Turing Award Recipient Discusses IBM, RRS feed

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    Open Call From the Patent Office
    Washington Post (03/05/07) P. A1; Sipress, Alan

    The United States Patent Office will soon allow members of the online community to post and evaluate information concerning patent proposals on a new wiki-style Web site. "For the first time in history, it allows the patent-office examiners to open up their cubicles and get access to a whole world of technical experts," said IBM's David J. Kappos. The pilot project will start this Spring and feature a community rating system that prioritizes the most respected comments. During the pilot phase of the project about 250 software design applications will be posted on the Web site since examiners have an especially difficult time finding documentation for them. Any user can post information relating to patent proposals, but a "reputation system" will be put in place to rank submitted materials and measure the expertise of contributors. In order to develop a reliable reputation system, the Patent Office has forged partnerships with several e-commerce specialists. Patent examiners will be able to award "gold stars" to those who provide exceptionally useful information. The information submitted will eventually be voted on by registered users, with the top 10 items being sent along to an examiner who will make the final decision on the patent. "The idea is to make something as important as decision-making about innovation more transparent to the public and more accountable to the public," says new York Law School Professor Beth Noveck. The system is expected to go through some changes, specifically the voting process, which may limit the ability to vote or give more weight to some votes.
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    Software Vulnerability Index Making Progress
    IDG News Service (03/01/07) Hines, Matt

    The Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) project expects to publish the sixth iteration of their software vulnerabilities index in April, and says the final draft of the encyclopedia should be ready later in the year. The security experts involved in CWE continue to aggregate and organize the enormous amount of data on software flaws that they have collected, and lately they have focused more on testing commercial security scanning tools to determine their effectiveness. The applications target 45 percent of the 600 common vulnerabilities that have been entered into the CWE index thus far. "We found that less than half of what we already have in CWE is covered by these tools, so this helps prove that there are a lot of known issues out there that aren't being addressed," says Citigal's Sean Barnum. "We also thought that the tools would look for the same types of things, but they are actually very different, and there's not a lot of overlap; that's something that developers need to be aware of as they choose tools; you want to right set for aggregated coverage." A central resource on common flaws is viewed as a helpful tool for improving software quality, and project participants believe it could lead to a common language and standard procedures for addressing the loopholes in source code today. The Department of Homeland Security is sponsoring the CWE initiative.
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    College Coders to Compete in Tokyo at IBM-Sponsored ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest
    Market Wire (03/01/07)

    The 31st annual World Finals of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest will take place March 12-16, 2007, in Tokyo. The United States will be heavily represented at the event with teams from 20 universities, while the Asia-Pacific region is sending 31 teams, including 12 from China and three from Japanese universities; and Europe will have 20 teams, with nine coming from Russia. There will also be teams from Brazil, India, Vietnam, Iran, South Africa, and Kazakhstan, among other countries. The teams will only have five hours to solve at least eight enormously challenging computer programming problems that will be based on real-world business issues. The ICPC champion will be the team that solves the most problems in the least amount of time, and its members will earn scholarships and receive prizes from IBM, which continues to sponsor the event. "In the first decade of IBM sponsorship, ICPC participation has skyrocketed eight-fold," says Baylor University professor and ACM-ICPC executive director Dr. William Poucher. "Together, we shine the spotlight on tomorrow's superstars." The ACM Japan Chapter and the IBM Tokyo Research Laboratory are the co-hosts.
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    Turing Award Recipient Discusses IBM, Then and Now
    eWeek (03/01/07) Perelman, Deborah

    In a recent interview, ACM A.M. Turing Award winner Frances Allen spoke about the changes she has witnessed in the IT industry regarding women and what can be done to bring more women into the field. "In 1960 it was just fine for women to be managing; it was nothing exceptional," says Allen. But once "computing became a profession," engineering courses were required, and there were very few women in engineering school at the time. "This is the point when I think things changed dramatically for women," Allen says. "As a field, it really hasn't recovered from that." The gender gap has been closing in every other science, but computing has not witnessed the same integration. Although Allen spends a lot of time pondering it, she admits to not understanding what keeps women from pursuing careers in computing, but she suggests attention be paid to two aspects. First, to the curriculum and the experiences it affords, since "the decision to go into computing is difficult for both boys and girls," Allen says. "Many choose it as a major and then drop out." Second, the workplace needs attention, since studies have shown that diversity yields better results. Allen laments that the enthusiasm in the field has decreased since 1960. She believes women could provide the element missing from the industry. She says, "I think they could make contributions--maybe on the ease of use of computers, or in the style of work."

    Friday, March 9, 2007 7:54 AM

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