Google-based Ranking for Computer Science and Engineering Departments

Remzi Arpaci-Dusseau
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Introduction: Rankings of Computer Science and Engineering departments continue to be a contentious topic. What factors should be counted, and how should they be weighted? Ask a different person, get a different answer. Can we do better?

The answer is a resounding yes. We propose a simpler, direct, and likely more meaningful method: Google-based Ranking. By building on top of the years of technology put into Google's novel PageRank™ algorithm, we can leverage the power of the Internet and deliver a complete ranking of the top departments in the field, all with the click of a button.

Methodology: We typed the following search terms into Google: Computer Science, Computer Sciences, and Computer Engineering. The second plural form of Computer Science was included because some departments (particularly the author's own institution) are known as a Department of Computer Sciences for strange and historical reasons. We then copied the top 30 results, excluding links to Wikipedia and other non-academic institutions and advertisements, thus leaving 26 or 27 schools. The results are listed below. We include, for the sake of comparison, the most recent U.S. News and World Report rankings.

Google: Computer Science
1. CMU
2. Maryland
3. U. Mass
4. Berkeley
5. Stanford
6. Cornell
7. Illinois
8. Princeton
9. Purdue
10. Georgia Tech
11. Brown
12. UCLA
13. Columbia
14. Indiana
15. Wisconsin
16. USC
17. Minnesota
18. SUNY-Stonybrook
19. Virginia
20. Texas
21. Yale
22. Cal Tech
23. Colorado
24. North Carolina
25. North Carolina State
26. Texas A and M
27. Washington
Google: Computer Sciences
1. Wisconsin
2. Texas
3. Purdue
4. U. Mass
5. Boston University
6. Penn
7. Stanford
8. MIT
9. CMU
10. Berkeley
11. Princeton
12. Illinois
13. Cornell
14. Maryland
15. Edinburgh
16. DIKU
17. UCLA
18. UC Santa Cruz
19. Columbia
20. USC
21. Brown
22. Utah
23. Indiana
24. Minnesota
25. HUJI
26. Rochester
U.S. News: Computer Science
1. Berkeley
1. CMU
1. MIT
1. Stanford
5. Cornell
5. Illinois
7. Washington
8. Princeton
9. Texas
9. Wisconsin
11. Cal Tech
11. Georgia Tech
13. UC San Diego
13. Maryland
15. Harvard
15. UCLA
15. Michigan
18. Columbia
18. Purdue
18. Penn
18. Yale
22. Brown
22. Rice
22. North Carolina
25. Duke
25. U. Mass
25. USC
28. Johns Hopkins
29. NYU
29. Rutgers
29. UC Irvine
29. Virginia
Google: Computer Engineering
1. Michigan
2. Illinois
3. Washington
4. Iowa State
5. CMU
6. Wisconsin
7. North Carolina State
8. UC Santa Cruz
9. Oregon State
10. Florida
11. Georgia Tech
12. Chico State
13. Texas
14. RIT
15. Case Western
16. Virginia Tech
17. San Jose State
18. Illinois-Chicago
19. RPI
20. Tulane
21. Mississippi State
22. Clemson
23. Purdue
24. USC
25. Cal Poly
26. Pitt
27. Syracuse
U.S. News: Computer Engineering
1. MIT
2. Stanford
3. Berkeley
4. CMU
5. Illinois
6. Michigan
7. Texas
8. Cornell
9. Washington
10. Princeton
11. Purdue
12. Wisconsin
13. Cal Tech
14. Georgia Tech
15. USC
16. UCLA
17. Rice
18. UC San Diego
19. RPI
19. Johns Hopkins

In these tables, schools that do particularly well in the Google-based Ranking system and not as well in the U.S. News Ranking are highlight in red. Conversely, schools that do well in the U.S. News Ranking and not the Google-based Ranking are highlighted in green.

We now focus on just computer science, as Google Trends tells us it is much more searched for than Computer Engineering:

(Also note the scary decline in the number of searches about Computer Science)

We take the top 10 schools from the U.S. News Computer Science rankings and sort them by each of our Google Ranks.

U.S. News Top 10 Computer Science departments, sorted by Google: Computer Sciences ranking:

1. Wisconsin
2. Texas
3. Stanford
4. MIT
5. CMU
6. Berkeley
7. Princeton
8. Illinois
9. Cornell
10. Washington

U.S. News Top 10 Computer Science departments, sorted by Google: Computer Science ranking:

1. CMU
2. Berkeley
3. Stanford
4. Cornell
5. Illinois
6. Princeton
7. Wisconsin
8. Texas
9. Washington
10. MIT

Given this data, we now compute our own, novel AverageRank™ statistic, which simply averages the above two tables and ignores virtually all other data, in what some have called a "useless" and others a "flat out wrong" statistical method:

1. CMU
1. Stanford
3. Wisconsin
4. Berkeley
5. Texas
6. Princeton
6. Illinois
6. Cornell
9. MIT
10. Washington

Conclusions: From our study, assuming that Google "knows all" and is likely right, we draw three primary conclusions:

Future Work: In the future, we plan to conduct other searches, using advanced Google features such as quotes around the search terms and the OR keyword. We also hope to automate this process even further, thus eliminating the need to type up a report or even look at this web page again.

New! See this page in Romanian (courtesy A. Seremina). Warning: I don't read Romanian, and thus cannot verify the contents of this page.