ACM letter concerning proposed changes at the University of Florida

Social media has been abuzz with comments on proposed changes at the University of Florida’s department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering. The ACM has sent the following letter to the president of the University of Florida, expressing our concern for what was originally being reported, as well as our support for the decision to to initiate a new set of conversations to rethink the right approach for the University.

The letter is available at:

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How did the leopard get its spots? Codebreaker Alan Turing was right all along – Telegraph

It is amazing to see just how much Alan Turing contributed to science. 60 years after publication, we have just identified an example of biological activator-inhibitor morphogens that he predicted as an explanation of the occurrence of stripes and spots in nature.

How did the leopard get its spots? Alan Turing was right all along – Telegraph.

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CS2013 Strawman Curriculum Standard now available « Computing Education Blog

The CS2013 Strawman Curriculum Standard is now available and will be open for comments shortly. Comments are expected to remain open until July 15, 2012. There will also be a panel session at SIGCSE-12 scheduled for Thursday, March 1, 2012.

CS2013 Strawman Curriculum Standard now available « Computing Education Blog.

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ACM’s role in public policy

There has been a call out in various social media outlets asking me, in my role as ACM president, to state ACM’s position with respect to upcoming legislation such as Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Protect IP, and Research Works Act (RWA) in the United States. It is time to dispel some misconceptions about what the ACM is, what it does and what it does not do.

First of all, ACM is an international organization. That means that we (ACM) do not look only, or even primarily, at what is happening in the USA. Our focus is on what is happening in computing in the entire world. Three out of the most recent four ACM presidents were not U.S. citizens. Four out of five of the members of the current ACM Executive Committee are based outside of the United States. ACM is a global organization, and that reflects that computing is now an important activity around the world.

Second, ACM is a scientific and technical professional organization. Although some SIGS and ACM committees are concerned with social issues, ACM’s engagement on policy focuses on technical issues. Consider also that our members are from a wide variety of industries, countries, and backgrounds, and they often hold personal opinions representing more than one position on any given issue. We thus have no structure for focus and unanimity on political issues. If someone is looking for a group to support a particular point of view politically, ACM is not an appropriate place to look.

ACM does provide technical expertise at the request of any government when it comes to evaluating the technical impact of proposed legislation. For the U.S. we also have a Public Policy Council (see that provides technical expertise and advice to government agencies and the Congress. However, the USACM seeks to maintain a neutral position as an “honest broker” for technical advice and education. USACM takes deliberate, considered action on some issues to help legislators and regulators (often quietly, behind the scenes) understand the limitations and operation of computing.

ACM can and should play a critical role in policy making where appropriate by educating the public, policy makers, and the community about public policy issues that affect the development of technology or where technology influences policy issues to better inform policy decisions. As technology’s role in society grows, there will be an increasing need for ACM to meet this goal. Concerning SOPA in particular, USACM has been actively reviewing the proposed legislation for several weeks now and will be publishing comments on it shortly.

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Increased Cooperation with IEEE-CS

Early in 2011, IEEE Computer Society (IEEE-CS) President Sorel Reisman and I began discussing how IEEE-CS and ACM could work together more cooperatively. We shared that news with our members in a “Letter from the Presidents” published in the August is- sues of both Communications of the ACM and Computer. We solicited suggestions from our members ( and received some ideas that are worth pursuing for the benefit of the community, which I discuss here.

On September 22, 2011, ACM Chief Executive Officer John White, Chief Operating Officer Pat Ryan, and I met with IEEE-CS President Sorel Reisman and Executive Director Angela Burgess at ACM headquarters in New York City. The goal of this meeting was to build on the many areas in which ACM and IEEE-CS cooperate. Based on input from our members, we looked at: working together to support the efforts of the Computing in the Core Coalition; improving access to our respective digital libraries; reducing joint member fees; sharing speaker programs; and the possibility of merging the two organizations. In reading through the agreements reached for increased co- operation, it is important to remember that IEEE-CS is one (albeit the largest) of 38 societies of the IEEE. As a result, while some proposals for increasing cooperation can be dealt with directly by IEEE-CS, others require IEEE-CS engaging successfully with “parent” IEEE.

Computing in the Core is a non-partisan advocacy coalition established by ACM to elevate the national profile of computer science education in K−12 within the U.S. and work toward ensuring that computer science is one of the core academic subjects in K−12 education. Several associations, corporations, scientific societies, and other non-profits who share the goal of seeing real computer science exist and count—particularly at the high school level—have joined the coalition. IEEE- CS has agreed to formally join Computing in the Core and work with ACM and the other members of the coalition on these important issues. At this meeting we signed a memorandum of understanding whereby IEEE-CS formally joined the Computing in the Core Coalition.

Improved Access to Digital Libraries. We agreed that an important goal would be to work toward seamless access to content for individuals with access (individual subscription or institutional subscription) to both the IEEE-CS’s Digital Library (CSDL) and the ACM DL. Both ACM and IEEE-CS are eager to implement this feature; however, because of the relationship between CSDL and Xplore, it may be some time before we can start real discussions with IEEE and the Xplore staff.

Reduced Joint Member Fees. We agreed that we would institute a 20% discount for individuals who were both Members of ACM and Affiliate Members of IEEE-CS. The goal is that an individual should be able to go to one place to join/renew his/her mem- bership at a rate of $160 (based on current dues levels). ACM is ready to move on this agreement; IEEE-CS needs to hold discussions with IEEE in order to put this reduced joint membership rate into effect.

Shared Speakers Program. We agreed that we would share lists and promote each other’s lectureship programs to appropriate subunits. I am pleased to say this is currently underway and that ACM Chapters will be able to request IEEE-CS Distinguished Lecturers and IEEE-CS Chapters will be able to request ACM Distinguished Speakers.

Highlighting cooperation. It is important to remember that while ACM and IEEE-CS initiated these exploratory conversations last year, in fact, there are many areas where cooperation between the two organizations already exists. Indeed, the level of cooperation between ACM and IEEE-CS is higher than with any other organization. That said, we felt it would be appropriate to highlight the full extent to which we are working together. We agreed to develop a joint Web page to keep members apprised of what the two societies are doing together.

The initiatives noted here represent a good start on increasing collaboration and cooperation with IEEE-CS, and the ACM Council fully supports these efforts. In fact, the ACM Council feels that working on increased collaboration between the two societies is the right focus and the right next step to take. To help ensure continued progress, Sorel and I will establish an ACM/IEEE-CS Task Force on Cooperation to oversee the work we have started and to look for additional areas of potential cooperation.

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David Patterson – Enlist Computer Scientists in Cancer Fight –

There’s a great article in the New York Times today by former ACM President David Patterson calling for computer scientists to join the fight against cancer.

David Patterson – Enlist Computer Scientists in Cancer Fight –

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50 years ago – First computer to sing – Daisy Bell – YouTube

“Daisy Bell” was composed by Harry Dacre in 1892. In 1961, the IBM 7094 became the first computer to sing, singing the song Daisy Bell. Vocals were programmed by John Kelly and Carol Lockbaum and the accompaniment was programmed by Max Mathews. This performance was the inspiration for a similar scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

First computer to sing – Daisy Bell – YouTube.

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Sheryl Sandberg Keynote @ Grace Hopper Conference – Nov 10 2011on Facebook Tech Talks – live streaming video powered by Livestream

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, gave a wonderful keynote speech at the Grace Hopper Conference on November 10th. In particular she recognized the work that Maria Klawe, past ACM President, has achieved in just five years at Harvey Mudd College.

Sheryl Sandberg Keynote @ Grace Hopper Conference – Nov 10 2011on Facebook Tech Talks – live streaming video powered by Livestream.

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Intel Museum – The Intel 4004

The intel 4004 celebrates its 40th birthday today.

In 1969, Nippon Calculating Machine Corporation requested that Intel design 12 custom chips for its new Busicom 141-PF printing calculator. Instead of creating a dozen custom chips specifically for the calculator, Intel’s engineers proposed a new design: a family of just four chips, including one that could be programmed for use in a variety of products.

Intel Museum – The Intel 4004.

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SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 : Technical Papers Trailer – YouTube

Get a preview of the papers that will be presented at SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 in Hong Kong.

SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 : Technical Papers Trailer – YouTube.

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