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Welcome to the April 8, 2013 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.
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HEADLINES AT A GLANCE
Fewer Foreigners Eye U.S. Graduate Science Programs
Wall Street Journal (04/08/13) Melissa Korn
Applications from Chinese citizens to U.S. graduate schools declined five percent for the coming academic year because of reports of unstable funding for science programs and tight immigration policies. Budget disputes in Washington have thrown into question the funding of academic programs that rely on federal contributions, such as those in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM), according to Council of Graduate Schools president Debra Stewart. Students pursuing STEM degrees often receive multiyear financial-aid packages in the form of fellowships, but many schools currently cannot guarantee long-term assistance because of the uncertainty of federal funding. The Council of Graduate Schools found that international applications fell in the life sciences, physical sciences, earth sciences, and engineering. Meanwhile, increased competition from schools in Canada and Australia, which generally have less restrictive immigration policies than the United States, are adding to the pressure. However, it is still too early to know if this year's numbers reflect a longer trend, according to administrators. Should declines in international applicants continue, "some schools will have to rethink their strategies about whether it makes sense for doctoral education to be offered as widely as [it is]," says the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Deba Dutta.
Software Uses LinkedIn Network to Guide Your Career
New Scientist (04/06/13) Hal Hodson
New software provides career guidance based on the profiles of LinkedIn users. Computer scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara have designed LinkedVis to analyze the information of LinkedIn users and recommend companies and the positions for which they are best qualified. The software scans their networks and ranks people in order of similarity in career paths, skill sets, and qualifications. LinkedVis then uses their current position and company to suggest career paths. The software also explores what-if scenarios, such as how someone's prospects would be affected by obtaining a Ph.D. The developers have only conducted small tests. However, they have met with LinkedIn officials, and the researchers say the company is interested in the system. The team showed off their research at the recent Intelligent User Interfaces conference.
Race to Build Driverless Cars Is in Full Throttle
Associated Press (04/05/13) Rick Montgomery
Google and other researchers claim they are just five years away from having all of the tools and the knowledge needed to market a fully autonomous vehicle. "The days of human drivers deserve to be numbered," says Missouri University of Science & Technology professor Don Wunsch. "Humans are lousy drivers. It's about time computers take over that job." Since 2011, California, Nevada, and Florida have enacted laws legalizing driverless vehicles, and Michigan, Oklahoma, and New Jersey have similar bills under consideration. One Australian mining company has ordered 150 autonomous trucks for its operations, saving more than $100,000 a year on each driver it does not need to employ. Google says its fleet of self-driven cars has logged more than 300,000 miles of testing without the computer systems causing a single accident. Promoters of the technology say it could save on fuel use and make it so people require fewer cars; they also note that human errors account for nine out of 10 U.S. road fatalities. Still, safety is a top concern. "You have these brand new capabilities coming to the market at a time of grossly inadequate funding" of federal safety regulators, warns the Center for Auto Safety's Clarence Ditlow.
On Twitter, Anti-Vaccination Sentiments Spread More Easily than Pro-Vaccination Sentiments
Penn State Live (04/04/13) Barbara Kennedy
Pennsylvania State University (PSU) researchers recently tracked the pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine messages to which Twitter users were exposed and then observed how those users expressed their own sentiments about a new vaccine for combating influenza H1N1. The researchers first collected all of the tweets with vaccination-related keywords and phrases during the 2009 H1N1 pandemi