Sam Kamin

Emeritus Associate Professor
Computer Science Department
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I'm retired now, and living in New York, but still active in the research projects listed below.


My research covers two areas: programming languages and educational technology.

  • LOOME (Language tOOls for Modularity and Efficiency) - This is an NSF-funded project to study the possibilities for optimization using run-time specialization and auto-tuning. We have been concentrating on sparse-matrix/vector multiplication (spMV); follow the "Matrix Mult" link on the LOOME page. The project is now led by co-PI Maria Garzaran and Baris Aktemur of Ozyegin University (Turkey).
  • SLICE (Students Learn In Collaborative Environments) - SLICE is a framework for building in-class interactive applications for pen-enabled tablets. I'm working with my former student Wade Fagen, who graduated in the summer of 2013 and has stayed on in the department as a lecturer.


For the last six years before my retirement, I taught CS 421, Programming Languages and Compilers, in the spring semester. This course covers a lot of material - compilers, functional programming, dynamic and static typing, virtual machines, and more - and the problem was to make it of practical use without its simply being a disjointed list of topics. I was quite happy with how I was able to combine the formal and the applied, by making heavy use of "structured operational semantics" throughout the semester. You can see all the details (lecture notes, exams, videos) at the spring, 2013 website.

Undergraduate program

I served as Director of Undergraduate Programs in CS from 1999 to 2007, administering a program with as many as 1200 students. I led a major revision of the undergraduate program, which included, among other things, introduction of the Programming Studio course (CS 242). This course is a step toward teaching programing as a skill akin to expository writing. For most students, it is certainly the first time their code has been subject to critical review, and feedback suggests that it has been an important course for many.

As Director, I was also heavily engaged by the problem of diversity - or rather, the lack of diversity - in CS. I have been particularly interested in getting a more diverse undergraduate student body. More here.


In addition to writing research papers, I wrote or co-wrote several books. See my publications page for details.

    Last updated on Thu Sep 5 15:02:32 CDT 2013