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James J. Lu

I joined Emory in 2001. Previously, I was on the Computer Science Faculty at Bucknell -- a fine liberal-arts institution in Lewisburg PA -- for nine years.

I received my Ph.D., M.S., and B.S, all in Computer Science, from Northwestern (1992), Syracuse (1987), and Iowa (1984), respectively. In between, from 1987 to 1990, I was a research staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses in Alexandria VA.

I have been a visiting researcher at the University of Maryland, the University of Karlsruhe, the Army Topographic Engineering Center, and the Academia Sinica.


The most enjoyable part of being a university faculty is that I am required to spend half of my time thinking and writing about interesting questions in my discipline. A reward for a successful piece of research is the opportunity to travel, to present and to meet fellow researchers with shared interests.

My work has been primarily algorithmic, but in the last few years, I have focused more on tools development, partly as the result of the department's push for greater collaboration with folks on campus with computational problems and research. I've really enjoyed learning the nuances of conducting applied research, and have been fortunate to have some excellent graduate students and colleagues (some many years younger) to collaborate with.

Here is a research summary page with select references.


I have taught courses covering a wide-range of topics. Most frequently I teach programming languages, compilers, databases and artificial intelligence. But I have also taught formal specifications, the introductory computer science sequence, software design and engineering, and (believe it or not) computational life sciences. The last one I needed and got a lot of help, from Dr. Kim Gernert.

I like designing courses and thinking about curricular and pedagogical issues, and I have followed the literature on computer science education fairly closely. One of the more intriguing recent discussions is Dr. Jeanette Wing's call for teaching Computational Thinking (CACM 49(3):33-35, 2006) as a formative skill on par with reading, writing, and arithmetic (the three R's). This is an excellent and fascinating perspective, but there are challenges.

I believe that teaching is the best way to learn. I wonder when one of my students will realize this and protest: "Hey, we pay the tuition but you do all the learning! How about letting us teach for a while, please?"

Regular Courses: (UG - Undergraduate; G - Graduate; SPH - School of Public Health)

Irregular Courses:

Students, Past and Present

I enjoy working with students. The list below includes graduate and undergraduate students who have worked with me on theses and projects. It took me 9 years to fulfill my advising duties at a program that grants only bachelor's degrees, 6 years at a program that grants BS and MS. At this rate, I should finish advising in the current program, which includes Ph.D. students, in about 2015.

Students, Past and Present:

Funding sources:


Since 2004, my most time and energy consuming service activity has been the design, proposal, and development of the new Ph.D. program in Computer Science and Informatics. With the support of a large number of colleagues on campus and other universities, the program was officially approved in January 2007, and began the Fall of 2007. Here are some of my other professional and university service activities in recent years.