Welcome to the March 9, 2018 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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U.S. Tests Strategies to Interest Girls in Computer Science U.S. Tests Strategies to Interest Girls in Computer Science
Financial Times
Leslie Hook
March 9, 2018

With females currently comprising less than 20 percent of U.S. computer science graduates, researchers and educators are testing new approaches and curriculum updates to boost the field's appeal to women. For example, University of California, Los Angeles professor Linda Sax is using a U.S. National Science Foundation grant to examine diversity in computer science education at the university level. She says a key issue involves making introductory computer science accessible, given new students' various backgrounds. Sax suggests modifying curriculums so they better reflect the discipline's societal impact. Meanwhile, Code.org pushes for curriculums that deemphasize coding so female students lacking programming skills are not discouraged.

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The Vatican Welcomes 'Hackathon'
Rome Reports
March 8, 2018

The Vatican is serving as host for the first time ever to a hackathon, in which computer science students will work for 32 hours straight to produce applications and technological tools to address social challenges. Almost 120 computer science students from 60 universities will attempt to provide solutions in areas that include social inclusion, interfaith dialogue, and migrants and refugees. At the end of the hackathon, 10 projects named as the "best" will be displayed in a virtual presentation. "The biggest part of this is to invite and inspire people all around the world and to invite young people that have technological skills to use these technological skills to adapt it to the problems," says event manager Jakub Florkiewic. "It can be on an individual level, on a regional or in a local level, or in a country or on a global scale."

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It's True: False News Spreads Faster and Wider. And Humans Are to Blame. It's True: False News Spreads Faster and Wider. And Humans Are to Blame.
The New York Times
Steve Lohr
March 8, 2018; et al.

People are the principal culprits behind the spread of "fake news" on the Internet, according to a new study examining the flow of stories on Twitter. People, the study's authors say, prefer false news; as a result, false news travels faster, farther, and deeper through the social network than factual news. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found those patterns applied to every subject they studied, including not only politics and urban legends, but also business, science, and technology. The researchers found false claims were 70 percent more likely than the truth to be shared on Twitter; true stories were rarely retweeted by more than 1,000 people, but the top 1 percent of false stories were routinely shared by 1,000 to 100,000 people. In addition, the researchers said, it took true stories about six times as long as false ones to reach 1,500 people.

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How Aerosols Affect Clouds How Aerosols Affect Clouds
Digital Journal
Tim Sandle
March 8, 2018

An international group including researchers from the Riken Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Japan have simulated how human-made aerosols affect cloud formation in a climate model. Using the K supercomputer, the Riken team generated a model that simulates complete global weather over the course of 12 months at a horizontal resolution of 14 kilometers. The simulation supported an accurate model of aerosol behavior in clouds, "giving a more accurate picture of how clouds and aerosol behave in the real world," says Riken's Yosuke Sato. "In the future, we hope to use even more powerful computers to allow climate models to have more certainty in climate prediction." The researchers note their work will offer other scientists a more accurate tool for understanding climatic changes over time.

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How the Diagnosing of Lung Diseases Can Be Improved How the Diagnosing of Lung Diseases Can Be Improved
Ural Federal University
Inna Mikhaydarova
March 5, 2018

Researchers at Ural Federal University (UrFU) in Russia say three-dimensional (3D) visualization based on computer tomography (CT) imaging provides more thorough preparation for the diagnosis of lung diseases. The team used this technique to perform 25 transbronchial biopsies, and found the accuracy of the procedure increased from 53 percent to 88 percent. Transbronchial biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure performed by inserting an endoscope in the patient's airway and capturing a sample of potentially infected tissue. To determine proper positioning, the endoscope is equipped with a video camera, but the UrFU researchers say the two-dimensional images provided by the camera require the examining specialist to "create a three-dimensional picture in his head." The program's developers say they plan to create a similar tool for thoracic surgeons that will be accessible through an Internet browser.

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Physicists in QUANTOX Project Developing Quantum Computer
Bar-Ilan University
March 5, 2018

An international team of researchers is working on the QUANtum Technologies with 2D-Oxides (QUANTOX) project, which aims to develop quantum technology using two-dimensional (2D) interfaces created between oxides. The project is being coordinated by the National Science Center in Poland and the Israel Innovation Authority. The QUANTOX team proposes using the diverse characteristics of oxide interfaces to develop quantum topological systems that can be easily integrated within current technology. The researchers say these interfaces possess a unique combination of physical qualities that will enable the implementation of the necessary conditions for developing a basic memory cell. The researchers used highly sensitive sensors to map tiny magnetic fields generated by very weak electrical currents. "The highly sensitive magnetic imaging tool which we operate in the lab is very helpful for development stages, especially in fields of research conducted at cold temperatures," says Bar-Ilan University's Beena Kalisky.

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Who Makes the NCAA Tournament? Researchers at Illinois Can Help Who Makes the NCAA Tournament? Researchers at Illinois Can Help
Illinois College of Engineering
David Mercer
March 5, 2018

University of Illinois researchers think they have found a way to predict the selection of basketball teams for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament. The researchers invented a decision-tree model to simulate the process used by the tournament's Selection Committee, by comparing teams in pairs and evaluating which is the more dominant; their model correctly predicted 90 percent of the teams "on the bubble" between 2012 and 2016. University of Illinois professor Sheldon Jacobson notes the model selected one team not chosen by the Committee each year, suggesting "There is a certain amount of human input and uncertainty that goes into the selection process."

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Stanford Researchers Develop Technique to See Objects Hidden Around Corners
Stanford News
Taylor Kubota
March 5, 2018

Stanford University researchers have developed laser-based imaging technology that can produce images of objects hidden from view, which could enable self-driving cars to react to hazards before the driver even sees them. While the researchers are focused on applications for autonomous vehicles, some of which already have similar laser-based systems for detecting objects around the car, other applications could include seeing through foliage from aerial vehicles or giving rescue teams the ability to find people blocked from view by walls and rubble. The team is continuing its efforts to better handle the variability of the real world and complete the scan more quickly.

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Social Sensing Emerges as a Tool for Army Leaders
ARL News
March 5, 2018

U.S. Army and university scientists are turning to problems with social media to create social sensing as a scientific discipline. For the Army, this emerging science is expected to help commanders assess information on the battlefield. The proliferation of computers and wireless communications has led to a huge volume of information that is difficult to assess on the battlefield, says U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) researcher Lance Kaplan. ARL scientists, along with scientists from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, found a similar problem with data volume in social media that makes it difficult to ascertain credibility.

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NYU Program Launches $1.5-Million Competition on AI/ML/xR Technologies in Higher Education
New York University
March 1, 2018

The NYU Social Entrepreneurship Program is launching a $1.5 million innovation challenge, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to cultivate the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and extended reality to increase pathways to success in post-secondary education by low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented minority students. The competition consists of two challenges: one will focus on digital applications using artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) and the other will focus on applications that use extended reality (xR, which includes virtual reality, mixed reality, and augmented reality). Both competitions will look for innovations that provide solutions to challenges in higher education, with particular interest in innovations affecting low-income, underrepresented minority, and first-generation students, and in innovations making these technologies more accessible to those students and the institutions that serve them.

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Fewer International Grad Students Are Seeking Computer Science Degrees in the U.S. for the First Time in Years
Monica Nickelsburg
March 5, 2018

The U.S. National Science Board (NSB) says the number of international students enrolling in U.S. universities is falling for the first time in years as the government hardens its immigration policies. NSB recorded a 6-percent decline in international enrollments in science and engineering programs between 2016 and 2017 and a 5-percent decline in non-science and engineering fields. Fewer international graduate students were found to be seeking computer science and engineering degrees. In the past academic year, international students enrolled in U.S. universities dropped across the board from 840,160 to 808,640, following steady growth in 2012-2016. Meanwhile, the number of science and engineering enrollees slipped from 420,610 to 406,240. "The recent erosion of this trend should concern us all, since international students tend to either bring American values back to their home countries or stay here and make outsized contributions to the U.S. economy," warns Doug Rand, founder of immigration startup Boundless.

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Trust Extension as a Mechanism for Secure Code Execution on Commodity Computers
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