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ASU computer science program sees rise in reputation

Brickyard Building
October 07, 2014

Arizona State University has one of the leading computer science programs in the world according to a prominent international academic ranking organization.

The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), conducted by researchers at the Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, places ASU’s computer science program at 33rd internationally and 22nd among universities in the United States in its recently released 2014 report.

The program is in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“These ranking are based largely on quantitative measures, not on subjective criteria, so they are especially meaningful,” said professor Ronald Askin, director of the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering.

Academic programs are ranked by the ARWU after “rigorous assessments of hard data rather than perceptions,” said computer science professor Chitta Baral, chair of the computer science graduate program.

Askin and Baral attribute the ASU program’s high ranking to notable improvements in several areas, but in particular to the quality of research being done by faculty and the accomplishments of students. “Many of our faculty are focusing on research that has high impact in the computer science field, and that is raising our profile,” Askin said.

Faculty members increasingly have their research papers selected for publication in leading science, engineering and technology journals, and are chosen to give presentations about their work at the most prominent professional conferences in the field, according to Askin.

The faculty continues to be well represented on the editorial staffs of research journals, on conference program committees, and among officers and committee members of professional science and engineering organizations.

Most significantly, there has also been a steady rise in the number of times research findings and the published papers of faculty members are cited by other researchers around the world. Baral said such citations generally mean that the research is providing solid groundwork for advances in computer science, or raising issues, questions and problems that colleagues consider important to pursue to find answers and solutions.

Faculty members are making contributions to research in a range of areas, such as artificial intelligence, embedded computing systems, data mining, information assurance, social computing and computer graphics, Baral said.

Graduate students as well are making more contributions as co-authors of research papers, and are being selected to give conference presentations on their own research projects.

“Students are succeeding at all levels. They are winning top prizes at some of the biggest international student competitions,” such as the Microsoft ImagineCup and the Intel Embedded System Design contest, Askin said.

“Our graduates are also doing well in the job market. They are going to work at major research institutions and getting good positions in industry,” Baral said.

Askin said all of these factors combined are driving up the number of computer science majors, and attracting more outstanding young students to the program.

There are now nearly 1,400 undergraduates majoring in computer science at ASU, and more than 580 students pursuing master’s degrees in the field. Almost 250 students are pursuing doctoral degrees in computing-related programs in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering. Each of those program enrollments is at or near an all-time high.

At the same time, there are relatively strong enrollments in the related computer engineering and computer systems engineering programs.

Enrollment growth has enabled the recent hiring of 10 more teacher/researchers by the school, adding to the more than 60 faculty members working in computing-related programs.

See the 2014 ARWU ranking of 200 university computer science programs rankings and read more about ARWU organization and its academic ranking operations.