Q: What is the most important thing that's happened in computing in the past 10 years?
A: For good and for ill, computers have become both pervasive and invisible and, for good and for ill, software has eroded boundaries. Computers integrated into ordinary objects, such as automobiles and ovens, make the objects perform better but make them impossible for users to repair and can impede their operation. Software has bridged the gap between applications so that data flow more easily, and software, especially mobile apps, has dissolved the boundaries between, for example, customers and business.
Q: By the end of your career, where do you think computer science will have taken us? What are you working on that might contribute to that?
A: It is impossible to say where computer science will be in ten years, or five, or one. Developments have occurred with such rapidity and have been prompted by such a diversity of needs that predictions are futile.
Q: Who is your favorite historical figure? Why?
A: Thomas Jefferson is the American Prometheus whose fire was intellect and passion. He brought his talents to science, political theory, education, and government. His commitment to religious liberty, which I take to be a commitment to intellectual liberty, particularly appeals.
Q: If you weren't working in the computer science field, what would you be doing instead?
A: Since I have a developing interest in playwriting, I would most likely be more involved in that area if I were not teaching and writing in the field of computer science.
Q: What is your favorite type of music?
A: I take great pleasure in romantic classical music, especially the works of Beethoven, Mahler, and Rachmaninoff. I appreciate the tension between their respect for and rebellion against formal structures. I am especially drawn to the similarities and contrasts between Beethoven, which has power and no doubt, and Mahler, whose power and doubt intermingle.