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August 2017 — September 2017

New Approach to Simulate Chemistry with Quantum Computing (Sep 14, 2017)
IBM scientists have developed a new approach to simulate molecules on a quantum computer that may one day help revolutionize chemistry and materials science. The scientists successfully used a seven-qubit quantum processor to address the molecular structure problem for beryllium hydride (BeH2) – the largest molecule simulated on a quantum computer to date. The results demonstrate a path of exploration for near-term quantum systems to enhance our understanding of complex chemical reactions that...
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Is Learning 'How To Code' Still Worth It For Millennials? (Sep 11, 2017)
I’m starting up to solve a problem I care deeply about…. Should I learn how to code to build out a prototype? Should I outsource development initially? Should I study computer science? These are questions that every first-time entrepreneur asks. Back in 2014, my vehement answer in an article called “Should We Require Computer Science Classes?” was to learn computer science or at least be able to program yourself.

How Neural Networks Think (Sep 11, 2017)
Artificial-intelligence research has been transformed by machine-learning systems called neural networks, which learn how to perform tasks by analyzing huge volumes of training data. During training, a neural net continually readjusts thousands of internal parameters until it can reliably perform some task, such as identifying objects in digital images or translating text from one language to another. But on their own, the final values of those parameters say very little about how the neural net...
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Machine Learning Shows Promise for Earthquake Prediction (Sep 9, 2017)
By listening to the acoustic signal emitted by a laboratory-created earthquake, a computer science approach using machine learning can predict the time remaining before the fault fails. “At any given instant, the noise coming from the lab fault zone provides quantitative information on when the fault will slip,” said Paul Johnson, a Los Alamos National Laboratory fellow and lead investigator on the research, which was published today in Geophysical Research Letters.

Recipients of George Michael Memorial High Performance Computing Fellowships Announced (Sep 9, 2017)
The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the IEEE Computer Society (IEEE-CS) jointly announced today that Shaden Smith of the University of Minnesota and Yang You of the University of California, Berkeley are the recipients of the 2017 ACM/IEEE-CS George Michael Memorial HPC Fellowships. Smith is being recognized for his work on efficient and parallel large-scale sparse tensor factorization for machine learning applications. You is being recognized for his work on designing accurate, fa...
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Low-Cost Wearables Manufactured by Hybrid 3-D Printing (Sep 8, 2017)
Human skin must flex and stretch to accommodate the body's every move. Anything worn tight on the body must also be able to flex around muscles and joints, which helps explain why synthetic fabrics like spandex are popular in active wear. Wearable electronic devices that aim to track and measure the body's movements must possess similar properties, yet integrating rigid electrical components on or within skin-mimicking matrix materials has proven to be challenging. Such components cannot stretch...
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What James Damore Got Wrong About Gender Bias in Computer Science (Sep 8, 2017)
In August Google employee James Damore made the news and even Wikipedia by publishing his speculation that female software engineers are underrepresented due to inherent biological differences. Although he admitted that implicit bias and explicit bias may exist, Damore wrote, “I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in ...
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Robot Learns to Follow Orders Like Alexa (Sep 7, 2017)
Despite what you might see in movies, today's robots are still very limited in what they can do. They can be great for many repetitive tasks, but their inability to understand the nuances of human language makes them mostly useless for more complicated requests. For example, if you put a specific tool in a toolbox and ask a robot to "pick it up," it would be completely lost.

Most TV Computer Scientists Are Still White Men. Google Wants to Change That. (Sep 7, 2017)
Google is calling on Hollywood to give equal screen time to women and minorities after a new study the Internet giant funded found that most computer scientists on television shows and in the movies are played by white men. The problem with the hackneyed stereotype of the socially inept, hoodie-clad white male coder? It does not inspire underrepresented groups to pursue careers in computer science, says Daraiha Greene, Google CS in Media program manager, multicultural strategy.

Unlocking Wind’s Potential: Supercomputing’s Grand Challenge (Sep 4, 2017)
A report released last week by the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) — “Enabling the SMART Wind Power Plant of the Future Through Science-Based Innovation“– asserts that supercomputing-led scientific advances could cut the unsubsidized cost of wind energy in half by the year 2030. With science and computing driving plant-level innovations, wind could supply the United States with 20 percent of its energy needs by 2030 and nearly half of its total energy needs by 2050, a...
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The Scientific Community is Mobilizing to Save Research Hit by Harvey (Sep 1, 2017)
Houston is home to over two million people, some 30,000 of which will be left homeless in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. It’s also home to multiple major research institutions, many of which took heavy hits from the storm. Houston scientists study everything from cardiovascular disease to the movements of the planets, and after checking in on family and friends, some also checked in on their labs—where water-damaged equipment, floods, and power outages mean losing ground on critical expe...
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Computer Science Ranked Highest Paying Field of Study in the US (Sep 1, 2017)
Computer science is the highest paying field of study in the United States, with a median total compensation of $92,300, according to LinkedIn’s new 2017 U.S. State of Salary Report. The report is based on salary data from over two million LinkedIn members. Close to half of the highest paid fields are STEM-based. Tech positions also ranked among the highest-paying entry and mid-level jobs. Ranked fifth was user experience designer at a median total compensation of $72,000. Associate Software E...
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ALICE Experiment Searches for Signal of Big Bang (Aug 31, 2017)
The world’s most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), began running at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in 2009. The LHC spends most of its time studying the puzzles of high-energy physics. But for one month a year, it, like the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, studies the nuclear physics of the early universe by colliding heavy, charged nuclei (ions)...
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NASA Supercomputing Strategy Takes The Road Less Traveled (Aug 31, 2017)
For a large institution playing at the leadership-class supercomputing level, NASA tends to do things a little differently than its national lab and academic peers. One of the most striking differences between how the space agency views its supercomputing future can be found at the facilities level. Instead of building massive brick and mortar datacenters within a new or existing complex, NASA has taken the modular route, beginning with its Electra supercomputer and in the near future, with a 30...
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Computer Science: Girls Logging Off (Aug 28, 2017)
If you are looking for signs that technical education is being transformed, and that girls are now more eager to study subjects such as computing, then my advice is to avoid the latest GCSE results. I have written before about fears that the revolution in computing education has stalled. Now the GCSEs, coupled with the recent A-level results, provide more evidence for those concerns.

New Antennas Are Up to a Hundredth the Size of Today’s Devices (Aug 28, 2017)
Antennas just got a whole lot smaller. Tiny chips that communicate via radio waves are a tenth to a hundredth the length of current state-of-the-art compact antennas. At only a couple hundred micrometers across — comparable to the thickness of a piece of paper — these next-gen antennas can relay the same types of signals as those used by TVs, cell phones and radios, researchers report in Nature Communications.

We Don't Want AI That Can Understand Us – We'd Only End Up Arguing (Aug 27, 2017)
Forget the Turing test. Computing pioneer Alan Turing's most pertinent thoughts on machine intelligence come from a neglected paragraph of the same paper that first proposed his famous test for whether a computer could be considered as smart as a human. "The original question, 'Can machines think?' I believe to be too meaningless to deserve discussion.

Artificial Neural Networks Decode Brain Activity During Performed and Imagined Movements (Aug 27, 2017)
Filtering information for search engines, acting as an opponent during a board game or recognizing images: Artificial intelligence has far outpaced human intelligence in certain tasks. Researchers are showing how ideas from computer science could revolutionize brain research. They illustrate how a self-learning algorithm decodes human brain signals that were measured by an electroencephalogram (EEG).

Google Launches Site to Share its NYC-based Algorithm Research (Aug 26, 2017)
Much of Google’s algorithm development occurs in groups scattered throughout New York City. Google launched a single website – NYC Algorithms and Optimization Team page – to provide a deeper view into all of the NYC-based groups work. The NYC Algorithms and Optimization Team comprises multiple overlapping research groups working on large-scale graph mining, large-scale optimization and market algorithms among other areas. Not surprisingly the work is in support of Google products and a wid...
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NSF Announces $17.7 Million Funding for Data Science Projects (Aug 26, 2017)
Today the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced $17.7 million in funding for 12 Transdisciplinary Research in Principles of Data Science (TRIPODS) projects, which will bring together the statistics, mathematics and theoretical computer science communities to develop the foundations of data science. Conducted at 14 institutions in 11 states, these projects will promote long-term research and training activities in data science that transcend disciplinary boundaries.

Computer Scientists Use Music to Covertly Track Body Movements, Activity (Aug 18, 2017)
As smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and other smart devices become more prevalent in our lives, computer scientists have raised concerns that these network-enabled devices, if not properly secured, could be co-opted to steal data or invade user privacy. Now researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated how it is possible to transform a smart device into a surveillance tool that can collect information about the body position and movements of the user, as well as other people in th...
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Science Doesn’t Explain Tech’s Diversity Problem – History Does (Aug 18, 2017)
In 2017, the idea that biological differences drive social inequality is considered fairly offensive. For the incurious, the taboo around this argument makes it exciting. But unlike people, not all ideas are created equally, and they should not be treated with same amount of seriousness — especially when those ideas ignore both a broad scientific debate that’s gone on for years and clear evidence that women in tech are excluded more than in other industries.

Google Continues to Push Diversity in Tech – Now with the 4-H Club (Aug 17, 2017)
If you hit the annual Illinois State Fair in Springfield this weekend, you'll see the usual attractions: livestock exhibits, a ferris wheel, puffy funnel cakes. You might also be surprised to find a small booth for one of the largest technology companies in the world. Google has long invested in projects to get kids interested in technology. Now, is giving the 4-H club a $1.5 million grant to help teach its 6 million members across the country about computer science.

Computer Tech: ‘Organismic Learning’ Mimics Some Aspects of Human Thought (Aug 17, 2017)
A new computing technology called "organismoids" mimics some aspects of human thought by learning how to forget unimportant memories while retaining more vital ones. "The human brain is capable of continuous lifelong learning," said Kaushik Roy, Purdue University's Edward G. Tiedemann Jr. Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "And it does this partially by forgetting some information that is not critical. I learn slowly, but I keep forgetting other things along the way,...
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An Exascale Timeline for Storage and I/O Systems (Aug 16, 2017)
The more things change, the more they stay the same. While exascale supercomputers mark a next step in performance capability, at the broader architectural level, the innovations that go into such machines will be the result of incremental improvements to the same components that have existed on HPC systems for several years. In large-scale supercomputing, many performance trends have jacked up capability and capacity—but the bottlenecks have not changed since the dawn of computing as we know ...
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