Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Imitation Game

The official trailer for the movie about Alan Turing called "The Imitation Game", starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing and Keira Knightley as close friend and fellow code-breaker Joan Clarke. is now available on YouTube. This movie seems to be sticking much closer to the facts, unlike the previous movie Enigma, which totally wrote Turing out of the WWII story, replacing him with a traditional heterosexual male lead alongside Kate Winslet. The imitation Game is scheduled for release November 14.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Computational Complexity: The Burden of Large CS Enrollments

The Computational Complexity blog recently posted a piece on The Burden of Large Enrollments in CS departments. It seems that this trend is global but interestingly they point out that if you average out the growth over the booms and bust in CS enrolment since they 1970s, the growth rate is a steady 10%. 
Thanks to my colleague Mark for bringing this to my attention.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Microsoft Challenges Google’s Artificial Brain With ‘Project Adam’

Despite just announcing its biggest ever job cuts, at around 18,000 employees, Microsoft is planning to challenge Google’s Artificial Brain with its own Project Adam. Wired reports that: "Like similar deep learning systems, Adam runs across an array of standard computer servers, in this case machines offered up by Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service. Deep learning aims to more closely mimic the way the brain works by creating neural networks—systems that behave, at least in some respects, like the networks of neurons in your brain—and typically, these neural nets require a large number of servers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

IBM spends $3 billion to push the far future of computer chips

IBM has announced that it is investing $3 billion over the next five years to develop processors with much smaller, more tightly packed electronics than today's chips, and to sustain computing progress even after today's manufacturing technology runs out of steam. The problem is we are just physically finding it impossible to miniaturise silicon chips any more (no pun intended). Read this Cnet article to learn more.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Computer Dating in the 1960s

I was in the car the other day listening to the radio and someone was describing a computer dating service that operated in the US in the 1960s. That's right - the 1960s! It was surprisingly simple. You filled out a detailed questionnaire (on paper) about yourself and your preferences and you mailed it (in an envelope with a stamp) to a business called JOPA and they entered your details onto punch cards, which were then processed by an IBM mainframe. Some weeks later your received, in the post, a list of prospective partners who matched your profile, along with addresses and phone numbers. You can read more about the service in this article in the Atlantic or view an original article from the 60s in Life magazine. Seems like there's nothing new under the sun.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Farewell to Orkut

You've probably never heard of Orkut (unless you're Brazilian) and I didn't even recall having an account with them, but yesterday I received an email from Google telling me they were closing the service down. Orkut was Google's version of Facebook; launched in 2004 it became one of India and Brazil's most popular websites. However, Facebook eclipsed it in the rest of the Western World and if you live in the West (outside of Brazil) then you've probably never heard of it. Google say that the growth in YouTube and Google+ means that Orkut is no longer needed. It lasted longer than Google Buzz though, which barely lasted a year.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The exploding demand for computer science degrees

The graph above shows the trend in applications for science and engineering degrees at the University of Washington in Seattle over the last few years. As you can clearly see interest in doing computer science is sky rocketing. An excellent article in Geek Wire analyses this trend across a number of universities and compares it to other booms in computer science in the 80s and 90s.  The article goes on to explain that this boom may not be a bubble, like the dot com fuelled boom of the 90s was, since it reflects a growing need for computer science graduates across all sectors. The challenge is how academic institutions satisfy this growing demand.