[Humanist] 24.519 new on WWW: Ubiquity

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Nov 24 08:03:18 CET 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 519.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Tue, 23 Nov 2010 15:40:11 +0000
        From: ubiquity <ubiquity at HQ.ACM.ORG>
        Subject: NEW ON ACM UBIQUITY: The Evolution of Computation, Symbol Manipulation, and An Interview with Andreas Zeller on Debugging

NEW ON ACM UBIQUITY: The Evolution of Computation, Symbol Manipulation, and An Interview with Andreas Zeller on Debugging

November 23, 2010

The Evolution of Computation

In its first symposium, Ubiquity has asked some of the top leaders in the computing world to discuss this one big question: “What is computation?” http://ubiquity.acm.org/symposia.cfm

Peter Wegner, Emeritus Professor at Brown University, has written an exclusive article on the evolution of computation<http://ubiquity.acm.org/article.cfm?id=1883611> over the last seven decades, providing rich context for other articles in the symposium. In his assessment, Wegner writes:

“Computing has evolved from Turing machines through object-oriented programming and the Internet to interactive and biological models. But the evolution of scientific disciplines does not determine their complete specification, which changes as new research proposals establish new modes of thought.” [continue reading]<http://ubiquity.acm.org/article.cfm?id=1883611>

Symbol Manipulation

Another contributor to the symposium, John S. Conery of University of Oregon, faces the question head-on and provides a clear answer: computation is the manipulation of symbols<http://ubiquity.acm.org/article.cfm?id=1889839>.

“[A] computation is a discrete process, a sequence of states that are defined by symbols. The transition from one state to another is the result of some process or collection of processes, where a process could be an algorithm being executed on a single computer, a human interacting with an application running on a computer, another computer at a remote site on the Internet, or physical or biological systems that have states that can be represented symbolically.” [continue reading]<http://ubiquity.acm.org/article.cfm?id=1889839>

Other contributors to the series, which are published weekly in Ubiquity through January, include Lance Fortnow, Northwestern University, on the enduring legacy of the Turing machine, and Melanie Mitchell, Portland State University, on biological computation. See a table of contents in the editor’s introduction http://ubiquity.acm.org/article.cfm?id=1870596  for the complete list of authors and tentative titles of their contributions.

Mining Your Way to Software Reliability: An Interview with Prof. Andreas Zeller
Ubiquity Associate Editor Walter Tichy spoke with Prof. Andreas Zeller, a leading authority on analyzing software repositories and on testing and debugging http://ubiquity.acm.org/article.cfm?id=1883621 , about the wisdom he has unearthed through his work and analysis.

In this excerpt from the interview, Zeller fields a question about how software bugs tend to “cluster” in specific, known areas:

“It is like fishing: Just like fish will appear at the same spot again and again, bugs also tend to cluster in certain spots. For fish, though, we have a theory on how they reproduce. The weird thing about bugs is that the more you fix, the more you will still find. Bugs adhere to the Pareto principle: 80 percent of all defects will be found in 20 percent of the locations. As soon as you identify these ‘usual suspects,’ you can focus your efforts towards them and thus increase effectiveness..” [continue reading] http://ubiquity.acm.org/article.cfm?id=1883621

For more information on Ubiquity and its editors, content and features, visit http://ubiquity.acm.org.

Ubiquity welcomes the submissions of articles from everyone interested in the future of computing and the people creating it.

Everything published in Ubiquity is copyrighted (c)2010 by the ACM and the individual authors. See the submissions guidelines at


To send feedback about Ubiquity, email editors at ubiquity.acm.org<mailto:editors at ubiquity.acm.org>.

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