John Trono Professor of Computer Science, Chair of Computer Science and Information Systems

John Trono



M.S. Purdue University
B.S. University of Vermont

Areas of Expertise:

Simulation and predictive modeling; minimal perfect hashing functions; computer science education, concurrent programming using semaphores; Sidon set discovery; the MIPS architecture, analysis of algorithms and cryptography

Courses I Teach:

  • Computer Architecture
  • Crypto/Security
  • Data Communications and Networks
  • Intro to Computer Science
  • Operating Systems

My Saint Michael’s:

I came to Saint Michael’s College when the Computer Science department began back in 1982. I use my computer (which is not just for e-mail and searching the Web!) as a tool to solve problems that involve a significant amount of tedious calculations. Many of these problems require a mathematical model to simulate inside the computer what is happening in the real world. The computer can then be used to evaluate these “virtual worlds”, and examine their ability to predict the future. The computer can also be used to help determine how realistic these models are in relation to our own physical world. In my classes, if I see that some topics are very difficult for students to learn, I try to develop some pedagogical tools to aid in their understanding, and if these are successful, I then share them with colleagues at other institutions.

Because my classes have fewer than 15 students in them, I really get to know the students fairly well each semester, and therefore, I can give them more individual help (if they need it) than if I were teaching much larger classes. The atmosphere in the classroom is also less formal, which hopefully encourages the students to feel more relaxed and comfortable asking questions or putting forth their ideas during class.


Research Interests:

Simulation and predictive modeling; minimal perfect hashing functions; computer science education, concurrent programming using semaphores; Sidon set discovery; the MIPS architecture, analysis of algorithms’ and cryptography.

Below are pages that contain information concerning student research projects that I have advised or been involved with:

David Kronenberg (Summer 2009) – Investigating the Impact of Seed Value Choices for the K-Means Clustering Algorithm

Patrick Redmond (Summer 2009) – Studying an Exemplar-Based Approach to Cluster Determination

Andrew Bays (Summer 2004) – Parallel Search for Smallest K-element Sidon Sets in a Distributed System

Monique Willey (Summer 2001) – Adding Randomness to the Noisy Additive Cryptosystem (NAC)

Awards & Recognition

I published the journal article “An Effective Nonlinear Rewards-Based Ranking System” in Journal of Quantitative Analysis of Sports: Berkeley Electronic Press. (2007).


“Security Enhancements for the Additive Cryptosystem”, Proceedings of the 27th Annual CCSC (Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges) Eastern Conference, October 14-15, 2011.

“Rating/Ranking Teams through the (Spanning) Trees”, Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Mathematics in Sport, June, 2011: published by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications.

“Rating/Ranking Systems, Post-Season Bowl Games, and ‘The Spread’ “, Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports: Berkeley Electronic Press (BEP), Volume 6, Issue 3, Article 6, 2010. (Downloadable PDF file after free on-line registration with BEP here.) (Web page cited at the end of the paper, listing yearly generated results of this system.)

“On k-minimum and m-minimum edge-magic injections of graphs”, Discrete Mathematics (Elsevier), January, 2010, volume 310, issue 1, pages 56-69. (Coauthored with Dr. John P. McSorley, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Southern Illinois University.)

“A Simple Encryption Strategy Based on Addition,” Proceedings of the 14th Annual CCSC (Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges) Northeastern Conference, Volume 24, #6, June, 2009.

“Discovering More Properties of the Fibonacci Sequence.” Proceedings of the 15th Annual CCSC Central Plains regional conference, Volume 24, #5, May, 2009.

“A Discovery-based Capstone Experience”, Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual CCSC Central Plains Conference, Volume 23, #4, April 2008.

“An Effective Nonlinear Rewards-Based Ranking System”, Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports: Berkeley Electronic Press (BEP), Volume 3, Issue 2, Article 3, 2007. (Downloadable PDF file after free on-line registration with BEP here.) (Web page cited at the end of the paper, listing yearly generated results of this system.)

“Optimal Table Lookup for Reserved Words in Ada”, Ada Letters, Volume 26, #1, April 2006 (a publication of the ACM Special Interest Group on Ada). (PDF version, MS Word file)

“Searching for a Shortest K-Element Sidon Set in Parallel”, Proceedings of the 2005 International Conference on Parallel and Distributed Processing Techniques and Applications (PDPTA), June 2005 (with Andrew J. Bays – undergraduate coauthor).

“Can You Beat the Odds(makers)?”, Math Horizons (published by the Mathematical Association of America), April 2005. (Web page included in the paper, listing some of the results.)

“Applying the Overtake & Feedback Algorithm”, Dr. Dobb’s Journal: Software Tools for the Professional Programmer  (#357), February, 2004. (The article “Overtake and Feedback Follow-up” appeared in the May 2004 issue.)

“An Extended Programming Assignment (Using Java)”, Proceedings of 2001 PDPTA, June 2001.

“Arithmetical Croquet”, Proceedings of the Sixth Annual CCSC Northeastern Conference, Volume 16, #4, April 2001.

“March Mathness: An Analysis of a Nonstandard Basketball Pool”, Math Horizons, February, 2001 (with Aaron Archer, Richard Cleary, and Robin Lock). (PDF file)

“Comments on ‘Tagged Semaphores’”, Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Operating Systems Review, Volume 34, #4, October 2000. (MS Word file)

“Further Comments on ‘A Correct and Unrestrictive Implementation of General Semaphores’”, ACM Operating Systems Review, Volume 34, #3, July 2000 (with William E. Taylor – undergraduate coauthor).

“A Quantitative Examination of Computer Architecture Evolution”, Proceedings of the Fourth Annual CCSC Northeastern Conference, Volume 14, #4, May 1999.

“A Comparison of Three Strategies for Computing Letter Oriented, Minimal Perfect Hashing Functions”,  ACM SIGPLAN (Special Interest Group on Programming Languages) Notices, Volume 30, #4, April 1995. (MS Word file)

“Taxman Revisited”, ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) Bulletin, Volume 26, #4, December 1994. (MS Word file)

“A New Exercise in Concurrency”, ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, Volume 26, #3, September 1994. (MS Word file)

“An Undergraduate Project to Compute Minimal Perfect Hashing Functions”, ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, Volume 24, #3, September 1992. (MS Word file)

“Average Case Analysis When Merging Two Ordered Lists of Different Length”, ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, Volume 23, #3, September 1991. (MS Word file)

“A Deterministic Prediction Model for the American Game of Football”, ACM Simuletter, Volume 19, #1, March 1988. (PDF file)

“NSCS H/MI Implementation Considerations”, Bell Laboratories Technical Memorandum 82-59473-11, October 1, 1982 (with James P. Jenal).

“Performance Evaluation of NSCS (1NS1)”, Bell Laboratories Memorandum for File, 59473-820805.01MF, August 5, 1982 (with Arthur T. Sullivan).

Conference Panels:

“Multi-phase Homework Assignments”, Nineteenth Annual CCSC (Consortium for Computing in Small Colleges) Eastern Conference, hosted by Montclair State University (Upper Montclair, NJ), October 17-18, 2003.

“Experience with IDEs and Java Teaching: What Works and What Doesn’t”, 8th Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE), sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE), hosted by the University of Macedonia (Thessaloniki, Greece), June 30-July 2, 2003.


My Saint Michael’s:

I appreciate the willingness of students at Saint Michael’s to work hard in classes that challenge their abilities, the esprit de corps with their fellow classmates, their overall appreciation for taking advantage of the significant opportunity of being enrolled in an institution of higher learning for four years, their respect for the faculty, and their investment in becoming intellectually enriched individuals.

I especially enjoy teaching the two course sequence that our Computer Science majors typically take during their junior year (Operating Systems in the fall, and Computer Architecture in the spring). This is mainly due to the fact that after establishing a firm foundation concerning the ideas behind developing software in their first four computer science courses, these two courses really allow for a very detailed study of how Operating Systems work, and what the hardware must do to execute software efficiently. I have recently begun teaching a course in cryptography and computer security, and have found this to be very interesting as well.

In the Computer Science Department, we really get to know our students, and vice versa. If a student gets excited about a specific topic in a class, that student has the opportunity to do some research with that professor under the “CS411 umbrella” in a later semester. Our Linux lab also provides our majors/minors with experience using another platform (besides the MS Windows operating system.)

Life Off Campus:

Hiking, cross country skiing, and biking are some of the ways I stay active when I’m not on campus. I also enjoy watching (and predicting) sport events; reading science fiction; and playing board games like Scrabble, Bohnanza, Rail Baron, Chess, and Backgammon.

Recent News

John Trono of the computer science faculty had a publication in late 2021. Here’s the citation:  “The NCAA CFP Committee Goes to Monte Carlo …”, Math Horizons, Volume 29, #2, November, 2021.
(posted July 2022)

John A. Trono, chair and professor of computer science, was one of six panelists who shared their experiences on “The Philosophies of CS1” at the recent Midwest regional Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges (CCSC) hybrid conference. This was physically located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, held on October 1 and 2 – with many individuals attending these sessions via Zoom. John was one of four panelists who participated on the panel remotely for this hybrid conference; the five other panelists also were computer science faculty, from Bethel and DePauw (both in Indiana), Denison (Ohio), Penn State, and the University of the Pacific (in California). John also had his paper “The NCAA CFP Committee Goes to Monte Carlo …” accepted for the November 2021 issue of Math Horizons. This article summarizes improvements that John has recently devised which enhance the applicability of — as well as improving several different measures of accuracy for — his previous modeling approach that attempts to predict who this committee will select each year; that earlier model was presented at the 7th International Conference on Mathematics in Sport (in Athens, Greece) during July of 2019.
(posted February 2022)

John Trono, professor of computer science, was one of 128 US delegates participating in the 30th annual European Conference on Operational Research (aka EURO 2019) this past summer. This conference offered over 2000-plus presentations (only one talk per attendee) during a three-day period – as hosted by UCD (the University College of Dublin, Ireland) from June 24-26. John was invited to be a session chair on “Uncertainty” after his abstract submission was accepted; he gave his 20-minute presentation during two sessions out of the 51 concurrent tracks scheduled during each of those three conference days.) Over 60 countries were represented (Germany provided the largest contingent, comprising roughly 10 percent of the conference attendees) and many diverse topics and subject areas were discussed throughout this conference. John also had dinner with Saint Michael’s alumna Catherine (Catie) Corrigan (’17), that same Tuesday that John made his presentation, on the UCD campus. After graduating from St. Mike’s with a B. S. in Mathematics, Catie completed a master’s in Risk Management and Insurance in Limerick, Ireland. She is now an Associate Consultant at Version 1 in Dublin where she works as part of the Business Systems team. After the completion of EURO 2019, John then departed for the 7th Annual MathSport International Conference, which was held in Athens, Greece – during the first three days of July, 2019 as well – where he presented his paper (on a different topic from his presentation at EURO 2019): “Objectively Modelling the College Football Playoff Committee’s Selections.”
(posted February 2020)

John A. Trono, professor of computer science, presented his paper entitled “Efficiently Searching for a Solution to a Kirkman Packing Design Problem,” at the 26th Annual Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges (CCSC) Rocky Mountain conference, which was held in Orem, Utah from October 13-14, 2017.
(posted December 2017)

John A. Trono, professor of computer science, will be presenting his paper “Applying Occam’s Razor to the Prediction of the Final NCAA Men’s Basketball Poll” at the Sixth MathSport International Conference, from June 26-28, 2017 as hosted by the University of Padua (Italy).
(Posted June 2017)

John A. Trono, professor of computer science, gave an invited talk on March 18, 2015, at Middlebury College, presenting his “Reasonably Secure Cryptosystem Based on Addition.” He also presented his paper “Transactions: They’re Not Just For Banking Any More” at the Central Plains regional conference of the Consortium for Computer Science in Colleges (CCSC-CP) which was held on April 10-11 in Branson, Missouri.

(Posted April 2015)