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CACM Reports: Cracking the Code with ACM Turing Award Recipients

June Issue Reports on Honoring our Best, the Focus of Wearable Computers, the Startling Advances of Deep Learning, and Why the Internet a Not a Critical Infrastructure

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

Contact: Virginia Gold

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NEW YORK – May 28, 2013 – This year's ACM Turing Award honorees Shafi Goldwasser and Silvio Micali are profiled in the June issue of Communications of the ACM. In a provocative Q&A, they describe how they transformed the scope of cryptography from encrypting private messages to strengthening data security, facilitating financial transactions, and supporting cloud computing.  Goldwasser observes the opportunity in mathematics to start with something concrete, then generalize the concept, and end up with a "beautiful theorem" that applies broadly. Micali reveals that while working on zero-knowledge interaction proofs, they transformed proofs, which are not fun to write or read, into a game.  In a companion article, Goldwasser advises scientists: "If you come up with something new, and it’s yours, stick with it."  Micali recommends that young computer scientists cultivate an initial sense of irreverence, a certain lack of respect for what has gone before.

Also in this issue, ACM President Vint Cerf underscores the importance of "honoring our best" as we approach ACM’s annual awards celebration.  He calls for giving serious thought to nominating colleagues whose work meets the criteria for this recognition, which conveys to the general public the remarkable power of computer science and the value its practitioners and theorists give to the world.

Communications, the flagship publication of ACM, offers readers access to this generation's most significant leaders and innovators in computing and information technology, and is available online in digital format.

Other Communications highlights:

  • The possibility of a new $200 billion-plus industry in augmented-reality glasses has cloud security experts bracing for the ramifications, notes technology writer Paul Hyland.  He surveys the players – Microsoft, Apple, and Google – for the glasses, known as "wearable computers," which are likely to generate more data than today’s smartphones and media tablets combined. 
  • Technology writer Gary Anthes describes artificial neural networks – neural nets – which are producing startling improvements in the accuracy of computer vision, speech recognition, and other applications in the new field of "deep learning."  These networks are trained on graphics processor boards or supercomputers, and researchers predict they will take over machine learning. 
  • MIT researcher Dan Geer labels as "hypocrisy" the claim that the Internet is a critical infrastructure.  He says either the wide open range that is the freedom of an Internet built on the end-to-end principle must die, or else we must choose not to allow the critical infrastructure of our lives to depend on that Internet.  Freedom and reliability, he concludes, are now at odds. 
  • The biggest change in the business of cybercrime occurred when the most advanced groups moved from selling stolen data or computer viruses to establishing criminal cyber services like stealing data, providing access to infected computers, or writing tools to steal data.  Consultant Stas Filshtinskiy argues for better international enforcement efforts, disruption of cybercrime business models, and recognizing that most attacks are executed by criminal enterprises. 
  • Researchers at the University of Technology, Vienna, Austria analyze incentive mechanisms for the burgeoning social computing market.  This market, which is marked by greater task complexity, more intelligent task division, complex organizational and managerial structures, and virtual "careers," is viewed as an opportunity to add novel ways of handling incentives and rewards. 
  • MIT Professor Nancy Leveson summarizes the lessons learned by software engineers who worked on the Space Shuttle program and its legacy of achievement.  She highlights the culture of high quality, extensive planning, continuous improvement, defined communications channels, and testing and review, and laments the opposite trend in software engineering in today’s safety-critical projects. 
  • Kode Vicious aka George V. Neville-Neil advises a questioner who's grappling with problems resulting from an automated job-scheduling system to be wary of developers’ recommendation for automated software.  Rather than wading through unknown code, he offers ways of understanding the system to fix the problems.

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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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