Computing Applications President's letter

ACM’s Past Helps Steer its Future

  1. Article
  2. Author

When the Association for Computing Machinery was founded, our name explained what interested us. In the 60 years since then, the Association has embraced systems, software, services, policy, education, the roles of people, as well as other topics relating to information technology. This month’s special section spotlighting the birth of ACM and the pioneering spirits who blazed its early course represents the depth and breadth of our field, as well as its growth and shifts in focus. ACM publishes many magazines and journals, and with its Special Interest Groups sponsors numerous conferences. We provide access to the resulting information worldwide through our Digital Library.

I had the privilege of attending the finals of the 31st ACM International Collegiate Programming contest, held in Tokyo on March 14, 2007. The contestants—88 teams, the victors of earlier regional rounds involving 6,099 teams—were given 10 problems to solve in five hours. The problems were difficult and the solutions depended on numerous fields of computer science. The champion team, from Warsaw University, produced working programs for eight of these—a most impressive feat. All of the students who made it to the finals, and especially those who took home medals, have shining futures ahead—they have shown they can succeed against truly global competition. Great software developers will always be in demand to engineer core software, essential tools, and critical applications. Subjects such as algorithms, architecture, operating systems, programming languages, scientific computation, networking, databases, software engineering, and artificial intelligence drove many decades of amazing progress and are at the heart of ACM’s technical activities.

Nevertheless, those subjects do not cover the bulk of activity in computing. Today, far more effort goes into design, integration, deployment, and support of applications than into creation of new algorithms and core components. Our journals, conferences, and curricula have expanded accordingly to provide deep insight into these areas.

If we look ahead, the global information technology industry will definitely continue to expand, with shifts toward services, integration, distributed computing, dynamic information. There are increasing demands for reliability, security, usability, and accessibility. Research and advanced technology are growing in these areas, and there is a sense of true excitement about them.

ACM will continue to be "The First Society in Computing," specializing in helping make available the most important information in computer-related fields, focusing on what is important, valid, and innovative. This anniversary section, "A Look Back in Time," sums up the glorious past of ACM. The future should be even better!

Back to Top

Join the Discussion (0)

Become a Member or Sign In to Post a Comment

The Latest from CACM

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

Communications of the ACM (CACM) is now a fully Open Access publication.

By opening CACM to the world, we hope to increase engagement among the broader computer science community and encourage non-members to discover the rich resources ACM has to offer.

Learn More