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November 21, 1996

Computer science celebrates 30 years

Pitt's Department of Computer Science celebrated its 30th anniversary on Nov. 15 with an alumni luncheon, computer and software demonstrations, historical displays and a reception.

Heading the list of speakers was department chair Siegfried Treu, who provided an overview of the department's history.

Faculty members representing the department's major research areas also presented programs.

They included: Bob Daley, who spoke on "Theory and Algorithms"; Bruce Buchanan, "Four Dimensions of Artificial Intelligence"; S. K. Chang, "System Software and Interfaces"; Rami Melhem, "Parallel and Distributed Systems," and Mary Lou Soffa, "Program Analysis for Software Systems." According to Treu, the department has gone through three distinct phases since its creation.

During its first 10 years, the department was devoted to defining itself by establishing degree programs, hiring faculty, acquiring equipment and other facilities.

In its second decade, the Department of Computer Science was nearly overrun by a major enrollment surge caused by the sharp increase in interest and use of computers that occurred in the early 1980s. "We had so many majors in computer science at the undergraduate level we could hardly handle them all," recalls Treu. "We had more than any other department in the Arts and Sciences at that time." The third phase started in the mid 1980s, when enrollment stabilized, and the size of the faculty, the number of research projects and external funding to support those projects began to grow.

Among the historical material on display were computer material and graduate brochures dating back to the late 1960s.

"Historical items were posted, as well as research posters that faculty and graduate students prepared and were available to discuss with anyone who was interested," said Treu.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 29 Issue 7

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