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CACM Reports: Computational Tools for Mapping Proteins to Analyze the Human Cell

May Issue Reports on Open Access vs. Fair Access, Twitter's Impact on the Egyptian Revolution, and Programming the "Global Brain"

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

Contact: Virginia Gold

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NEW YORK, April 20, 2012 — The shift in modern biological research has led to the emergence of computational methods for measuring the protein building blocks of the human cell. The resulting technology revolution has spurred interest in the comparative analysis of protein networks, with important applications in disease diagnosis and therapy. In the May Communications of the ACM (CACM) cover story, researchers Nir Atias and Roden Sharan of Tel Aviv University survey this new field to assess the arising computational challenges, and the need for practical solutions that can cope with an ever growing scale. Also in this issue, Editor-in-Chief Moshe Y. Vardi revisits the intense reaction from scholarly publishers to the Research Works Act introduced in Congress last December, which limits access to federally funded research. He identifies the underlying issue as a divergence of interests between authors and publishers, and considers ways to resolve the tension between the desire for the broadest possible dissemination and the need to cover the cost of publishing, including ACM's fair-access approach.

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.           

Also in this issue:

  • Virtual possessions play an increasingly important role in our daily lives, writes Samuel Greengard.As more of the things we possess reside inside our computers, they lead to new artifactsonline gaming avatars, instant message and text message streams, virtual currency and social media feedsthat increasingly define our lives and our legacy.
  • Alexander Repenning of the University of Colorado explores why programming is still not used in public schools, and particularly middle schools, despite the availability of tools to broaden participation. To counter this situation, he and his colleagues developed the Scalable Game Design framework that balances programming challenges and skills, and offers different paths for students to advance through exposure, motivation, education, and pedagogy.
  • Technical debt often results from the tension between engineering “best practices” and factors such as ship date, costs of tools, and the skills of engineers available, among others, reports Eric Allman. He cites common instances where engineers take shortcuts that fall short of best practices, and examines essential ways to manage technical debt to avoid the inevitable risks and costs down the road.
  • Researchers from the University of Zurich and MIT assess the scale, scope, and connectivity of human-computer networks that are transforming domains from education and industry to government and the arts. Abraham Bernstein, Mark Klein, and Thomas W. Malone view these expanding networks, which include all the people and computers on our planet, as a kind of "global brain. They address the challenges to programming the global brain to more fully exploit its potential.
  • Protesters who inspired the 2011 Egyptian revolution are credited by some as playing a critical role in the events that led to the resignation of the Egyptian president. Researchers from Northwestern University weighed the Twitter sentiment reflected by the protesters as well as media and journalists, and analyzed the impact on the outcome.
  • Science and technology writer Alex Wright reports that a series of engineering advances and manufacturing economies of scale could bring autonomous humanoid robots into our everyday lives. He reviews several major technical and conceptual hurdles that need to be overcome before that happens.
  • While the recent technological challenge to copyright could have affected any product that can be digitized, the recorded music industry was the first to face the new challenge. Joel Waldfogel of the University of Minnesota examines new research on the effect of file sharing on recording industry revenues and considers whether music consumers have also been harmed by copyright piracy.
  • Blog@CACM blogger Judy Robertson writes about researchers' use of the wrong statistical techniques to analyze attitude questionnaires.

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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