Monday, November 17, 2008

Professor Briggs becomes Dr. Briggs

Today, Professor Briggs successfully defended his PhD dissertation. Titled, " Constraint Generation and Reasoning in OWL," it was focused on weaknesses in the current set of semantic web documents in the Swoogle database. In particular, these documents are often not completely specified and Briggs investigated ways to automatically complete those specifications. Those generated restrictions could cause issues with the subsequent reasoning, so Briggs also developed theoretically sound modifications to the standard reasoning rules that detect such problems and can retract everything that was inferred from generated restrictions.

This is an important milestone for our department. Dr. Briggs has been a strong faculty member throughout his tenure with us and we are pleased that he will be able to continue to challenge our students in a wide variety of ways.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

WiCS Field Trip

On Friday, WiCS took a trip to the Volvo PowerTrain plant in Hagerstown to see the robots. Our tour guide, Harold Duffey, was a retired engineer who had a wealth of knowledge about the company, the things that were being manufactured, and the direction Volvo is planning for that facility. While we met our goal of seeing robots in action (and we'll make a podcast to tell you more about that), we also learned a lot about manufacturing in general. It was certainly an insightful tour. We ended the day with a trip to the outlets to learn about dressing for interviews. Here we are at the start of the day:

From Trip to Volvo

Jessica, Megan, Danielle, Missy, Elizabeth, Tina, Harold Duffey, Dr. Armstrong, and Sarah (I took the picture!)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Trip to See Brian Kernighan

Professors Briggs and Armstrong took a group of students to Johns Hopkins University to see a talk by Brian Kernighan (one of the original authors of C and Unix). He was speaking on "The Changing Face of Programming" and it turned out to be a very interesting talk. The main focus was on programming languages and how they change as the applications we build change. As the discipline moves from software that resides in individual devices to web-based applications, the features required by a language change dramatically. On the way home, the discussion continued with how this shift in application-type could also affect the demands on the operating systems we develop.