Academic Careers for Experimental Computer Scientists and Engineers

Committee on Academic Careers for Experimental Computer Scientists

Computer Science and Telecommunications Board

Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications

National Research Council

National Academy Press
Washington, D.C. 1994



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Academic Careers for Experimental Computer Scientists and Engineers Academic Careers for Experimental Computer Scientists and Engineers Committee on Academic Careers for Experimental Computer Scientists Computer Science and Telecommunications Board Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications National Research Council National Academy Press Washington, D.C. 1994

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Academic Careers for Experimental Computer Scientists and Engineers NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. Support for this project was provided by the National Science Foundation (under Grant No. CDA-9024633) and core funds of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authoring committee and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 93-84437 International Standard Book Number 0-309-04931-8 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Box 285 Washington, DC 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area) B-158 Copyright 1994 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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Academic Careers for Experimental Computer Scientists and Engineers COMMITTEE ON ACADEMIC CAREERS FOR EXPERIMENTAL COMPUTER SCIENTISTS LAWRENCE SNYDER, University of Washington, Chair FOREST BASKETT, Silicon Graphics Computer Systems and Stanford University MICHAEL M. CARROLL, Rice University DON MICHAEL COLEMAN, Howard University DEBORAH ESTRIN, University of Southern California MERRICK L. FURST, Carnegie Mellon University JOHN HENNESSY, Stanford University H.T. KUNG, Harvard University KURT MALY, Old Dominion University BRIAN REID, Digital Equipment Corporation Staff MARJORY S. BLUMENTHAL, Director HERBERT S. LIN, Senior Staff Officer ARTHUR McCORD, Project Assistant (through February 1993) LESLIE WADE, Project Assistant

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Academic Careers for Experimental Computer Scientists and Engineers COMPUTER SCIENCE AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS BOARD WILLIAM A. WULF, University of Virginia, Chair RUZENA BAJCSY, University of Pennsylvania JEFF DOZIER, University of California at Santa Barbara DAVID J. FARBER, University of Pennsylvania HENRY FUCHS, University of North Carolina CHARLES GESCHKE, Adobe Systems Inc. JAMES GRAY, Digital Equipment Corporation JOHN L. HENNESSY, Stanford University DEBORAH A. JOSEPH, University of Wisconsin RICHARD M. KARP, University of California at Berkeley KEN KENNEDY, Rice University BUTLER W. LAMPSON, Digital Equipment Corporation BARBARA H. LISKOV, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ROBERT L. MARTIN, Bell Communications Research DAVID G. MESSERSCHMITT, University of California at Berkeley WILLIAM PRESS, Harvard College CHARLES L. SEITZ, California Institute of Technology EDWARD SHORTLIFFE, Stanford University School of Medicine CASMIR S. SKRZYPCZAK, NYNEX Corporation LAWRENCE T. TESLER, Apple Computer Inc. LESLIE L. VADASZ, Intel Corporation MARJORY S. BLUMENTHAL, Director HERBERT S. LIN, Senior Staff Officer GREG MEDALIE, Staff Officer JAMES MALLORY, Staff Officer RENEE A. HAWKINS, Staff Associate GLORIA BEMAH, Administrative Assistant JANET QUARLES, Project Assistant LESLIE WADE, Project Assistant

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Academic Careers for Experimental Computer Scientists and Engineers COMMISSION ON PHYSICAL SCIENCES, MATHEMATICS, AND APPLICATIONS RICHARD N. ZARE, Stanford University, Chair RICHARD S. NICHOLSON, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Vice Chair STEPHEN L. ADLER, Institute for Advanced Study JOHN A. ARMSTRONG, IBM Corporation (retired) SYLVIA T. CEYER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology AVNER FRIEDMAN, University of Minnesota SUSAN L. GRAHAM, University of California at Berkeley ROBERT J. HERMANN, United Technologies Corporation HANS MARK, University of Texas at Austin CLAIRE E. MAX, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory CHRISTOPHER F. McKEE, University of California at Berkeley JAMES W. MITCHELL, AT&T Bell Laboratories JEROME SACKS, National Institute of Statistical Sciences A. RICHARD SEEBASS III, University of Colorado CHARLES P. SLICHTER, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ALVIN W. TRIVELPIECE, Oak Ridge National Laboratory NORMAN METZGER, Executive Director

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Academic Careers for Experimental Computer Scientists and Engineers Preface Experimental computer science and engineering (ECSE) is the fundamental underpinning of the computer hardware and software that drive the information age. The national importance of research in this field led the National Science Foundation (NSF) to ask the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) of the National Research Council to conduct a study of career tracks for experimental computer scientists and engineers in academia. NSF's concern was motivated by the observation that the challenges faced by experimental computer scientists and engineers in academia, especially those of being evaluated and of creating appropriate research environments, may be different from those encountered by their more theoretically oriented counterparts. The CSTB Committee on Academic Careers for Experimental Computer Scientists deliberated on this subject for a year. While it drew on its own experience and contacts within the field, it also made considerable use of several informal surveys of the ECSE community, sent out with the cooperation of the Computing Research Association. Appendix A contains a description of the survey methodology. In addition, the committee solicited input at an open workshop held at the biennial Snowbird meeting of Ph.D.-granting computer science and engineering department chairs in July 1992. Beyond explaining the need for conducting ECSE research at universities, characterizing the unique nature of the field, and describ

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Academic Careers for Experimental Computer Scientists and Engineers ing successful experimental research, this report focuses on the challenges faced by faculty who wish to be successful experimentalists. Accordingly, the report is directed to university faculty and administrators, as well as government policymakers and industry leaders (who employ experimental computer scientists and engineers and depend on their intellectual output). Made available recently, two other reports that address some of the issues discussed in this report are the Liskov report1 and the record of the Computing Research Association Workshop on Academic Careers for Women (in computer science and engineering).2 The Liskov report was concerned with how to improve research in experimental computer science by identifying problems in the field and proposing solutions. The second report unfortunately came to the attention of the committee too late for it to be referenced in the main body of this report. Although it was aimed at women with careers in the field, much of the advice and commentary applies to men in the field as well. This report deals primarily with the career tracks of regular faculty members in experimental computer science and engineering, i.e., faculty who are eligible for tenure and have a mix of regular research and teaching responsibilities. This group constitutes the largest number of experimental computer scientists and engineers in academia. Regular faculty positions are not the only possible academic careers, but all other paths share one primary characteristic: positions other than those of regular faculty members are generally contingent on the availability of outside funding (so-called soft money). This dependence on outside funding implies that a research grant or contract provides the primary support for such a person; accordingly, his or her responsibilities are, in contrast to those of regular faculty members, avowedly in the research domain, although he or she may have a teaching opportunity from time to time. Academic positions funded by soft money are by definition somewhat tenuous; at institutions with large ECSE research programs, holders of such positions have greater flexibility to switch among ongoing projects. Because most universities are generally willing to hire individuals for nonprofessorial 1   Liskov, Barbara. 1992. Report on Workshop on Research in Experimental Computer Science. MIT/LCS/TR-540. Laboratory for Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. 2   Edited transcripts of this workshop are available by anonymous FTP from the site "ics.uci.edu" and are contained in the directory "pub/mentoring-workshop." This workshop was held at the Federated Computing Research Conference at San Diego, California, on May 15, 1993.

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Academic Careers for Experimental Computer Scientists and Engineers positions when outside funding is available, the committee concluded that the truly knotty issues are those faced by the regular faculty member in ECSE. The comments and criticisms of reviewers of early drafts of this report are gratefully acknowledged. Of course, the findings, conclusions, and judgments of this report are solely the responsibility of the committee. CSTB will be glad to receive comments on this report. Please send them via e-mail to CSTB@NAS.EDU, or via regular mail to CSTB, National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Avenue, Washington, DC 20418.

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Academic Careers for Experimental Computer Scientists and Engineers Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1 1   WHAT IS EXPERIMENTAL COMPUTER SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING?   9 2   AN ACADEMIC CAREER IN ECSE   34 3   EDUCATIONAL DIMENSIONS OF ACADEMIC ECSE   56 4   EVALUATING RESEARCH IN ECSE   60 5   A POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR ACADEMIC ECSE   82 6   SPECIAL NEEDS AND CONCERNS OF NON-DOCTORATE-GRANTING AND LESS RECOGNIZED INSTITUTIONS   100 7   FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS   106     APPENDIXES         A SURVEYING THE ECSE COMMUNITY   115     B COMPARING JOURNAL AND CONFERENCE PUBLICATION   135

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