Computing Applications Editorial pointers

Editorial Pointers

  1. Article

Why math?

This simple, yet age-old question has puzzled generations of computer science students pursuing what many believed is the stuff of precision and logic. Isn’t building computer systems and software rooted in real-life reasoning, they argue; while mathematics orbits around an abstract world?

This month’s special section dispels those myths in a series of articles investigating the mathematical reasoning in software engineering and how math benefits computing practitioners and students alike. Guest editor Keith Devlin contends that once students—and educators—accept the fact that computing entails constructing, manipulating, and reasoning about abstractions, it becomes obvious that the ability to handle abstractions in a precise manner is a critical prerequisite for writing programs.

Six CS professors offer personal perspectives on the mathematical component in CS education, maintaining mathematics is the best mental training ground for handling the abstract entities that comprise computing. We hope this exploration offers some possible answers to this question.

Also in this issue, Roberto Di Pietro and Luigi Mancini consider the security and privacy issues posed by today’s wireless devices. Alfred Loo introduces an economical remedy for beefing up P2P power by tapping into Web server technologies. Prem Premkumar analyzes strategies that may allow music creators, distributors, and consumers to live in harmony. And Michiel Ronsse et al. demonstrate how record/replay is an effective method to control the execution of non-deterministic program runs.

In "Staying Connected" Meg McGinity tells how small towns across the U.S. are using electric utilities within their municipalities to provide affordable community broadband services, much to the frustration of the major service providers. And in "The Business of Software," Phillip Armour explores the Learning Application Gap—that elusive space between learning and the application of what’s been learned.

You may have noticed this month’s Table of Contents is presented in two sections—one noting print-based editorial, the other a virtual extension of online editorial. Such extensions allow us to expand the amount of quality scientific literature published in a given month via free online access. These extensions have proven greatly successful; in fact, we are developing a special e-commerce virtual extension of the December 2003 issue. Visit the September extension at portal.acm.org/cacm/ve903.

Diane Crawford,

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