"cs" entries

Four short links: 20 August 2015

Four short links: 20 August 2015

Automata Class, Low-UI Wearables, Broken Science, and Understandable Eigenvectors

  • Stanford Automata — Stanford course covers finite automata, context-free grammars, Turing machines, undecidable problems, and intractable problems (NP-completeness).
  • Oura — very nice wearable, with no UI to worry about. Put it on, and it’s on. (via Fast Company)
  • Science Isn’t Brokenit’s just a hell of a lot harder than we give it credit for. Beautifully written (and interactively illustrated) description of why science is easy to get wrong.
  • Eigenvectors in Plain English — absolutely the easiest to understand explanation I’ve ever read. It’s a miracle. (And I crashed and burned in linear algebra when matrices were used, so if *I* can get it …)
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    Four short links: 19 August 2015

    Four short links: 19 August 2015

    Privacy-Respecting Algorithms, Dealers Growing, Book Recommendations, and End of Internet Dreams

    1. Efficient Algorithms for Public-Private Social Networks — Google Research paper on privacy-respecting algorithms for social networks. From the overview: the models of privacy we’re landing on (nodes or edges in the graph are marked as “private” by a user) mean that enforcing these privacy guarantees translates to solving a different algorithmic problem for each user in the network, and for this reason, developing algorithms that process these social graphs and respect these privacy guarantees can become computationally expensive. The paper shows how to efficiently approximate some of the graph operations required to run a social network.
    2. Rise of Networked Platforms for Physical World Services (Tim O’Reilly) — the central player begins by feeding its network of suppliers, but eventually begins to compete with it. […] Over time, as networks reach monopoly or near-monopoly status, they must wrestle with the issue of how to create more value than they capture — how much value to take out of the ecosystem, versus how much they must leave for other players in order for the marketplace to continue to thrive.
    3. Book Recommendations from BLDBLOGWinslow memorably pointed out how farmers in the Sinaloa region of Mexico had been swept up into the cartel’s infinitely flexible method of production, and that, despite any ensuing role growing and harvesting marijuana or even poppies, the cartel offered them new jobs in logistics, not agriculture. “They didn’t want to be farmers,” Winslow said at Bookcourt, “they wanted to be FedEx.”
    4. The End of the Internet Dream (Jennifer Granick) — this is all gold. Something resonating with my current meditations: People are sick and tired of crappy software. And they aren’t going to take it any more. The proliferation of networked devices — the Internet of Things — is going to mean all kinds of manufacturers traditionally subject to products liability are also software purveyors. If an autonomous car crashes, or a networked toaster catches on fire, you can bet there is going to be product liability. […] I think software liability is inevitable. I think it’s necessary. I think it will make coding more expensive, and more conservative. I think we’ll do a crappy job of it for a really long time.
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    Four short links: 11 August 2015

    Four short links: 11 August 2015

    Real-time Sports Analytics, UI Regression Testing, AI vs. Charity, and Google's Data Pipeline Model

    1. Denver Broncos Testing In-Game Analytics — their newly hired director of analytics working with the coach. With Tanney nearby, Kubiak can receive a quick report on the statistical probabilities of almost any situation. Say that you have fourth-and-3 from the opponent’s 45-yard-line with four minutes to go. Do the large-sample-size percentages make the risk-reward ratio acceptable enough to go for it? Tanney’s analytics can provide insight to aid Kubiak’s decision-making. (via Flowing Data)
    2. Visual Review (GitHub) — Apache-licensed productive and human-friendly workflow for testing and reviewing your Web application’s layout for any regressions.
    3. Effective Altruism / Global AI (Vox) — fear of AI-run-amok (“existential risks”) contaminating a charity movement.
    4. The Dataflow Model (PDF) — Google Research paper presenting a model aimed at ease of use in building practical, massive-scale data processing pipelines.
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    Four short links: 6 August 2015

    Four short links: 6 August 2015

    Music Money, Hotel Robot, Performance Rating, and SIGGRAPH Papers

    1. Open the Music Industry’s Black Box (NYT) — David Byrne talks about the opacity of financials of streaming and online music services (including/especially YouTube). Caught my eye: The labels also get money from three other sources, all of which are hidden from artists: They get advances from the streaming services, catalog service payments for old songs, and equity in the streaming services themselves. (via BoingBoing)
    2. Savioke — hotel robot. (via Robohub)
    3. Deloitte Changing Performance Reviews (HBR) — “Although it is implicitly assumed that the ratings measure the performance of the ratee, most of what is being measured by the ratings is the unique rating tendencies of the rater. Thus, ratings reveal more about the rater than they do about the ratee.”
    4. SIGGRAPH Papers Are on the Web — collected papers from SIGGRAPH.
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    Four short links: 3 August 2015

    Four short links: 3 August 2015

    Engineering Management, Smartphone Holograms, Multi-Protocol Server, and Collaborative CS

    1. A Conversation with Michael LoppMy job is to my get myself out of a job. I’m aggressively pushing things I think I could be really good at and should actually maybe own to someone else who’s gonna get a B at it, but they’re gonna get the opportunity to go do that. […] Delegation is helping someone else to learn. I’m all about the humans. If I don’t have happy, productive, growing engineers, I have exactly no job. That investment in the growth, in the happiness, the engineers being productive, that’s like my primary job.
    2. 3D Hologram Projector for Smartphone (BoingBoing) — is in hardware hack stage now, but OKYOUWIN maybe it’s the future.
    3. serve2dserve2 allows you to serve multiple protocols on a single socket. Example handlers include proxy, HTTP, TLS (through which HTTPS is handled), ECHO and DISCARD. More can easily be added, as long as the protocol sends some data that can be recognized. The proxy handler allows you to redirect the connection to external services, such as OpenSSH or Nginx, in case you don’t want or can’t use a Go implementation.
    4. GitXivIn recent years, a highly interesting pattern has emerged: Computer scientists release new research findings on arXiv and just days later, developers release an open-source implementation on GitHub. This pattern is immensely powerful. One could call it collaborative open computer science (COCS). GitXiv is a space to share collaborative open computer science projects. Countless Github and arXiv links are floating around the Web. It’s hard to keep track of these gems. GitXiv attempts to solve this problem by offering a collaboratively curated feed of projects. Each project is conveniently presented as arXiv + Github + Links + Discussion
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    Four short links: 22 July 2015

    Four short links: 22 July 2015

    Smart Headlights, Habitual Speed, AI Authors, and Programming Language Evolution

    1. Ford’s Smart Headlights — spotlights targeted by infra-red, and accumulating knowledge of fixed features to illuminate. Wonder what an attacker can do to it?
    2. Speed as a HabitYou don’t have to be militant about it, just consistently respond that today is better than tomorrow, that right now is better than six hours from now. This is chock full of good advice, and the occasional good story.
    3. Coding Creativity: Copyright and the Artificially Intelligent Author (PDF) — if AI creates cultural works (e.g., DeepDream images), who owns those works? Suggests that “work for hire” doctrine may be the way to answer that in the future. (via Andreas Schou)
    4. Punctuated Equilibrium in the Large-Scale Evolution of Programming Languages (PDF) — Here we study the large-scale historical development of programming languages, which have deeply marked social and technological advances in the last half century. We analyse their historical connections using network theory and reconstructed phylogenetic networks. Using both data analysis and network modeling, it is shown that their evolution is highly uneven, marked by innovation events where new languages are created out of improved combinations of different structural components belonging to previous languages. These radiation events occur in a bursty pattern and are tied to novel technological and social niches. The method can be extrapolated to other systems and consistently captures the major classes of languages and the widespread horizontal design exchanges, revealing a punctuated evolutionary path. (via Jarkko Hietaniemi)
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    Four short links: 30 June 2015

    Four short links: 30 June 2015

    Ductile Systems, Accessibility Testing, Load Testing, and CRAP Data

    1. Brittle SystemsMore than two decades ago at Sun, I was convinced that making systems ductile (the opposite of brittle) was the hardest and most important problem in system engineering.
    2. tota11y — accessibility testing toolkit from Khan.
    3. Locustan open source load testing tool.
    4. Impala: a Modern, Open-source SQL Engine for Hadoop (PDF) — CRAP, aka Create, Read, and APpend, as coined by an ex-colleague at VMware, Charles Fan (note the absence of update and delete capabilities). (via A Paper a Day)
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    Four short links: 11 June 2015

    Four short links: 11 June 2015

    Jeff Han, Google Closure, Software Verification, and Sapir-Whorf Software

    1. The Untold Story of Microsoft’s Surface Hub (FastCo) — great press placement from Microsoft, but good to hear what Jeff Han has been working on. And interesting comment on the value of manufacturing in the US: “I don’t have to send my folks over to China, so they’re happier,” Han says. “It’s faster. There’s no language, time, or culture barrier to deal with. To have my engineers go down the hallway to talk to the guys in the manufacturing line and tune the recipe? That’s just incredible.”
    2. Five Years of Google Closure (Derek Slager) — Despite the lack of popularity, a number of companies have successfully used Google Closure for their production applications. Medium, Yelp, CloudKick (acquired by Rackspace), Cue (acquired by Apple), and IMS Health (my company) all use (or have used) Google Closure to power their production applications. And, importantly, the majority of Google’s flagship applications continue to be powered by Google Closure.
    3. Moving Fast with Software Verification (Facebook) — This paper describes our experience in integrating a verification tool based on static analysis into the software development cycle at Facebook. Contains a brief description of dev and release processes at Facebook: no QA …
    4. The Death of the von Neumann ArchitectureA computer program is the direct execution of any idea. If you restrict the execution, you restrict the idea. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis for software.

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    Four short links: 2 June 2015

    Four short links: 2 June 2015

    Toyota Code, Sapir-Wharf-Emoji, Crowdsourcing Formal Proof, and Safety-Critical Code

    1. Toyota’s Spaghetti CodeToyota had more than 10,000 global variables. And he was critical of Toyota watchdog supervisor — software to detect the death of a task — design. He testified that Toyota’s watchdog supervisor ‘is incapable of ever detecting the death of a major task. That’s its whole job. It doesn’t do it. It’s not designed to do it.’ (via @qrush)
    2. Google’s Design Icons (Kevin Marks) — Google’s design icons distinguish eight kinds of airline seats but has none for trains or buses.
    3. Verigames — DARPA-funded game to crowdsource elements of formal proofs. (via Network World)
    4. 10 Rules for Writing Safety-Critical Code — which I can loosely summarize as “simple = safer, use the built-in checks, don’t play with fire.”
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    Four short links: 20 May 2015

    Four short links: 20 May 2015

    Robots and Shadow Work, Time Lapse Mining, CS Papers, and Software for Reproducibility

    1. Rise of the Robots and Shadow Work (NY Times) — In “Rise of the Robots,” Ford argues that a society based on luxury consumption by a tiny elite is not economically viable. More to the point, it is not biologically viable. Humans, unlike robots, need food, health care and the sense of usefulness often supplied by jobs or other forms of work. Two thought-provoking and related books about the potential futures as a result of technology-driven change.
    2. Time Lapse Mining from Internet Photos (PDF) — First, we cluster 86 million photos into landmarks and popular viewpoints. Then, we sort the photos by date and warp each photo onto a common viewpoint. Finally, we stabilize the appearance of the sequence to compensate for lighting effects and minimize flicker. Our resulting time-lapses show diverse changes in the world’s most popular sites, like glaciers shrinking, skyscrapers being constructed, and waterfalls changing course.
    3. Git Repository of CS PapersThe intention here is to both provide myself with backups and easy access to papers, while also collecting a repository of links so that people can always find the paper they are looking for. Pull the repo and you’ll never be short of airplane/bedtime reading.
    4. Software For Reproducible ScienceThis quality is indeed central to doing science with code. What good is a data analysis pipeline if it crashes when I fiddle with the data? How can I draw conclusions from simulations if I cannot change their parameters? As soon as I need trust in code supporting a scientific finding, I find myself tinkering with its input, and often breaking it. Good scientific code is code that can be reused, that can lead to large-scale experiments validating its underlying assumptions.
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