Science Has Only Two Legs

Science has been growing new legs of late. The traditional "legs" (or "pillars") of the scientific method were theory and experimentation. Computational science has been called the 'third pillar' of scientific inquiry, and has been recently augmented by yet a "fourth paradigm."


In the two years since we launched the revitalized Communications of the ACM, I have received hundreds of email messages from readers. The feedback has been mostly, but not universally, positive.

Revisiting the Publication Culture in Computing Research

In my May 2009 Editor's Letter, "Conferences vs. Journals in Computing Research," I addressed the publication culture of our field: "As far as I know, we are the only scientific community that considers conference publication as the primary means of publishing our research results.' Why are we the only discipline driving on the conference side of the 'publication road?'"

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  debate the relative merits of MapReduce and relational database management systems. I have no doubt that our readers will find this technical debate highly instructive.

Is the Image Crisis Over?

When Communications relaunched in July 2008, the issue included a "Viewpoint" column by Rick Rashid, entitled "Image Crisis: Inspiring a New Generation of Computer Scientists." Has anything changed in that regard in the last 17 months?

The Financial Meltdown and Computing

For many of us, the past year has been one of the most unsettling in our lifetime. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, we watched communism collapse of its own dead weight. In late 2008, we saw capitalism nearly crumble. Lehman Brothers, a major U.S. investment bank, declared bankruptcy last September, sending the world's financial system into a tailspin. Only a massive intervention by central banks saved the system from collapse.

Conferences vs. Journals in Computing Research

An old joke tells of a driver, returning home from a party where he had one drink too many, who hears a warning over the radio about a car careening down the wrong side of the highway. "A car?" he wondered aloud, "There are lots of cars on the wrong side of the road!" I am afraid that driver is us, the computing-research community.

Shape the Future of Computing

ACM encourages its members to take a direct hand in shaping the future of the association. There are more ways than ever to get involved.

Get Involved