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Communications of the ACM

Table of Contents

Will MOOCs Destroy Academia?

"Thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee," wrote the prophet Isaiah. This phrase has been popping into my mind as I have been following the recent raging discussions over the topic of MOOCs.

Why Is Accessibility So Hard?

I sometimes think that, of all the disciplines, ours ought to be the most effective at adapting to the varied needs of users. For various physical limitations, we really should be able to configure our software to adapt. But …
DEPARTMENT: Letters to the Editor

When Predicting, Start With Humility

In "Don't Feel Bad If You Can't Predict the Future," Peter J. Denning wrote: "Make sure your models are validated and that their assumed recurrences fit the world you are forecasting. Ground your speculations in observable …

New Opportunities For New SQL

Michael Stonebraker expects a substantial increase in the number of New SQL engines using a variety of architectures in the near future.

Major Update to ACM's Computing Classification System

ACM has completed a major update of its Computing Classification System (CCS), which has served as the de facto standard for classifying the computing literature since 1964.

Software on Mars

With the AEGIS system, the Mars Exploration Rovers can autonomously select, capture, and analyze images using onboard logic.

Control Without Controllers

Disney's Touché project could transform every conductive surface into a touch-control surface.

On the Digital Trail

Forensics experts increasingly use data from digital devices to solve crimes, fight lawsuits, and unravel accidents.
COLUMN: Privacy and security

The Research Value of Publishing Attacks

Security research can be improved by more effectively sharing what is learned from attacks on information systems.
COLUMN: Legally speaking

Oracle v. Google: Are APIs Copyrightable?

Assessing the first phase of the trial based on claims that Google's Android platform infringes Oracle's Java-related copyrights and patents.
COLUMN: Economic and business dimensions

Decentralization Versus Centralization in IT Governance

It's not as simple as you might think.
COLUMN: Education

Learning to Teach Computer Science: The Need For a Methods Course

A multipronged approach to preparing computer science teachers is critical to success.
COLUMN: Computing ethics

Societal Implications of the Emerging Smart Grid

Seeking solutions to concerns that go beyond the engineering of the smart grid.
COLUMN: Viewpoint

Keeping Technology Promises

Considering new models for educational technology and methods.
SECTION: Practice

Resilience Engineering: Learning to Embrace Failure

A discussion with Jesse Robbins, Kripa Krishnan, John Allspaw, and Tom Limoncelli.

Weathering the Unexpected

Failures happen, and resilience drills help organizations prepare for them.

Disks from the Perspective of a File System

Disks lie. And the controllers that run them are partners in crime.
SECTION: Contributed articles

Functional Encryption: A New Vision For Public-Key Cryptography

Decryption keys allow users to learn a specific function of the encrypted data and nothing else.


Open-source chemistry software and molecular databases broaden the research horizons of drug discovery.
SECTION: Review articles

The Challenges Ahead For Bio-Inspired 'Soft' Robotics

Soft materials may enable the automation of tasks beyond the capacities of current robotic technology.
SECTION: Research highlights

Technical Perspective: Open Platforms For Computational Photography

A fundamental impediment to the widespread development and deployment of in-camera algorithms is the lack of a clean open architecture for controlling camera features and writing the corresponding real-time processing and …

The Frankencamera: An Experimental Platform For Computational Photography

Progress in computational photography has been hampered by the lack of a portable, programmable camera with sufficient image quality and computing power. To address this problem, we have designed and implemented the Frankencamera …

Technical Perspective: The Realities of Home Broadband

Buying residential broadband services seems relatively simple: pick among a small number of plans, and then compare similar plans by price. Unfortunately, reality is somewhat more complicated.

Measuring Home Broadband Performance

We present the results from the first study of Internet access link performance measured directly from home routers. Our findings provide a snapshot of access network performance across the United States.
COLUMN: Last byte

Puzzled: Weighed in the Balance

Many of us have pondered puzzles involving a set of n coins and a balance scale. Here we take a slightly different tack: a set of coins and a balance scale that can tell us which of two sets of coins is heavier or that they are …