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Communications of the ACM

Table of Contents

The Ritual of Academic-Unit Review

Why is it that academic-unit reviews accomplish so little in spite of the significant effort both by the reviewed units and reviewing committees? There are three main reasons, I believe.

The Power of Big Ideas

Big ideas are, in some ways, organizing principles that point in the direction of useful research, development, and engineering. Interestingly, these simply stated goals may also motivate the development of business models for …
DEPARTMENT: Letters to the Editor

Rethinking Computational Thinking

How important are skills in computational thinking for computing app constructors and for computing users in general?

Progress in Computational Thinking, and Expanding the HPC Community

Jeannette Wing considers the proliferation of computational thinking, while Dan Stanzione hopes to bring more HPC practitioners to SC16.

Graph Matching in Theory and Practice

A theoretical breakthrough in graph isomorphism excites complexity experts, but will it lead to any practical improvements?

Accelerating Search

The latest in machine learning helps high-energy physicists handle the enormous amounts of data produced by the Large Hadron Collider.

Booming Enrollments

The Computing Research Association works to quantify the extent, and causes, of a jump in undergraduate computer science enrollments.

Legal Advice on the Smartphone

New apps help individuals contest traffic, parking tickets.
COLUMN: Legally speaking

Apple v. Samsung and the Upcoming Design Patent Wars?

Assessing an important recent design patent infringement court decision.
COLUMN: Historical reflections

How Charles Bachman Invented the DBMS, a Foundation of Our Digital World

His 1963 Integrated Data Store set the template for all subsequent database management systems.
COLUMN: Computing ethics

Big Data Analytics and Revision of the Common Rule

Reconsidering traditional research ethics given the emergence of big data analytics.
COLUMN: Viewpoint

Turing's Red Flag

A proposal for a law to prevent artificial intelligence systems from being mistaken for humans.

Inverse Privacy

Seeking a market-based solution to the problem of a person's unjustified inaccessibility to their private information.
SECTION: Practice

Should You Upload or Ship Big Data to the Cloud?

The accepted wisdom does not always hold true.

The Small Batches Principle

Reducing waste, encouraging experimentation, and making everyone happy.

Statistics for Engineers

Applying statistical techniques to operations data.
SECTION: Contributed articles

Formula-Based Software Debugging

Satisfiability modulo theory solvers can help automate the search for the root cause of observable software errors.

Why Google Stores Billions of Lines of Code in a Single Repository

Google's monolithic repository provides a common source of truth for tens of thousands of developers around the world.

λ > 4: An Improved Lower Bound on the Growth Constant of Polyominoes

The universal constant λ, the growth constant of polyominoes (think Tetris pieces), is rigorously proved to be greater than 4.
SECTION: Review articles

The Rise of Social Bots

Today's social bots are sophisticated and sometimes menacing. Indeed, their presence can endanger online ecosystems as well as our society.
SECTION: Research highlights

Technical Perspective: Combining Logic and Probability

In "Probabilistic Theorem Proving," Gogate and Domingos suggest how PTP could be turned in a fast approximate algorithm by sampling from the set of children of a branch point.

Probabilistic Theorem Proving

Many representation schemes combining first-order logic and probability have been proposed in recent years. We propose the first method that has the full power of both graphical model inference and first-order theorem proving …

Technical Perspective: Mesa Takes Data Warehousing to New Heights

Producing reports at the scale of Google Ads, where billions of clicks happen per day, is the challenge addressed by the Mesa system described in "Mesa: A Geo-Replicated Online Data Warehouse for Google's Advertising System."

Mesa: A Geo-Replicated Online Data Warehouse for Google's Advertising System

Mesa is a highly scalable analytic data warehousing system that stores critical measurement data related to Google's Internet advertising business. This paper presents the Mesa system and reports the performance and scale that …
COLUMN: Last byte

Upstart Puzzles: Chair Games

A group of people is sitting around your dinner table with one empty chair. Each person has a name that begins with a different letter: A, B, C . . . Because you love puzzles, you ask them to rearrange themselves . . .