Welcome to the international (English-speaking) blog of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Helsinki. Our blog invites views on research, education, student life, and other societal themes connected to our computer science fields. The intention is to build a forum as an open window for readers from inside and outside computer science. If you have any good ideas or articles to share on this blog, please feel free to contact us: cs-blog [ät] cs.helsinki.fi.

Vada a bordo!

by Jussi Kangasharju

(Instead of a literal translation, I've chosen to translate the meaning of the title. As the most astute of you may have already noticed, the title is not in English, but in fact in Italian and recapitulates the words of Italian Coast Guard Captain De Falco when "encouraging" Captain Schettino, the captain of the sinking cruise ship Costa Concordia, to go back on board the ship to coordinate the rescue. The intended meaning is: "Stop whining and start doing your job!")

This article is mainly me venting my frustration, since over the past year or so, I've noticed that the laziness and general lack of effort have reached completely unexplored peaks. Although this article is only my personal opinion, in the discussions with many other teachers in the department, I've heard very similar experiences on their part as well.

Why laziness and lack of effort? Because the problem seems to be mainly in the general attitudes of the students and in particular their attitude towards studying. The following are examples from the real world:

- In the Scientific Writing course (bachelor's thesis), more and more students drop out, often without informing the instructor. A few years ago this kind of behavior was almost unheard of.

- Same phenomenon appears more frequently in seminars as well. Sometimes these disappearing students inform the instructor, but most simply disappear and won't even answer our queries about whether they are planning to continue or not. In the most popular seminars, there are more people applying than there are places in the seminar, so these dropouts might have taken places from students who would have completed the seminar.

- In one seminar, it had been agreed that two students should coordinate the contents of their articles so that they would not overlap too much. One of them disappeared silently, leading to the other one waiting for an answer, and not being able to complete the article in time. Is it correct to sabotage the studies of other students like this?

- Particularly international students are guilty of rampant plagiarism (in last year's Distributed Systems course, one third of the students were found guilty of plagiarism; all failed the course). Some know that they have done wrong and even know how to write correctly, but simply won't bother to do the right thing. Wilder excuses include "in my country plagiarism is not considered a problem". Listen, in this country it is a problem. (Yes, the orientation course for international students does spell out what is acceptable and what is not. If you want to get a master's degree, understanding something as simple as that cannot be too hard for you to grasp.)

- Yet another story are students "working" on their master's thesis. Trust me, we've heard all possible excuses, even up to "my roommate's cousin's dog had a bit of diarrhea, which shocked me to such an extent that I had a mental block for half a year and wasn't able to progress". Writing your thesis is not difficult. It's just an extended bachelor's thesis (or a bit more than twice the length of a seminar paper in my seminars). A  master's thesis does not change the world and does not contain any new scientific knowledge. These belong in a doctoral dissertation and even there the bar is relatively low on these scores. (I admit that the department's official guidelines for master's thesis make it sound much worse than it is; these should be adapted.)

Many of our students work during the studies and I fully comprehend that combining full-time work with studies is really difficult, if not impossible; after all there are only 24 hours in a day, a fact of which I'm also painfully aware. If you can't handle both, you need to prioritize. Which is more important, work or graduation? (For those complaining about the workload in the courses: Yes, we could probably adjust the number of credits per course, but if we do that by increasing the number of credits, the workload in a course remains the same, and I'd guess we'd be at the same situation as today.)

Are we teachers perfect? Of course not and all of us could could make improvements in many ways. But take a wild guess what our motivation for large changes and improvements is, when we're faced with the above "hobbyist" students? You've made your bed, now lie in it.

To be honest, of course we have also excellent students in the department, although it feels like they are in a minority. Working with them is a pleasure, even an honor and they help us teachers get through the rest. To these students, I want to say that don't be afraid that we'd lump you with the "bad ones"; every teacher knows who you are. :-)

With that out of my system, I'd like to ask where do we go from here? What can we teachers do? What can students do? Good suggestions and ideas are welcome.

Jussi
 

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Discussion in Finnish / kommentointia suomeksi

The Finnish version of this blog has resulted in a very lively discussion. Those of you who can read Finnish, take a look at http://www.cs.helsinki.fi/paakki/joku-roti. Comments and discussion are most welcome here as well!

Suomenkielisessä versiossa siis käynnissä kiivaskin keskustelu, ks. http://www.cs.helsinki.fi/paakki/joku-roti. Kommentit tietysti tervetulleita myös tänne!

Haba

The CS Blog Task Force

Aaron is doing his PhD in the NODES group at the CS department. His research focuses on mobile computing and energy efficient design for multi-interfaced mobile devices.

http://www.cs.helsinki.fi/u/yding

Giulio is a Professor at the CS department. His area is Human-Computer Interaction. For more information, please find his homepage here

http://www.hiit.fi/giulio.jacucci

Doris is a researcher at the CS department and HIIT, doing her PhD in the neuroinformatics research group. Her research interests include graphical models, causal discovery, and time series.

http://www.cs.helsinki.fi/en/people/entner

Laura is doing her PhD at the CS department. Her research interests include knowledge and link discovery, bioinformatics, and data mining.

http://www.cs.helsinki.fi/en/people/langohr

 

21.10.2014 - 13:50

Interaction Lab is initiated and founded by Ubiquitous Interaction research group in 2014 for providing a space where novel interaction in between human, computer, and the physical environment can be developed and experimented.

28.09.2014 - 17:51

by Anna Kantosalo

Computational creativity is a new and hot topic in computer science. This year I had a wonderful opportunity to participate in the International Conference for Computational Creativity (ICCC) at the Jozef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana and present my first academic paper for the Discovery Research Group. The great community and fascinating topics of the conference made me want to share the highlights of my first conference experience with all of you!

07.09.2014 - 22:22

by Juhani Toivonen and Lirim Osmani

The European Grid Infrastructure (EGI) is a federation of research organisations that provide computational resources and services to European researchers and their partners around the world. It consists of National Grid Initiatives, one of which is in Finland (http://fgi.csc.fi) and is managed by an organisation called EGI.eu.

09.04.2014 - 12:53

by Sini, local member of the international branch in the department well-being group

24.01.2014 - 22:05

By Carolina Lindqvist

20.12.2013 - 13:51

On Monday the 16th of December 2013, NODES research group organized the traditional NODES/KOPS-glögi before the Christmas holiday. (Glögi translates to 'mulled wine', and is a popular red spicy drink enjoyed around Christmas time.)

10.12.2013 - 14:35
By: Ella Peltonen and Tiina Niklander
 
07.11.2013 - 18:59

by Antti-Pekka Tuovinen

16.10.2013 - 22:04

by Kalle Viiri

 

12.09.2013 - 01:41

by Aino Sipari

Our Kumpula club buddy program is recruiting new buddies!

29.08.2013 - 15:34

Have you ever been worried about you mobile phone's or tablet's energy consumption? Do you need to charge your device every night, perhaps even in the middle of the day? It is generally known that large screens and continuous network connections eat our phones' battery faster than we really want. Our goal in the Carat project is to survey and analyze what else could be going bad in our phones' matters.

01.07.2013 - 12:39

The national yearly Computer Science event (Tietojenkäsittelytieteen päivät) is the main event of the Finnish Society for Computer Science (TKTS). The society hands out two awards every year, the best MSc thesis of the year, and the best PhD thesis, which is awarded by The Finnish Information Processing Association, FIPA (TTL in Finnish). This year the PhD thesis award was granted to Jouni Siren from our department, for his thesis "Compressed Full-Text Indexes for Highly Repetitive Collections". Congratulations, Jouni!

04.06.2013 - 15:03

Interview with Tiina Niklander

Question 1: What's your role in the union? Please introduce yourself and if possible, the current status at department.

I am a university instructor at the department. In addition to giving courses and guiding thesis a lot of my work at the department is related to guiding study planning of Networking and Services students. I also coordinate the international master's studies at the whole department.

I have been one of the shop stewards at the university for several years.  

08.05.2013 - 23:32

In early March, the Department of Computer Science and Innofactor organized a week-long Windows Azure CodeCamp for students. The course was held 1-11.3.2013, during which the students were asked to produce small-scale applications utilizing the Windows Azure platform - Microsoft's cloud computing platform for building, deploying and managing applications and services, like Amazon's AWS or the Google App Engine.

05.04.2013 - 14:15

Dear readers, this is the second interview of our TKTL group leader series. The goal is to provide an open forum for group leaders to present their latest research development, activities in teaching, project work opportunities, and general comments about our department. This time, we interviewed Prof. Giulio Jaccuci, who is leading the Ubiquitous Interaction (UiX) group.

31.01.2013 - 15:04

Prof. Jussi Kangasharju started a blog to chronicle his sabbatical year - first 5 months in Korea, then 5 months in the Bay Area in the US. He comments, "It is partly intended to show people in our department that going abroad is not a scary thing." We repost here his latest blog entry about the winter experience in Korea. For further interesting stories, check out his blog.

18.12.2012 - 14:56

Sasu Tarkoma

This has been a busy year for the networking and services specialization line and the NODES research community at the Department.  We have made the headlines from rooftop greenhouses to energy-optimising mobile apps and squeeze-based smartphones.  We should not forget the best paper awards and other mentions either. We did well in the university research assessment exercise as well. We have also strengthened the industry connections and the recent Internet of Things (IoT) research program is one example of this.

18.12.2012 - 14:42

At the end of November 2012, the department of computer science threw its Christmas party in "Berghyddan", an old building in the area where Helsinki was originally founded.

24.10.2012 - 16:13

In this month's NODES Pizza Seminar, postdoctoral researcher Suzan Bayhan from HIIT gave a presentation about "Energy Efficiency in Cognitive Radio Networks". In brief, a cognitive radio node is capable of changing its communication frequency in order to better take advantage of underutilized parts of the radio spectrum.

24.09.2012 - 18:04

On September 17th, the well-being group and the department invited our international staff for a casual coffee break for the start of the new semester.

20.06.2012 - 11:03

On a beautiful summer day, our department invited staff members to the idyllic located villages of Billnäs and Fiskars, which is about 80 km west of Helsinki, famous for their long tradition of iron works.

14.03.2012 - 20:13

by Jussi Kangasharju

(Instead of a literal translation, I've chosen to translate the meaning of the title. As the most astute of you may have already noticed, the title is not in English, but in fact in Italian and recapitulates the words of Italian Coast Guard Captain De Falco when "encouraging" Captain Schettino, the captain of the sinking cruise ship Costa Concordia, to go back on board the ship to coordinate the rescue. The intended meaning is: "Stop whining and start doing your job!")

This article is mainly me venting my frustration, since over the past year or so, I've noticed that the laziness and general lack of effort have reached completely unexplored peaks. Although this article is only my personal opinion, in the discussions with many other teachers in the department, I've heard very similar experiences on their part as well.

08.03.2012 - 12:28

by Ella Peltonen

This year the Department's Strategy seminar was organized from 1st to 2nd March 2012 in Hotel Haikko Manor near the city of Porvoo. Beautiful Haikko is known for a place of fabulous summer weddings, but it seems to be also a practical conference centre and a nice small spa. And so our two strategy days contained both working and relaxation.

08.03.2012 - 12:25

by Jussi Kangasharju

For two years, my group has conducted research on data center cooling optimizations, and as part of that work, we have had computers out on the roof terrace of Exactum for over 2 years, in all sorts of enclosures. For a full recap of our research, please see Mikko's excellent blog (which also discusses washing of keyboards in a dishwasher).

14.02.2012 - 15:13

Dear readers, the interview series of TKTL group leaders is making its debut today! The goal of the series is to provide an open forum for research group leaders to present their latest research developments, activities in teaching, project work opportunities, and general comments about our department.

02.01.2012 - 17:34

by Esther Galbrun

13.12.2011 - 17:52

by Oskar Gross

Autumn school on Computational Creativity was held in Porvoo from 7th till 11th of November. It is interesting to note that it was a landmark in the field of computational creativity, as it was apparently the first "school" dedicated on this topic. Moreover, the lectures were given by the leading researchers in the respective field.

09.11.2011 - 15:54

In autumn 2010 a Finnish course was organized in Kumpula for the staff of the Computer Science Department. After one year, we are interested in how the attendees feel about the course and if there is a demand for organizing such a course again.

Here are the comments from some of last years attendees:

"Overall I found the Finnish course very useful. Unfortunately I am spending just one year here in Finland, so I did not have a lot of time to study and practice what I learnt :)

17.10.2011 - 11:20

by Stefan Schönauer

Throughout my career the question of how to improve the internal communication and collaboration has been a topic at every institution I worked for. Here I present some of my thoughts on the topic, which are based on personal experience and discussions with several people.

26.09.2011 - 12:14

The new university year has just begun. It is an exciting time for our fresh Master's students as well as senior ones, both aiming at obtaining their MSc degree from the CS department. To provide an insight into the international part of the Master's students, we start from the recruitment statistics of new students, and then share with you five fascinating stories.

05.09.2011 - 14:36

by Laura Langohr

Last October I headed to Ljubljana, Slovenia, for half a year's research visit. Sitting in the airplane I remembered colleagues and friends back in Helsinki wondering about my plan to take a Slovene course. Even though I would stay only six months I wanted to learn some Slovene, a language only 2 million people speak.

15.08.2011 - 11:23

By Liang Wang

In the early morning on April 26, Prof. Kangasharju, Tiina and I started our journey from Helsinki to Petrozavodsk. The whole journey was quite pleasant thanks to the sunny weather. After 12 hours, we reached our destination – Petrozavodsk, a quiet and lovely small town in western Russia. Even though it was not our first visit there, it was the first time we visited Petrozovadsk in spring. Everything looked so fresh and full of vigor compared with my memory of last winter.

27.07.2011 - 12:14

We consulted a few staff members and students what they expect from this blog.

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