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CACM Reports: What's Holding up Computers in Patient Care?

September Issue Reports on Building Future Internet Architecture, Benefits of Online Education for Computer Science, and ACM in China

acm
The Association for Computing Machinery
Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession

Contact: Virginia Gold
212-626-0505
vgold@acm.org

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NEW YORK, NY, August 25, 2010 –  Despite the potential to radically transform health care, information technology has been slow to significantly impact patient care, writes Stephen V. Cantrill in the cover story of the September Communications of the ACM (CACM)Cantrill, a former emergency medicine practitioner at Denver Health Medical Center, highlights the historical challenges that have slowed progress but finds the future brighter for health information technology.  He cites promises of federal fiscal support; the increasing acceptance of computers as commonplace in daily life; and the advantages of computerization for patient safety and quality healthcare.  Also in this issue, Communications Editor-in-Chief Moshe Y. Vardi contends that computation, the universal enabler of science, is an integral part of both the theory and experimentation of science.  Additional “legs” or pillars such as computational science, he maintains, are unnecessary and may make science more difficult to explain to the lay public. 

            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 a Point/Counterpoint article, Jennifer Rexford of Princeton University and Constantine Dovrolis of Georgia Tech debate whether the future Internet architecture will be built on a “clean slate” approach or result from evolutionary research. Rexford argues that clean-slate design is important for enabling the networking field to mature into a true discipline.  This process, she contends, can lead to new methodologies for designing networks and protocols as part of a continuous cycle of research, refinement, models, and solutions that lead to a new understanding of the field.  Dovrolis counters that clean-slate architecture must be able to replace the current Internet architecture, not just be “better.”  He maintains that the Internet is an evolving ecosystem that emerged from packet-switching technologies, and that innovation of architecture protocols must evolve slowly so that they form a stable background on which diversity and complexity can emerge. 

            In an article on how the Internet is making higher education accessible to a new class of students, author Marina Krakovsky examines the costs and benefits of online education.  She singles out computer science education, where the National Science Foundation wants to increase the number of advanced placement CS teachers to 10,000 by 2015. Current undergraduates alone are not likely to meet that demand, she observes, but by taking online classes after work, other candidates can branch out into teaching CS.  Similarly, female managers in tech firms who have hit the glass ceiling can take classes from home to learn new tools, helping to close the gender gap in upper management. She acknowledges, however, that online students typically pay at least as much in tuition as they would for a traditional education. 

            Peter J. Denning and Dorothy E. Denning, professors at the Naval Postgraduate School, discuss the crucial the role of computing professionals in the current debate on cyber attack.  Citing a recent report from the National Research Council, they reject the notion that lawyers, ethicists, and politicians should oversee the evaluation and implementation of cyber attack and cyber exploitation. It is vital, they say, that computing professionals participate and provide advice on the capabilities and limits of the relevant technology in order to formulate sound policies as well as the development of tools for attack, exploit, and defense. 

            Other September Communications articles:

  •        Technology consultant Phillip G. Armour explains how simple return-on-investment calculations do not account for risk in projects involving the software business.  He advocates instead a risk-weighting approach that incorporates the cost as well as the value of risk.
  •        ACM’s expansion into China reaches a milestone later this year when the ACM China Council officially launches, reports technology writer Tom Geller.  ACM China has enlisted as its chair Jiaguang Sun, vice president of the National Natural Science Foundation of China.  The Council expects to work closely with the China Computer Federation to expand opportunities for Chinese computing professionals.
  •        As the power of computing spreads beyond the desktop, sensor-equipped bicycles are providing valuable data for cyclists, city planners, and computer scientists.  Technology writer Neil Savage surveys cycling projects initiated by MIT’s SENSEable City Lab in Copenhagen and Los Angeles to help cyclists find the safest, most efficient, and most enjoyable routes through the metropolis.
  •        Science writer David Lindley analyzes the likeness between brains and electronic computers and finds that complications cast light on the usefulness of thinking that the brain is similar to a massively parallel supercomputer.  He says computational neuroscientists must choose between modeling large systems rather crudely and small systems more realistically to reveal how the brain performs its basic functions.
  •        Blog@CACM blogger Ed H. Chi of Palo Alto research Center writes that it is time to rethink computer science education because the (Social) Web changes everything; and Ruben Ortega of Google questions how much software is enough, particularly for startup companies.                

            For more information on Communications of the ACM, click on http://cacm.acm.org/

 

About ACM

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. 

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