FYI: CS+X Colloquium Series

The McCormick School of Engineering Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science invites you to the


CS+X Colloquium Series


Computer science penetrates all areas of thinking—even the social sciences, humanities, and arts. A new way of thinking—computational thinking—is emerging as a fundamental way of understanding and reimagining the entire world. It envisions all processes as computations and attempts to develop an understanding and technological mastery from this perspective. This colloquium series will help define the challenges and opportunities for both computer science and other disciplines as the scope and nature of computational thinking continue to evolve.



First in the Series

Wednesday, April 2, 2 p.m., ITW Classroom


McAfee Preston McAfee

Director, Google Strategic Technologies


Machine Learning + Economics

“Machine Learning in an Exchange Environment”


Machine learning involves very large regressions, with as many as a billion explanatory variables. Due to the scale, point estimates are typically used, so that common economic concepts like standard errors are ignored. The talk focuses on applications of ML in an exchange environment, as arises in internet advertising. The use of ML in an auction suggests several ways of improving ML: dealing with the winner’s curse, accommodating the inevitable prediction errors into pricing, and choosing a loss function appropriate to the application. In addition, it is shown that active learning strategies have modest payoffs.


Next in the Series


Please save the date for the upcoming lecture in this series.


Tuesday, April 29, 2 p.m., ITW Classroom


Cardelli Luca Cardelli

Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research


Programming Languages + Biology

“The Cell Cycle Switch Computes Approximate Majority”


This talk focuses on the insights that can be gained by combining the ‘dynamical systems’ and ‘reactive systems’ perspectives on biological systems, specifically focusing on how the cell cycle switch computes the well-known distributed systems algorithm: approximate majority.

FYI: Northwestern Computational Research Day – April 22, 2014

Northwestern Computational Research Day – April 22, 2014


The inaugural Northwestern Computational Research Day is being held on April 22, 2014. This event is hosted by NUIT, and sponsored in conjunction with the McCormick School of Engineering, the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, CIERA (Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics), Northwestern University Library, and the Office for Research. It is an all-day, campus-wide event to showcase computational research at NU, as well as build a computational research community at NU.


Highlights of the Computational Research Day include research presentations from Northwestern faculty and faculty researchers, invited speakers, a panel consisting of Quest support, users, and the director of the Office of Research Development, Fruma Yehiely, and a poster session sponsored by CIERA. Please see the full agenda for further details on keynote speakers, and the day’s events.


Date: April 22, 2014

Time: 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Location: Norris University Center – Evanston Campus

THATCamp Milwaukee, May 23-24, 2014

via Ann Hanlon, Head, Digital Collections and Initiatives, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, UWM Libraries

Please join us in Milwaukee, May 23-24, for THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp) Milwaukee 2014, an (un)conference organized by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Library’s Digital Humanities Lab and the UWM History Department. In this collegial setting, we invite you to have a little fun talking about new media and its wider application in the humanities, other scholarly disciplines, and the world beyond. Regardless of technical expertise or skill level, THATCamp Milwaukee provides an open and accessible space to “get your feet wet,” so to speak, in the digital humanities. Above all, it is a place to learn, experiment, and create.

This particular THATCamp is loosely based around the theme of building community through the digital humanities. Many of the DH Lab’s initial projects focus on public-facing and community-oriented projects that document, visualize, and contextualize the city and state where we’re headquartered ­ Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Other UWM projects ­ proposed or underway ­ look outward to other virtually imagined communities around the nation and the world. The DH Lab is an experimental and growing community itself, grounded in the same improvisational spirit that animates THATCamp’s organizers.

May 23rd: Bootcamp (workshops)
May 24th: THATCamp (sessions)

Register at:
Registration is free!

THATCamp is truly democratic and relies on YOUR session proposals to succeed. The more session proposals we receive, the more topics we will have to discuss. So, we strongly encourage you to propose a session after registering:

More information on schedule, workshops and locations TBA soon.

Announcing the 2014 NUDHL Connections Grant

The NUDHL Connections Grant supports graduate student travel to symposia, conferences, workshops, and other events related to digital humanities taking place outside the Chicagoland area. Students who receive funding to attend these events are required to present the knowledge they have gained at a future NUHDL meeting. The purpose of this grant is to support graduate student education, deepen digital humanities expertise and knowledge within the Northwestern community, and forge connections to other institutions.

Two grants of up to $500 will be awarded. First round of applications are due April 1, 2014 for immediate use. For summer or fall 2014, applications are due May 30, 2014. Email your application to

To be eligible, applicants should submit:

  1. Application Form (download as PDF).
  2. A current CV.
  3. A statement not more than two pages, single-spaced, that details the nature of the event that you wishes to attend, how it relates to your research, teaching, or scholarly activity as well as what its value may be to digital humanities knowledge and learning at Northwestern more broadly.
  4. Documentation (pdfs, screen shots, links, etc.) of your participation at NUDHL meetings, on the NUDHL blog (, and/or HASTAC (, and/or similar spaces of digital humanities scholarly discussion.
  5. Any supporting materials (pdfs, screen shots, links, etc.) that document your current digital humanities research.
  6. Supporting materials from the event organizers: explanation of the event, CFP, advertising, or other relevant documents.

Email your application to For more information or questions, feel free to email Michael Kramer (, Jillana Enteen (, or Josh Honn (

Digital Humanities Meet Public Humanities: GEO, Spring 2014


*Graduate Students*
**GEO Community Practicum Spring 2014**
Drop-In Info Sessions Scheduled & Applications Available

Are you a graduate student interested in learning how you can connect with
community organizations and gain experience with engaged scholarship?

Are you interested in learning how you can connect with community organizations and gain experience with engaged scholarship? Stop by an information session for the Graduate Engagement Opportunities (GEO) Community Practicum. These drop-in sessions are an informal way to learn more about the program and get your questions answered. Stop in any time during the following windows:

    • Wed. January 29th - anytime between 4 – 5pm - at the Center for Civic Engagement (1813 Hinman)
  • Tues. February 11th - anytime between noon – 1pm - at the Grad Student Commons (2122 Sheridan Rd., Rm#250)

If you cannot make one of these sessions but are interested in more information contactHeidi Gross (heidi-gross@northwestern.edu847-467-1821). Additional information and applications are available at The deadlines to apply for Spring Quarter are Monday, February 17th (regular deadline) and Wednesday, February 26th (final deadline).

The GEO Community Practicum provides interested graduate students with the opportunity to undertake a quarter-long internship or field study in the overlapping areas of civic engagement, social justice, or community studies. Simultaneously, students will enroll inCFS 495: Civic Engagement and Graduate Education. The seminar will allow students to share their experiences at the work site as well as connect the practicum experience to their studies.We work closely with each student to find a placement that is aligned with the student’s interest, and have placed students with organizations that can help further the student’s research agenda and advance their career goals. A few examples of past placements include: the Newberry Library, the Field Museum, the Evanston Health Department,Illinois Humanities Council and the Trust for Public Land.

The program is open to all PhD students, and through the support of The Graduate School students can use one quarter of their NU fellowship funding to participate. (Master’s students will be considered as space allows.) For more information contact Heidi Gross(heidi-gross@northwestern.edu847-467-1821).

Additional information and applications are available

Learn how you can

     …engage with cultural, civic and non-profit institutions
     …be involved in community development
     …apply your academic skills to communities and civic life

Center for Civic Engagement and Chicago Field Studies

Northwestern University
1813 Hinman Avenue
Evanston, Il 60208-4175
p. (847) 467-1367
f. (847) 467-2286

Copyright (c) 2014 The Center for Civic Engagement All rights reserved.


Scholarship, Libraries, and c21 Humanism (NUDHL 2.3 Recap)

Thanks to all folks for attending the final NUDHL meeting of the Fall term. Last Friday attracted staff, students, and faculty from divisions including NU LIbraries, IT, History, and English. I first recounted my experiences at Rare Book School over the past summer, as well as some of the particular things I learned from Bethany Nowviskie, Andy Stauffer, and the community of scholars, librarians, collectors, and students with me in Charlottesville. The readings I selected were designed to approach the “doings” of DH through bibliographical methods (that is, the study of the physical and material qualities of printed books, manuscripts, &c). Not accidentally, the discussion also touched upon some critical issues facing today’s academy: digitization, scholarly communication, and reevaluation of graduate training practices and tenure criteria. Each of these, I believe, are deeply related to our present navigations between the print and the digital. It is our patience with the iterative nature of these navigations that will define the shape of humanistic study in this century (here, I follow Jerome McGann).

I opened with a summary of my activities at Rare Book School, an opportunity partly facilitated by a NUDHL Connections Grant. The grant remains open for graduate students at Northwestern for programs like this. You can better grasp the full extent of the talk by linking to the powerpoint presentation accompanying it (Scholarship, Libraries, and c.21 Humanism). However, a few brief comments will suffice to explain what I discussed and how the conversation proceeded. First, I talked about my time in Charlottesville in the course “Digitizing the Historical Record,” which was team-taught by book history and digital humanities gurus Andy Stauffer and Bethany Nowviskie. Participants ranged from students to scholars to librarians and enthusiasts – a fairly diverse group, but typical enough for RBS. In order to think about the complexities of digitization, especially for objects that are difficult to render in digital forms, we explored a series of “hard cases” (mine, a c16 printed edition of Peter Martyr’s commentary on Paul’s letters – a fragmentary volume riddled with handwriting from numerous readers). Nowviskie and Stauffer also led us through Digitization Services at UVa, a remarkable facility where we witnessed students scanning physical matter (letters, printed books) for patrons. This was a chance to pause and reflect upon the necessity of involving undergraduates in the developments in the humanities today, for UVa’s digitization center could not run without the help of these students. Sessions later in the week at Rare Book School included discussions with technologists (Jeremy Boggs among them), demonstrations of some promising projects in the Scholars’ Lab (Mapping the Catalogue of Ships), and participants’ presentations on developing research or digitization projects.

This portion of the course enabled me to reflect upon The Spenser Engagements, a small digital project I have been running since early 2013 alongside Josh Honn and Brendan Quinn. In Charlottesville, I envisioned a more detailed and complex iteration of the CSS/HTML apparatus we now have (and which we are trying to redesign currently for TEI). This would be called “ART” (Apparatus for Renaissance Translation) and would function along the lines of Version Variation Visualization and UVa’s Juxta. The goal is to design an interface that facilitates the study of a text as it is translated or revised across multiple languages, accounting all the while for the linguistic particularities of each language. The project is also interested in exposing/exploring the deep roots of digital scholarship in philological study.

The readings selected for this NUDHL meeting were designed to provoke some deeper thought about bibliographical methods in relation to the digital (Galey), and the problems and instabilities of digitization and the not-necessarily-linear movement from print to digital (trettien). A short piece written recently by Jerome McGann in Profession provided a general discussion of these topics in relation to the future of humanities in practice. The conversation first revolved around the stakes in “presentist” views and longer historical approaches; the notion of “resistance in the material” (to use William Morris’s phrase); the allographic and the autographic; and questions of authenticity or truth in texts. Galey’s piece stimulated some interest in the ethics of emerging scholarly methods and the “interpretive malleability” of software; the time that one must devote to a particular scholarly effort, and how the digital may streamline that process; and the prestige economy of the academy and the value associated (or not) with tools and curation.

Some links to resources & tools:
Andrew Keener’s Slides
The Rossetti Archive
The Blake Archive
The Scholars’ Lab
Mapping the Catalogue of Ships
The Elements of User Experience
Lexicons of Early Modern English
Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project
English Short-Title Catalog (ESTC)

Jonathan Sterne and the Sound of Digital Humanities (NUDHL 2.2 Recap)

For the second NUDHL session of 2013-2014, the group had the privilege of hearing from and visiting with Jonathan Sterne who teaches at the Department of Art History and Communication Studies and the History and Philosophy of Science Program at McGill University, and author of the recent book MP3: The Meaning of a Format. With a focus on “sound studies,” this session especially attracted faculty and graduate students from the various departments of the Bienen School of Music (e.g. Musicology, Music Theory & Cognition), the School of Communication (e.g. Theater & Drama, Performance Studies), and librarians from Northwestern University Library’s Music Library.

After an introduction by NUDHL co-convener Michael Kramer, author of The Republic of Rock: Music and Citizenship in the Sixties Counterculture and whose research interests include “sonification” in the context of historical research and argument, Jonathan Sterne started things off by providing the group a definition of digital humanities. Sterne sees DH as humanists using digital technology in order to do new research and forms of publishing they couldn’t previously do, while also placing it in conversation with fields like New Media and those who study digital culture and media technologies. Yet, Sterne was quick to caution against a DH that embraces an “app fetishism” that privileges methods over questions (or, as he described it, “playing with toys”). Sterne then went on to discuss media historically, elaborating on the university mainframe of the past as a collaborative physical space, and the long tradition of humanists appropriating technology (e.g. photocopier, slide projector, card catalog, etc.) for their own uses.

On issues of sound and digital humanities, Sterne stressed the integration of sound into humanist pedagogy and presentations, and, in multimodal publishing, to create auditory content to illustrate arguments. Seeing this as a moment similar to when art historians started using slide projectors, Sterne questioned why we don’t embed sound the way we embed images? One major barrier to this, Sterne thinks, is institutional timidity around fair use. But, once we begin using sound the way we use images, he felt it could bring about major transformations in how we think, talk, study, and listen.

In the question and answer session, the group wondered how the digital might help us better study analog sound technologies? This question had us considering “close listening” and work such as Adorno’s “The Curves of the Needle.”

When it came to a question on using sound in publications, Sterne saw appropriate use being a question scholars have long faced: do you go for broad legibility or poststructural academic prose? This, to him, seemed to be the same question we have to ask ourselves in relation to multimodal argumentation, which can easily overwhelm and obscure through an excess of sound, image, video, and more.

Finally, we also discussed issues of labor (e.g. publishing multimodally usually does not come with institutional support), collaboration (e.g. the need for designers), and, to come full circle, how we need to not get so lost in methods that we stop asking questions.

As the session ended, scholars and graduate students from Northwestern shared their own experiences and challenges with using sound in their pedagogy, making it clear that this was an activity happening more and more throughout a wide range of disciplines, and one that often requires collaboration between scholars, librarians and technologists. Luckily, all of these folks were in the room, so ideas, questions, resources, and contact information were quickly exchanged, connections formed, and plans hatched while we divvied up the leftover coffee and pastries on our way out.

NUDHL 2.1 Recap

Friends and members of NUDHL:

Here’s a brief recap of our first meeting of 2013-14. Over the course of this year, you’ll see more posts like this, which will provide a record of our gatherings for current and future members, They will also serve as a resource as our agenda unfolds over the course of the academic year.

On Friday, October 11, NUDHL Convener Michael Kramer moderated the first meeting for the 2013-14 year. The title of this two-hour session was “Introduction to NUDHL and the Digital Humanities,” and it sought to reflect upon what we accomplished last year as well as what we will undertake this year. Michael mentioned Matthew Gold’s edited collection Debates in the Digital Humanities, which we used in the past to stimulate conversation in monthly meetings. He also summarized some of the points that surfaced frequently in last year’s sessions (file backwards through the NUDHL blog for some of this content).

This first meeting of this year also introduced all members in attendance, both old and new, including Co-Conveners Jillana Enteen, Josh Honn, and Michael Kramer, and Assistant Directors Kevin Baker and Andrew Keener. Attendants hailed from a variety of departments and disciplines including: Art Theory and Practice; English; History; Information Technology; Media, several divisions in Northwestern Libraries; Technology and Society; Rhetoric and Public Culture; and Spanish and Portuguese. The recommended reading for this first session was Jeffrey Schnapp et al., “A Short Guide to Digital_Humanities” (2013), which provoked a thoughtful conversation about the multiple, conflicting definitions of DH, what it can do and offer, what the stakes are, and who is or who can be involved. Of course, as Michael and the English Department’s Jim Hodge were quick to remind us, this book bears the marks of its origins: advocacy for an undergraduate DH program directed towards administrative offices.

Rather than attempting to collaboratively formulate a strict or polemical definition of what digital humanities is, we sought in this session to articulate what it does. This strategy for the conversation invited members to discuss some of their own experiences or interests in the ways that DH serves their research or work. Michael suggested at first that DH might promise a challenge to the very traditionally text-centered approaches of the humanities, as well as multiple modes of perception in both research and teaching. Jim Hodge brought up the notion of “deformance,” a term used by Jerome McGann and Lisa Samuels to describe the playful reconfiguration of texts, to which Josh Honn added computer glitching. Thinking more broadly, Andrew Keener summarized some of Franco Moretti’s points about distant reading in Graphs, Maps, Trees, and offered some thoughts about different modes or models of DH (Moretti being at Stanford, and the bibliographically-inclined McGann “school” radiating outwards from UVa on the East Coast). Towards the end of the conversation, Elizabeth Hunter raised some questions about the roles of gaming in the digital humanities, and we hypothesized how a first-person Shakespeare RPG might integrate a player’s experience with an increasingly difficult sequence of encounters with early modern English language or text. Other topics to surface, if only briefly, included: the difference between the public humanities and the digital humanities; 3D printing; canonicity; and databases.

At the very end of the meeting, Josh invited attendants to peruse the Northwestern University Library’s “A Guide to Digital Humanities”, a useful resource for faculty, staff, and graduate students interested in learning more about DH at Northwestern. Additionally, this NUDHL blog offers a place for discussions to continue between sessions and throughout the year.

What are the Digital Humanities?

What are the Digital Humanities?

November 14-16, 2013 @ University of Chicago

Scholars have long been interested in how new media technologies and novel statistical methods can alter the way that humanists approach their work. Indeed, for as long as there have been computers, there has been talk of imminent transformation in the study of our collective cultural life. Only recently, however, have digital technologies made major inroads into the broad range of disciplines that constitute the humanities as a field—scholars in disciplines as diverse as philosophy, art history, English and film studies are now making use of them in their work. But what are the digital humanities? How do they promise to change the way we approach the study of language, literature, philosophy and the arts?


Wikipedia Hackathon at Northwestern

Are you a researcher, developer, designer, or data visualizer interested in wikis, Wikipedia, and open online collaboration? If so, the inaugural Chicagoland Wiki Research Hackathon is coming up Friday, November 8 at Northwestern and you should be a part of it!

You can signup on this form and read on to learn more.

What is this event? The Wiki Research Hackathon is a free and open to all, and is being coordinated in conjunction with Wikimedia Labs² and the global Wiki Research Hackathon, which is currently scheduled to take place on four different continents over a 24 hour period!

Why “wiki research”? Wikis and other platforms for open, online collaboration (also known as peer production) are responsible for some of the most innovative and ground-breaking activities on the Internet. In addition to generating valuable public goods (like the world’s largest free encyclopedia!), many of these online communities also produce incredibly rich and detailed public datasets that can be used to conduct research of many kinds, visualize social interactions, and also to build new services, tools, and platforms.

Why should I participate? The goal of the Chicagoland Wiki Research Hackathon is to bring together a local community of people interested in wikis, Wikipedia, and open online communities in order to facilitate collaborations, connections, and new projects. It is an opportunity to meet, brainstorm, and work together. You’ll have the chance to create innovative projects and take advantage of the incredible public data resources available from Wikipedia, Wikia, and other open online communities. By participating, you’ll also be part of a much larger, global community doing wiki research!

Where and when is this happening? The inaugural Chicagoland Wiki Research Hackathon will take place on the Northwestern University campus in Evanston (specific location pending confirmation) from 10am-5:30pm on Friday, November 8. We’ll spend most of the day developing and executing collaborative projects. All attendees are then invited for appetizers and drinks from 6-8pm. You can check out a slightly inaccurate draft agenda for the day if you want more details than that. Note that remote participants are also welcome, but you should get in touch with the organizers ahead of time if you’d like to participate remotely.

What do I need to bring? Most importantly, you need to bring your ideas, skills, and willingness to meet and work with other people who have diverse interests. The organizers will provide some basic infrastructure (space, food, brainstorming activities, internet connections, lightweight planning and organization). All attendees are encouraged to bring their own laptops (or other personal computing devices) as needed.

Sounds fantastic! How do I get involved? Just signup here. We’ll keep you posted with reminders, additional details about the event, and future announcements Please complete the signup form even if you think you can only come for part of the day or just want to stay informed about future events.

I still have questions – who do I talk to? Email Aaron Shaw (Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Northwestern).

Who’s supporting this event? The inaugural Chicagoland Wiki Research Hackathon is co-sponsored by the Northwestern Program in Technology & Social Behavior and the Wikimedia Foundation. We’re also grateful for the support of the Northwestern School of Communication; the Department of Communication Studies; and the Program in Media, Technology & Society. If you’d like to get involved as a sponsor and/or organizer of this hackathon or future events like this, please email Aaron Shaw.