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Graduate Research and Discussion Seminar (GRaDS)

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Graduate Research and Discussion Seminar (GRaDS): the name says it all. The University of Minnesota Computer Science department consists of over 400 students and 37 tenure-track faculty. With such a vast and diverse body of knowledge it is difficult, if not impossible, to be familiar with everything. The objective of GRaDS is to help CSci graduate students become better acquainted with other students in the department and to learn about their research through presentations and discussions.

GRaDS is a new iteration of the Graduate Student Colloquium. For information about the grad colloquium go to Grad Colloquia.

What is GRaDS?

The Graduate Research and Discussion Seminar is different from the department colloquium in that speakers are primarily other graduate students from various subdisciplines within Computer Science. On occasion alumni or faculty will be invited to talk about their experiences.

One of the objectives of GRaDS is to provide an informal environment for students to practice speaking. Because of this the format of this seminar is very fluid. One week the format could be similar to that of the department colloquium; one guest speaker talking for roughly 45 minutes on their research and then taking 15 minutes for questions. Another possibility is to have two speakers who will each have 30 minutes.

Food will be provided for participants as well as beverages. Vegetarian options will be available.

In a rough sense, these are the stated goals of the seminar:

  1. To provide a venue for members of the department community, especially graduate students, to learn about research being done in groups other than their own or to learn from the experience of previous grads.
  2. To provide opportunities for grad students to practice speaking to an audience of computer scientists who are not necessarily familiar with their subfield; and
  3. To foster greater interaction between grad students in different research groups.

Why should I come to GRaDS?

The Graduate Research and Discussion Seminar gives participants the chance to learn about things that might not be specifically covered in their subfield. Additionally, they may encounter a different perspective on things they are already familiar with. There is a very large body of prior research available and it is impossible to be familiar with everything. Attending GRaDS is a good way to gain a better breadth of knowledge and learn about contemporary research in other fields of Computer Science.

The audience is also an important aspect of grad colloquium. Without the audience, presenters are just talking to themselves. More importantly, the audience needs to be active. The speakers are familiar with their work and their colleagues are familiar with their work. It is the job of the audience to ask questions and be inquisitive; just as it is important to know how to answer questions as a speaker it is important as an audience member to know how to ask good questions. Having a good audience is just as important as having good speakers.

Why should I be a speaker?

The first and most obvious reason to be a speaker is practice. Even the most seasoned presenter can benefit from practicing their talk. Each run gives the presenter an opportunity to fine tune their presentation and to make improvements. Each audience is different and that uniqueness can provide new perspective on how to improve a talk.

With each new audience comes the opportunity for a new round of questions. This provides important practice in fielding questions and it can also uncover different ideas that the presenter may not have considered. There is always the possibility that someone in the audience may be familiar with the work and can provide valuable insight.

Finally there is the networking aspect. The power of social networking cannot be understated. GRaDS provides an opportunity to present research and ideas to an audience who may not have heard about it otherwise.

In regards to topics, talks can cover current or past research or essentially any information that could be beneficial to CS grad students but they should be accessible to a general computer science audience. Talks are usually fairly informal but if a a more formal structure is desired it can be arranged.

Current Schedule (Fall 2017)

The Graduate Research and Discussion Seminar will be held every other Friday at 12:30 pm in room 4-204C. Please contact Mary Southern ( if you are interested in giving a talk.

Date Speaker Topic
September 15 Hannah Miller Understanding Emoji Ambiguity in Context: The Role of Text in Emoji-Related Miscommunication
September 29 Shaden Smith Accelerating the Tucker Decomposition with Compressed Sparse Tensors
October 13
October 27
November 10
December 1
December 15

Past Schedules

Spring 2017

Date Speaker Topic
January 27th Justina Schiroo TBA
February 10th Amr Magdy Kite: A Scalable Microblogs Data Management System
February 24th Vasileios Kalantzis Domain decomposition rational filtering techniques for the solution of large Hermitian eigenvalue problems in distributed computing environments
March 10th
March 24th
April 7 Nicholas Walczak A Non-Intrusive Multi-Sensor RGB-D System for Preschool Classroom Behavior Analysis
April 21 Sarah McRoberts Share First, Save Later: Performance of Self through Snapchat Stories
May 5th Shaden Smith Sparse Tensor Factorization on Many-Core Processors with High-Bandwidth Memory

For past schedules prior to Spring 2017 see Grad Colloquia Past Schedules.