See me after class

See Me After Class is a weekly column where a different professor reveals their variety favorites.

Dr. Roger Wainwright is a professor and the chairman of the Tandy School of Computer Science. He double majored in mathematics and computer science at Iowa State University, where he received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. Wainwright was the first Ph.D. in computer science that TU hired, tasked with developing the undergraduate curriculum for future students in the field. This is Wainwright’s 49th year at TU.

What’s your favorite book? What book would you say all undergrads need to read before they graduate?

I do not read for pleasure like most people do. Reading was my worst subject in school and math (and sciences) the best. Now I read just fine, but mostly technical stuff — no novels, short stories, etc. Now my reading for fun consists of Bridge books and Bridge puzzles such as “Bridge in the Menagerie” by Victor Mollo: a series of short Bridge hands (puzzles) played by farm animals each with different personalities and abilities.

One of my favorite books, however, is entitled “The joy of Pi” which was the mathematical history through the centuries of mathematicians trying their best to estimate the value of Pi. It is a great mathematics history book.

I really have no specific recommendation except for students to find something that they are interested in and keeps their mind active.

Is there a movie/show that you always return to?

I like all of the NCIS shows, Mission Impossible, FBI, Indiana Jones, other action, suspense or unusual twist movies and TV shows.

What was the last book/movie/show that you actually found funny?

As mentioned before, my reading is limited in scope. The movies I find funny are The Big Bang Theory, the Pink Panther movies and Monty Python and the Flying Circus.

What’s your favorite Tulsa restaurant? Do you have any food/restaurant routines?

Olive Garden and Charleston’s. If I want a large frozen margarita any quality Mexican restaurant will do.

If you had to pick three songs for a Playlist of Your Life, what would they be?

I like music from the 1960’s which I suspect students would predict. Something where you can understand the words. My playlist would include: William Tell Overture (probably because I grew up watching the Lone Ranger), anything from Peter, Paul, and Mary, The Mamas and the Papas or the Supremes.

What are two interesting facts about yourself that are not well known?

I am an accomplished Bridge player. I achieved the rank of Life Master over 40 years ago. I am active in the Tulsa and Broken Arrow bridge clubs. This is why I like to read bridge books.

I also have a special needs child who will always live at home with my wife and I. She is now 42 years old. As a result I am very active in the Special Olympics. I am a certified Special Olympics Coach in bocce, bowling, basketball, corn hole, track, volleyball and horse shoes. Special Olympic activities with other families and their special children constitute nearly all of my social activities.

What is your favorite programming language?

I was (I suppose still am) an expert in PL/1. It was my favorite language, but it no longer exists. APL is a close second. Actually I have never met a computer language that I did not like. COBOL comes close, however.

What programming language should students start with if they have never coded before?

C, Java or Python. Any one of these will work.

What is the best project you have ever worked on?

The best project I ever worked on was trying to convince my wife to marry me. I was successful. We have been married for 45 years. We have two daughters.

The most fun (and challenging) academic project that I have worked on was the Multiple Vehicle Routing Problem with Capacity and Time Window constraints. Here you have a large set of customers (grocery stores) located all over the state with food demands for various frozen, cool and room temperature items. Figure out how to pack each truck and then route the trucks to each customer to minimize the number of trucks and total distance.

Can you speak to the evolution of programming languages and technology over the years?

I have lived through this. My professors told me they programmed in 1’s and 0’s (on punched cards or switches on the front panel of a computer). I began programming in Hexadecimal on punched cards. Later it was higher level languages such as PL/1, Algol, Fortran, APL, Basic, Pascal, C, C++, Java, Python, etc. Each language was built on the previous leaving out the undesirable features and adding new ones. It used to be 500 lines of code was considered a rare feat, now one million lines is common.

In the future, languages will continue to be much easier to use and everyone will be “programmers.” We are all programming now: we program our phones, cars, thermostats, security systems, even watering the lawn, smart TV’s, smart meters, smart homes, etc.

Post Author: Shelby Hiens