People in Computing #2

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November 10, 2020
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The People in Computing series of Selects showcases members of the ACM from all walks of life, whose stories are an inspiration for the larger computing community.  

From ​election security​ to the data and network infrastructures of the future, this week’s People in Computing Select showcases professionals whose work in computing:

  • highlights how technology impacts on our society;
  • helps shape how we engage with emerging ideas and technologies.

We highly encourage learning more about their contributions, and invite you to consider participating in ACM’s activities on these topics, be it through our professional community,global policy​ activities​, ongoing work in ​professional ethics​, and/or through our ​chapters, ​SIGs​, ​local meetups and/or ​conferences​.

We would love to hear your feedback and suggestions at for how we can do better. We look forward to your guidance on how we cancontinue to improve ACM Selects together.

Barbara Simons

Contribution: Long-standing, high-impact leadership as ACM President and founding Chair of ACM's U.S. Public Policy Committee (now USTPC), while making influential contributions to improve the reliability of, and confidence in, election technology.

Biography:  Barbara Simons is known for her outstanding contributions in computing and public policy. She is an internationally known expert on voting technology. The Founding Chair of ACM’s US policy committee (USTPC) more than 20 years ago and current co-chair of its Voting Subcommittee, Barbara also sits on ACM’s global Technology Policy Council. She is a Fellow of both ACM and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the Board of Advisors of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (which appointed her chair of a special committee on election security), and also currently chairs the Board of Directors of Verified Voting.  

[Read full bio​]

Meet the Computer Scientist Championing Paper Ballots

First published in The Atlantic, December 2017. Note that The Atlantic provides a limited amount of articles for free each month.

This article by The Atlantic shares Simons’ views on electronic voting and her motivations for championing policy initiatives on strengthening the security of electronic voting technology.

[Read mor​e]​

ACM US Technology Policy Committee Enlists Internet and Cybersecurity Luminaries in Multi-Group Call on Governors, State Election Officials to Avoid Internet Voting

First published as a joint open letter between the ACM US Technology Policy Committee (USTPC) and the Center of Scientific Evidence in Public Issues of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

This joint open letter provides a detailed analysis and rationale for avoiding internet voting. Citing two decades of science-based analysis and endorsed by Simons among other Internet and Cybersecurity pioneers, the letter is an example for how USTPC provides expert perspectives on significant developments in computing and their impact on public policy in the United States.

[Read mor​e]​

Shwetak Patel

Contributions: creative and practical sensing systems for sustainability and health.

Biography: Professor Patel is an ACM Fellow, MacArthur Fellows, Microsoft Research Faculty Fellow, Sloan Fellowship and is widely recognized for his contributions in Human-Computer Interaction, Sensing Systems, and ubiquitous Computing. He is an Endowed Professor in Computer Science and Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington and founded several successful companies in the power management and home sensing space. Patel's work addresses pressing social challenges around energy consumption, accessibility and making the buildings we live in more responsive to our needs.

[Read full bio]

Inspired by the Home of the Future

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 62, No. 9, August 2019.

In this Communications of the ACM interview, Shwetak Patel discusses his perspectives on how existing technology can help us achieve “the home of the future” and redefine accessible and responsive healthcare.

​[​Read more​]

Beyond the Smart Grid

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 53, No. 6, June 2010.

This Communications of the ACM article breaks down key considerations in the development of energy-efficient smart grid applications. It includes discussions with Patel on HydroSense, an application that identifies individual fixtures where water is used to measure overall water usage.

[​Read more​]

Jeanette M. Wing

Contributions: Formal methods and application and work in algorithmic problem solving as well as her work insecurity and privacy and distributed systems.

Biography: Jeannette Marie Wing is a Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University and the Director of the university's Data Science Institute. Formerly, Wing was the Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Research, a Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, and an assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering in the National Science Foundation (NSF). Wing is an advocate of interdisciplinary research and leads vast teams of Computer and Data scientists making contributions in precision medicine, public policy, the humanities, and in addressing major challenges in our world.

[Read full bio]

Computational Thinking

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 49, No. 3, March 2006.

Thinking as a computer scientist goes beyond being able to program a computer. In Jeanette M. Wing’s 2006 essay for Communications of the ACM, she discusses the value of computational thinking - that is, leveraging mental tools such as problem solving and system design derived from experiences practicing computer science. She also provides several ideas for how to embody a “computational thinking” mindset when using computing for other disciplines, with the goal of encouraging people to think and be excited about computing’s impact on society.

[Read more]

Five deep questions in computing

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 51, No. 1, January 2008.

n her Communications of the ACM article, Jeanette M. Wing posits five philosophical questions about computing and our perceptions of it. From the nature of what is computable to the semantics of the information we query, Wing asks her readers to explore different ways of thinking about computing in order to stimulate critical thought about our field.

[Read more]

Luiz André Barroso

Contributions: Pioneering the design of warehouse-scale computing and driving it from concept to industry.

Biography: Luiz André Barroso is Vice President of Engineering at Google in the Core organization, the team primarily responsible for the technical foundation behind Google’s flagship products. Previously, he was the technical lead for Google’s computing infrastructure, and served as VP of Engineering for Google Maps. His research interests include hardware design (from the chip to the datacenter level), high performance input/output, and web services infrastructure.

[Read full bio]

People of ACM - Luiz André Barroso

First published in People of ACM, August 11, 2020.

In this People of ACM interview, Barroso discusses his work, including rethinking the datacenter, improving Google Maps, and using software efficiencies to improve hardware.

[Read more]

The Tail at Scale

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 56, No. 2, February 2013.

Luiz André Barroso and Jeffrey Dean discuss how tail-tolerant techniques -- that is, the ability of large-scale distributed systems to deliver a response with minimum latency -- can be used to improve the performance of computing-intensive cloud services. They provide a collection of techniques used in Google’s services as well as arguments for how these techniques can be used to optimize system utilization without sacrificing service responsiveness.

[Read more]

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