CACM Reports: Turing Award Winner Thacker on How to Design Computer Technology for Success
July Issue Reports on Investing in Technology for the Developing World, Teaching Concurrency in Computer Science, and the Ethical Dimensions of Robots
The Association for Computing Machinery
Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession
NEW YORK, NY, June 24, 2010 – Known as the inventor of the world’s first personal computer, Charles P. Thacker offers his secrets for success and describes a practice he terms “Tom Sawyering” when working with smart teammates. In the cover story of the July issue of Communications of the ACM (CACM), Thacker, who won the 2009 ACM A.M. Turing Award, discusses the common thread that ties together his pioneering contributions to computer architecture and networks as well as his current work on multicore computing. Also in this issue, 2009 ACM-Infosys Foundation Award recipient Eric Brewer describes his plans to invest his entire $150,000 prize from this award in his TIER project (Technology and Infrastructure for Emerging Regions). The project offers a non-traditional approach to blending the discipline of computer science with the economic and social benefits of building a low-cost wireless infrastructure in the developing world.
Communications, the flagship publication of ACM (the Association for Computing Machinery), offers readers access to this generation’s most significant leaders and innovators in computing and information technology, and is available online in digital format.
In the face of the increasing use of concurrency and its rising relevance to all levels and applications of computer science, a team of researchers at the Commonsense Computing Project studied how beginners solve computer science problems. Their article explores the solutions that the beginners in their study provided on the first day of an introductory CS course. The study, which involved the best way to organize the sale of tickets to a popular concert, found that beginners are able to recognize the key concurrency issue regarding the use of a shared resource. The team concluded that although concurrency has long been considered an advanced topic in the CS curriculum, there is no advantage to delaying the introduction of this topic.
As the impact of robotic workers extends beyond the elimination of labor-intensive jobs, the ethical dimensions of robots appear to be drawing increased attention, contends Jason Borenstein, director of Graduate Research Ethics Programs at Georgia Institute of Technology. In an article on work life in the robotic age, he highlights the perils of trying to replace “uniquely human” abilities such as critical thinking and intuition.
Valerie Taylor of Texas A&M University is one of five founders of the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT (CMD-IT), launched in March 2010 to engage these underrepresented cultures in the field of information technology. In her article, she argues that the lack of cultural diversity restricts the innovative impacts of computing on the neglected cultures, and she encourages readers to learn more about the CMD-IT program, which will promote effective sharing of best practices and ideas for increasing cultural diversity in IT.
A team of researchers from Stanford University, the University of Rochester, Carnegie Mellon University, and Microsoft Research has proposed architectural enhancements to address the reliability risks of memory scaling on prevalent memory technologies such as DRAM (dynamic random access memory). Citing the advantages of PCM (phase change memory) technology, they sought to design PCM to exploit its scalability, in order to deploy it as a DRAM alternative. In an accompanying Technical Perspective, Mary Jane Irwin of Pennsylvania State University, applauded the team’s research as a way that computer architects can work around the limitations of the technology with clever architectural enhancements.
Other July Communications articles:
- Editor-in-Chief Moshe Y. Vardi comments on some very critical feedback he has received in the two years since Communications was launched, and analyzes the source of the “hypercriticality” that seems to characterize negative comments and reviews within the computer science discipline.
- A growing number of governments use a variety of methods to make popular Web sites such as Facebook, You Tube, and Twitter inaccessible to their citizens, observes writer Samuel Greengard. Although countries use Internet censorship to dominate the political dialogue, they also aim to create favorable conditions for government-controlled businesses.
- University of California, Berkeley professor Pamela Samuelson considers the precedent that could be established by approval of the controversial Google book settlement with the Authors Guild and five trade publishers for copyright infringement. She describes the genesis of the lawsuit and the reasons the proposed settlement is so contentious, and presents her argument that the settlement should not be approved without substantial modifications.
- Guest blogger Ruben Ortega of Google discusses developers and crunch time; Georgia Tech’s Mark Guzdial considers the impact of open-source practices on computing education; and Daniel Reed of Microsoft writes about the technological shift from computational paucity to computational plethora.
For more information on Communications of the ACM, click on http://cacm.acm.org/
ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery www.acm.org, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.
# # #