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Communications of the ACM

Table of Contents

DEPARTMENT: Editor's letter

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 …
DEPARTMENT: Letters to the editor

Computer Science Does Matter

It was disappointing that two competent computer scientists — Matthias Felleisen and Shiram Krishnamurthi — took such a narrow view in their Viewpoint …
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.

Saying Good-Bye to DBMSs, Designing Effective Interfaces

Michael Stonebraker discusses the problems with relational database management systems and possible solutions, and Jason Hong writes about interfaces and usable privacy and security.

What You Read on Your Summer Vacation

Here are the most popular articles and sections from the Communications site this past summer as indicated by our latest site statistics.

Entering a Parallel Universe

The promise of parallel computing has run afoul of the harsh reality of Amdahl's Law, which puts a ceiling on the benefit of converting sequential code to parallel code. The upshot is that parallelism will not necessarily reap …

Medical Nanobots

Researchers working in medical nanorobotics are creating technologies that could lead to novel health-care applications, such as new ways of accessing areas of the human body that would otherwise be unreachable without invasive …

Facing an Age-Old Problem

Researchers are addressing the computing challenges of older individuals, whose needs are different — and too often disregarded.

Computer Science Meets Environmental Science

Scientists share knowledge and seek collaborators at computational sustainability conference.
COLUMN: Viewpoints

Keeping Track of Telecommunications Surveillance

The creation of a statistical index of U.S. telecommunications surveillance activities and their results will benefit both civil liberties and law enforcement.

Computing: The Fourth Great Domain of Science

Computing is as fundamental as the physical, life, and social sciences.

How ICT Advances Might Help Developing Nations

Some predictions for technology developments, deployments, and the associated societal implications.

The Long Road to Computer Science Education Reform

Viewing the factors impeding improvements to CS education from kindergarten through grade 12 from a policy perspective.

Face the Inevitable, Embrace Parallelism

Hardware, software, and applications must all evolve in anticipation of the proliferation of parallelism.

An Interview with Maurice Wilkes

Maurice Wilkes, the designer and builder of the EDSAC, passed away on Nov. 29 at age 97. He reflects on his career in this 2009 interview.
SECTION: Practice

Reveling in Constraints

The Google Web Toolkit is an end-run around Web development obstacles.

Monitoring and Control of Large Systems With MonALISA

MonALISA developers describe how it works, the key design principles behind it, and the biggest technical challenges in building it.

Making Sense of Revision-Control Systems

All revision-control systems come with complicated sets of trade-offs. How do you find the best match between tool and team?
SECTION: Contributed articles

Sound Index: Charts for the People, By the People

Mining the wisdom of the online crowds generates music business intelligence, identifying what's hot and what's not.

What Intellectual Property Law Should Learn from Software

Software's close encounters with the law provide some lessons for our future.
SECTION: Review article

The Status of the P Versus NP Problem

It's one of the fundamental mathematical problems of our time, and its importance grows with the rise of powerful computers.
SECTION: Research highlights

Technical Perspective: Abstraction for Parallelism

Looking for some new insight into an old problem? The  familiar problem of writing parallel applications and a fresh approach based on data abstraction allows some …

Optimistic Parallelism Requires Abstractions

Writing software for multicore processors is greatly simplified if we could automatically parallelize sequential programs. Although auto-parallelization has been studied for many decades, it has succeeded only in a few application …

Technical Perspective: They Do Click, Don't They?

You never click on advertisements received in spam or in phishing messages, do you? Nobody does. So, if that is true, why are we still getting an enormous amount of unsolicited …

Spamalytics: An Empirical Analysis of Spam Marketing Conversion

We all receive spam advertisements, but few of us have encountered a person who admits to following through on an offer and making a purchase. And yet, the relentlessness by which such spam continually clogs Internet inboxes …
COLUMN: Last byte

Puzzled: Solutions and Sources

Last month (August 2009, p. 104) we posted a trio of brainteasers, including one as yet unsolved, concerning probability and intuition.

Future Tense: Confusions of the Hive Mind

Be cautious about the artificial intelligence approach to computer science. It is impossible to differentiate the actual achievement of AI from the degree to which people change …
SECTION: Virtual extension

Examining User Involvement in Continuous Software Development

Ms. Perez was giving a PowerPoint presentation to her potential clients in the hope of landing a big contract. She was presenting a new advertising campaign for a mutual fund company and had spent three months with her team on …

Constructive Function-Based Modeling in Multilevel Education

It is a digital age, especially for children and students who can be called the world's first truly digital generation. Accordingly a new generation education technology with a particular emphasis on visual thinking and specific …

One Size Does Not Fit All: Legal Protection for Non-Copyrightable Data

The web has become the largest data repository on the planet. An important factor contributing to its success is its openness and ease of use: anyone can contribute data to, and consume data from, the Web. As Tim Berners-Lee, …

The State of Corporate Website Accessibility

Web accessibility continues to have important social, legal and economic implications for ecommerce. Over 50 million Americans have disabilities and so do around 600 million world-wide ( …

Reducing Employee Computer Crime Through Situational Crime Prevention

Information security has become increasingly important for organizations, given their dependence on ICT. Not surprisingly, therefore, the external threats posed by hackers and viruses have received extensive coverage in the mass …

Ballot Box Communication in Online Communities

The participation of individual users in online communities is one of the most noted features in the recent explosive growth of popular online communities ranging from picture and video sharing ( and and …

Modified Agile Practices for Outsourced Software Projects

Frustration with the bureaucratic nature of the disciplined approach has led to the call for agile development. The new approach is defined by the Agile Manifesto (, which values individuals and interactions …

Falling into the Net: Main Street America Playing Games and Making Friends Online

In 1999, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration report Falling through the Net noted that "NTIA has found that there is still a significant "digital divide" separating American information "haves" andwidened …