I've been hearing (reading in blogs and comments actually) that a lot of people think that all the big, important or interesting problems in computer science have been solved. Well the Bill Gates college tour visited Columbia yesterday and the computer science faculty there presented Bill wit h a list of the top five remaining computer science problems. You can read about the whole visit at Kevin Schofield's blog. I think that it is important for students to know that there are important and difficult problems left to solve.
BTW Bill added a sixth problem - concurrency - to the list the faculty gave him. How do you break up problems so that multiple processors can work on them at the same time. This is a huge problem because we are running into limits on how fast one computer can run. That means that the way to get answers faster is going to mean getting computers to work together. This is something that students may find to be an interesting puzzle to work on.
- Alfred Thompson