Campus News in Brief

Crowdsourcing changes the way articles can be written

Researchers led by Aniket Kittur, an associate professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII), showed that an article’s readability and consistency produced through crowdsourcing can be reasonably compared with an article written by an individual author.

To perform this study, Carnegie Mellon researchers Kittur; Robert Kraut, professor of human-computer interaction; and Boris Smus, a student in HCII’s joint master’s degree program with the University of Madeira, used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

Mechanical Turk is an online marketplace where employers can post simple tasks that usually pay a few cents to the worker. The specific method that the researchers developed is CrowdForge, a framework that breaks down a challenging task into independent micro-tasks and then provides a means of combining them.

According to a university press release, “To accomplish these complex tasks, the CMU researchers approached the crowdsourcing market as if it was a distributed computing system, like the large computer systems used for Web searches.

“In a distributed computing system, computations are divided up in such a way that smaller chunks can be solved simultaneously by large numbers of processors and failures by individual processors won’t undermine the entire process.”

The School of Drama gives performance at new theater

From Feb. 17–26, the School of Drama will perform The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the New Hazlett Theater, Allegheny Square East, in the North Side.

“Master director Joe Deer (MFA ’96), an alumnus of the School of Drama, returns to stage in this vibrant, charm-filled and infectious musical with a dazzling group of singers, actors and dancers,” said Peter Cooke, head of the School of Drama, in a university press release.

This is the first production that the school is presenting in the New Hazlett Theater in order to allow local residents to experience the show, as well as give students real-world experience. The plot of the musical centers on six middle-school children who participate in a traditional spelling bee. The adult characters, seemingly just out of childhood, provide a source of entertainment as well.

“In this hilarious tale, they learn the lesson that winning is not everything, and losing does not necessarily make you a loser,” according to a university press release.

James Lapine first directed the musical on Broadway in 2005, and it has garnered two Tony awards, two Theatre World awards, and three Drama Desk Awards, among others. The musical is based upon the book by Rachel Sheinkin, and the lyrics were written by William Finn.