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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 prepare for the future that may show up. "Ubiquity and Your Future

Peter J. Denning,
Editor-in-Chief

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LATEST ARTICLES

Communication Corner

The secrets of writing a truly useful executive summary

by Philip Yaffe

Each "Communication Corner" essay is self-contained; however, they build on each other. For best results, before reading this essay and doing the exercise, go to the first essay "How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan," then read each succeeding essay.

The purpose of an executive summary is not to summarize, but to direct the reader's interest. The wider the intended audience, the wider will be their range of specific interests. But however diverse the readership, they want the document to clearly direct them to what they must read, leaving any additional text they may wish to also peruse to their own judgement.

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Interview

A conversation with Ella Peltonen: why theoretical machine learning and distributed systems researchers should find a common language

Interviewed by Bushra Anjum

In this interview, Ubiquity's senior editor Dr. Bushra Anjum chats with Dr. Ella Peltonen, a research scientist with the Center for Ubiquitous Computing, University of Oulu, Finland, about the traditional divide between theoretical machine learning and the more applied fields of distributed systems. They then discuss the need for environments and opportunities where researchers from both theory and application areas can discuss, share their latest findings, and understand each other. ...



article-commentary

COVID-19 and computation for policy

by Jeffrey Johnson, Peter Denning, Kemal Delic, Jane Bromley

Governments across the world are formulating and implementing medical, social, economic and other policies to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and protect their citizens. Many governments claim that their policies follow the best available scientific advice. Much of that advice comes from computational modeling. Two of the main types of model are presented: the SIR (Susceptible, Infected, Recovered) model developed by Kermack and McKendrick in the 1920s and the more recent Agent Based Models. The SIR model gives a good intuition of how epidemics spread; including how mass vaccination can contain them. It is less useful than Agent Based Modeling for investigating the effects of policies such as social distancing, self-isolation, wearing facemasks, and test-trace-isolate.

Politicians and the public have been perplexed to observe the lack of consensus in the scientific community and there being no single 'best science' to follow. The outcome of computational models depends on the assumptions made and the data used. Different assumptions will lead to different computational outcomes, especially when the available data are so poor. This leads some commentators to argue that the models are wrong and dangerous. Some may be, but computational modeling is one of the few ways available to explore and try to understand the space of possible futures. This lack of certainty means that computational modeling must be seen as just one of many inputs into the political decision making process. Politicians must balance all the competing inputs and make timely decisions based on their conclusions---be they right or wrong. In the same way that democracy is the least worst form of government, computational modeling may be the least worst way of trying to understand the future for policy making.

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Commentary

Will post COVID-19 education be digital?: Virtual round table featuring Peter Denning, Andrew Odlyzko, Espen Andersen, and Jeffrey Johnson

by Kemal A. Delic, Jeff A. Riley

The world is experiencing large-scale social and behavioral changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes have the potential to cause a fundamental and profound shift in the way we conduct our lives, which could have both positive and negative consequences.

The need to function, both socially and at work, while sheltering at home and social distancing has led to the widespread realization that online meetings and remote working is viable. Digital education is particularly important, as millions of pupils and students worldwide struggle to continue studies in these difficult circumstances.

We have posed four questions to our fellow Ubiquity editors, garnering a balanced view from academia and industry, from STEM and business (MBA) perspective, aiming to seed a follow-up debate from other editors, culminating in a free, one-hour webinar.

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