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  • How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan

    The thrust of the Communication Corner is to offer step-by-step advice to help you become a better writer and speaker. This first essay explains how Phillip Yaffe went from being a very poor writer and speaker to being a recognizably good one, almost despite himself.

  • Unums 2.0: An Interview with John L. Gustafson

    In an earlier interview (April 2016), Ubiquity spoke with John Gustafson about the unum, a new format for floating point numbers. The unique property of unums is that they always know how many digits of accuracy they have. Now Gustafson has come up with yet another format that, like the unum 1.0, always knows how accurate it is. But it also allows an almost arbitrary mapping of bit patterns to the reals. In doing so, it paves the way for custom number systems that squeeze the maximum accuracy out of a given number of bits. This new format could have prime applications in deep learning, big data, and exascale computing.

  • Rethinking Randomness: An interview with Jeff Buzen, Part II

    In Part 1, Jeff Buzen discussed the basic principles of his new approach to randomness, which is the topic of his book Rethinking Randomness. He continues here with a more detailed discussion of models that have been used successfully to predict the performance of systems ranging from early time sharing computers to modern web servers.

    Peter J. Denning
    Editor in Chief

  • Rethinking Randomness: An interview with Jeff Buzen, Part I

    For more than 40 years, Jeffrey Buzen has been a leader in performance prediction of computer systems and networks. His first major contribution was an algorithm, known now as Buzen's Algorithm, that calculated the throughput and response time of any practical network of servers in a few seconds. Prior algorithms were useless because they would have taken months or years for the same calculations. Buzen's breakthrough opened a new industry of companies providing performance evaluation services, and laid scientific foundations for designing systems that meet performance objectives. Along the way, he became troubled by the fact that the real systems he was evaluating seriously violated his model's assumptions, and yet the faulty models predicted throughput to within 5 percent of the true value and response time to within 25 percent. He began puzzling over this anomaly and invented a new framework for building computer performance models, which he called operational analysis. Operational analysis produced the same formulas, but with assumptions that hold in most systems. As he continued to understand this puzzle, he formulated a more complete theory of randomness, which he calls observational stochastics, and he wrote a book Rethinking Randomness laying out his new theory. We talked with Jeff Buzen about his work.

    Peter J. Denning
    Editor in Chief

  • Changing the Game: Dr. Dave Schrader on sports analytics

    Dave Schrader, known to his friends as Dr. Dave, worked for 24 years in advanced development and marketing at Teradata, a major data warehouse vendor. He actively gives talks on business analytics, and since retiring has spent time exploring the field of sports analytics. In this interview, Schrader discusses how analytics is playing a significant role in professional sports--from Major League Soccer to the NBA.

  • The Future of Technology and Jobs: An interview with Dr. R.A. Mashelkar

    The following interview with Dr. Raghunath Anant Mashelkar is on the prospects of how will technology change the face of employment in the future? What will the jobs of the future look like? What skills are needed to prepare students and researchers for employment in the digital age? As our world is getting digitized day-by-day, technology influences how students communicate, learn, work and interact with society as a whole more than any generation before. Ultimately, students nowadays have to compete with a more globalized, mobile work force, and rapid technological advancement.

  • The End of (Numeric) Error: An interview with John L. Gustafson

    Crunching numbers was the prime task of early computers. The common element of these early computers is they all used integer arithmetic. John Gustafson, one of the foremost experts in scientific computing, has proposed a new number format that provides more accurate answers than standard floats, yet saves space and energy. The new format might well revolutionize the way we do numerical calculations.

  • The Rise of Computational Biology: An interview with Prof. Thomas Lengauer

    In this wide-ranging interview, we will hear from a pioneer in computational biology on where the field stands and on where it is going. The topics stretch from gene sequencing and protein structure prediction, all the way to personalized medicine and cell regulation. We'll find out how bioinformatics uses a data-driven approach and why personal drugs may become affordable. We'll even discuss whether we will be able to download our brains into computers and live forever.

  • Internet of Things in Energy Efficiency: The Internet of Things (Ubiquity symposium)

    This paper aims to provide the view of what means IoT (Internet of Things) in energy efficiency applications, of its technical and business impacts, of its opportunities and risks for the different market players. It is concluded by the author's long term vision about the use of IoT in energy efficiency applications.

  • On Resilience of IoT Systems: The Internet of Things (Ubiquity symposium)

    At the very high level of abstraction, the Internet of Things (IoT) can be modeled as the hyper-scale, hyper-complex cyber-physical system. Study of resilience of IoT systems is the first step towards engineering of the future IoT eco-systems. Exploration of this domain is highly promising avenue for many aspiring Ph.D. and M.Sc. students.

  • Ensuring Trust and Security in the Industrial IoT: The Internet of Things (Ubiquity symposium)

    Industrial Internet of Things (IOT) is a distributed network of smart sensors that enables precise control and monitoring of complex processes over arbitrary distances. The great advantage of the industrial IoT is counterbalanced by a security weakness. The insertion of a smart device capable of extracting protected data or malicious actions can infect the whole network with relative ease. Thus it becomes imperative to discover whether or not new devices have the right capabilities and compatibilities with other sensors. This article presents a zero knowledge protocol that achieves precisely that objective while keeping the sensor data private.

  • Using Redundancy to Detect Security Anomalies: Towards IoT security attack detectors: The Internet of Things (Ubiquity symposium)

    Cyber-attacks and breaches are often detected too late to avoid damage. While "classical" reactive cyber defenses usually work only if we have some prior knowledge about the attack methods and "allowable" patterns, properly constructed redundancy-based anomaly detectors can be more robust and often able to detect even zero day attacks. They are a step toward an oracle that uses knowable behavior of a healthy system to identify abnormalities. In the world of Internet of Things (IoT), security, and anomalous behavior of sensors and other IoT components, will be orders of magnitude more difficult unless we make those elements security aware from the start. In this article we examine the ability of redundancy-based anomaly detectors to recognize some high-risk and difficult to detect attacks on web servers---a likely management interface for many IoT stand-alone elements. In real life, it has taken long, a number of years in some cases, to identify some of the vulnerabilities and related attacks. We discuss practical relevance of the approach in the context of providing high-assurance Web-services that may belong to autonomous IoT applications and devices.