a fun and engaging way to instruct introductory programming using the interactive Greenfoot Java development environment and the multiplayer-based Quoridor board game engine. He will describe how students, using the board game, begin the semester by learning fundamental programming, progress to partner-based scenario building where they implement strategy and further develop their skills, and then, finally, to the semester end, where students engage in a head-to-head competition he calls the Battle Royale.

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Congratulations to December and September 2012 Graduates!

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Dean Rafieymehr awarding four of the nine BS CIS graduates with their diplomas.

Congratulations to BS CIS September and December 2012 graduates, Damir Ibrahimovic, Jeffrey William Knight, John Sjoberg Maddaus III, Eric Thomas Murphy, Paskale Odongo, Christopher Reekie, Jonathan W. Schultz, Thomas Michael Tierney, and Cedric R. Woodbury!

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Student Story – Alex Scripcenco

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Alex Scripcenco seen in front of the UNHM Pandora building.

by Erin Clark, English major

When you first meet Alex Scripcenco, you might be hard pressed to find a hint of an accent behind his excellent English. But for this graduate student, English is a second language after Russian and followed by conversational Romanian. Language barriers are just a small sample of challenges this student faces, but he is overcoming these challenges and taking full advantage of the opportunities here at UNH Manchester.

Scripcenco is in his second semester as a graduate student and is studying to get his Masters of Science in Information Technology (MSIT). After moving to the states from Moldova, Scripcenco applied to the new program in 2011 because his engineering degree is not recognized in this country. He was hoping to gain a good educational background, and had heard good things about UNH Manchester.

Scripcenco is currently working full time as a technical consultant for Sprint and taking grad classes part time. Someday he hopes to start his own business in IT consulting, but he hopes to work for a large company to gain experience first. Scripcenco chose this field because “it’s all about connecting,” and where education is such a huge investment nowadays, he wanted to be sure that what he was studying would be relevant now as well as ten years from now. Already, the field has developed tremendously since he graduated, and at times it can be challenging to catch up.

Despite the challenges, he is happy to be here and working hard. When I asked what the main differences were between the education here in America and back in Moldova, he said “back home, everything is much more traditional. Here, there are so many resources available because of the Internet. Everything is online, and you have more of a choice in what you can study here,” once again proving how great the resources and opportunities are at UNH Manchester.

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UNHM Students Visit Dyn to Learn About Internship Opportunities

Students from CIS 685 – Professional Development Seminar can be seen here in front of Dyn’s wall of IP addresses and domain names issued by the company.

November 27th, 2012– UNHM’s CIS 685 – Professional Development Seminar class took a trip to Dyn before potentially applying for internships at the company. The DNS, email, SMTP, and Domain Registration company, situated in Manchester’s Millyard, gave a tour to the class of mostly seniors.

Dyn is a company with a very vibrant culture, which was obvious immediately upon walking in the door, where a novelty “switch to the internet” could be spotted. The number of cool, quirky items did not diminish after the tour began–a Kinect could be spotted next to a ping pong table in the cafe area, and in the hallway just beyond that was a vintage arcade machine beautifully restored to display the Dyn logo, and a rock climbing wall.

There seemed to be no shortage of freedom and creativity among the company’s staff, and each employee’s work space was made unique with various decorations. Some employees could even be seen zipping from place to place on scooters. We spotted a few familiar faces, as Dyn has employed a number of UNHM alumni in the past, including Bethany Ross, who we recently interviewed about her experiences at the company.

We learned a lot about the company and what it’s like working for Dyn. Dyn consists of three major departments: engineering, IT, and marketing/sales. No day is the same, and the work is very fast-paced. Although the employees are given a good amount of freedom, they are also held to a certain degree of accountability–you may not be expected to be at your desk every minute of the day, but you are expected to get your projects done.

All in all, Dyn was a very impressive workplace and well worth the visit. The company is rapidly expanding and always looking for talent, and anyone who is interested in working for Dyn is encouraged to apply online.

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Alumni Corner — Interview with Alumnus Bethany Ross

Bethany, center-right, having fun with coworkers at her new job.

We asked Bethany Ross, an alumnus from the UNH Manchester CIS program, a few questions about her new job and her time spent at UNH Manchester!
Where do you work?
I am an eCommerce Support Representative at Dyn (Dynamic Network Services) in Manchester, NH. I provide technical support to close to half a million home users and small businesses with a specialization in billing and abuse.
What do you like about your job?
The environment at Dyn is unlike any other place I have worked. I get to wear jeans and tee shirts to work and play foosball. Another aspect that I love about my job is that I seem to learn something new everyday. It’s crazy to me that I spend 40 hours a week doing something that was a focus of only an hour of one of my CIS classes.
What advice do you have for current CIS majors?
Try everything and get involved! When I was a freshman I would have never seen myself doing what I do now, but I enjoy it. Also take classes in departments that aren’t CIS, you’ll learn things that are helpful in any field such as communication skills.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself in a supervisory role doing something in the IT field. Hopefully I’ll be finishing a master’s degree by then too!
Was there anything you wish you had done? 
I wish I had gotten involved as an Orientation Leader earlier. I became an Orientation Leader partly to overcome my fear of talking to large groups of people that I didn’t know. Let me tell you, talking to 40 new students with all eyes on you is a quick way to overcome it. I also met faculty and students I would not have met other ways.
We like to stay connected with our alumni and get them involved with our community. How would you like to stay involved and share your professional knowledge and expertise with us?
I really enjoyed when former students came in and talked to current students, I would love to do that. Interesting part of that is, when I met with one former student in the Internship Experience class, she was actually working in the department at Dyn where I work in now. I would also like to get involved in anything that gets more young girls involved in technology, there is such a gender gap in the field. I was the only woman that graduated with a BS in CIS in May 2012, I would love to see that never happen again!

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UNH Manchester Holds Mobile App Development Program For Teachers

Teachers from NH work on developing a mobile app.

Last Friday, high school teachers from across the state were invited to UNH Manchester to learn mobile app development techniques in an event sponsored by the Career Development Bureau. Participants used MIT “App Inventor” on Motorola X phones running the Android operating system to develop and implement their first mobile app, a spin off of “Hello World” programs called “Hello Kitty.” Instructor Patrick Lagace, a Computer Science teacher at the Cheshire Career Center at Keene High School and adjunct faculty member at Keene State College lead the discussions for the creation of this simple app. Once completed, the app contained a picture of a cat which, when touched, would meow or purr. Upon shaking the screen, however, the cat would meow and hiss. About 30 people were enrolled in this free program, and attendees were given free lunch, as well as a hard copy of the book “App Inventor: Create your Own Android Apps,” by David Wilber, Hal Abelson, Ellen Spertus and Liz Looney.

UNH Manchester will offer a Mobile App Development course this Spring. CIS majors as well as anyone with an interest in mobile computing are encouraged to enroll.

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