All News

Pitt CS Startup Receiving Local Attention

Created: Jun 13, 2016 by Lydia Moss
Departmental News

CS seniors Natalie Boehm and Robbie McKinstry, along with two other Pitt students, have created software to assist in grading computer science projects. They named their software Alligrader, and recently competed in the Blast Furnace demo event held at the William Pitt Union. Alligrader is a software intended to help improve the accuracy and efficiency of grading computer science projects, a task that is time-consuming for professors and TAs. Though they didn't win the startup competition, they do hope to market their product to department chairs and are looking to partner with other accelerators. Read the full Post-Gazette article here

Congratulations to Professor Adriana Kovashka on receiving a NSF CRII CISE Research Initiation Grant!

Created: Jun 01, 2016 by Mackenzie L. Ball
Press Releases, Accolades

This project develops technologies to interpret the visual rhetoric of images. The project advances computer vision through novel solutions to the novel problem of decoding the visual messages in advertisements and artistic photographs, and thus brings computer vision closer to its goal of being able to automatically understand visual content. From a practical standpoint, understanding visual rhetoric can be used to produce image descriptions for the visually impaired that align with how a human would label these images, and thus give them access to the rich content shown in newspapers or on TV. This project is tightly integrated with education. The work is interdisciplinary and can attract undergraduate students to the research from different fields.

This research focuses on three media understanding tasks: (1) understanding the persuasive messages conveyed by artistic images and the strategies that those images use to convey their message; (2) exposing a photographer's bias towards their subject, e.g., determining whether a photograph portrays its subject in a positive or negative light; and (3) predicting what part of an artistic photograph a viewer might find most captivating or poignant. To enable decoding of artistic images, a large dataset is collected and annotated with a number of artistic properties and persuasion techniques that are intended for human understanding, then methods are developed to model visual symbolism in artistic images, as well as adapt positive/negative effect methods from sentiment analysis. To predict the photographer's bias towards a subject, a dataset of historical and modern portrayals of minorities and foreigners is collected, then an algorithm is created that reasons about body language and 3D layout and composition of the photo. To predict poignance, eyetracking data on a set of artistic images from famous photographers is collected, then semantic and connotation conflicts between the objects in the photographs are analyzed.

PhD student Huy Nguyen Wins Best Student Paper Award

Created: May 25, 2016 by Lydia Moss
Accolades, Departmental News

Huy Nguyen, a sixth year PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh under the advising of Dr. Diane Litman was recently awarded "Best Student Paper" at the 29th International Florida Artificial Intelligence Research Society conference. Congratulations!!

Valued Staff Member Russell A. Howard II Passes Away

Created: May 09, 2016 by Mackenzie L. Ball
Updated: May 09, 2016 by Mackenzie L. Ball
Press Releases, Departmental News

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of long time staff member Russell "Russ" Howard's passing. He received his BS in Computer Science and MS in Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh. He worked for the Department of Computer Science for over 20 years as a valued and beloved member of the technical staff. He contributed to the CS Department in countless ways, and was an important part of the CS Department staff. He was well liked by all and he will be deeply missed. We will remember him always for his devotion to the Department and his sincere kindness to everyone he met.

Pitt CS Students Ritwik Gupta and Laurence Putterman Win Red Bull's Hack the Hits!

Created: Apr 14, 2016 by Mackenzie L. Ball
Updated: Apr 15, 2016 by Mackenzie L. Ball
Accolades, Outreach News

Pitt Computer Science students Laurence Putterman and Ritwik Gupta, along with Tiffany Jiang from Carnegie Mellon, were recently one of 5 teams around the nation picked to compete in Red Bull’s Hack the Hits hackathon in San Francisco this past weekend. Their team won first place where they created a MIDI controller that mimics the experience of playing a string instrument with some additions. Over the course of 24 hours, each of the 5 teams (from schools such as Stanford and UC Berkeley) tried to create an expressive, playable instrument that could be used in a live or studio setting. Using four touch sensitive “thinpot” (thin potentiometer) sensors connected to an Arduino and some cardboard, they recreated the general shape of a guitar, where the thinpot sensors took the place of strings. This enabled the player to expressively slide their notes just like a string instrument player. In addition, a Leap Motion attached to the body of the instrument allowed players to modulate effects by gesturing in front of the instrument with their hands. The thinpot sensors send their output to the Arduino, which relays the information over a serial connection. Max for Live, a powerful visual programming environment specifically designed for interfacing with Ableton Live (audio software), receives this data, separates the data according to sensor, and transforms those values into MIDI. Each sensor outputs to its own MIDI channel, allowing the user a great deal of flexibility with regards to how they would like the instrument to sound. They were featured in Forbes, follow the link for the article Congratulations to Ritwik and Laurence!!!

Pitt Computer Science Supports NCWIT Aspirations in Computing by offering scholarships to NCWIT Winners!

Created: Apr 08, 2016 by Mackenzie L. Ball
Updated: Apr 08, 2016 by Mackenzie L. Ball
Press Releases, Outreach News, Departmental News

The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is a non-profit change leader network of more than 650 universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations nationwide working to increase women’s meaningful participation in computing. The Department of Computer Science is a proud NCWIT Academic Alliance Member.
The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing honors young women at the high-school level for their computing-related achievements and interests. Awardees are selected for their computing and IT aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education. Offers both a national and local award competition.
The Department of Computer Science offers a $5,000 scholarship for NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Winners! The award ceremony was held on April, 2nd, 2016!

Pitt CS PhD Students are 2 of the 3 Nominees for Best Student Paper!

Created: Apr 06, 2016 by Mackenzie L. Ball

At the 29th International Florida Artificial Intelligence Research Society Conference Pitt CS PhD students Huy Nguyen and Wencan Luo are two of the three nominees for Best Student Paper.

"Improving Argument Mining in Student Essays by Learning and Exploiting Argument Indicators versus Essay Topics" - Huy Nguyen and Diane Litman

"Determining the Quality of a Student Reflective Response" - Wencan Luo and Diane Litman

For more information:

Red Bull Hack the Hits Selects Pitt CS Students Ritwik Gupta and Laurence Putterman to Compete!!

Created: Apr 05, 2016 by Mackenzie L. Ball
Updated: Apr 05, 2016 by Mackenzie L. Ball
Outreach News

Pitt Computer Science students Ritwik Gupta and Laurence Putterman are part of one of only 7 teams chosen around the nation to compete in Red Bull's musical hackathon called Hack the Hits this weekend in San Francisco, California! Learn more about the hackathon and their team at! They are really excited to represent Pitt CS at the hackathon!! Wish them Luck!

CS Department Announces Honor Roll and Outstanding Undergraduate Student

Created: Mar 21, 2016 by Lydia Moss
Accolades, Departmental News

To be named to the CS Honor Roll for a given academic year, students must:
1. Be a full time student for the academic year
2. Have taken at least 3 CS courses including at least 2 upper level CS classes
3. Have a CS GPA of 3.75+
4. Have an overall GPA of 3.5+

37 students were named to the CS Honor Roll for 2014-2015. They are:
Nicholas Alberts
Zachary Alcorn
Reed Armstrong
Joseph Baker
Devon Broglie
Michael Byrne
Yijia Cui
Adam Darr
Leart Doko
Sarah Dubnik
Stephen Ellis
Rinat Gatyatullin
Alexander Glyde
Shelley Goldberg
Eric Gratta
Spencer Gray
Joseph Hagner
Corey Hoffman
Adam Jaworski
Adnan Khan
Charles Kiorpes
Andrew Lucas
Aditya Mahadevan
Julian Manfredi
Peter Mash
William McKibbin
Edwin Mellett
David Neiman
John Phillips
Joel Roggeman
Justin Rushin
Adam Schwab
Lauren Thompson
Frank Wolverton
Megan Yates
Jiayan Zhang
Sheridan Zivanovich

For 2015-2016, Joel Roggeman was chosen by the faculty as the outstanding undergraduate student for his academic excellence and in his participation in extracurricular activities that support the CS Department. Joel has a CS GPA of 4.0, and overall GPA of 3.967, and has received 6 A+ grades in CS courses. In addition to his strong academics, Joel is a math minor, has done research in collaboration with Dr. Alex Labrinidis, is a peer tutor in the CS Resource Center, and is the Computer Science Club business manager. Please join the CS Department in congratulating all of these students for their successes!

CS Graduate Students Awarded Mellon Fellowship

Created: Mar 07, 2016 by Lydia Moss
Accolades, Departmental News

Ph.D. candidates Wencan Luo and Xianwei Zhang have been awarded the Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship for 2016-2017. Congratulations!!

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