impressions from a SIGCSE first-timer

impressions from a SIGCSE first-timer

I had the pleasure this month of attending my first SIGCSE conference, conveniently located in Portland, within walking distance of home. Now that a week's gone by, a couple of impressions stand out:

1. The tone, compared to a typical academic conference, was remarkably congenial. Technical conferences, in my experience, tend to be combative (everyone's chasing the same grant money, after all), a modern-day descendant of medieval jousts: bring a sharp lance (make clever points in your own talk), andlook for advantage(challenge the other speakers at theirs). In contrast, SIGCSE attendees were relaxed, cordial, and constructive -- demeanors all refreshing, even startling.

2. Manycore/concurrency concerns maybe on the curriculum radar, but only as adistant speck. You could count the number of concurrencytalks or workshopson a single hand, andI observedan alarming lack of urgency to adapt to the retirement of single-core architectures. One speaker talked of changing things when 32-core chips showed up "in about ten years". Sorry, some of these are already here (GPGPU); many more will enter the mainstream before current students graduate.

To this secondpoint, it was gratifying to see the crowded attendance at the manycore talk, where I worked on raising the anxiety level (manycore programming is here, be very afraid). Thisshift, serial to multicore to manycore,is going to be an interesting if bumpyride for all, and we'll want to keepsharing information in that congenial and open spirit of SIGCSE.

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Reminds me of an oldstory, dating from the timewhen the telephone was new -- patented March 10, 1876. A science writer of the day went on record saying that the telephone was easily one of the most amazing inventions of all time, in all the world: and that some day? Some day every city would have one...

Now, over a 130 years later, the scope of this kind of LACK of vision seems almost criminal if not just negligent...


Well said, Michael.

It was also my first SIGCSE and I walked away witha couple ofadditional impressions. First, most of the professors I talked with were at least mildly interested in manycore (but not teaching parallel programming themselves). Second, most of them were worried about how to fit parallel programming into an already over-crowded curriculum.

Both concern me...

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