Article Summaries

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National Science Digital Library: Shaping Education's Cyberinfrastructure

pp. 26–32

David McArthur

The National Science Digital Library's main portal,, has been online nearly five years. With this maturity, the National Science Foundation is now rethinking NSDL's status as a research program. NSDL has reached the point at which it must either change substantially or start winding down. Because NSF is primarily a research agency, investing further in NSDL would seem to run counter to NSF's policy of not supporting routine science and education operations.

Nonetheless, there are compelling arguments for NSF's continued investment in NSDL.

Wikis: 'From Each According to His Knowledge'

pp. 34–41

Daniel E. O'Leary

Given the explosive growth in wiki applications and the controversies surrounding the technology, it is useful to sort through the claims and criticisms to better understand what wikis are, how they are used, their advantages and limitations, and various issues surrounding their implementation.

Wiki is Hawaiian for quick and, as the term suggests, the technology's initial goal was to give users the ability to quickly put content on the Web. Wikis offer tremendous potential to capture knowledge from large groups of people.

EventWeb: Developing a Human-Centered Computing System

pp. 42–50

Ramesh Jain

Current interest in human-centered computing suggests new winds blowing in the computing community. HCC combines many powerful and independent approaches in different aspects of computing.

A combination of technological advances, a reduction in barriers to interactions among different parts of the world, and the quest for solving increasingly difficult problems has created a potential to impact the course of human civilization.

Secure and Easy Internet Voting

pp. 52–56

Giampiero E.G. Beroggi

Modern societies have thus far seemed hesitant to rely heavily on information and communication technology for democratic decision-making activities such as voting. One reason for the delay in implementing technologically sophisticated voting methods is the computer science community's almost unanimous wariness of Internet-based elections.

Fortunately, more countries are beginning to consider e-voting systems. However, three cantons in Switzerland—Zurich, Geneva, and Neuchatel—are already using an evoting system.

Turning Teenagers into Stores

pp. 58–62

Srijith K. Nair, Bruno Crispo, Andrew S. Tanenbaum, and Ron Gerrits

Peer-to-peer file sharing has been immensely popular since 1999, when Napster began offering a central catalog of who had which songs so that people could directly copy them from the remote hard disks of people they didn't know, peer-to-peer file sharing has been immensely popular.

Initially, the music industry felt differently and viewed such file sharing as intellectual property theft. Now, music companies realize that digital music is their friend. This knowledge has led some music executives to dream of turning teenagers into stores.

Authorizing Card Payments with PINs

pp. 64–68

Václav (Vashek) Matyáš, Jan Krhovjak, Marek Kumpost, and, Dan Cvrcek

Chip and PIN technology for card-purchase authorization replaces card imprints or swiping cards with magnetic stripes through readers during face-to-face credit- or debit-card transactions. Signature verification secures both methods, with the clerk required to compare the customer's signature with the one on the card's back.

To resolve questions about this new authentication system's benefits, the authors conducted a two-part experiment to evaluate if it makes circumvention easier for thieves and disputing fraudulent transactions more difficult for customers.

The Promise of High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing

pp. 69–76

Tarek El-Ghazawi, Esam El-Araby, Miaoqing Huang, Kris Gaj, Volodymyr Kindratenko, and Duncan Buell

In the past few years, high-performance computing vendors introduced many systems containing both microprocessors and field-programmable gate arrays. In all these architectures, the main application executes on the microprocessors, while the FPGAs handle kernels with long execution times but that lend themselves to hardware implementations.

The authors' research revealed that HPRCs can achieve up to four orders of magnitude improvement in performance, up to three orders of magnitude reduction in power consumption, and a two orders of magnitude savings in cost and size requirements.

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