Interdisciplinary Computing


This is the work space for people interested in interdisciplinary computing.  Anyone is welcome to join the group.  You may just watch what is going on, but you are welcome to post your thoughts, comment on anything else that is posted, etc.  We will watch for participants and look for people who may contribute to other efforts also.


Workspace related to NSF grant regarding interdisciplinary computing

Agenda for meeting April 4-6 2013

File AgendaIDC4thMeetingApril2013.docx113.37 KB

Benefits of Interdisciplinary Computing to Students

Big Science Vs Small Science

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Discussion - April 2013 - Steve, Han, Paula, Bob

More important to have a common process than a common language: example from chemistry, where 90% of computational chemists mean molecule structure calculations: define the data, submit it in the right format, and the answers come back in a format I can make use of. Dogmatic disagreements in different disciplines about what software to use as the foundation for mathematical models. How to recognize different meanings with terms and develop mutual understanding? Should we require computer science students to choose another area and learn about it as well? What are the ways in which we foster the integration across those experiences? The Naval Academy experience where there is a capstone project in which they have to be brought together. They stopped because they needed to add other courses into the sequence. They couldn’t get it past ABET. (also a Georgia Southern experience). People have an inadequate understanding of ABET, where some think it requires you to do something in particular rather than holding you to do what you say you are doing. Does ABET have interdisciplinary expectations? In some areas, it does. Who knows about it? What competencies should a computer scientist exhibit? In the Naval Academy there was turnover in personnel and no institutional structure that held the initiatives and goals. How does one build the organizational commitment? Faculty not getting credit for work in interdisciplinary or educational projects. This may mean non-R1 institutions are more likely starting places. Starting a Journal that focuses on the unrecognized work. Scheduling different courses in the same room at the same time. (not institutionalized) Establish social platforms that are for the whole university. Develop good descriptions of disciplines in English that enable you to map to the mathematics Information flow could be the basis for collaboration Are there meta-skills to be learned in getting information from and building understanding of others’ projects? Stanford has incorporated a requirement in CS for taking other discipline courses and their enrollment has skyrocketed. Other schools are adding a computing minor to the other sciences. Projects in which students from different disciplines have to work together to solve it. Summary: in essence we meandered among some elements of a system that supports IDC: • Experiences that foster IDC: • requiring CS students to also learn another discipline, • capstone projects, • Practices that support IDC within experiences/courses • learn to tell the "story" of the scientific relationship in English and analogies and then mapping into mathematical models, • understanding the differences in what the disciplines care about and want to accomplish, • describing the information flow could be the basis for collaboration • Accountability/Accreditation standards (ABET) and efforts to educate administrators about them, • Creating value for: e.g. starting Journals ( to publish in (establishing value that the deans then recognize and support/drive the institutionalization), • Institutionalization (we didn't really discuss) • Relationships and cultivating opportunities: social platforms for the whole university building

Discussion April 2013 - Gerald Griffin, Shawn Sendlinger, Bonnie Mackellar, Anil Bamezai

Discussion notes -- Carol, et al

  1:00 PM – 1:30 PM Overview of Practical Questions: · How to create the environment to identify common language to support learning and working across disciplines? · How to facilitate and support that environment when it is underway? o Could be accomplished by either top down (look at all disciplines and find common themes) or bottom-up (look at specific instances of interdisciplinary course work or themes that people are doing). o Could be accomplished by administrators dictating interdisciplinary or is it faculty that come up with the ideas. o Have a seminar or settings where it is established that faculty talk about their areas and where they determine what they have in common. § Establish a culture where it is ok to explore other areas. § Administrators should establish some tenure points, recognition or funding to participate in these meetings. § Find a way to involve students in the process because they may have great interdisciplinary ideas to implement which faculty will assist in implementing. o Administrators will bean count which may inhibit interdisciplinary work. Find new models of how to count teaching load, research. o May also want to include an element to evaluate that takes into account the risk factor of teaching an interdisciplinary course. · How to promote it (convince colleagues it is necessary)? o Do we know why they don’t want to do it? o We need to identify the myths that surround interdisciplinary learning? § It takes too much time. § I need to learn everything in the other discipline. § I don’t want to risk anything because I am comfortable in my environment. o Administrators may want to implement interdisciplinary projects because industry backs them and they believe that industry may donate money to these projects. o Administrators should look at this because it differentiates their students from other students which will make their school look better in terms of job placement or how students are perceived. o Convince colleagues that interdisciplinary work is very rewarding. o Interdisciplinary skills that industry wants (communication (1), problem solving (2) , team work (3), technical (7th) so our students will benefit if we work with interdisciplinary problems. · How to support tenure/promotion? o Systematic change in the process which is very tough to accomplish § Peer must support the value of interdisciplinary research § Where to publish that colleagues will accept as a credible publication if it is not in their core major? o Does the institution value multi-author publications rather than focusing on individual publications? o If more institutions had post tenure then more faculty would be interested in doing projects associated with interdisciplinary project. o Administrators must support interdisciplinary projects that the rank committee will value it. · How to support graduate and undergraduate programs? o Develop interdisciplinary courses that are electives that would count in a undergraduate or graduate program. o Develop a description of what is interdisciplinary means. § Course must interdisciplinary. § Who teaches the course? Does the faculty have an interdisciplinary background or are there several faculty from different disciplines involved in the course. · How does one validate that a faculty has an interdisciplinary background? § Students from other disciplines should be enrolled in the course. o For an interdisciplinary major, how does one validate the content in the program? How do we maintain the body of knowledge for the program? Who should be involved in validating the body of knowledge? o Maybe the value is in how many students get jobs and does industry support the interdisciplinary program? o Once an interdisciplinary program is accepted and becomes a major, it is interdisciplinary? Such as health informatics, cognitive science? o Interdisciplinary programs should always be changing? How to keep the interdisciplinary flavor in the program or course? Mentality should not be that we set this up and let’s do this the way that we did this last time. · How to support interdisciplinary collaboration through technology? o What type of technology will work for the group? § Discussion spaces (Facebook, LinkIn, MySpace, Twitter, etc.) § Blogs § Instant messaging § Emails § Wikis § Video (YouTube, etc) § Video chats (Skype, Facetime, etc.) o Adoption of technology may vary by the culture, gender, or age of the group?

Discussion notes 1 of 8

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Discussion notes 2 of 8

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Discussion notes 3 of 8

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Discussion notes 4 through 8

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Draft Report as of April 2013

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Exemplars of Interdisciplinary computing group

 Exemplars of Interdisciplinary computing group from 04/29/2011 workshop

General Education Matrix

 Formulating content and assessments according to more general outcomes that are consistent with interdisciplinarity

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Institutional issues for promoting IC

Interdisciplinary Computing Meetings, Preliminary Report

This forum is for comments and discussion regarding the report of the first two meetings of the project. The report itself can be found at:

Interdisciplinary Computing talk at Lehigh -- December 1, 2011

File InterdisComputing2.pptx2.32 MB

Interdisciplinary workshop Research Group


Introduction - Han Reichgelt

Hi, I am interested in joining the various meetings. If available, I would like to attend the first meeting of the group. The experience I bring to this project primarily comes from my time as Professor of Information Technology at Georgia Southern University. One of the more innovative aspects of Georgia Southern's BS IT program was the so-called second disciplines. Second disciplines were included at the insistence of the Industry Advisory Board who said they were particularly interested in graduates who combined a strong technical background with sufficient knowledge of an application domain to be able to support IT applications in that domain. Departments interested in offering second disciplines were asked to provide a rationale, describing why an IT student would benefit from taking the second discipline they offered, as well as a list of 6-7 courses. Examples of second disciplines included Supply Chain Management, Electronic Broadcasting, Criminal Justice and Political Analysis. Further details about the design of Georgia Southern's bachelor's in IT are available at I believe that my experience with our efforts to integrate second disciplines into a standard IT curriculum may prove useful to the objectives of this program. Han Reichgelt

NSF Interdisciplinary Computing Initiative - Desired Involvement and Supporting Experience

Interdisciplinary computing has been one of my primary interests and areas of research and teaching since before my dissertation days and I would like to be an active member of the group/committee and participate in the first (and subsequent meetings). My PhD from University of Texas Austin was an official Interdisciplinary Phd; my advisor was in the department of Computer Science and the other members of my committee were from Psychology, Science Education, Mathematics Education, and Computer Science. The first part of my dissertation was more or less "traditional" computer science as I used artificial neural networks (ANNs) to simulate adult (college age)learning as described in the mathematics education literature. I then used the ANN to make predications about human learning. The second half of my dissertation was a full blown human subject study to confirm or de-confirm the predictions about human learning made by the neural network. These results not only confirmed the predictions but aligned with theory and practice from the Educational Psychology field. I completed a full program of coursework in Mathematics/Science Education studies, which included studies far afield from a traditional Computing curriculum. I took and passed Mathematics/Science Education Oral and Written exams. Since graduating I have not only taught traditional computer science and performed research in human learning of computing, but I have taught unusual interdisciplinary computing courses on top of my regular loads just because I am passionate about this. I taught a technical writing course for upper division CS majors for almost 7 years; I taught a course several times called "Great papers in Computer Science and Software Engineering" in which students analyzed the rhetorical, social and historical factors that led certain papers to become "classics" and why others did not. I taught a Cognitive Science course; I also taught a "real life" project course called "Technology and Sustainability" which enrolled students from a wide selection of majors (biology, chemistry, engineering of all sorts, economics, and other). Based upon student evaluations, all of these courses were highly successful. I am under contract to write a textbook on interdisciplinary applications of computing that have a clear societal benefit; as a result I have become deeply involved with computing professionals working on internet voting, software engineering in non western culture, earthquake simulation, endangered species work, medical imaging and architectural solutions to improve patient care and hospital functioning, electronic medical records issues, and the use of mobile technologies for educational purposes in pre-college settings. I am also currently developing curricular materials that are explicitly interdisciplinary for use in the computing classroom; I write a quarterly column on interdisciplinary computing for ACM Inroads and I maintain an interdisciplinary computing blog. I have extensive experience in the challenges that exist for interdisciplinary education and research and equal experience in how to address those challenges. Interdisciplinary computing is a passion of mine and would very much like to be intimately involved in any committee formed to address this topic. -Lisa

NSF Project on Interdisciplinary Computing: Owen Astrachan

I am interested in the proposed NSF/Interdisciplinary Computing project. My interests stem from having developed and taught three courses at Duke that are narrowly and widely interdisciplinary in two different ways. The first is a course in genomics, computational biology and bioinformatics for first-year students who likely will *not* major in computer science. This course was part of a related courses in one of Duke's FOCUS suites: The Genome Revolution. Faculty from Biology, Public Policy, English, Computer Science, and Writing created four related courses, students take three of them their first semester at Duke. My interests and expertise were in teaching programming, so I used this opportunity to learn about computational approaches to biology and bioinformatics and created a first course that has now been offered for seven years (I handed the course off after the first three years). This work has informed my teaching across many levels, has opened opportunities within Duke and beyond, and has brought an entirely new area into focus for me. The second set of courses is one about which I have written (SIGCSE) combining the Technical and Social Foundations of the Internet [the course's title]. This is policy, law, economics, and technical view of how the Internet works, is governed, and is managed and viewed by the different constituencies/stakeholders that help run and use it. I've formed collaborative and useful relationships with faculty in the law school, or school of public policy, and political science as part of this course. I teach two versions: one for majors that is a seminar and one for non-majors that is currently the largest course at Duke. I've learned about collaborating with faculty in other disciplines and developed a point-of-view on what computing can lend to fields as far as contributing to both learning and research [though more on the former]. Depending on timing, I'd like to be involved with this initiative if possible at the beginning, it's exciting.

New Version of "Why we are" here posted

Hi, I posted an updated version of the "Why We Are Here" document on the google docs site. As before, comments are of course more than welcome. Han

Notes from Saturday discussions at Interdisciplinary Computing -- April 2013

 Don't worry about the file name.  It started as a "take away from the first day" but went on to be the notes from all of Saturday.

Thanks again, everyone.

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Notes from Steve, Vijay, Shawn, Bob

  The importance of a third party, mediating element – grad student, non-standard entity outside the departmental setting, general processes or discipline neutral terms the discipline elements setting particular challenges that someone goes between. Specific, concrete, challenges. Comp sci workshop – engineering faculty (chemist, mathematician, etc). tools for modeling. Engineers talking about “impulses” and different words. Dimensions and units forming a mediating element. Conflict in approaches: Empirical vs. first principles Exciting to discover the molecule that does signaling vs. dynamic behavior of the network. Difference between language differences in a common problem vs collaborating when we have different problems that we value Biologists: “what is the data structure?” doesn’t compute for them. But thinking more generally would be useful for them. Are there cross-cutting themes such as energy or systems? Scale. Energy. System: possible bridging terms/themes/concepts Vast Machine – the evolution of models that inform the data you collect that then evolve models, etc. Compared to simple behavioral model in psychology built on gambling which works and extrapolates and enables them to quickly experiment and test hypotheses. Mathematical standards: content and practices … the Practices are much less developed but may serve a cross-cutting purpose and may be related to more general versions of habits of mind which k12 is being asked to increase focus on in a number of STEM disciplines. Being prepared to think hard about something/move beyond naming and organizing. Why do physicists come into biology and win a Nobel prize? Data drowns you. Need to understand the processes at some level. Fourth paradigm: observe-experiment, analysis-theory, computation/simulation, data mining Chemistry example where we aren’t showing k12 students how to use the computing to do interesting chemistry. They aren’t taught by people who do it. There are tools that could be pushed down into k12 where the students would manipulate and get feedback and learn from that. In all STEM disciplines we are missing teachers who can understand the science/math and who are prepared to encourage and support inquiry Blue collar computing (Ohio) – hiring folks who have some skills in a number of areas to work with the discipline experts. They asked care companies for the type of person they wanted, and it was someone with enough knowledge in multiple areas, and Ohio developed a program for such folks. Is there explicit attention/courses devoted to the language/comprehension across disciplines? Are there emergent disciplines in understanding what happens in these language encounters and development of mutual understanding, and what it means to get good at doing this? Drexel example of creating a computing task force to look at computing across the university: what gaps do we have? What collaboration and opportunities for collaboration? How should we evolve to develop Drexel’s contribution and excellence in this area/areas? North Carolina Central story of grand plans that have gone awry with changes in personnel in leadership and administration. University of Massachusetts Boston efforts to do interesting work through K12 science education that has brought together disciplines. Drexel asked for proposals and created Institutes for interdisciplinary research: Plasma, Applied Communications and Information Networking, Nanotechnology

SIGCSE 2012 Special Session

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File Worksheet-IDCExperience.docx109.22 KB

 This forum supports the special session held at SIGCSE 2012.  The worksheet is distributed on paper at the session, to avoid any issues with wireless access, but is attached here also.  Participants may enter their worksheet information here directly or do it on paper.  It will then be transcribed here later.

Summary of photo notes

  Exemplars: Human genome, Dendral for crystallography structure. GSK R&D on drug discovery. How did these come about? What was the background of these people? A lot of the examples we have come up with were integration within one person's head. And mostly it seems to be scientists picking up computer skills. So how do we get the conversation going the other way? Jobs will be in some domain, something like CS applications survey course. In the other direction: CS using the other sciences. Bio-inspired, Neural nets, robotics, genetic algorithms Language. Other than having students learning each other's fields, the main idea we came up with was the broad general idea of "science as discovering the rules or model that underly the real world" as a focus for conversations in BOTH directions. (Discover the model, use the model).

Talk at MINK WIC conference October 2011

File InterdisComputing.pptx1.91 MB

Toward a climate for Interdisciplinary Computing

This group will support the NSF project with the title given here.  The purpose of the project is to bring together people who have experience and interest in combining computing with other disciplines for the benefit of both.  The present grant will fund several workshops to bring together those who can work toward a better understanding of the challenges and the benefits of these types of collaboration.  Anyone who is interested is invited to share a brief description of their experiences here.  This will be a significant source of candidates for the workshops to be held during the next year and a half.  We have hopes that we will be able to advise NSF on ways forward in promoting more of these collaborations.

Why Media Lab Works

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Why are we here

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Workshop 2 Agenda

 Toward A Climate of Interdisciplinary Computing


Workshop 2, April 28 - 30

Ventana Room


Thursday, April 28
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM Reception.Cash bar.

Friday, April 29  8:00 - 5:00
7:30 Breakfast
8:30 Introductions and Meeting Charge - Boots & Ursula
Exemplars of Interdisciplinary Computing and Lesson Learned, Yan Xu
An Example: Computational Journalism, Rich Gordon and Kim Pearson
10:00 Snack Break, and Break Out Groups: charge is to identify exemplars
11:00 Report back
12:00 Lunch in the Atrium
1:30 Whole Group Presentation:  Faculty Motivation, Alex Ruthmann and Bob Panoff
2:00 Break Out Groups:  How to support faculty in interdisciplinary computing
3:00 Report back
3:30 Break, sign up for dinner group for Saturday
4:00 Whole group discussion and synthesis: Action items
5:00 Meeting over
6:00 Dinner in the Madera Room, Cash Bar

Saturday, April 30 8:00 - 5:00
7:30 Breakfast
8:30 Whole Group Presentation:
Institutional Motivation, Han Reichgelt and Bob Campbell
10:00 Snack Break, and Break Out Groups:  Resources for Institutional Motivation
11:00 Report back
12:00 Lunch in the Atrium
1:30 Whole Group Session -- individual experiences to share. Several people have     asked for this  Others will have an opportunity as well.
2:00 Writing Sessions based on outcomes of meeting thus far
3:00 Report back
3:30 Break
4:00 Writing with summary of action items for next meeting (November with NSF staff)
5:00 Meeting over
6:30 Dinner groups depart


Workshop2 Agenda

A preliminary agenda for our Tucson meeting. Please see the attachment for agenda.

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