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Peter J. Denning, Editor in ChiefThe digitally connected world has become a large, swirling sea of information stripped of context. We help our readers make sense of it, find meaning in it, learn what to trust, and speculate on our future.

Peter J. Denning,
Editor-in-Chief

 

LATEST ARTICLES
Interview

Rethinking Randomness: An interview with Jeff Buzen, Part II

August 2016
Interviewed by Peter J. Denning

In Part 1, Jeff Buzen discussed the basic principles of his new approach to randomness, which is the topic of his book Rethinking Randomness. He continues here with a more detailed discussion of models that have been used successfully to predict the performance of systems ranging from early time sharing computers to modern web servers.

Peter J. Denning
Editor in Chief

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Interview

Rethinking Randomness: An interview with Jeff Buzen, Part I

August 2016
Interviewed by Peter J. Denning

For more than 40 years, Jeffrey Buzen has been a leader in performance prediction of computer systems and networks. His first major contribution was an algorithm, known now as Buzen's Algorithm, that calculated the throughput and response time of any practical network of servers in a few seconds. Prior algorithms were useless because they would have taken months or years for the same calculations. Buzen's breakthrough opened a new industry of companies providing performance evaluation services, and laid scientific foundations for designing systems that meet performance objectives. Along the way, he became troubled by the fact that the real systems he was evaluating seriously violated his model's assumptions, and yet the faulty models predicted throughput to within 5 percent of the true value and response time to within 25 percent. He began puzzling over this anomaly and invented a new framework for building computer performance models, which he called operational analysis. Operational analysis produced the same formulas, but with assumptions that hold in most systems. As he continued to understand this puzzle, he formulated a more complete theory of randomness, which he calls observational stochastics, and he wrote a book Rethinking Randomness laying out his new theory. We talked with Jeff Buzen about his work.

Peter J. Denning
Editor in Chief

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Commentary

Automated Car Woes---Whoa There!

July 2016
by Peter G. Neumann

With all the growing interest in automated cars and driverless cars and recent accidents involving them, we thought we would turn to Risks founder Peter G. Neumann for perspective. Neumann has been moderating the ACM Risks Forum (risks.org) since 1985, and has accumulated a vast trove of experience in the ways that automated systems can not only provoke but enable mishaps. Here he offers an inventory of how automotive automation systems can fail and concludes that the greatest threats to safety come from human tendencies such as being distracted at the moment the system needs an intervention, or having their skills as operators grow rusty over time because the automation is pretty good most of the time.

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Interview

Changing the Game: Dr. Dave Schrader on sports analytics

May 2016
Interviewed by Walter Tichy

Dave Schrader, known to his friends as Dr. Dave, worked for 24 years in advanced development and marketing at Teradata, a major data warehouse vendor. He actively gives talks on business analytics, and since retiring has spent time exploring the field of sports analytics. In this interview, Schrader discusses how analytics is playing a significant role in professional sports--from Major League Soccer to the NBA.

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