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School of Engineering

Faculty spotlight: Richard Townsend

Thursday, September 12, 2019
Computer science’s new assistant teaching professor discusses his path to Tufts.
Richard Townsend

Richard Townsend earned his Ph.D. at Columbia University, where he studied programming languages and compilers. His research focuses on the use of functional languages and high-level optimizations to translate recursive algorithms with irregular memory access patterns into efficient hardware designs.

The following interview took place with the Department of Computer Science.

How did you get into computer science?
I took Introduction to Java, a single-trimester course, in high school and liked how the sequential aspect of programming mirrored how my mind works. I wanted to learn more so I took AP Computer Science my senior year, which made we want to major in CS in college. However, I just thought CS was all about how to be a good programmer. My first course on data structures quickly dissuaded that notion, but it only made me get more excited about the field. The rest is history.

Why did you come to Tufts?
I found all the faculty to be insanely welcoming when I visited, and the department website seemed keen on making sure students felt welcome taking CS courses, even without any experience. This closely aligns with my own views on accessibility in CS education, so Tufts seemed to be a great fit.

What aspects of your background would you like to highlight?
My research involves using a programming language (Haskell) that works significantly differently than the major programming languages out there in the world (C++, Java, Python).

Can you tell me something about yourself that's unrelated to CS?
I'm in a barbershop quartet called Madhattan, and we've won multiple regional competitions in our district of the Barbershop Harmony Society. We have a Facebook page if people want to see videos.