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The School of Computer Science (SCS) at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA is a leading private school for computer science established in 1965. It has been consistently ranked among the top computer science programs over the decades. U.S. News & World Report currently ranks the graduate program 4th in the United States.[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.[citation needed]



On July 1965, a group of faculty, including Allen Newell, Herbert 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 Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. study program, with no master's degree as an intermediate step. The Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. and receive a master's degree. It had quickly focused on computer networking, operating systems (Mach), and robotics.

SCS today


Organizational units

Doctoral programs

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

Academic masters

  • Masters in Language Technologies
  • Masters in Machine Learning
  • Masters in Robotics
  • Masters of Science in Information Technology in Robotics Technology (MSIT/RT)
  • Masters of Science in Information Technology, Specialization in Very Large Information Systems (MSIT-VLIS)
  • Fifth Year Masters Program (CSD)
  • Masters in Computation, Organizations and Society (COS)

Professional masters

Undergraduate programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Computational Biology
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
  • Minor in Computer Science
  • Minor in Language Technologies
  • Minor in Robotics
  • Minor in Software Engineering
  • Additional Major in Computer Science
  • 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.

School of Computer Science Complex

Gates-Hillman Complex

The School of Computer Science Complex is a $98 million project that includes the Gates Center for Computer Science and the Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies. The complex has been under construction since 2007, but has been sufficiently completed to allow for the building to be opened for classes in August 2009. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on September 22, 2009, with Bill Gates giving the keynote address.[2]

The complex aims to achieve a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver rating, if not higher. LEED standards, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), award green construction and design on a number of levels.[3]

Plans for the complex began in 2004, when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave the university $20 million. In February 2008, the Henry L. Hillman Foundation gave $10 million, at which point the then-unnamed front building of the complex became the Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies. The complex is being designed by Mack Scogin Merril Elam Architects, an award-winning firm located in Atlanta, Georgia.[2]

The 210,000-square-foot complex will occupy the valley on Carnegie Mellon's West Campus surrounded by the Purnell Center, Cyert Hall, Doherty Hall and Newell-Simon Hall. The Gates Center (150,000 square feet) will face South in the direction of the grassy area on campus called "the Cut," and the Hillman Center (60,000 square feet) will face North toward Forbes Avenue, serving as the complex's main entrance. The two buildings will be connected on every level. The complex will include about 310 offices, 11 conference rooms, 32 labs, 8,000 square feet of project space and the Planetary Robotics Center. It will also house 12 classrooms, including a 250-seat auditorium.[3]

The Computer Science Complex will dramatically increase the location's pedestrian and green spaces. Part of this will be the result of the complex's 150-space covered garage, which will greatly reduce the amount of surface parking.[3]

Additionally, the Gates Center will connect to the Purnell Center, which houses the School of Drama, through the Randy Pausch Memorial Footbridge. The bridge represents professor Randy Pausch's own devotion to linking computer science and entertainment, as Pausch was a co-founder of Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center.[4]


  • 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[5] to avoid damaging the Mobots.[6]
  • 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.[7]

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 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:[8]

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.[9]

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 an hour for a 55 mile trip, Boss beat the second-place team, Stanford Racing, by just under 20 minutes.[10]

SCS honors and awards

The School established a number of honors and awards.[11]

  • 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 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.[12] Eight SCS faculty and alumni have won the A. M. Turing Award, the Association for Computer Machinery's most prestigious award[13], 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.[14]

Notable faculty

  • Luis von Ahn is an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department, where he also received his Ph.D. in 2005. Von Ahn was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2006 (called the "genius" grant).[16] 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.[17] Whittaker is the Fredkin Professor of Robotics at the Robotics Institute and the director of the Robotics Institute's Field Robotics Center[18] since its creation in 1983. Whittaker earned his master's and doctoral degrees in Civil Engineering from Carnegie Mellon in the late 1970s.[19]
  • 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.[23] 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.

See also


Further reading

  • Fenton, Edwin (2000). Carnegie Mellon 1900–2000: A Centennial History. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press. ISBN 0-88748-323-2. 

External links


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