You are here

Quick Facts

Did you know?

The David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science has:

  • More than 80 faculty
  • Nearly 300 graduate students
  • 2800 undergraduate students
  • Ranked 24th Computer Science department in the world, 10th in North America by QS.  
  • 4 Fellows of the Royal Society, 5 ACM Fellows, 3 IEEE Fellows, 3 Canada Research Chairs, 13 Ontario Early Researcher Award winners
  • Graduated the youngest graduate student, Erik Demaine, who was just over 14 years old when he enrolled at Waterloo and is now a professor of Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Research collaborations with institutions in China, France, Brazil, the United States of America, and many more. 
  • Participated in the ACM programming contest for nearly 21 years, having brought home a medal 17 times, and winning the contest in both 1994 and 1999.

Think about this...

The first computer, an IBM 610, was acquired for student use in 1960.

In 1966 the IBM 360/75 was purchased for $3 000 000 more than the entire MC building. It was the largest computer in Canada and housed in the infamous Red Room.

In the 1980's, the University of Waterloo was producing roughly one third of Canada's computer science graduates.

Back in the 1970's-1980's, any student that could demonstrate crashing the computer system was treated to a drink for exposing a weakness. To future students: this policy is no longer valid.

The pink tie originated as one of Ralph Stanton's eccentric habits. It is speculated that the founder of the Math Faculty merely did his laundry in the runoff from a red roof after a friend accidentally dyed his undergarments a similar colour while staying there.

Waterloo's Developments

Waterloo established Canada's first Bioinformatics undergraduate degree program.

Waterloo had a hand in creating both Maple Software and OpenText. Maple Software spawned from a symbolic algebra system created here and OpenText was a spin off of the project to computerize the Oxford English Dictionary.

Some Academy Award winners are graduates of Waterloo's Computer Graphics Lab. This is the same lab that has created a computer brush model that learns to mimic the style of its user.

Amazing Accomplishments

Tony Lai

Mr. Lai is the youngest graduate student of the University. He was only 14 years, 9 months old when he entered Waterloo. He was only 18 years, 5 months old when he successfully defended his thesis, "Efficient Maintenance of Binary Search Trees", in 1990 - the same age as the average first year student.

Marceli Wein

Marceli Wein, adjunct professor of computer science, won an Academy Award in 1997 shared with Nestor Burtnyk for their work on computer assisted key framing for character animation. A demonstration of this technique can be found below.


I often fancy that the most practical thing in the world is a good general theory when it’s continually tested and refined against reality. -David Johnston, former UW President and current Governor General, May 28, 2012

We have heard about prime numbers

And the squaring of the cube

And the good life at U of Waterloo

-A "whiffenspoof" song composed by Ken Fryer


Hard Won Funding

It's 1966. The Government of Ontario is willing to pay 90% of the cost of all university buildings, including furnishings. The University of Waterloo needs a larger, faster computer.

Wes Graham has the solution. After meeting Wes Graham to hear him out, the minister of education announces the University of Waterloo's plans for a new Math and Computer building have been approved for funding.

Included in the plans was the "IBM 360/75", the largest and fastest computer ever installed in Canada. It was carefully marked under "furnishings", ensuring 90% payment by the Government of Canada.

Logo for the Graphics Group

Kelly Booth invited all the grad students from the Graphics Group to a party at a friend's. He mentioned that the friend was a fan of pink flamingos. He did not mention that the friend was unaware of the party's existence.

The next morning, 40 pink flamingos were found on the host's front lawn. As long as the flamingos lived, they attended every single graphics party (upwards of five years). The pink flamingo logo remains to this day.

Flamingo Logo

Directors of Computer Science

Years in Office Director
2014-present Mark Giesbrecht

David J. Taylor

2007-2010 M. Tamer Özsu
2006-2006 George Labahn
2003-2006 Johnny Wong
2002-2003 Frank Tompa
Years in Office Chair
2001-2002 Frank Tompa
1997-2001 Nick Cercone
1992-1997 Frank Tompa
1989-1992 Per-Ake G. (Paul) Larson
1987-1989 Janusz A. (John) Brzozowski
1984-1987 R. Bruce Simpson
1978-1984 Janusz A. (John) Brzozowski
1974-1978 J. Douglas Lawson
1972-1974 Patrick C. Fischer
1966-1972 Donald D. Cowan