Visions of the future
ACM joined forces with the British Computer Society
to deliver its first academic research conference in Europe.
DeLeGaTes FroM aFriCa, Eu- rope, and North America gathered at the University of Edinburgh in April to discuss the latest research
in computer science and listen to innovative project proposals for the U.K.
Computing Research Committee’s
Grand Challenges program.
Professor Dame Wendy Hall, president of ACM and professor of computer science at the University of Southampton, opened the ACM-BCS Visions
of Computer Science 2010 conference,
alongside British Computer Society
President Elizabeth Sparrow.
Hall discussed the importance of
diversifying ACM beyond the U.S. and,
after welcoming more than 100 conference delegates, handed over the
proceedings to computer scientist Michael Foreman of the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.
Foreman paid tribute to the recently
deceased Robin Milner, eminent computer scientist, co-creator of the Grand
Challenges, and ACM A.M. Turing
Award winner, and proposed a Milner
symposium next year to celebrate the
Pho ToGRAPh by ChRIs MAlColM
Ross Anderson, professor of secu-
rity engineering at the University of
Cambridge, delivered the first keynote
speech, “The Dependability of Com-
plex Socio-Technical Systems.” Ander-
son described the evolutionary con-
vergence of branches of knowledge,
including philosophy, mathematics,
and economics, into computing, and
questioned how it should advance.
“We are responsible for everything,”
said Anderson, “and must deal with
the global-scale socio-technical sys-
tems that are emerging and will be the
way the world works.”
The second keynote speaker, Nicolò
Cesa-Bianchi, professor of computer
science at the University of Milan,
discussed “The Game-Theoretic Ap-
proach to Machine Learning and Ad-
aptation.” To consider whether game
the acm-Bsc Visions conference was held
at the university of edinburgh informatics
theory could complement or surpass
statistics in the analysis of algorithms
that learn and adapt, Cesa-Bianchi
presented research that replaces statistics to describe an interaction between a learning agent and a changing
environment with a repeated game
between an agent and environment.
This approach, he says, is particularly
appropriate to machine learning in arbitrary and adversarial environments.
our work has
notes Wendy hall.
The other keynote speakers were
Jon Kleinberg, professor of computer
science at Cornell University, who pre-
sented “Exploring the Structure of On-
line Social Networks: the Roles of Posi-
tive and Negative Links in Network
Interaction,” and Barbara Liskov, a
professor at the Massachusetts Insti-
tute of Technology and ACM A.M. Tur-
ing Award winner, who discussed “The
Power of Abstraction.”
Among the conference’s sessions
covering subjects from ubiquitous sys-
tems to theoretical computing and the
digital economy, one proved particu-
larly timely. As a massive cloud of ash
from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano
shut down air traffic across Europe,
Ken Anderson, associate professor of
computer science at the University of
Colorado, outlined a vision for tech-
nology-mediated support for public
participation in mass emergencies and
Following Visions 2010, Hall introduced the Grand Challenges session.
“Things have changed,” said Hall,
“and our work has become more interdisciplinary, feeding into areas such
as health care, climate change, and security. We need to make evolutionary,
not revolutionary, change, but a new
list of Grand Challenges will emerge.”
Eighteen proposals for the Grand
Challenges, a program supported by
the U.K. Computing Research Committee, were added to nine existing
projects, with a decision on the proposals expected over the summer. The
candidates included a project using
software engineering to achieve zero-carbon buildings by 2019, a program
to develop information and communication technologies for a global population of nine billion people in 2050,
and five proposals about health care
and independent living.
Sarah Underwood is a technology writer based in
Teddington, u. K.
© 2010 ACM 0001-0782/10/0700 $10.00