Dr. Manaris Invited to Present at University of Utah’s Arts & Technology Lecture Series

On April 21, 2015, Dr. Bill Manaris was invited to the University of Utah, where he presented “Computing in the Arts: A New Major for Creative People” as part of the Arts & Technology Lecture Series.

Dr. Manaris

Dr. Bill Manaris
CITA Program Director

Computing in the Arts (CITA) is an innovative interdisciplinary major, which combines computer science with artistic theory and practice. CITA is relatively easy to implement because it repurposes existing courses and resources. At the College of Charleston, this involves three tracks (music, studio art, and theatre). CITA incorporates four synthesis courses, one per academic year, to help students interweave the two distinct curricular experiences. In the four years of its existence, CITA has increased participation in computing by 23% mainly from an underserved population (students interested in the arts). Approximately 49% of these students are women. These students tend to be strong in design and creativity, thus enriching the field with professionals who can envision new technologies and surprising innovations.

The talk provided inspiration behind CITA, discussed implementation highlights at the College of Charleston, and presented several projects that have emerged as a result of CITA. These include a Laptop Orchestra, Monterey Mirror (a computer musician that listens to humans and responds with new material in real-time), Jython Music (a Python environment for music making and creative programming activities, intended for musicians and programmers), Harmonic Navigator (a system for exploring harmonic spaces in J.S. Bach Chorales and other music in real-time), Time Jitters (a four-projector interactive gallery installation synthesizing artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction with music and visual art), and Loutraki Sunset (a music composition created by converting a beautiful image to aesthetically pleasing music).

For more information about the CITA program, please visit: http://cita.cofc.edu.

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Three Data Science Students Receive Merit Awards at SSM Undergraduate Research Poster Session

On Thursday, April 16th 2015, the School of Science and Mathematics hosted the 27th Annual SSM Undergraduate Research Poster Session.   Kellan Fluette and David Moore, data science students, won research group awards of merit with Alex Jacobs as the overall winner for Computer Science.

Alex Jacobs – Overall winner for CS


Alex Jacobs

“Galaxy Classification Using Deep Belief Networks”

The massive number of galaxies in the universe poses a central problem for astronomers and requires novel techniques to be used for classification.  To cope with the vast amounts of data created by modern observations, past research organizations, specifically Galaxy Zoo (part of the citizen science project Zooniverse), have crowd-sourced morphological classification techniques inviting members of the public to log onto a website and classify the data. The technique has been effective, but we hypothesize that we should be able to apply machine learning techniques to classify the data as well as humans. We analyze the performance on this classification task for a deep learning neural network constructed by stacking restricted Boltzmann machines on top of one another, also referred to as a deep belief network.


Kellan Fluette


Kellan Fluette

“Extending scalable deep neural networks to multi-way classification”

Deep learning models that capture high-level abstractions in data often outperform standard models for classification problems. On large datasets, significant gains in classification accuracy can be achieved by using computationally efficient non-linear transforms, such as using deep neural networks (DNNs) or stacked denoising autoencoders (SDAEs), to model higher-level abstractions in the data before using standard models for classification on the transformed dataset.  Le et al. have developed Fastfood, a method for approximating kernel expansions in loglinear time; kernel expansions are performed in neural networks and must be calculated for every pair of training samples–this quickly becomes costly for large datasets, and is partially resolved by using Fastfood kernel expansions. As the existing paper describes using Fastfood optimized neural networks (FONNs) for binary classification problems, we extend the algorithm such that it can be applied to classification problems with more than two classes using a logistic classifier.


David Moore

“ccOPLS: Confounder Correcting Orthogonal Projections to Latent Structures”

David Moore

David Moore

Predicting biological phenotypes from next-generation high-throughput data sources is essential to bioinformatics. However, confounding variables such as gender, age, and habitat can skew the results of such data, leading to biased and inaccurate results. While work has already been done to create a confounder correcting method in Support Vector Machines by Li et. al, there is no such method available for a classification algorithm suited for high-dimensional data with a small sample size (d >> n). We have extended Li et. al’s confounder correcting algorithm for Support Vector Machines (ccSVM) to allow Orthogonal Projections to Latent Structures (O-PLS) to account for confounding variables. We demonstrate that our novel method improves the accuracy of a non-confounding corrected OPLS implementation and that it is better suited to datasets that exhibit the d >> n pattern.



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NSF Workshop on “Computing in the Arts: Music, Art, and Computation”

The College of Charleston will host a workshop on “Computing in the Arts: Music, Art, and Computation” commencing on Wednesday, May 13, 6pm, through Friday, May 15, 2015, 1pm, in Charleston, SC.

The workshop is funded by National Science Foundation grant DUE 1323605, Transforming Undergraduate Education Type 2 Project. Approximately 25 participants will be involved along with four facilitators. Multiple participants from one institution are permitted, especially if they form a multidisciplinary team spanning some aspect of Computing and the Arts. Travel expenses, lodging, and meals will be covered for participants who are accepted to the workshop.

The workshop focuses on building a community of educators, who are teaching students to synthesize the creativity and design of art with the mathematical rigor and formality of computer science, technology, and engineering. Workshop participants will explore various curricular approaches to integrating computing and arts disciplines. They will also investigate and be given resources for developing individual assignments, courses, and complete degree programs in Computing in the Arts. The workshop facilitators have all contributed to relevant curriculum development, have taught courses, and/or lead development of degree programs bridging computing and the arts. NSF is funding dissemination of this expertise to enhance the integration of computing and arts disciplines and strengthen STEAM (STEM + Art) education at the national level.

Tentative schedule:

Day 1: (6:00 PM to 9:00 PM) Dinner and opening session.

Day 2: (9:00 AM to 9:00 PM) Full-day of sessions, activities, meals.

Day 3: (9:00 AM to 1:00 PM) Final sessions, ending after lunch.

Apply through email to Renee McCauley, Professor of Computer Science, College of Charleston, at mccauleyr@cofc.edu, with subject “Workshop”. Please describe your current position, background in related academic areas, and interest in the workshop. Early applications have a greater chance of being accepted. Applications will be accepted until positions are filed.

Workshop coordinators: Bill Manaris, Renée McCauley (College of Charleston), Jennifer Burg (Wake Forest University), Rebecca Bruce, Susan Reiser (University of North Carolina, Asheville)

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Alumni “Give Back”

On February 17th, the Department of Computer Science presented the 9th Annual Computer Science Alumni Symposium featuring graduates making their connection in the world.  Seven Computer Science Alumni dedicated their time to engage with students about their careers, shared insights and advice on topics, including job-hunting, graduate school, start-ups and career opportunities.  The Department would like to thank the following Alumni presenters for taking the time to “Give Back”:

  • Michael Cole, 2014 – Blackbaud
  • John Jones, 2001 – Atlas Technologies, Inc
  • Tori McCaffery, 2014 – IBM
  • Jason Miller, 2000 – Dependable Global Solutions
  • Semmy Purewal, 2002 – Netflix
  • Renee Tedder, 1986 – Santee Cooper
  • Jason Wilson, 2014 – Honeywell Aerospace


Looking for ways to “Give Back”?  Volunteer to be a CS Alumni Ambassador!

The department is currently looking for Ambassadors that can take the CS Alumni Group to the next level – plan alumni events, trips, and presentations, speak to student organizations, mentor current students, support department projects (assist with High School Programming Competition, UPE, etc.) – the sky’s the limit!  For more information or to volunteer, please contact Melissa Ingersoll at ingersollmj@cofc.edu.  Also, alumni can give to student programs at the Department by donation at the following link:

<<<Give to Computer Science>>>



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Launching This Summer… “Omics” National Science Foundation (NSF) REU Site Program in Computational Genomics and Bioinformatics!!!

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 4.24.37 PMAre you interested in data-driven next-generation genomics, bioinformatics, or data science? The National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Site was awarded to the College of Charleston to support the training of 10 students in a 10-week program during the summers of 2015-2017.  The Omics Experience will train students to gain skills in lab research, develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, understand the process of science, and to communicate their research results to peers and the public. Students will also have an opportunity to present their results at a national conference. The Omics Experience will focus on integrative research that spans the areas of genomics, bioinformatics, data mining, data science, molecular biology and evolution.

One of many ongoing projects student would be a part of with Omics:

Applications are currently open until March 1, 2105.  For more information and to apply, visit the OMICS REU page.

For questions, contact Dr. Paul Anderson at  andersonpe2@cofc.edu or Andrew M. Shedlock at shedlockam@cofc.edu.

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