Issue No. 07 - July (2012 vol. 45)
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MC.2012.228
The IEEE Computer Society offers a lineup of 12 peer-reviewed technical magazines that cover cutting-edge topics in computing including scientific applications, design and test, security, Internet computing, machine intelligence, digital graphics, and computer history. Select articles from recent issues of Computer Society magazines are highlighted below.
Smartphones aren't very "smart" without the software apps that give them their usability and versatility. Apps, like all software, need some degree of guidance, regulation, and measurement to ensure a user is receiving proper functionality and quality of service. In "The Mobile Software App Takeover," the guest editors of Software's July/August special issue on mobile software development contend that the need to vet apps and the app stores in which they reside and are licensed will pose a huge problem as the mobile app market continues to grow.
Progress in pursuit of realism in computer graphics has been directly connected to the development of light transport models—that is, models of the light absorption and scattering properties of different materials. These models benefit from cross-fertilization among different scientific domains, but two problems impede interdisciplinary research in this area: few of the models are available as open source code, and their complexity limits their use beyond the research groups that develop and maintain them. In "Rapid Dissemination of Light Transport Models on the Web" ( CG&A, May/June, pp. 10-15), researchers from the University of Waterloo describe the NPSGD (Natural Phenomena Simulation Group Distributed) framework, which makes light transport models easily accessible for online use and lets researchers perform predictive and time-intensive light transport simulations in a user-friendly, fault-tolerant way.
In "From Databases to Big Data," the lead editorial for Internet Computing's May/June issue, Sam Madden from MIT begins with his favorite definition of big data: "data that's too big, too fast, or too hard for existing tools to process." Madden briefly describes where traditional database management systems fall short of the requirements for petabyte-scale data collections coming from sources such as click streams, transaction histories, and sensors. He also surveys the state of the art in technology addressing these challenges, showing what's working and what's missing in big-data processing.
In "Symbolic Statistics with SymPy" ( CiSE, May/June, pp. 88-93), Matthew Rocklin from the University of Chicago and Andy R. Terrel from the University of Texas at Austin describe how to replace symbols with random variables to add statistical operations to complex physical models. The authors illustrate the procedure with three examples of symbolic statistical modeling that use features from the popular SymPy project, which is open source and pure Python and doesn't require any external libraries.
Recent evidence indicates that robots can assist in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) therapy by facilitating social interactions between the affected child and another human. This suggests that a robot could play a role on a therapy team, provided the role is well-defined and integrated into other team members' shared intentions. In Intelligent Systems' March/April issue, Michael Goodrich and his colleagues from Brigham Young University report their original research in "Incorporating a Robot into an Autism Therapy Team." The authors present a therapy model that incorporates a "low-dose" robot role in conjunction with more traditional treatments for ASD.
Mobile health is a general term for the use of mobile applications, devices, and other wireless technology in healthcare. IT Pro's March/April special issue on this topic presents five articles that focus on medical information processing and health information delivery, exploring how these technologies are revolutionizing the healthcare industry.
In its May/June issue, Micro presents the ninth annual edition of "Top Picks from Computer Architecture Conferences." Guest editors Paolo Faraboschi from Hewlett-Packard Labs and T.N. Vijaykumar from Purdue University introduce 12 articles culled from an elaborate review of 77 submissions from 2011 computer architecture conferences. The conference papers, revised for the Top Picks issue, represent the current state of leading research in computer architecture. The guest editors group the articles in four contexts: many-core processors, memory technology advances, scale-out computing, and perspectives on past and future trends.
Security & Privacy
Static analysis is a promising means of embedding security processes into software development, scoring well on measures for detecting errors, detecting them early in the life cycle, and automating the detection methods. In Security & Privacy's May/June special issue on static analysis, guest editors Brian Chess of Fortify Software and Chris Wysopal of Veracode introduce six feature articles and a roundtable discussion with a group of static-analysis experts who share insights from many years of building, reviewing, and deploying the technology.
Sales of Kinect, Microsoft's controller-free motion-sensing input device for the Xbox 360 gaming console, topped 10 million during the first three months after its launch. In "Microsoft Kinect Sensor and Its Effect," MultiMedia's April–June issue reviews the device's enabling technologies and some recent applications. "Many researchers and practitioners are leveraging the technology of Microsoft's Kinect sensor to develop new ways of interacting with machines and to perform many other tasks, from helping children with autism to assisting doctors in operation rooms," writes Zhengyou Zhang, a principal researcher and manager of the Multimedia, Interaction, and Communication Group at Microsoft Research. According to Zhang, "Microsoft calls this the Kinect Effect."
Despite the global reach of mobile devices using the Web, there's still great value in connecting with the people around you to support collaborative work and social interactions. In Pervasive Computing's April–June Smartphone column, "Enabling Social Interactions off the Grid" by Robin Hillary Kravets from the University of Illinois describes some problems encountered in automating support for proximate interactions and proposes some solutions.
The lead article in Annals' April–June issue looks at some of the difficulties in harvesting business opportunities with advanced computers. In "Too Far Ahead of Its Time: Barclays, Burroughs, and Real-Time Banking," Ian Martin from Leeds Metropolitan University, UK, explores the British bank's project to introduce real-time computer operations for all its 2,612 branches between 1965 and 1972. The project's failure sheds new light on the difficult transition from commercial batch processing in the 1950s to real-time processing in the 1980s.