Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Our Programming Team Rocks!

In preparation for the ACM regional competition, our programming team competed in an internet contest last night. Our first team (Philip Diffenderfer, Keith Porter, and Casey Boone) solved five problems in 227 minutes coming in first place! Our second team (Logan Kennedy, Robert Koch, and Emily Bruckart) also solved five problems but took a slightly longer 312 minutes coming in second place. Our third team had two members who were competing in their first competition ( Philip Hagar, Brendan Johnston, Steve Jurnach) but still solved two problems.

Our first two teams beat Dickinson, Millersville, University of Delaware, and Washington College. We'll see them all again on November 7th at the regional competition. Here's hoping we beat them there, too!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

P =? NP in the NY Times!

Yesterday, one of the classic computer science problems was discussed in the New York Times. They give a reasonable description of the P =? NP problem and why it is fundamental challenge in computer science. However, there are some errors that come from trying to explain the problem in general terms. Can you find them?

The source of this article is an article in the Communications of the ACM which gives a much more clear description of the problem. It's an article every computer science student should read! Let me know what you think!

Friday, October 2, 2009

More lab improvements!

We have recently made a number of improvements to our subnet. After getting single-sign-on to work for our Linux machines, Macs, and servers, we have started to work on improving off-campus access for our students. With that in mind, we have installed OpenVPN to give our student virtual private network access to our machines. This means that, even when they are at home, it can feel like they are on our floor (behind the campus firewall). We've even made that work with our single-sign-on configuration so that credentials are automatically retrieved.

Even on our floor, VPN access can be beneficial. The wireless points on our floor are connected to the campus network - not our subnet. This means that access to our servers isn't direct and you run into firewall issues. Using the VPN access bypasses those problems. Therefore, my Mac laptop always has TunnelBlk (the mac Open VPN client) on. And, as a great side benefit, that makes my wireless connection a secure connection even though we don't have secure wireless access points.

Students can read more about how to take advantage of these features by reading about them on the "Equipment Support" website on the accounts.

We are working hard to continue to improve our infrastructure. If you have ideas for other changes we should make, please let us know!