CS Colloquium

Spring 2024

Presented by the Computer Science Department
Mondays 12:00 - 12:50pm, Stevenson Hall 1300
All lectures are free and open to the public

Call for Participation Join the Mailing List

Learning by Making: Rockets, Cubesats and More!

Lynn Cominsky
Sonoma State University


Over the past decade, Sonoma State University’s EdEon STEM Learning group of educators and technologists has developed an integrated ninth-grade physical science curriculum branded as “Learning by Making” (LbyM). LbyM teaches coding, electronics and sensors as tools for students to design and build their own science experiments. LbyM also teaches computational thinking to help students focus on real world problem solving inspired by various physical phenomena. Solutions to the problems are constructed by teachers and students working together. This innovative curriculum grew out of previous EdEon group projects that taught students how to build rockets, drones, and CubeSats together with experimental payloads using similar technology. In this talk, Prof. Cominsky will review the history of flight projects at EdEon, discuss LbyM and ongoing group projects that have grown from these earlier efforts

Network Analysis and Brain Disorders

Eric Friedman
Senior Research Scientist
International Computer Science Institute (ICSI)


In this talk I will provide an overview of network analysis and its applications to understanding brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. I will discuss the approach and some of the computational issues that arise in the analysis.

Advancing Explainability Through AI Literacy And Design Resources

Allison Woodruff
ACM Distinguished Speaker


Explainability helps people understand and interact with the systems that make decisions and inferences about them. This should go beyond providing explanations at the moment of a decision; rather, explainability is best served when information about AI is incorporated into the entire user journey and AI literacy is built continuously throughout a person's life. We share resources that can be used in both industrial and academic environments to encourage AI practitioners to think more broadly about what explanations can look like across products and ways to provide people with a solid foundation that helps them better understand AI systems and decisions.

Robots that Need to Mislead: Biologically-inspired Machine Deception

Ronald Arkin
IEEE Distinguished Speaker, Professor Emeritus
Georgia Institute of Technology


Expanding our work in understanding the relationships maintained in teams of humans and robots, this talk describes research on deception and its application within robotic systems. Earlier we explored the use of psychology as the basis for producing deceit in robotic systems in order to evade capture. More recent work involves studying squirrel hoarding and bird mobbing behavior as it applies to deception, in the first case for misleading a predator, and in the second for feigning strength when none exists. Next, we discuss other-deception, where deceit is performed for the benefit of the mark. Finally, newly completed research on team deception where groups of agents using shills that serve to mislead others is presented. Results are presented in both simulation and simple robotic systems, as well as consideration of the ethical implications of this research.

From Theory to Practice: How Computer Science Forms a Foundation for Software Engineering

Brandon Hoshi ('19)
Software Engineer
Visual Concepts


For most, the reason for obtaining a computer science degree is to ultimately pursue a career as a software engineer. While there is inevitably a great deal of programming involved in a computer science program, students may still end up anxious about whether what they’re learning is actually useful or not. In this talk I will explain that the answer is an unequivocal “Yes”. The foundational knowledge created through studying computer science is invaluable in a career as a software engineer. Through personal examples from working as an engineer at a AAA game developer, I will show how theoretical knowledge translates to concrete skills and shine a spotlight on parts of computer science that are significantly more important than most students might realize. I will also talk about important skills for software engineers that aren’t directly related to computer science.

Data Science At Scale Everywhere for Everyone

Doris Lee
ACM Distinguished Speaker
CEO and co-founder of Ponder


Over the past decade, the democratization of data science tooling, particularly through Python libraries like pandas and NumPy, has empowered practitioners of all levels to work with data efficiently. Yet, despite the popularity of these tools, they present challenges as practitioners look to scale their workflows to production. In this talk, we explore the limitations of these tools and pain points that data scientists encounter when dealing with data at scale. Next, I will share how we are solving this problem at Ponder, with both our open-source project Modin and our groundbreaking technology that lets anyone run their Python data workflows directly in their databases. 

Searching for Justice in Programming Language Design

Amy J. Ko
ACM Distinguished Speaker, Professor
University of Washington


From its earliest days, computing has been an eclectic project of capitalism, war, colonialism, and white supremacy. Its central Western values of utility, efficiency, rationality, and mathematical beauty have enabled sweeping changes to culture and communication, but also amplified some of the worst parts of these oppressive systems. At the heart of many of these forces are programming languages, which deeply embed many assumptions about their users: English fluency, normative ability, and a devotion to speed. These assumptions create a culture of computing that structurally excludes vast parts of humanity from participating. In this talk, I describe some of my nascent efforts to design the opposite: programming language that seeks to be global, accessible, playful, and simple, embracing all of humanity’s natural languages and abilities, while trading computing’s devotion to efficiency for simplicity and silliness. Throughout, I’ll provide demonstrations of these gestures toward programming language justice, pointing to alternative visions for how we might make with computing and who might do the making.

Gender-Inclusive Software and Beyond

Margaret Burnett
ACM Distinguished Speaker, Distinguished Professor
Oregon State University


How can software industry professionals (e.g., developers, UI/UX professionals, product managers) assess whether their software supports diverse users? And if they find problems, how can they fix them? We begin with a summary of GenderMag, a systematic inspection method for finding and fixing “gender inclusivity bugs" -- biases against different genders in software interfaces and workflows. We then show what software industry professionals are doing with it in the real world, from their bias finds & fixes to their practices & pitfalls in using it. Finally, we introduce InclusiveMag, a meta-method that can be used by HCI researchers to generate systematic inclusiveness methods for other dimensions of diversity.

Computer Science, Engineering, and Science: It comes down to bits and pieces, and practices

Laura Peticolas
Associate Director, EdEon STEM Learning
Sonoma State University


Why are the Physics and Astronomy majors coding? Isn't that what computer science majors do? How is coding different in Computer Science, Engineering, and Science? If there are so many differences, how should we teach coding in the K-12 classrooms? This talk answers these questions and brings up more questions. Specifically, the presentation will include examples of how coding in various careers can differ and/or be similar. This presentation also showcases what the EdEon STEM Learning Department is doing to address several challenges to teaching coding in middle and high school science classrooms. 

Scanning the Internet, Revealing Risks and Security Insights About Attack Surfaces

Dallas Womack ('21)
Software Engineer


Keeping track of internet infrastructure can be difficult, especially as companies migrate to the cloud, workforces become more distributed, and companies acquire security debt from mergers or acquisitions. Censys helps discover, manage, and remediate risks in a company's digital foot print. Created by the founders of the Zmap project, Censys's Attack Surface Management Platform helps organizations understand their external exposures with their Global Internet Map. This presentation aims to give the audience an understanding of what an attack surface management system is, the data that Censys uses to build the attack surfaces of its customers, and how the ASM platform works. Additionally, the talk will consist of a deep dive into how assets are attributed to an organization based on seed data that is provided during the automated on boarding process.

Spring 2024 Short Presentations of Student Research and Awards


Short presentations of research carried out by Sonoma State Computer Science Students, and CS awards

  1. Tony Rago
  2. Obinna Kalu
  3. Adam Said

Spring 2024 Presentations of Student Capstone Projects


Short presentations of capstone projects carried out by Sonoma State Computer Science Students.