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CACM Reports: Building Biologically Inspired Robots

August Issue Reports on Money Models for MOOCs, Building Web Apps for Mobile Devices, Security Strategies for Critical Systems

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

Contact: Virginia Gold

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Evolutionary robotics is a small but productive niche field, writes Josh C. Bongard in "Evolutionary Robotics," this month's cover story. Since the early 1990s, evolutionary methods have produced millions of different kinds of robots that can walk, swim, or grasp objects. Exploring how these robots have achieved these competencies might provide unique insight on how to scale robots up to perform more complex tasks, like working safely alongside humans.

Also in this issue:

  • "Money Models for MOOCs," by Chrysanthos Dellarocas and Marshall Van Alstyne, observes that most massive open online courses are free, and lose money. The authors present a number of possible business models, including several involving fees.
  • "Best Practices on the Move: Building Web Apps for Mobile Devices," by Alex Nicolaou, notes the importance of getting your website or service onto mobile devices ASAP. Does your accumulated expertise regarding websites apply? Not much. "The old rules of website design and implementation for the desktop need a lot of adaptation to create a slick mobile Web-app experience," the author says.
  • "Are We Free to Code the Law?" by Marc Lauritsen, explores how software-based legal-assistance systems can be understood for purposes of public policy and constitutional analysis.
  • "Computer Science Education — Revisited," by Vinton G. Cerf, argues that K-12 education should be reformed to incorporate serious computer science, which Cerf contends is "vital to producing an informed public that has a deeper appreciation for the power of computing."
  • "Patient, Heal Thyself," by Alex Wright, reports that a slew of new companies promise better patient services via handheld medical data-gathering devices. But the path to cheaper care is fraught with obstacles, including thorny ethical and regulatory issues.

Click here for the current Communications Table of Contents.  Visit Communications at, a digital hub of industry news, commentary, observations, and practical research.

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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.