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CACM Reports: How ACM Turing Award Winner Lamport Brought Order to Chaos

June 2014 Issue Reports on Coping with Transformational Computing Technology; the Failure of "Mostly Functional" Programming; and the Power of Social Media Analytics

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

Contact: Virginia Gold
212-626-0505
vgold@acm.org

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ACM's 2013 A.M. Turing Award recipient Leslie Lamport was cited for discovering the field of distributed computing systems that work as intended, making it possible for computers to cooperate, avoid error, and reach consensus. The June issue details his innovative advances in an article, a Q&A, and an original video highlighting some of Lamport's renowned colleagues. In his own voice, he asserts that the best logic for stating things clearly is mathematics, a concept, he notes, that some find controversial. Assessing his body of work, he concludes that he created a path that others have followed to places well beyond his imagination.

  • Peter J. Denning of the Naval Postgraduate School surveys the "avalanche" of information technology innovation that has generated radical transformations of jobs and professions in recent years. Citing Apple’s iPhone, Google Glass, and IBM’s Blue among the examples of technology that are automating knowledge work and taking jobs away from the middle class, he explores the disruption of the bundled education system itself, once a reliable resource for learning new skills and entering new professions.
  • Like dieters falling for miracle exercise gadgets, developers seem ready to fall for easy solutions to the latest crises in their field, observes Erik Meijer of Delft Technology University, The Netherlands. He finds fault with the software industry trend to sell “mostly functional” programming as a silver bullet for solving problems, and concludes that language designers and developers should start looking more seriously at fundamentalist functional programming.
  • The power of social media analytics to improve business performance, reputation, and profit is examined by Weiguo Fan of Xi'an Jiaotong University and Michael Gordon of the University of Michigan. They cite examples to demonstrate the three-stage process—capture, understand, present—of this approach, and illuminate key techniques that include opinion mining, sentiment analysis, and topic modeling as well as social network analysis, trend analysis, and visual analytics.
  • Computer scientists from the University of Cambridge investigate the risks of using "smartcards" initially developed by Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, which contain an embedded chip to authenticate a transaction using cryptography. The European experience with these cards offers lessons for the U.S. in managing the clashing interests of banks, merchants, regulators, vendors, and consumers.

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ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery http://www.acm.org 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.