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Presto Technologies: Jobs!

From: Ben Ballou <>

I represent Presto Technologies, an MIT Media Lab spin-off, Cambridge based company establishing operations and engineering in Amherst. We have experienced fantastic growth and are in the process of seeking as many as 35 good people across a broad range of jobs in the immediate future. I had a very nice chat with Deborah Wijnhoven several weeks ago and dropped off print and electronic materials and placed a large display ad in the Sophian. We are committed to hiring women and minorities, that is one basic reason we located here in the Valley. I realize we are recruiting rather late in the game, but am still hopeful of attracting the attention of some of your students. I am emailing you directly to see if you have any further suggestions, thus far I'm afraid we have failed rather miserably to get the word out at Smith.

Please have a look at the attached materials. Presto truly represents amongst the very best of the new crop of explosive internet/hi tech companies. We need bright, motivated, creative people very badly and are compensating every hire with an equity posistion at this point. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Ben Ballou
Project Manager
Presto Technologies, Inc.
110 Pulpit Hill Road
Amherst, MA 01002

tel  413 549 8780
fax 413 549 8781
Joseph O'Rourke

[Posted 6 May 1999]

Quantum Computing: 2nd Lecture + Deli Lunch

Irena Pashchenko
Dear Computer Science Amateurs,

On Friday at lunch time we will continue our discussion of Quantum Computing started last week. Attendance last week is not essential to understanding this week's material, but of course it would help. This time Joe O'Rourke will give a more technical, but still informal and comprehensible, talk on the quantum algorithm for factoring numbers. See Joe's abstract below for details.

I am responsible for taking lunch orders and ask you to reply to this message (to <>) specifying what you would like to eat (type of sandwich and drink). The State Street Deli menu is pinned to the bulletin board in McConnell 209, if you would like to order anything specific; a generic sandwich order is also possible. I would like to emphasize that we only order lunches for those who reply. The deadline for orders is Friday morning 9:50AM.

Hope to hear from you soon and see many of you at the talk,

Irena ;-)

Friday 23, 1999
McConnell 404 12:15 PM.

Quantum Computing: Shor's Algorithm

Peter Shor stunned the Computer Science community in 1994 with an algorithm that can factor a number N in time polynomial in the number of bits used to represent N. This established that factoring is in P for quantum computers, a relationship that has yet to be established for classical computers. Because the difficulty of factoring underlies the most widely-employed public key cryptography system (RSA), Shor's result has great importance.

I will *sketch* Shor's algorithm in an informal talk (not a formal lecture!). You will not need to know much about quantum computation to follow the algorithm, but it is quite intricate. It employs number theory, the discrete Fourier transform, and continued fractions, among other tools. This will not be easy sailing, but I hope that, with no pretense of mathematical rigor, it will still be possible to convey at least the intuitive flavor of his accomplishment to those with a typical CS major background.

Caveat: I REALLY don't know what I'm talking about. :-j

[Posted 20 Apr 1999]

Information Session on Graduate Research Fellowships

D. Thiebaut
Dr Susan Duby, of the NSF, will be presenting an information session on graduate research fellowships, on May 3rd, at Umass. 10-11 a.m. and 2:30-3:30 p.m. in Campus Center Room 101.

First semester graduate students and undergraduates considering graduate school in Engineering, Math, Comp. Sci., Geosciences, Physics & Astronomy, Life Sciences, and Social Sciences are encouraged to attend.

[Posted 14 April 1999]

Summer Research Assistant in History Department

Posted by Ileana Streinu
Summer Research Assistant wanted to enter and help analyze data on women's health in Bolivia from the first half of the century. Knowledge of Spanish and SPSS helpful but not essential. Twenty hours for eight weeks. I hope to complete this project by the end of June so I need someone who can work most of May.
Email me at azulawsk@sophia. Thanks.

Ann Zulawski
History and Latin American Studies
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
(413) 585-3727 (phone)
(413) 585-3389 (fax)

Quantum Computing: Lecture + Deli Lunch

Octavia Petrovici
Hi everybody!

The CS department is continuing the lunch series with an informal talk by Professor Joseph O'Rourke on Quantum Computing. The talk will take place in McConnell 404, this Friday the 16th of April, 12:15-1:00. We promised to compensate for the entertainment provided by Antz with a nearly purely educational lunch. This is it.

We will again have deli food. Please e-mail me ( with your lunch options by Friday 9:50AM. The menu is on the bboard in McC209. No oysters this week. :-)



Quantum Computing

I will introduce the field of quantum computation, which is one of the most exciting recent developments in theoretical computer science. The idea emerged in the early 1980's, partly through the work of Richard Feynman. For a decade it remained a theoretical toy, until in 1994 Peter Shor stunned the community by showing that a quantum computer can factor numbers in polynomial time. This was the "killer app" that moved quantum computation from the playground into center stage (if I may mix metaphors), for two reasons: (1) factoring numbers is the key :-) to cryptography; (2) it established that quantum computers truly are more powerful than classical computers.

Currently there is intense work in quantum computation, both on theoretical levels, and in trying to build (small, simple) quantum computers.

My goal is two-fold: First, to introduce the very idea of quantum computation, largely impressionistically; and second, to explain Shor's algorithm. The latter is challenging, as it requires nontrivial number theory. My hope is to cover about half of this in one session, and if people remain interested, to then schedule a second lunch.

Despite the heavy topic, the discussion will be entirely informal. I will not presume more than general familiarity with quantum mechanics. Caveat: I really don't know what I'm talking about. :-j

[Posted 12 April 1999]

Summer Internship at Umass

D. Thiebaut
The Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval (CIIR) at UMass is looking for talented students to partipate in a summer research internship on campus. The opportunity is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation under its Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. It includes the chance to work on research problems with faculty, staff researchers, graduate students, and other undergraduate REUs. The internship pays $3000 for just under 10 weeks, and includes money to pay for housing.

Please see for more information and application material. Our application deadline is April 23rd, so there is not too much time.

Please forward this to anyone who you feel might be interested. Thank you very much.

[Posted 12 April 1999]

Job at Deerfield Academy

Joseph O'Rourke
Wendy Shephard wrote that she has a job opening at Deerfield Academy:

I thought you might have some contacts you could pass this on to.... Deerfield is a wonderful place and very technologically rich. We have a fiber campus backbone, ethernet to every dorm room, 11 IT staff, all faculty have a laptop, lots going on. There are 3 teaching faculty in the Academic Computing department to support that function. The Student Services Coordinator teaches the traditional computer science programming classes as well as coordinating other student computer literacy programs and managing the lab, the Student Laptop Program, etc.

It's a wonderful opportunity for a young CS grad and hope one of you might have someone who would be interested in talking to us about our position.

I've attached a copy of the ad. It can also be viewed at our website: Deerfield Academy announces a search for the position of Student Services Coordinator to begin duties 20 August 1999. [etc.]

[Posted 12 Apr 1999]

Computer Support Intern in Smith CS Dept. for month of May.

D. Thiébaut
A computer support intern is needed to help develop standard configurations for the department's PCs. The task is to build a standard configuration for the Windows 95, Linux and NT operating systems. When these are complete a restorable image of each machine will be stored for future use.

The job will expose the student to installing and configuring the mentioned operating systems, setting up the network configuration, printers and applications. The student will work with Eric Jensen during the month of May to complete this project.

Hourly rate to be determined soon.

Please contact Eric Jensen (ejensen@cs) for more information.

[Posted 06 April 1999]

Jobs at

D. Thiébaut
I am posting this email from Betsy Churchill
if you're interested in working in seattle for'm
just passing the information on.--betsy

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 06:06:29 -0500
From: Rosemary Buckendorff 
Subject: programmers wanted

Dear Betsy,
        Since graduation is near, I thought I'd ask if there are
any bright young programmers graduating from Smith this year. Jen
is looking for some women to mentor at

       If so, just bypass me and give them her address
( and tell them to say that "mom sent me" or
"Betsy sent me" so hat she knows. She has just had a promotion to
head of the computers and internet site, so she's pretty happy
with the job. BTW maybe next year when you graduate, you'll be
ready for a move to Seattle. It's a great place and a great


[Posted 30 March 1999]

Whitehead Institute Seeking programmers

D. Thiebaut
The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Reserch in Cambridge, MA, is seeking programmes for Database design, Scientific programming, and Software engineering.

Check for more info.

[Posted 26 March 1999]

"Not Knot" Video + Deli Lunch

Irena Pashchenko
Dear Math and Computer Graphics Amateurs!

At lunch time on Wednesday 24th, in an informal atmosphere, we'll be showing the famous video "Not Knot". This is a 20-minute computer graphics video on the geometry of knots, made by a group of mathematicians at the Geometry Center in Minnesota. Its main focus is trying to explain hyperbolic spaces. If you are interested in mathematics and/or computer graphics, you are encouraged to join us. Additional information on the video is at the end of this message.

A Deli-sandwich lunch will be provided. Because we need a count of how many people are coming to order food, please let me (just use "Reply," or know by 9:50 AM Wednesday if you intend to come. Also you can specify sandwich and drink preferences; especially let us know if you are vegetarian.

Hope to see you there!

Irena ;-)

Sponsored by Smith Computer Science Department
Video "NOT KNOT"
12:15, Wednesday, 24 April
McConnell 404

ABSTRACT from the Geometry Center:

Not Knot is a guided tour into computer-animated hyperbolic space. It proceeds from the world of knots to their complementary spaces -- what's not a knot. Profound theorems of recent mathematics show that most knot complements carry the structure of hyperbolic geometry, a geometry in which the sum of the three angles of a triangle is always less than 180 degrees.

See for further information.

JOE's review:

The video is fascinating, well worth watching, but, to be honest, not entirely comprehensible. However, you do get a sense of what some of this deep mathematics is like. It will stretch your head a bit. The central idea remains an active area of mathematics, as one of the major unsolved problems in mathematics, the Poincare conjecture, is related to the material presented in this video.

[Posted 22 March 1999]

Interested in teaching K-12 levels?

D. Thiébaut
NSF/STEMTEC (Science, Technolgy, Engineering, Mathematics Teacher Education Collaborative) has scholarships for undergrads in two categories:
        **  math and science majors who are interested in       
                exploring the idea of teaching at the K-12 level 
	        (computer science majors only if they have a
		 strong concentration in another scientific field).
        **  future elem. teachers who might take more math &    
                science if encouraged to do so.

The scholarships, most of them $1000 - $1500 for a year, are especially desirable because they do not affect the student's financial aid package. The deadline for applying is April 15.

More information to come soon... If interested contact Casey Clark (X3951).

[Posted dd mm 1999]

NSF Career Award to Lixin Gao!!!

O'Rourke & Thiebaut
Lixin Gao was just awarded the prestigious NSF Career Award, formally called the Presidential Young Investigator Award! Kudos Lixin!

[Posted 8 Mar 1999]

Mendenhall Fellow Talk

B. Kaneva

Genetic Optimization of Neural Networks for Natural Language Processing

Jaime J. Davila
Wed. 10 March 1999, 4:00 p.m.
McConnell 404
Refreshments provided!

One approach used by researchers developing computer systems capable of understanding natural language is that of training a neural network for the task. Because of the large number of parameters that can be controlled in a neural network (such as topology, training data, transfer function, learning algorithm, and others) it is not surprising to find that different researchers have used networks with differing configurations, several of which have achieved success with natural language tasks. Instead of choosing any particular NN topology, I use genetic algorithms to search the configuration space for optimal combinations. This genetic algorithm defines all aspects of the network configuration to be used. Successful network configurations are analyzed in order to determine which parameters, and with what values, allow for better performance in a natural language task.

[Posted 8 Mar 1999]

Computer Research Assistant wanted in Geology at Smith

D. Thiébaut
Prof. Bob Burger of the Geology Department is looking for a Computer Research Assistant for the summer. He plans to begin work on Web-based, real-time simulations of geological hazards for use in his Natural Disasters course. This work will involve the use of several software packages including Bryce 3D, Macromedia Director 7, Shockwave Internet Studio, and other Web software.

Contact Prof. Bob Burger for more information, or at X3942.

Application deadline: March 26

[Posted 26 Feb 1999]

Internship at Communica

D. Thiébaut
Message received from Buffy White, '98

Communica is starting to fill up its summer internship positions now, and I wanted to let people at Smith know about them. Have anyone that's interested e-mail me here soon. There would be real hands on programming experience, most likely doing work for companies like 3Com and Sun Microsystems! Communica is located in Bourne on Cape Cod, a great place to have a paid *summer* internship!

Buffy White

[Posted 22 Feb. 1999]

Intern needed at ABC News

D. Thiébaut

Intern needed to assist in production of web site - The intern will be responsible for research, production, web community relations, integration of site with ABCNEWS television series. The position is full time and will last 2-3 months.

Ideal candidate will be able to work effectively in a team environment and perform under deadlines. The intern needs to communicate clearly and execute tasks efficiently. S/he will be given significant responsibility to produce content for the site.

We are looking for candidates with experience in HTML, JavaScript; some web production experience; strong writing skills and be able to juggle multiple responsibilities. Rate of pay: $7 per hour.

To apply: All interested persons should e-mail resume, contact telephone number and a brief note to Be sure to list 3Intern-TheCentury.com2 in the subject heading, and let us know the source by which you found our advertisement. Resumes with cover letters can also be faxed to: (212)448-4818. We regret that we will only be able to respond to those applicants whose qualifications meet our interest. EOE

Renee Landrum '98

[Posted 18 Feb 1999]

Job opening at financial institution in Philadelphia

D. Thiébaut
Large, well-respected, stable Philadelphia corporation offers Focus developer opportunity for development of financial applications. Excellent benefits and family-friendly work environment, with minimal overtime. Requires at least 2 years of application development in Mainframe Focus, VM, CMS, and MVS skills. PC Focus a plus. 4 year degree and citizen or permanent residency required. no relocation assistance available. ProSearch specializes in placements in the Mid-Atlantic area (Philadelphia, NJ, Wilmington, DE). Must be US citizen. Position requires 4 year degree. Must have excellent written and oral communication skills. No relocation assistance is available. Will not pay out of state interviewing expenses. Candidates must be within the Tri-State area(NJ, PA, DE) unless relocating to the area at your own expense.

Geographic Location of Position: Philadelphia, PA

If you know anyone that might be interested, please forward this to them or contact:

Suzanne Fairlie
Fax: 610-834-8010

[Posted dd mm 1999]

Web designer needed

D. Thiébaut
Part Time opportunity for html, java and photoshop buff.

Help us polish our creative, musicians' web site! Our home office is in downtown Northampton, a five minute walk from campus.

Starting with 10-20 hours/week for 3 weeks. Schedule tbd after that. $8-10/hour.

Please call 586-5135 or email with examples of your work and references.

[Posted 18 Feb 1999]

Summer Research Internships at the University of Maine

D. Thiébaut

Students may earn $3,000 while working on a 9 week research project at the University of Maine's Orono campus. The program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, is geared to give students exposure to research, and reinforce interest in graduate studies. Students will work with professors and graduate students on a project of mutual interest.

The focus of the research is advanced engineered wood composites. The specific projects, while all directed toward a common theme will range from basic materials science, biology and chemistry, to mechanical and structural engineering. In addition to their research projects, students will participate in a variety of group activities ranging from seminars to recreational and social engagements.

Attached are two pdf files (requiring free Adobe Acrobat Reader) including an application and promotional poster. Additional information can be found at our web site:

For answers to specific questions contact the program director:

Dr. Eric Landis
Department of Civil Engineering
University of Maine
5711 Boardman Hall
Orono, ME 04469-5711
(207) 581-2173
(207) 581-3888 (fax)

[Posted 17 Feb 1999]

Part-time programmer job in Hadley

D. Thiebaut
Posting removed by request of originator, who left the company.

[Posted dd mm 1999]

Ice cream and computers...

D. Thiebaut
(from Bev Cotnoir)

I have just scheduled Friendly's Ice Cream Corp. for an on-campus visit on Wednesday, March 3. They are looking for comp sci majors for positions as programmer/analysts. If you know of any interested students please have them come over to the CDO with a resume and sign up for an interview time slot. We have two recent alums that are working there. Thanks.

Beverly Cotnoir
Recruiting Manager
Career Development Office

[Posted 04 Feb 1999]

Summer Research at Smith in Computer Architecture

D. Thiebaut
I am seeking to hire one student to do some research work with me during the Summer of 1999. $3,400 stipend for 10 weeks, including June and July. Starting and ending dates flexible. I will seek funding through the College by applying for a summer research grant.

Requirements: Good programming skills (CSC111, CSC112), good knowledge of assembly language (CSC231), and computer architecture (CSC364) strongly recommended.

Please send me email ( if you are interested.

Deadline: Feb 12, 1999.

[Posted 2 Feb. 1999]

Summer Internship - Computer Science - Downtown Amherst

D. Thiebaut
fnReporter is a newly established subsidiary of the Thomson Corporation. It is a ground floor opportunity to participate in the rapidly growing segment of the internet devoted to consumer financial planning and investing. fnReporter will be creating a new web site that provides a full suite of financial information services to our customers and the internet community at large. We will be using advanced technology developed at the CIIR at UMASS to give fnReporter a technological edge in this area of internet services. If you're interested in leading edge technology, like the Amherst area, and want to participate in a fast paced project where you can make a difference then fnReporter is for you.

We are looking for individuals with experience in several of the following: C/C++, Relational database design and SQL, Web development tools (HTML, Java, Perl, Python) in a CGI environment, Information Retrieval including Text processing and regular expressions. Experience with UNIX operating system is required.

May 1 to September 1 position. Pay rate to be determined soon.

For consideration please resume to:
44 N. Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01002

Or email us at: (attention fnReporter in Subject line).

[Posted 2 Feb. 1999]

Roxana's Honors Thesis Presentation

Joseph O'Rourke


Roxana Cocan

Wednesday February 10th, 4:00PM
Burton 302

We prove that every simple open/closed polygonal chain may be straightened/convexified in spaces of dimension d >= 4. Both can be achieved in polynomial time in the number of vertices, and linear time in the number of "moves". These results contrast to those known for d=3, where both open and closed chains can be "locked." In the plane, d=2, the problem is unsolved.

I have implemented the algorithm for straigtening an open chain in 4D (for "generic" chains), and will display an animation of the algorithm in action.

[Posted 27 Jan 1999]

They're Giving Us Techies The Ball; Time to Step Up!

A talk at Hampshire College

D. Thiebaut

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Free Lunch !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


          "They're Giving Us Techies The Ball; Time to Step Up!"

                           a presentation by

                             Elliot Soloway

                    12:00 Noon, Friday, February 12
                     Adele Simmons Hall Auditorium
                           Hampshire College

  The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the
National Research Council have recently called for a radical shift from
didactic science instruction to a more inquiry-based model.  But, if we
are going to ask kids to engage in serious science inquiry, going beyond
writing a 2-page report that they can get by copying from an
encyclopedia, we need to provide them with a whole new set of tools --
technology-based tools. Moreover, if we are truly committed to
educating all our children, the only way to address the diverse needs of
all these learners is via learner-centered technology. That said,
techies, from Edison with the motion picture, to today's Net Day
activities, have pounded the table insisting that technology will change
education; it hasn't, so why should folks believe us techies this time?
In my presentation, I will put forward a model of how the new
technologies can -- and have -- changed education: by working together,
by sincerely embracing all who are involved in teaching our children,
technology can be an effective catalyst for change and it can provide new
opportunities for dealing with the age-old challenges to teaching and

Elliot Soloway is a Professor in the College of Engineering, Department
of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, a Professor in the School
of Education, and a Professor in the School of Information, at the
University of Michigan. Previously, he was an Associate Professor in the
Computer Science Department at Yale University. He received his
Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1978.  Currently,
Professor Soloway's research interests lie in exploring the roles that
computational media can play in self-expression, communication, and
learning. He directs the Investigators' Workshop Project, a joint effort
between the Ann Arbor Public Schools and the University of Michigan; the
goal of this project is to develop a suite of computational and
communication tools that scaffold middle and high schoolers learning
science by doing science. Professor Soloway is also Editor of Interactive
Learning Environments, a journal devoted to exploring nextgeneration
computational and communications technologies for learning and teaching.

Sponsored by the MacArthur Chair Program on Inquiry-Based Learning in
People and Machines. Contact Lee Spector ( for

Lee Spector, MacArthur Chair
Associate Professor of Computer Science
Cognitive Science, Hampshire College
Amherst, MA 01002                          413-559-5352, Fax:

[Posted 26 Jan 1999]

Programming Contest

D. Thiebaut
Hello World,

This is regarding techfest'99, an annual youth festival for techno-savvy individuals organised by the Indian Institute of Technology at Bombay India.

As a prelude to this festival, we are holding an online programming contest called the Oracle Hello World Wide Web Contest with prizes being sponsered by Oracle.

For this event we want to reach out to all the best programmers and compi-enthusiats who would like to pit againt each other in a battle for programming supremacy. The contest would be intensely algorithm based with several thousand participants participating at the same time.

We feel that the students comunity form a unique group who should not be left out of such an event.We are trying to reach out to them to inform them of this them of this event.

The contest is on Saturday, 23 January 1999. More details about it can be found at or or

Is there internal newsgroups, discussion forums or bulletin boards where this can be posted or some other means to reach out to the student community ?

If you can do the needful or inform us of what we need to do in order to spread awareness regarding the event we would be greatly obliged. We can be contacted at or

Thanking you, The Oracle Hello World Wide Web team at Techfest'99.


Information regarding the competition follows...

Oracle Hello World Wide Web invites programmers and hackers from all over the world to pit their skills against each other in a battle for programming supremacy! This is a synchronous algorithm-intensive programming contest scheduled for Saturday, January 23, 1999 and all you have to do to participate is register online at

To register by email send a mail to with the subject line as OHWWW:your_email_address , please note that the email address is required and should be the one you will send entries from. In the body of the mail give your name and address(optional).

The intensively algorithm based problems for this contest will be made public at one specified time on the Internet. A huge bandwidth line will get the incoming entry programs (by e-mail) on to the high processor-speed IBM machines at VSNL (India's biggest ISP). A fully automated mechanism achieved through evaluation programs on these IBM servers will run these programs on a series of input files. Depending on the number of files on which the correct output is obtained successfully, it will determine the score. An automated e-mail to the respective user will inform him of his score and the time remaining for the contest to close. After the close of the contest, the evaluation program will stop accepting further solution programs and the winners will be declared to the world. The language to be used is ansi C.

So gear up for hours of algorithms, programming, adrenalin, and of course, a LOT of coffee!

And please try to spread this information in and around your campus/colleagues/friends helping us in reaching out to more and more enthusiasts for the contest.

[Posted 12 Jan 1999]

Summer Research at Smith in Computational Geometry

Joseph O'Rourke & Ileana Streinu
We have a National Science Foundation grant for research in the field of computational geometry. We seek to hire several students to work with us during the Summer of 1999. The nominal duration and stipend is 10 wks and $3,400. However, both longer and shorter durations are possible; we are similarly flexible on starting and ending dates.

Requirements: By the summer you should have taken CS-II at a minimum, and preferably have completed either CSC274 (Computational Geometry) or CSC240 (Computer Graphics). Our work demands some mathematical sophistication.

Write us at and if you are interested. Deadline: Friday, 12 Februrary 1999.

[Posted 11 Jan 1999]

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