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Department hosts distinguished lecturers

As part of the 2008-2009 Distinguished Lecture Series, the Department selected prominent researchers from academia and industry.

Jack Wolf, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, San Diego spoke on "The Amazing Growth of the Storage Capacity of Magnetic Hard Disk Drives" in October. Dr. Wolf, a former faculty member at UMass Amherst, spoke on how times have changed from 25 years ago when a 1 gigabyte hard drive was the size of a washing machine and cost about $100,000 to the advances of the magnetic recording field today.

In November, Lydia E. Kavraki, Noah Harding Professor of Computer Science at Rice University, presented "Robots, Molecules, and Physical Computing." During the talk, she discussed how the experience gained through sampling-based methods in robotics has led to algorithms for characterizing the flexibility of biomolecules for drug discovery.

Richard Clarke, Chairman of Good Harbor Consulting and key advisor on national security for the last four U.S. Presidents, spoke in April on "The Missing Pieces of the Three 21st Century Wars: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Cyberspace." Clarke was this year's Sidney Topol Distinguished Lecture Series speaker. The Topol Series was established through the generosity of Sidney Topol, UMass Amherst alumnus, class of 1947. Topol is regarded as a telecommunications pioneer who helped forge the cable-satellite connection that triggered the growth of cable television in the United States.

In April, Eric Horvitz, Principal Researcher and Research Area Manager, Microsoft Research Adaptive Systems & Interaction Group, spoke on "Intelligence, Interaction, and the Open World." His research interests span theoretical and practical challenges in machine reasoning and learning, decision making under uncertainty, human-computer collaboration, and information retrieval.

Joan Feigenbaum, Grace Murray Hopper Professor of Computer Science at Yale University, gave a presentation in May on "Approximation in Privacy Preserving Mechanisms." Her research interests include Internet algorithms, computational complexity, security and privacy, and digital copyright. More recently, she has worked on basic algorithms for massive data sets, particularly those generated in network operations and business-to-consumer e-commerce.