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ACM TechNews is published every week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.


ACM TechNews is intended as an objective news digest for busy IT Professionals. Views expressed are not necessarily those of ACM. To send comments, please write to technews@hq.acm.org.
Volume 7, Issue 760:  Wednesday, March 2, 2005

  • "Academics Support File-Sharing Companies"
    Associated Press (03/02/05); Veiga, Alex

    Leading U.S. computer scientists added their voices to those of technology companies and consumer organizations on March 1 in urging the Supreme Court not to overturn a lower-court decision declaring the Grokster and StreamCast online file-sharing firms unaccountable for digital piracy committed by their customers. The entertainment industry is lobbying for a reversal of this decision, arguing that it would reconcile the landmark Sony Betamax ruling with the challenges intellectual property owners face in today's digital and online environment. However, Grokster attorney Michael Page said during a conference call that such a move would make innovation and new product development nearly impossible without permission from copyright holders. USACM and 17 university computer scientists and engineering professors--Princeton's Edward Felten, MIT's Harold Abelson, and Carnegie Mellon's David Farber among them--warned in their brief that a ruling in favor of the entertainment industry could raise fears of copyright infringement to the degree that the advancement of computer and Internet technology would be stifled. Intel filed a separate brief also arguing that a strangling of tech innovation would result from a revised Betamax decision, because then tech companies would be forced to anticipate their innovations' potential applications and redesign them to avoid copyright infringement, thus driving up the price of both technology development and the end products for consumers and enterprises.
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    To read the full brief, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm/grokster/amicus.pdf.

  • "Clinton, Boxer Pushing E-Voting Bill in Senate"
    Computerworld (02/28/05); Weiss, Todd R.

    The Count Every Vote Act sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) calls for the provision of a voter-verified paper ballot for each vote cast in electronic voting systems, and also mandates that all citizens have access to voter verification regardless of language, disability, illiteracy, or other factors. Among the bill's requirements is the designation of Election Day as a federal holiday; the use of verified paper ballots as the official ballot record in the event of a recount; the Federal Election Commission's issuance of uniform voting machine access standards; better e-voting system safeguards; the availability of machines with audio and visual features for visually impaired and illiterate voters; restoration of voting rights to convicted criminals who have completed their prison sentences, probation, and/or parole; the availability of trained election staff in all communities; and provisions for Election-Day voter registration at polling places. All of these measures will have to be in place by the 2006 elections if the bill is passed. The Count Every Vote Act is supported in the House of Representatives by Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), who said the bill is necessary to guarantee the accuracy of elections. "The smooth functioning of our democracy depends on voters having faith in the fairness and accuracy of our voting system, and the Count Every Vote Act is an important step toward restoring this covenant," declared Clinton. However, VerifiedVoting.org executive director Will Doherty said the Clinton/Boxer bill is not as clear as another bill in the House introduced by Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.).
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    For information on ACM's activities regarding e-voting, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm.

  • "ACM Awards Honor Advances in Internet, Programming, Software Technology"
    AScribe Newswire (03/01/05)

    The ACM announced on March 1 the winners of the 2004 ACM awards, which will be handed out on June 11. "Like the recently announced winners of ACM's A.M. Turing Award, these contributions all recognize ground breaking innovations that influence how we communicate through the Internet," said ACM President David Patterson. "They also serve to illustrate the integral role for computer science skills in disparate callings like Internet traffic, network programming, architecture and poetry." The Grace Murray Hopper Award, which carries a prize of $15,000, will go to Princeton University's Jennifer Rexford, who was recognized as the outstanding young computer professional of 2004 for her work on guaranteeing stable and efficient network routing. The Software System Award, which comes with a $10,000 prize, will honor Secure Network Programming (SNP), a system used to keep communications between browsers, servers, and other Internet applications secure. SNP was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency. Princeton's Robert Schapire and Columbia University's Yoav Freund will receive $5,000, along with the Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award for their work with highly accurate prediction methodology employed in search engines. The recipient of the ACM/American Association for Artificial Intelligence Allan Newell Award, which is accompanied by a prize of $10,000, is Sun Microsystems' Richard Gabriel, who helped shape the growth and influence of object technology and played a key role in the development of the java.net software design community.
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    For more information, visit http://www.acm.org/announcements/homepage.html.

  • "Cracking Software Development Complexity"
    Line56 (03/01/05); El Baze, Nicolas

    Software complexity continues to increase faster than Moore's Law, meaning that programmers will be unable to write and manage code without rethinking how to create programs, writes Partech's Nicolas El Baze. A number of companies are addressing this issue and moving toward model-based frameworks that will allow non-expert employees to rapidly execute new and complex tasks. Language provides a good metaphor for the type of models that are needed to deal with increasing software complexity: children develop a linguistic model that lets them quickly input and use new words; similarly, a model-driven approach would not only provide visual abstraction of programming tasks, but actually provide reusable intelligence and be context-aware. Generic application software models would even accommodate new languages by adapting, extending, and evolving existing models. Ideally, programmers would simply enter data, parameters, concepts, and goals to automatically produce working code. Some companies are already pursuing codeless development for specific functions, signaling a shift of intellectual property value from the code itself to the models with reusable intelligence. A model-driven approach to software creation could also help with enterprise application integration, especially as these models are made context-aware through use of semantic and ontology-based technologies; this framework would also have to deal with new distributed applications such as J2EE and .NET applications. Model-driven software development will not be developed in a short time, but will require hard scientific research similar to how the DNA mapping process was uncovered and is even still being transformed into an actionable model.
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  • "Showing PRESENCE at the World's ICT Fair"
    IST Results (03/01/05)

    The European Commission's Future and Emerging Technologies initiative will showcase nine IST projects that will offer demonstrations of cutting-edge Presence research to visitors at the CeBIT 2005 Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) fair later this month. "Presence research aims at understanding and then creating the experience of being located in spatial or social environments displayed by advanced media technologies, such as Virtual and Augmented Reality, wearable displays, or high-end cinemas," explains Presence initiative coordinator Walter Van de Velde. Projects to be exhibited and detailed at the event include ADAPT, which analyzes how a sense of the environment develops in infants, and applies such a process to a robot; PRESENCIA, which has created a brain-computer interface designed to facilitate thought-controlled interaction between people and computers or virtual environments; HAPTEX, an investigation of new modes for enabling people to sense, touch, and handle textiles; LIFEPLUS, a proposal for a virtual, 3D recreation of ancient artwork; and BENOGO, a technology that captures imagery of actual locations, visualizes them in "full panoramic surround," and enhances them with virtual characters and objects. Presence research aims to help expedite the creation of more engaging augmented and virtual reality environments by studying the interaction of the numerous variables that collectively maximize the realism of such environments to the user. Understanding this interaction will help yield cheaper and more usable interface technologies. "Some of the best people in the field will be present [at CeBIT] to engage in dialogue on concrete ways to bring the results of this research forward to the benefit of the European society," says Van de Velde.
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  • "Ending the Grid Lock"
    Technology Review (03/02/05); Hoffman, Karen Epper

    The Globus Consortium, launched with the backing of IBM, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, and Intel in January, aims to make the Globus Toolkit more appealing to companies that have previously been concerned with security and support for grid systems. The non-profit consortium is headed by one of the original Globus Toolkit developers, Steve Tuecke of Argonne National Laboratory, and promotes the grid-related products and services of its commercial backers as well as its own open source toolkit for corporate developers. The consortium aims to broaden the commercial application of grid computing beyond financial services, which use it to analyze portfolios, and biotechnology, which relies on grids to simulate protein folding. The manufacturing, aerospace, telecommunications, and energy industries are likely adopters of grid technology. Microsoft is a potential obstacle for the Globus Consortium, and is rumored to be working on its own grid computing software program code-named Bigtop. Microsoft has not joined the consortium, but recently was a significant funder of the Globus Toolkit effort and part of the Globus Alliance, says Tuecke. Even if Microsoft attacks Globus Consortium efforts in the same way it did the open source Linux operating system, Tuecke says the Unix-based Globus Toolkit already has garnered enough vendor backing to push forward. Other challenges include the number of latent bugs in the toolkit, a lack of grid-enabled business applications, and relative paucity of tools; moreover, many application developers are not familiar with grid computing.
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  • "European Commission Stands by Patent Proposal"
    eWeek (02/28/05); Broersma, Matthew

    The European Commission has rejected the European Parliament's request that the proposed "patentability of computer-implemented inventions" directive be scrapped, despite heavy opposition from members of Parliament, small and midsized businesses, and open-source organizations. Opponents fear that the proposal in its current draft would make software patents lawful in Europe and bring the European patent system more in line with the U.S. system. An EC representative confirmed that EC President Jose Manuel Barroso sent a letter to the president of the EP indicating that the Commission has refused to submit a new proposal on the IT patents issue; Barroso also said the EC expects the EU Council to officially accept the proposal "as soon as possible." Following adoption, the proposal would be submitted to Parliament for a second reading. Critics of the current proposal have attempted to prevent a second reading, which requires considerably larger majorities to support revisions than in a first reading. In the last month, the EP has fortified its position on the software patentability issue with its legal affairs committee's decision to request the Commission for a restart, the subsequent ratification of the decision by the EP's Conference of Presidents, and the EP's unanimous approval of a motion to urge the EC to take action. The EU Council could adopt the resolution on March 7; if a second reading in the EP proceeds, NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign manager Florian Mueller believes ministers will have the political muscle to either dramatically amend the proposal or discard it altogether.
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  • "Fighting for the 'Freedom to Tinker'"
    Daily Princetonian (03/01/05); Huang, Viola

    Princeton computer science professor Edward Felten was galvanized by a recording industry lawsuit in 2001 that sought to prevent him and colleagues from publishing their examination of anti-copying technology. Felten is known as an intellectual property expert that has testified before Congress and in the Microsoft antitrust case, but the 2001 case spurred a sense that intellectual freedom was under attack and Felten has since actively fought for "freedom of ordinary users to adapt technologies to their cause," according to his daily blog, freedom-to-tinker.com. Felten recently co-authored a peer-to-peer file-sharing program in just 15 lines of code, in order to prove that such programs were easy to create and should not be banned, as the recording industry will argue in the MGM v. Grokster case before the Supreme Court this month. Graduate student Alex Halderman helped write the tinyP2P program, and received advice from Felten when he discovered copy-protected CDs could be compromised by pressing the Shift key--a discovery that prompted threats of legal action. Felten's knowledge of both technology and policy, and his tenured position at the university, put him in a good position to fight against entrenched interests. He says many legally questionable acts have resulted in product innovation and benefits to consumers, such as when RealNetworks devised a way to allow multiple audio file formats to work on the Apple iPod. Not only did the technique add value to RealNetworks' products, but it made people's iPods more useful as well, he says. Felten is currently working on a security analysis of airport passenger screening, especially ways in which the system can be made more effective without spending more money.
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  • "New Tool May Aid Digital Investigators"
    Sci-Tech Today (03/01/05); Martin, Mike

    University of Florida computer science doctoral student Mark Foster has devised a "process forensics" technique that blends check-pointing and intrusion detection as a tool against hackers, which Foster detailed in a recent issue of the International Journal of Digital Evidence. The process forensics method is set up against hackers who exploit vulnerabilities in running computer programs to break into "host based" systems, where they can run their own programs or launch buffer overflow attacks. Foster's technique uses an intrusion detection system to automatically generate checkpoints of running programs that can be applied to digital forensics later on. "The idea is that you kind of need to know when something is happening before you start collecting information, or it'll be a lot of useless information," notes University of Central Florida computer science professor John Leeson, who believes that process forensics' ability to paint a picture of intrusions as they occur will be a valuable tool to digital forensics. UF's Carolyn Gramling explains that conventional intrusion-detection measures identify hackers and deter future break-ins only after they understand the computer system well enough to recognize abnormal activity. Foster says his technique takes the "learning phase" out of the equation and can be applied as the crime is taking place rather than afterwards.
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  • "Mind Reader"
    The Engineer (02/21/05)

    University College London professor of human-centered technology Angela Sasse doubts that biometric technologies are mature enough to be implemented in a national ID card system. She argues that such a system could fail without additional research into three key areas--universal access, enrollment, and verification. The access challenges of biometric technology include acquiring fingerprints from people with arthritis, injuries, and other conditions that can affect readings, while Sasse notes that iris scan technology must advance so that contact lenses, glasses, age, and other factors are not a hindrance. Social fears must also be addressed: People exhibit reluctance to touching facial scanning equipment partly because of hygiene concerns, which Sasse says could limit the use of such technology in immigration scenarios. The quirks of human behavior are another variable to be considered: For example, certain environments may discourage people from holding a neutral expression for face scans, either because of boredom or giddiness brought about by alcohol consumption--a typical situation for people in airports. Sasse says the apparent success and low error rates of technologies such as the SmartGate facial recognition system involved a lot of work in terms of lighting overhauls, staff training, and so on, and she explains that a national ID system would entail a major security problem and massive data management costs. Sasse says the success of many systems hinges on the interval between the reading and matching of biometric data, noting that a U.K. trial of an iris scanning system failed because the system could only scan five people per minute instead of a dozen, as was hoped for.
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  • "Cornell Robotics Team Drives for the Gold"
    Cornell Daily Sun (NY) (03/02/05); Andrade, David

    A team of Cornell University students is working on robot vehicles to compete in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Grand Challenge, a contest in which self-navigating vehicles will be required to traverse an off-road course of roughly 170 miles without human assistance. Two Cornell vehicles have been registered for the contest, and both will integrate sensors and computers to perceive their surroundings and pass that data on to a decision-making computer that controls steering. A Light Detection and Ranging sensor will precisely measure distances to objects by beaming electromagnetic waves at wavelengths close to those of visible light, while radar sensors that emit waves of longer wavelengths will be able to measure the distance to solid objects, even if visibility is poor; finally, a two-camera stereo-vision sensor will provide a three-dimensional picture that is "much cleaner" than radar, according to sensor sub-team leader Aaron Nathan. Software on attached computers will be used to filter the sensor input and incorporate the data into a model of the outside environment that the steering software can more easily understand. The steering software will employ a path-finding algorithm to ascertain the vehicle's desired route, and send the appropriate direction and velocity commands. The steering software will also be imbued with special decision-making powers to help the vehicles deal with unusual situations, such as determining that the vehicle has struck a rock and should therefore back up.
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  • "Attack on a Cryptographic RFID Device"
    RFID Journal (02/28/05); Juels, Ari

    Security researchers from Johns Hopkins University and RSA Laboratories say the radio frequency identification (RFID) industry needs to take cryptographic measures more seriously considering the wireless capabilities and widespread use of RFID technology, writes RSA Laboratories principal research scientist Ari Juels. The team, including Juels, was able to copy the cryptographic protection of a Texas Instruments RFID tag that is used to prevent automobile theft and for Speedpass tokens at gas stations. The Digital Signature Transponder (DST) tag manufactured by Texas Instruments was compromised by "skimming" the device, or briefly interrogating it through radio contact; information gathered from skimming was used to break the cryptographic key over 10 hours using specialized equipment worth several hundred dollars. Finally, the DST was digitally copied onto a separate hardware device. The researchers said the key-cracking process could conceivably be shortened to just minutes using specialized software, and that the entire hacking process could be accomplished with a specially made handheld device costing only a few hundred dollars. The danger is that organized criminals could use such hacking devices to overcome anti-theft measures, commit fraud, or gain access to restricted areas after they have skimmed a legitimate RFID cryptographic tag. Though the concept of security through transparency is well understood in the rest of the computer security industry, the rapidly expanding RFID industry is not accustomed to such necessary challenges, while RFID systems also require different protections because hackers' eavesdropping is difficult to trace and hardware-implemented systems are harder to update than software. RFID technology is also becoming a lynchpin of future security systems, ranging from supply chains to building security smartcards to other solutions.
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  • "'Perfect Storm' for New Privacy Laws?"
    CNet (03/01/05); Lemos, Robert

    A spate of high-profile data security breaches has caught the attention of a number of U.S. senators who are advocating more unified privacy laws. Just 10 days following the announcement of ChoicePoint's loss of more than 145,000 individuals' information to fraud, Bank of America said it lost backup tapes containing customer records of 1.2 million federal employees. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) five years ago warned colleagues against an "Exxon Valdez of privacy," and Electronic Privacy Information Center executive director Marc Rotenberg says recent events will likely be the trigger for serious congressional action. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) is preparing to revise the Fair Credit Reporting Act to treat data aggregators such as ChoicePoint and Acxiom like credit-reporting agencies. Another possibility is a federal version of California's Security Breach Information Act, which Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) proposed in June 2003 without success. That measure would require government agencies and businesses to notify individuals whose personal data may have been compromised. Cato Institute analysts suggest the use of tort law to force companies to strengthen their data security, and one California woman is already suing ChoicePoint for not adequately protecting her information. Besides business interests, the Bush administration may not want too strong regulation on data aggregators because agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice rely on those firms for identity-verification services.
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  • "IT Skills Crisis Haunts Government"
    Computerworld Australia (02/28/05); Bajkowski, Julian

    A national shortage of skilled Australian IT personnel is on the horizon, according to officials who cited postponed government IT projects and rising costs as harbingers of the crisis. An anonymous source within Centrelink said many projects were paralyzed by the October election with the effective shutdown of a great deal of policy. The cost of the contracts for an integrated IT services panel to supervise Centrelink's Refresh Program, which encompasses nearly all of the agency's future IT and communications needs, may soon increase from its already formidable $120 million to $200 million price tag because of staffing difficulties. Just last week, Taxation CIO Bill Gibson admitted that a large customer relationship management project had been transferred from Canberra to Melbourne because he failed to source 100 senior IT professionals in the original location. Recruiters and business analysts such as Greythorn's Phillip Tusing perceive a scarcity of senior project managers, which means that those with newer skills will be able to command high salaries for the next five to six months. Jane Bianchini with Ambition IT reported that certified project managers are highly sought after. Candle recruitment general manager for New South Wales Peter Zonnevylle declared that the market has started to recover, as indicated by a pickup in project approval and the erosion of chronic IT project underspending.
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  • "Too Much Information"
    New Scientist (02/26/05) Vol. 185, No. 2488, P. 32; Buchanan, Mark

    Earthquakes, ecosystems, economies, and other inherently complex systems and events long regarded to be mathematically irreducible could be more measurable then previously thought, according to research into cellular automata, which are computer programs that can form complex patterns by following simple rules. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers Nigel Goldenfeld and Navot Israeli applied pattern analysis via "coarse-grained" models to cellular automata. Such analysis, in which the models concentrate only on the most relevant details of the pattern-forming process, has demonstrated that similar logic principles apply to completely different situations. Goldenfeld and Israeli established that in 240 out of 256 cellular automata outlined by mathematician Stephen Wolfram, rules that generated relatively simple and predictable patterns roughly mirrored the behavior of rules that led to computationally irreducible patterns. This rule also held for automata notorious for their computational irreducibility. Meanwhile, Santa Fe Institute physicist Jim Crutchfield believes connections between the past and future for virtually any system could be predicted with a "computational mechanics" approach he has developed. He reasons that the various histories of a system can be sorted into classes, so that the same outcome applies for all histories in each class. This means that many details of the underlying system may be inconsequential, so that an approximate description much like Goldenfeld and Israel's coarse-grained models can be organized and used to make predictions. Crutchfield and Goldenfeld agree that coarse-graining could help tackle deep scientific problems.

  • "Primed for Numbers"
    Chronicle of Higher Education (03/04/05) Vol. 51, No. 26, P. A1; Monastersky, Rich

    Harvard University President Lawrence Summers' remarks that innate differences between genders might partially explain why fewer women than men pursue science and engineering careers instigated a storm of protest, but there may be some merit in his reasoning, according to a growing body of cognitive research. Cambridge University researchers see evidence of a natural predisposition toward figuring out how systems work among boys, while girls exhibit an inclination toward fathoming other people's mental states. In general terms, girls score better on tests involving arithmetic problems due to a reliance on learned algorithms, while boys score better in spatial tests and word problems because of a natural interest in 3D models. Boston College professor M. Beth Casey says the concentration on logical deductive reasoning rather than spatial math thinking in U.S. schools is disadvantageous to students. Martha Carr of the University of Georgia reasons that girls' tendency to follow instructions better than boys reduces their chances of making leaps in learning by themselves, while boys' learned or innate sense of competition increases the likelihood that they will advance to higher levels of mathematical thinking on their own. Other studies indicate that females with a predisposition to math generally have an more extensive set of abilities than their male counterparts, and are more likely to choose careers in life sciences and humanities; this suggests that equal representation of both sexes across all academic disciplines may be the wrong strategy. On the other hand, the influence of sexual discrimination and other social and cultural forces on boys' and girls' study and career choices is undeniable, and researchers say rethinking how certain disciplines are taught and demonstrating the social value of science and engineering can win over more women, and ultimately improve the math performance of U.S. students overall.
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  • "The H-1B Equation"
    Computerworld (02/28/05) P. 4; Thibodeau, Patrick

    The debate over whether H-1B visa holders are beneficial or detrimental to the U.S. workforce will likely be rekindled as the U.S. government starts accepting visa applications from companies that wish to hire foreign workers with advanced degrees from American universities, a provision that has opened up 20,000 new H-1B visa slots. A Computerworld study of salary data from around 290,000 H-1B applications filed with the Labor Department indicates an across-the-board decline in H-1B wages between fiscal 2001 and fiscal 2003 in job categories that include programming, networking, systems analysis, quality assurance, and end-user support; this dip was reflected by falling salaries for U.S. IT workers, but research by Foote Partners indicates that domestic professionals' salaries began increasing in 2003, while H-1B wages continued their downward spiral. For example, Foote Partners President David Foote says U.S. salaries for networking and data communications professionals rose 6.2 percent in fiscal 2003, while the Labor Department estimates that H-1B wages fell 2 percent in the same period. Foote attests that "the economic recovery began in earnest" in 2003, attributing U.S. salary increases to employers wishing to retain personnel who were not let go during the tech spending meltdown. Executives such as GFI Group CIO Russell Lewis have seen no evidence to convince them that H-1B workers are cheaper than U.S. labor, although some past H-1B holders complain of being paid substantially below the prevailing wage by contractors. Other upcoming revisions to the H-1B program include a switch from a two-tiered prevailing wage system to a four-tiered system, which will permit employers to pay H-1B holders salaries between the top and bottom tiers of the prevailing wage scale; considerably higher application fees; and a requirement that employers pay 100 percent of a prevailing wage for new and extended H-1B petitions.
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  • "Beyond the Book"
    Futurist (02/05) Vol. 39, No. 1, P. 18; Rossman, Parker

    The limitations of printed textbooks will be largely circumvented by new technologies, such as the proposed Electronic Learning Tutorial Instrument System (ELTIS), to help meet the world's long-range educational needs and allow teachers to concentrate harder on individual students, while letting students assume more control over the learning process and improve their creativity. ELTIS' chief goal is to develop a system of Internet-based learning modules that are cheap, easily updateable, and almost universally accessible. The system would be able to tailor the presentation of information to the user's level of mastery in the subject, and allow learners to compose their thoughts and formulate educational projects calibrated to their interests or that address critical societal issues. Key to ELTIS' success is the joint development of tools by industry and educators, who would be responsible for identifying learners' most important needs. ELTIS would boast an electronic tutor that uses course outlines, syllabi, discussion proposals, and regular announcements to test, evaluate, and even grade the learner. The system could also correct erroneous reasoning among learners through computer simulation and modeling technology. Another critical element that could be incorporated into ELTIS is electronic personal avatars that can search for and organize information in accordance with the user's preferences, as well as draw on information accumulated in previous courses, personal reading, and from materials in personal electronic libraries. Despite all these advantages, ELTIS should not be viewed as a substitute for face-to-face learner/educator interaction.

  • "Software Synthesis for Embedded Systems"
    Embedded Systems Programming (02/05) Vol. 18, No. 2, P. 36; Zeidman, Bob

    Zeidman Technologies founder Bob Zeidman suggests that now is the time to take an evolutionary step in embedded systems software design by automatically generating or synthesizing software. He recommends that software engineers take a cue from hardware engineers, who expedited chip design by developing hardware-description languages in which high-level description that conceals much of the hardware's complexity from the designer is written, after which low-level description that can be directly mapped to the hardware is synthesized. To make a similar breakthrough in software design, Zeidman calls for the creation of primitives, which are higher-level constructs that describe what kind of code an automatic code generation tool must produce. Applications of software synthesis include the creation of complex functions in which the programmer does not need to understand the underlying code; the construction of portable programs that can be tuned for different processors, hardware platforms, and operating systems; and the automation of operating system creation. This last application supports the synthesis of operating systems free of superfluous functions and thus able to run on smaller, cheaper, and more power-efficient processors. However, Zeidman notes that this application depends on the compiler optimizing the low-level machine code. Field-programmable gate arrays could also benefit from software synthesis, which can support the creation of small, reliable, and relatively simple operating systems for every processor on the chip. Zeidman concludes that analysis and optimization of embedded systems, as well as experimentation with such systems, could be dramatically expanded via software synthesis.
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