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Communications of the ACM

Table of Contents

DEPARTMENT: Editor's letter

More Debate, Please!

In this issue of Communications we have a debate that is quite a rarity in computing research: a technical debate. A pair of Contributed Articles  …
DEPARTMENT: Letters to the editor

Software Still As Much an Art As Science

C.A.R. Hoare's viewpoint "Retrospective: An Axiomatic Basis for Computer Programming" (Oct. 2009) reminded me of a saying attributed to both Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut and Yogi …
DEPARTMENT: In the Virtual Extension

In the Virtual Extension

Communications' Virtual Extension brings more quality articles to ACM members. These articles are now available in the ACM Digital Library.
DEPARTMENT: ACM's FY09 annual report

ACM's Annual Report

It's been an exhilarating first year as President of ACM. At the close of FY09, ACM stood as the largest educational and scientific computer society in the world. After seven consecutive years of steady growth, ACM ended the …

Software Engineering, Smartphones and Health Systems, and Security Warnings

Software release cycles are usually long, measured in months, sometimes in years. Each of the stages—requirements, design, development, and testing — takes time. Recently, some …

The Corollary of Empowerment

The unfilteredness of the Internet, while largely considered a plus, is taking some knocks. Abundant, easily accessible data sits side by side with "rumors, lies, and errors …

Rebuilding For Eternity

Buildings collapse. Wind and rain beat them, temperatures cycle from freezing to blistering, and random strikes of lightning threaten sudden obliteration. Even …

Amir Pnueli: Ahead of His Time

Remembering a legacy of practical and theoretical innovation.

Automated Translation of Indian Languages

India faces a daunting task trying to manually translate among 22 official languages, but assistance, in the form of advanced technology enabled by a lot of hard work, is on the way.

New Search Challenges and Opportunities

If search engines can extract more meaning from text and better understand what people are looking for, the Web's resources could be accessed more effectively.

Future Internet Design Summit

The National Science Foundation's meeting on Internet architectures focused on designs related to emerging social and economic realities. The four-day,  invitation-only summit drew 90 U.S.-based researchers …

Robert Lovett Ashenhurst: 1929 - 2009

Former Communications editor-in-chief Robert L. Ashenhurst, who died last October at age 80, served ACM for 35 years with dedication, humor, and panache, according to fellow ACM volunteers.

ACM and India

ACM is in the process of establishing ACM India as a legal entity and will hold its first conference in late January. Four A.M. Turing award winners, including Barbara Liskov …
COLUMN: Viewpoints

The Evolution of Platform Thinking

How platform adoption can be an important determinant of product and technological success.

In Praise of Bad Programmers

A tale illustrating the difference between individual and team skills.

Unstandard Standardization: The Case of Biology

How applicable are the approaches adopted by information and communication technology standards-setting organizations to biological standards?

What Should We Teach New Software Developers? Why?

Fundamental changes to computer science education are required to better address the needs of industry.

Great Computing Museums of the World (Part One)

The first of a two-part series highlighting several of the world's museums dedicated to preserving, exhibiting, and elucidating computing history.
SECTION: Practice

Data in Flight

How streaming SQL technology can help solve the Web 2.0 data crunch.

Other People's Data

Companies have access to more types of external data than ever before. How can they integrate it most effectively?

Triple-Parity RAID and Beyond

As hard-drive capacities continue to outpace their throughput, the time has come for a new level of RAID.
SECTION: Contributed articles

MapReduce and Parallel DBMSs: Friends or Foes?

Parallel DBMSs excel at efficient querying of large data sets; MapReduce-style systems excel at complex analytics and ETL tasks. Neither is good at what the other does well. Hence, the two technologies are complementary.

MapReduce: A Flexible Data Processing Tool

MapReduce advantages over parallel databases include storage-system independence and fine-grain fault tolerance for large jobs.
SECTION: Review articles

Can Automated Agents Proficiently Negotiate With Humans?

Exciting research in the design of automated negotiators is making great progress.
SECTION: Research highlights

Technical Perspective: Native Client: A Clever Alternative

Google's Native Client is an intriguing new system that allows untrusted x86 binaries to run safely on bare metal.

Native Client: A Sandbox For Portable, -Untrusted X86 Native Code

Native Client is a sandbox for untrusted x86 native code. It aims to give browser-based applications the computational performance of native applications without compromising safety.

Technical Perspective: Schema Mappings: Rules For Mixing Data

When you search for products on, you are seeing results from thousands of vendor databases that were developed before Amazon existed. Did you ever wonder how that happens?

Structural Characterizations of Schema-Mapping Languages

Information integration is a key challenge faced by all major organizations, business and governmental ones alike. Two research facets of this challenge that have received considerable …
COLUMN: Last byte

Q&A: HP's Running Man

Prith Banerjee discusses collaborating with universities, his startup experiences, and Hewlett-Packard Lab's approach to research and development.
SECTION: Virtual extension

Using the Thread-Fabric Perspective to Analyze Industry Dynamics

Rapid advances in technology pose severe challenges to organizations that are dependent on their technology for day-to-day operations as well as strategic renewal. For example, one major challenge is the decision of which new …

Security Constructs For Regulatory-Compliant Storage

In response to a growing body of electronic records legislation, the storage community has enhanced data stores to include privacy, auditability, and a "chain-of-custody" for data. There are currently over 4,000 federal, state …

The Future of Digital Imaging

Traditionally, radiology is a support department that provides imaging services to other hospital departments. In this conventional framework, the primary concerns of a radiology department were how to enhance the productivity …

Mobile Web 2.0 With Multi-Display Buttons

User-Generated Content (UGC) IS A BURGEONING social phenomenon being watched in today's world with keen interest. UGC is an online new-media content created by users rather than by conventional media such as broadcasters. A typical …

Think Big For Reuse

Many organizations are successful with software reuse at fine to medium granularities — ranging from objects, subroutines, and components through software product lines. However, relatively little has been published on very large …

Designing Data Governance

Organizations are becoming increasingly serious about the notion of "data as an asset" as they face increasing pressure for reporting a "single version of the truth." In a 2006 survey of 359 North American organizations thatGovernance …

Domotic Technologies Incompatibility Becomes User Transparent

The potential of current technologies in smart automation has been largely unexploited. Pervasive computing vision is still far from being achieved, especially with regard to Domotics and home applications. In fact, even though …

Random Selection from a Stream of Events

Consider a stream of events received during a limited period of time, such as applications on the Internet. One event needs to be randomly selected as a "winner." Due to physical …