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David Malan (computer scientist)

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Fields  Computer Science
Institution  Harvard University
Role  Computer scientist
Name  David Malan
Institutions  Harvard University

David Malan (computer scientist) csharvardedumalanmalan6jpg
Residence  Cambridge, Massachusetts
Alma mater  Harvard University Harvard College

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David J. Malan is Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Computer Science at Harvard University. Malan is best known for teaching Computer Science 50 (known as CS50) which is the largest course at both Harvard and Yale University and the largest Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) at edX with lectures being viewed by over a million people on the edX platform up to 2017.


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Malan is a member of faculty in the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences where his research interests include cybersecurity, digital forensics, botnets, computer science education, distance learning, collaborative learning, and computer-assisted instruction. Malan is also an active member of the SIGCSE community, a Special Interest Group (SIG) concerned with Computer Science Education (CSE) organised by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

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Malan enrolled at Harvard College initially studying government and taking CS50 in the fall of 1996 which was taught at that time by Brian Kernighan. Inspired by Kernighan, Malan began his education in computer science graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science in 1999. After a period working outside of academia, he returned for postgraduate study to complete a Master of Science degree in 2004 followed by a PhD in 2007 for research into cybersecurity and computer forensics supervised by Michael D. Smith.


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Malan is known for teaching CS50, an introductory course in Computer Science for majors and non-majors that aims to develop computational thinking skills, using tools like Scratch, C, Python, SQL and JavaScript. As of 2016 the course has 800 freshman and sophomore students enrolled at Harvard College each year, making it the largest course there. CS50 is available on edX as CS50x and with over a million views of lectures. All of his courses are freely available and licensed for re-use with attribution using OpenCourseWare, for example at CS50 also exists as CS50 AP (Advanced Placement), an adaptation for high schools that satisfies the AP Computer Science Principles of the College Board.

Besides CS50, Malan also teaches at Harvard Extension School and Harvard Summer School. Prior to teaching at Harvard, Malan taught mathematics and computer science at Franklin High School and Tufts University.

Career and research

Malan worked for Mindset Media, LLC during 2008 – 2011 as Chief Information Officer (CIO), where he was responsible for advertising network’s scalability, security, and capacity-planning. Designed infrastructure for collection of massive datasets capable of 500 million HTTP requests per day with peaks of 10K per second. In 2011 Mindset Media was acquired by Meebo, Inc. During 2001 to 2002 he worked for AirClic as an Engineering Manager.

Malan is also Founder and Chairman of Diskaster, a data recovery firm that offered professional recovery of data from hard drives and memory cards as well as forensic investigations for civil matters.

During his undergraduate study, Malan worked part-time for the District Attorney's Office in Middlesex County, Virginia as a forensic investigator, after which he founded his own two startups. On the side since 2003, he volunteered as an emergency medical technician (EMT-B) for MIT-Emergency Medical Services (EMS). He continues to volunteer as an EMT-B for the American Red Cross.


David J. Malan Wikipedia