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CACM Reports: Big Data's Promises for Humans and Computers

December 2013 Issue Reports on Making the Web Faster; Alternatives to MOOCs; and Breakthroughs in Photography and Computational Optics

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

Contact: Virginia Gold

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December 2, 2013 - In adapting to the new world of data, a fundamental shift in the culture of organizations and managers is required, according to Vasant Dhar of New York University’s Stern School of Business in Communications of the ACM's December cover story.  Most data generated by humans and computers today relies on computers increasingly to make decisions automatically.  This scalability is possible because big data serves as the raw material for creation of new knowledge, he says, citing Watson, IBM’s “Jeopardy!” champion, as a prime illustration of an emerging machine intelligence fueled by data and state-of-the-art analytics.  This data revolution requires a shift in managers’ mind-sets toward data-driven decision making to replace or augment intuition and past practices.   It also requires problem-formulation skills, a type of computational thinking, for data scientists over the next decade.

Top Stories:

  • Google Web performance engineer Ilya Grigorik examines the limitations of HTTP, the foundation for the unprecedented growth of the Internet, and sees signs of stress as more interactions migrate to the Web.  Declaring that HTTP must continue to evolve, he proposes HTTP 2.0, offering design and technical goals to make the Web faster.
  • Addressing the many myths surrounding massive open online courses (MOOCs) in higher education, Berkeley’s Armando Fox offers counterexamples to examine the possibilities of online education.  He introduces small private online courses (SPOCs) as a supplement to classroom teachers that can increase instructor leverage, student throughput, student mastery, and student engagement.
  • While digital photography has revolutionized the way people snap, store, and share photos, researchers are now exploring how to use computational optics and digital imagery in ways that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago.  Samuel Greengard surveys lensless cameras, single-pixel imagery, and devices that can see around corners, technologies that could address a wide array of challenges from managing traffic networks and fighting crime to improving medicine.      

Click on for Communications Table of Contents.  Visit Communications for industry news, commentary, observations, and practical research.  Communications, the flagship publication of ACM, is available online in digital format.

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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