Past Events

Jean Sammet Lectures
The following lectures have been sponsored wholly or in part by a gift from Jean Sammet ‘48.

Manuela Veloso, November, 2010
Prof Veloso of Carnegie Mellon University gave a talk for CS students on Effective Motion and Strategy Planning and Execution in Teams of Autonomous Robots , i.e. RoboCup Soccer, which she founded, and an evening general lecture on Symbiotic Robot Autonomy: Autonomous Mobile Robots Coexisting with Humans in Indoor Environments. The first talk emphasized how robots could communicate to accomplish tasks where different robots had a different view of a scene. The latter talk was exceptionally interesting in describing robots that can have tasks to carry out, for example, delivering packages in a building, but know how to enlist human aid when they reach a limiting point. Examples included a robot that would ask for help in pushing elevator buttons or ask to follow a human across a glass-walled bridge where laser reflections could not be trusted to judge distances.

Luis von Ahn and Captchas, December, 2009
Prof Von Ahn of carnegie Mellon University, is the inventor of captchas, the distorted letters and numbers on web pages used to validate human users. He talked about other possibilities for capturing minute amounts of human effort from millions of people to accomplish large tasks, with the particular example of converting the New York Times archives to digital form using dual captchas to decipher blurred words.

Robert J. Lang and Origami, April, 2010
Robert Lang, an engineer who has become the expert in the art and math of Origami gave a talk for the Mathematics and Statistics Department, a workshop for students, and an evening lecture that drew a large audience, many from outside the college. The audience included a surprising number of young people, brought by parents but clearly charmed and excited by the beauty of his dazzling array of work.

Andrew McLaughlin, Ethan Zuckerman, December, 2008
Mr. McLaughlin, head of Global Policy and Government Relations for Google, Inc., and Mr. Zuckerman, founder of Geekcorps, presented a dialogue on the “Internet for the Other Five Billion – How and Why” that discussed when technological development is sustainable and when it is not.  The exciting talk, which drew a very large cross-section of the Five Colleges, closely examined of the spread of cell phone technology and services in the Africa continent as an example of how local ideas and local support make technology adoption more likely.

Prof. Afra Zomorodian, November, 2008
Prof. Zomorodian, Dartmouth College, presented a technical talk on topological computation followed by a general talk on the use of this tool in the detection of colon cancer and the study of lipid fusion.

Prof. Anita Jones, November 2007
Prof. Jones gave an afternoon talk for CS majors on cyber security and an evening talk, for a general audience, on her career in technology.  The evening talk included presentations by Oliver Brock from the University of Massachusetts Computer Science department, and John Slepian,  Five-College Assistant Professor in Art and Technology, giving two more examples of work intertwined with technology.