The Computer Sciences Rosser Lecture Series

The Rosser Lecture series was named in honor of J. Barkley Rosser, who was a founding member of the Computer Sciences Department at UW-Madison and and director of the Mathematics Research Center from 1963 to 1978. A student of Alonzo Church, he and Church are known for the Church–Rosser Property for lambda calculus. Rosser, with Stephen Kleene, another UW-Madison professor, proved that the original lambda calculus was inconsistent. Rosser also proved a stronger version of Gödel’s first incompleteness theorem, replacing $\omega$-consistency by consistency, as it is known today. In number theory, Rosser proved that the nth prime number is greater than n ln ⁡n.

Rosser retired from UW-Madison in 1978 but remained active until shortly before his death in 1989. Read more about him in the Computer Sciences Department Memorial Resolution.

2023 Rosser Lecture

The 2023 lecture featured Dr. Zvi Galil, Professor of Computer Science at Georgia Tech University, speaking about ”Georgia Tech’s online MOOC-based Master Program and the future of higher education.” Galil discussed the success of the online master’s in computer science at Georgia Tech (OMSCS), launched in 2014. Since then, enrollment has grown from 380 to over 12,000 in 2022. The program has also paved the way for more than 70 similar MOOC-based (massive open online course) affordable online MS programs. 

There is a shortage of one million computing professionals in the US, so OMSCS is satisfying a great national need. In 2017 Georgia Tech expanded its online offerings to its undergraduate computer science students. The talk will describe the OMSCS program, how it came about, its first nine years, and what Georgia Tech has learned from the OMSCS experience. It will also discuss the speaker’s vision of the future of higher education with a much larger role for online learning.

Dr. Galil has been a world leading authority on algorithms, complexity, cryptography, and experimental design. He has written over 200 scientific papers, edited five books, and has given more than 250 lectures in 30 countries. He is a fellow of the ACM and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Past Rosser Lectures

1997-1998: Robin Milner, a Cambridge University computer scientist, discussed a basic model for mobile communicating systems that he developed with colleagues in the late 1980s. In this model, all computational concepts are based on the notion of interaction. A continuing purpose of this work is to unite the theories that underlie computation and communication.

1998-1999: Jaron Lanier, lead scientist of the National Tele-Immersion Initiative, spoke about ongoing work in the new field of “tele-immersion,” a dramatic advance in virtual reality technology that will provide a test application for Internet2.

1999-2000: Richard J. Lipton, a computer scientist from Princeton University, presented a talk entitled, DNA Computing: Real or Not? which addressed the question of whether DNA can be used effectively to solve problems that electronic machines cannot, or whether the ability of DNA computers to work will remain a kind of curiosity.

2000-2001: Henry Fuchs, a professor of computer science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presented a talk entitled, Seas of Cameras and Projectors for Tele-immersion and the Office of the Future, which focused on the ongoing work of developing realistic three-dimensional “tele-collaborative” environments.

2001-2002: Ross Anderson, a computer scientist from Cambridge University, gave a talk entitled, Why Information Security is Hard. He argued that many, if not most, of the problems in information security can be explained using the language of microeconomics: network externalities, asymmetric information, moral hazard, adverse selection, liability dumping and the tragedy of the commons.

2002-2003: Ravi Kannan, Yale University, Sampling on the Fly from Massive Data

2003-2004: Christos Papadimitriou, University of California-Berkeley, Games and Networks

2004-2005: Shafi Goldwasser, MIT: Secrets and Proofs: The Role of Randomness

2005-2006: Jack Dongarra, University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory: Supercomputers and Clusters and Grids, Oh My!

2006-2007: William Pulleyblank, United States Military Academy (West Point)

2007-2008: Prabhakar Raghavan, Google Research: Web n.0: what sciences will it take?