Monday, July 18, 2011

Good Stuff in Communications of the ACM

There are some good articles in the July 2011 issue of Communications of the ACM for those of you who are computer inclined.

In Non-Myths About Programming, Moti Ben-Ari takes students' negative perceptions of computer science and rather than dispelling them mitigates them as truisms (non-myths) when compared to real life.  For example, the first non-myth is "programming is boring."  Welcome to the real world, folks.  All jobs - doctors, lawyers, airline pilots, police - become boring at a certain point, especially after you've put in several years and have developed certain skills.  The real question he asks is whether your career choice allows you to handle certain types of routine tasks.  This is an excellent article and great reading for anyone considering a career in CS.

The article Passing a Language Through the Eye of a Needle by Roberto Ierusalimschy et al present the aspects of scripting language design that supports its ability to be embedded in a host program.  The article presents the case for Lua and because a friend uses Lua in his product it was a nice read.

The cover article, Algorithmic Composition: Computational Thinking in Music by Michael Edwards, is incredibly interesting.  The music theory stuff went clear over my head but the discussion about the historical use of algorithmic techniques going back to Mozart and earlier proves yet again that what was old is now new.  Computer based algorithms.  Of course, the authors really got my attention when they cited the algorithmic composition work of Brian Eno and Steve Reich, two musicians whose work I enjoy.  Although I was surprised that Eno's generative work 77 Million Paintings wasn't named.  Regardless, the article was quite excellent.

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