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CACM Reports: Computer Science Education Week Expands Its Reach

December Issue Reports on the Impact of the Stuxnet Worm and the African Tsunami of Information Insecurity, and Interviews Pixar President Ed Catmull

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

Contact: Virginia Gold

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NEW YORK – December 7, 2010 – ACM is leading the second Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek),  December 5-11, which is spreading the message that computer science is a crucial part of a 21st century education.  In the December Communications of the ACM (CACM) cover story, ACM CEO John White emphasizes the importance of this message, noting that two-thirds of states have few learning standards in the fundamentals of computer science.  This finding is from Running on Empty: The Failure to Teach K-12 Computer Science in the Digital Age, a new report from ACM and the Computer Science Teachers Association.  Also in this issue, former ACM president David Patterson extols the virtues of the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference for its successful approach to transcending demographic changes over time, and provides pointers for how to get involved. 

            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. 

            The nature of war is changing radically in the digital age, writes author Samuel Greengard, who explores the impact of the sophisticated Stuxnet worm as a new class and dimension of malware.  Although government-sponsored cyberattacks have so far occurred on a limited basis, he concludes that the probability of a major cyberwar erupting over the next decade seems inevitable, and worries that political leaders are not entirely tuned into the severity of the threat. 

            Georgia Tech’s Seymour Goodman and Andrew Harris warn of the coming African tsunami of information insecurity as the world’s second most populous continent captures the potential of mobile telephony and the launching a new era of economic and social development.  Pointing to perhaps the most compelling and fastest-growing African mobile application of mobile banking, the writers foresee the promise of this development to rapidly modernize commerce and personal finance in Africa.  The downside of this trend, they note, is that botnets and malware that currently plague networked computers will soon become commonplace on mobile devices, opening the door to data theft and denial-of-service attacks.  They call for concerted, cooperative engagement on behalf of national governments, international donors, device manufacturers, and service providers to avoid security vulnerabilities.           

            In an article developed by acmqueue, Stanford professor Pat Hanrahan interviews Pixar’s president Ed Catmull about his lifelong goal of making the world’s first feature-length, fully computer-generated movie.  Catmull recounts his 20-year quest that culminated with the release of  “Toy Story” in 1995, and his efforts to bend a polygon in order to create real curved surfaces.  He shares his observations on how art and science interact at Pixar, and the role of the changing technology that keeps the industry vital and healthy. 

            Other December Communications articles:

  •        Francine Berman of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute argues for the need for reliable, cost-effective data storage and preservation at the national scale.  She cites the recently concluded U.S. census, which provides an evidence-based snapshot of America, and serves as a guide for planning of societal services and infrastructure.  She points to the absence of an analogous picture of our digital data.
  •        Writer Gregory Goth reports on eye-tracking control for mobile phones, a technology that can enable people incapable of operating keyboard- or mouse-based interfaces to use their eyes to control devices.  He surveys current research on eye-based user interfaces on mobile phones, which could provide users with more options for controlling their phones’ applications. 
  •         Mache Creeger of Emergent Technology Associates moderates a joint ACM-BCS roundtable discussion on the theft of business innovation as a threat to global competitiveness. A panel of security and policy experts discusses the implications for loss in this environment, and concludes that IT people need to understand their company’s long-term strategy and operations intimately in order to avoid calamity.
  •        Peter J. Denning and Robert E. Kahn address the long-standing problem of universal information access in the Internet.  They review the progress of infrastructure technologies for “digital objects” that have been gradually evolving and appear to offer real solutions to the conundrums of information sharing and access. 
  •        Stephen J. Andriole of Villanova University describes research that assesses the value of wikis, blogs, podcasts, social networks, virtual worlds, crowdsourcing, and RSS filters for corporate productivity and management.  His report concludes that some caution and skepticism are warranted but that a significant contribution was made to collaboration and communication, particularly by wikis, blogs, and RSS filters.
  •        Blog@CACM blogger Greg Linden discusses security advice and the cost of user effort; Jason Hong considers the increase in malvertisements; and Mark Guzdial writes about gender and CS education in Qatar.

            For more information on Communications of the ACM, click on


About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, 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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