2013Why Study Computing at the NUSSchool of Computing?Education for Impact andChange
Why Computing?A Bit of HistoryIn 1936, Alan Turing asked the question of what a human can compute. Toanswer the question, he invented the Turing machine, the simplest computer.To this day, anything that humans know how to automate, can be automatedusing the computer.Rapid Growth and Rapid ChangeIn 1965, Intel co-founder, Gordon Moore, predicted that computerperformance would double every year. The prediction has held true(performance doubling at roughly 18 months), and the exponential growth isexpected to continue for the near future.Highlightsoooooo1Computing resources has been doublingevery eighteen months and will continueto do so in the near future.This results in a tremendous amount ofopportunities as well as rapid changes.The rapid changes affect not just thecomputing industry but all professions.Some jobs are automated away, and mostjobs will be augmented by computers.Education in computing allows you toexploit the opportunities provided by therapid changes.Education in computing allows you tounderstand automation and change from ascientific, engineering, or business pointsof views. Consequently, it allows you toadapt quickly when technology changes.At the same time, your knowledge opensup a wide range of career opportunitiesoutside of computing.Successful people with degrees incomputing range from the CEO ofSingapore Airlines to the Prime Ministerof Singapore.To understand this rapid growth, it is useful torecall the story of the invention of chess.According to an old fable, chess wasinvented by an Indian mathematician. Whenthe king saw the game, he was very pleasedand asked the mathematician what he wouldlike as a reward. The mathematician askedfor one grain of rice for the first chesssquare, two grains for the second square,doubling the amount for each square untilthe 64th square. The king quickly agreed tothe request, not realizing the amount of ricebeing asked. After ten squares, the amountrequested is only approximately a thousandgrains, but after 64 squares, the heap of ricewould be larger than Mount Everest! 1http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheat and chessboard problemSo where are we on this exponential curve?We are now able to build computingmachines with a similar amount ofcomputing power as that of the humanbrain. And each year and a half, the amountof new computing power available in theworld is roughly the same as all thecomputing power of all the computers thathave ever been built. IBM’s Deep Bluedefeated the world chess champion, GaryKasparov in 1997. Recently, Google car drove
without human intervention in city roads forthousands of kilometers, and IBM’s Watsondefeated the world best humans in a naturallanguage quiz game, Jeopardy, in 2011.What are the implications of the exponentialgrowth? It provides tremendous opportunities.With the doubling of resources every eighteenmonths, many things that were not previouslypossible suddenly becomes possible. Singaporehas limited manpower but can easily double itsamount of computing resources everyeighteen months – automation has to be oneof the main avenues of productivity growth.The best chess players are now computers.Will the best doctors and the best lawyersalso be computers soon? Looking at thecurrent trend, it is unclear if this will happensoon, but almost certainly, a doctor or lawyerassisted by a computer will be better than onewho does not exploit the technology.Exponential growth in computing resourcesresults in unpredictable change in allprofessions. According to MIT economistsErik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee,corporate profit rebounds quickly afterrecessions but employment recovers slowly asjobs that can be replaced by technology duringcorporate tightening caused by the recessionsare no longer available. Over time, societyadapts, and new opportunities are created, butthose affected have their lives disrupted.So, which jobs are likely to be affected, andwhen? The eventual outcomes are sometimespredictable, but the timing is very difficult toforesee as doubling of resources can causediscontinuous changes. The World Wide Webwas foreseen back in 1945 by Vannevar Bush,but it did not become pervasive until the endof last century. Computers are finally able tobeat the best human chess player, but this tooklonger than many experts expected. Expertspredicted that machine translation would be aHow Computing is Changingthe WorldoComputing is currently changing the wayhigher education is done through freelyavailable Massive Open Online Courses(MOOC). Have a look at the manySingaporeans actively involved in makingthis possible atoThe whole human genomehas been sequenced, allowingcomputerized analysis.Science is increasingly beingdone on the computer.Computing has changed the way we searchfor information, allowinginstant access throughsearch engines and real time updates ofinformation.Computing has changed the way wecommunicate with email replacing regularmails and audio and video conferencingincreasingly reducingface-to-face meetings.Social networks have changed the way wesocialize.Almost all of business, from customerservice, operations, decision making,human resources and marketing is donewith the help of computers.Algorithmic trading is becoming morecommon. Finance is increasingly beingcomputerized.Shopping is increasingbeing done on thecomputer.Many devices such as automobiles, fridges,televisions, and phones now havecomputers embedded in them.What else? The limit is your knowledgeand your imagination ooooooo
What’s wrong with this picture?solved problem in the 1950s, but it is still unsolved, although rapidprogress has been made recently. On the other hand, not manypeople would have expected self-driving cars in city roads so soon!Despite the unpredictability in the timing of technology success,the available computing resources have been dramatically andreliably increasing. Information technology has become ubiquitousand pervasive in all organizations and society as a whole. Thisresulted a large demand for computing professionals. In the 2011graduate employment survey, information systems graduates inNUS have the highest gross salary after doctors and lawyers, whilein the 2012 survey, computer science graduates in NUS have thehighest gross salary after doctors, dentists, architects and businessgraduates who completed an extra honours year. The statisticsfrom code.org on the situation in the US (shown on the right),gives a vivid illustration of this. Go to code.org and check out thevideo there as well.What can I do?No matter what you decide to do, you should be prepared for thepotentially disruptive effects of technology.One option you should consider is education in the computingarea. The increasing amount of available computing resourcesmeans abundant opportunities for those who want to make adifference and change the way things are done. Computingeducation prepares you to be Scientists, who try to understand and push the boundariesof what can be done by the rapidly increasing amount ofavailable computation.Engineers,who buildsystems thatchange howpeople live.Data andbusinessanalysts whoexploit thelarge amountof available data to obtain useful insights that can providecompetitive advantage for their organizations.Managers who are able to exploit technology to improveproductivity of their organizations.
Entrepreneurs who start new ventures to bring changes to society.Leaders who understand how technology affects society and can be used to improve the lives ofpeople.In the computing area, your understanding of science, mathematics, and business can be immediatelyapplied and is in high demand in industry. The demand for talented people in the technology area is highnot only in Singapore but also globally. Technology companies such as Facebook, Google, and Microsofthave been recruiting fresh graduates in Singapore universities for jobs (with six figure annual salaries)worldwide to address the global shortage of talent. If you are good at what you do, you can easily get ajob working with the best in the world, anywhere in the world.What if you are not sure if the computing industry is suitable for you? It is true that education in thecomputing area is challenging, with difficult but useful concepts to master and long hours of hard work.However, this is true of all worthwhile areas of study. The result of the hard work is that youunderstand automation, from a scientific and engineering point of view or from a business point of view.The rapid changing nature of the industry also means that you are exposed methods for handlingchanges as part of your education and are able to adapt and learn independently. Combined with generaleducation from the university, you are well prepared to enter and thrive almost anywhere. Computingeducation prepares you well for a career in the sciences, engineering, or business and for careers inmost areas requiring a general university education. It also serves as excellent background to rise to thehighest level of any profession. For example, NUS Computing alumni, Ms Tan Yen Yen, was ManagingDirector at HP Singapore and is currently Senior Vice President at Oracle Corporation. The CEO ofSingapore Airlines, Mr Goh Choon Phong, has a Bachelors and Masters degree in Computer Science andElectrical Engineering from MIT. The Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, has a Diploma(equivalent to Masters) in Computer Science from Cambridge. The Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore,Mr Teo Chee Hean, has a Masters in Computing Science from Imperial College. So, if you are not sure,don’t worry, a computing education is an excellent choice for education that gives you a wide array ofoptions when you graduate.To Find Out More Read Nobel Prize Winner in Economics, Paul Krugman’s article in the New York TimesDegrees and Dollars n.htmlRead MIT economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee’s book Race Against the Machinehttp://raceagainstthemachine.com/Read the Wall Street Journal article The Average Silicon Valley Tech Salary Passes he Graduate Employment Survey is available at http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/postsecondary/
Why NUS School of Computing?We are ranked best in Asia and 9th in the world by QS World University Rankings. Our faculty membersrank among the world’s best researchers, winning manybest paper awards in the best conferences and journals.HighlightsooooWe have excellent teachers. For example, we havesix faculty members on the NUS Teaching HonourRoll (three-time winners of NUS Annual TeachingExcellence Award).Our graduates are in high demand, with close to ahundred percent employment. Outside of law andmedicine, information systems had the highestaverage gross salary of NUS graduates in theGraduate Employment Survey 2011, while ComputerScience and Computer Engineering had among thehighest average gross salaries in 2012. Many of ourgraduates have also joined global companies such asFacebook, Google, and Microsoft in the US at sixfigure starting salaries in recent years. Our graduatesare not only in high demand but also global.Educational PhilosophyooooNUS School of Computing is rankedbest in Asia and 9th in the world byQS World University Ranking.Our faculty members excel inresearch and teaching.Our graduates are in high demand inindustry, both locally andinternationally.We educate our students in thefundamentals, allowing our studentsto adapt quickly to disruptivechanges that are often caused bytechnology.There is large demand for computingmanpower in the industry, but ourstudents’ good understanding oftechnology and change gives themgreat flexibility in career choice,even outside of technology andbusiness domains.We offer a wide range ofdifferentiated personalized programsto suit your preferences and needs.SoC students are passionate aboutexploiting technology for the benefitof societyThe school offers six degrees incomputer science, computationalbiology, computer engineering,information systems, businessanalytics and e-commerce.The School of Computing strives to educate studentsto becomeoIndividuals with questioning minds who are ableto engage in rigorous enquiry within and beyond disciplinary boundaries in a manner consistentwith the NUS educational philosophy.
ooIndividuals who understand the fundamentals of computing in general, and computer science orinformation systems in particular.Individuals who understand the rapid changes driven by technology and automation and who areable to exploit the changes for the benefit of society.SoC students have strong broad-based education, allowing them to adapt easily to jobs that requireuniversity-educated generalists. In addition, students in the Department of Computer Science havestrong background in science and mathematics, allowing them to independently learn new topics inthese areas quickly. Students in the Department of Information Systems have strong background inaccounting, economics and management, allowing them to adapt quickly across different businesses.Courses in SoC emphasize the fundamentals that do not change quickly. With a strong foundation, SoCgraduates are able to adapt quickly to new changing technologies. Within their courses, students will usemany technologies, will learn how new technologies relate to the fundamentals, and will get a sense ofhow future technologies will evolve from current technologies. Students also learn methods for dealingwith changes that are applicable beyond technology areas.As far as possible, SoC education will future-proof the students in allowing them to adapt quickly tochanges and to exploit opportunities created by changes in both technology and more general areas.Differentiated Personalized ProgramWe recognize that different students havedifferent educational preferences