Mission and History

The CS department at UC Santa Barbara is widely recognized as one of the top Computer Science departments in the nation, featuring a highly distinguished faculty and excellent students. Our culture of education and research strongly encourages collaborative, entrepreneurial, supportive, multidisciplinary solutions-driven efforts at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Our students and graduates shape the future of science and engineering here and around the world.

The Computer Science Department seeks to prepare undergraduate and graduate students for productive careers in industry, academia, and government, by providing an outstanding environment for teaching and research in the core and emerging areas of the discipline. We bring computational approaches and solutions to some of society’s most vital and complex issues. We are presently engaged in research that promises game-changing breakthroughs in computing and will bring about advances in important areas such as healthcare, communications, education, government, energy efficiency, and the environment. We believe that we will help transform the future; that computing is central to shaping and improving the world by enabling data-driven scientific discoveries and bringing a world of rich, easily-accessible information to individuals everywhere.

The department has been on an impressive upward trajectory for many years, fueled by the quality and impact of our work, the recognition of our faculty, and the success of our graduates.

History of the Department

Computer Science at UC Santa Barbara is a relatively young department in a relatively young university. UCSB started with Santa Barbara State College, which became a special campus of the UC system in 1944 and then a general UC campus, renamed UC Santa Barbara, in 1958. The department began with faculty in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics who were interested in the growing CS discipline. The Department of Computer Science began as a new department in the College of Engineering in January 1979 with founding faculty members Roger Wood, John Bruno, Ed Coffman, Art Pyster, and Laurian Chirica. The first graduate degrees with an emphasis in computer science were offered through the (newly renamed) Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The PhD degree program in Computer Science began in 1989.

The following faculty members have served as Computer Science Department Chair: John Bruno, Alan Konheim, Terry Smith, John Bruno (again!), Dick Kemmerer, Oscar Ibarra, Divy Agrawal, Linda Petzold, Amr El Abbadi, Subhash Suri, Ambuj Singh, and Matthew Turk (current).

In addition to sending many undergraduate and graduate students on to successful careers in industry and academia, CS students and faculty have started several successful companies, including CommissionJunction, Expertcity and AppFolio (Klaus Schauser), Eucalyptus (Rich Wolski), Caugnate (Matthew Turk), and Lastline (Chris Kruegel and Giovanni Vigna). Former CS professor Urs Hölzle was Google’s eighth employee and first VP of Engineering. Several UCSB CS PhD graduates now hold positions at leading universities and major corporations throughout the world.