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March 26: Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon Establish Center for Computational Thinking


Byron Spice
Carnegie Mellon University

Doreen O'Skea
Waggener Edstrom Worldwide

Rapid Response Team
Waggener Edstrom Worldwide

Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon Establish Center for Computational Thinking

Initiative Seeks To Understand New Approaches To Problem-Solving With Computing at Its Core

PITTSBURGH—Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University today announced the creation of the Microsoft Carnegie Mellon Center for Computational Thinking. The center was made possible through a three-year, $1.5 million grant from Microsoft.     

The center represents a long-term collaboration between Microsoft Research and Carnegie Mellon's Computer Science Department and will support research in emerging areas of computer science, particularly those that can influence the thinking of other disciplines.     

"Increasingly, scientists and researchers rely on computer science to enable them to sift through massive amounts of data and find breakthroughs that could provide new insights into the human body, the earth we live on and even the universe," said Rick Rashid, Microsoft Research senior vice president. "We are eager to explore this exciting new area of research with Carnegie Mellon."     

Rashid made the announcement at the Carnegie Mellon Symposium for Computational Thinking. Computational thinking, as conceived by Jeannette M. Wing, head of Carnegie Mellon's Computer Science Department, involves solving problems, designing systems and understanding human behavior by drawing on the concepts fundamental to computer science.     

"Carnegie Mellon itself is an example of how the power of computational thinking can energize disciplines across the campus," said Carnegie Mellon President Jared L. Cohon. "Our psychologists use machine learning techniques to decipher brain scans. Our biologists build computer models of cells to find causes of cancer. And business professors harness artificial intelligence to better understand markets. We are delighted that Microsoft is joining us in furthering this concept."    

The Microsoft Carnegie Mellon Center for Computational Thinking will support research in core computer science areas using an approach called problem-oriented explorations, pioneered by Carnegie Mellon's ALADDIN Center. Researchers from a variety of fields will address specific, real-world problems. Initial topics include privacy, e-commerce, multicore computing and embedded medical devices. Additionally, the center will develop and disseminate courses and curricula suitable for graduate and undergraduate students, as well as K-12 classes.    

"Computer technology has rapidly transformed education, commerce and entertainment. But, more profoundly, computational thinking is transforming how new science is discovered in fields as varied as biology, astronomy, statistics and economics," said Wing.    

As part of the ongoing relationship with Microsoft, the center will host a series of "Mindswaps," organized as annual meetings between Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon researchers for the purpose of sharing data, solving problems, sharing resources and collaborating on bigger computer challenges. Mindswaps will ultimately lead to problem-oriented explorations as part of the center's work.

Microsoft is deeply committed to education at all levels and has a long history of partnerships throughout academia. This institute is the result of work by its External Research & Programs group and becomes the eighth center Microsoft Research has formed to pursue particular areas of research.


About Carnegie Mellon's Computer Science Department: The Computer Science Department is the largest of six academic units within Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science. Consistently ranked among the world's premier institutions for computer science research and education, the school also includes leading programs in robotics, human-computer interaction, software research, language technologies and machine learning.

About Microsoft Research: Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Its goals are to enhance the user experience on computing devices, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and invent novel computing technologies. Researchers focus on more than 55 areas of computing and collaborate with leading academic, government and industry researchers to advance the state of the art in such areas as graphics, speech recognition, user-interface research, natural language processing, programming tools and methodologies, operating systems and networking, and the mathematical sciences. Microsoft Research employs more than 700 people in five labs located in Redmond, Wash.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Cambridge, England; Beijing, China; and Bangalore, India. Microsoft Research collaborates openly with colleges and universities worldwide to enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation, and broadly advance the field of computer science. More information can be found at

About Microsoft: Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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