March 2012


News From ACM





Developed Novel Framework for Reasoning under Uncertainty that Changed How Scientists Approach Real World Problems

NEW YORK, March 15, 2012 – ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery today named Judea Pearl of the University of California, Los Angeles the winner of the 2011 ACM A.M. Turing Award for innovations that enabled remarkable advances in the partnership between humans and machines that is the foundation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Pearl pioneered developments in probabilistic and causal reasoning and their application to a broad range of problems and challenges. He created a computational foundation for processing information under uncertainty, a core problem faced by intelligent systems. He also developed graphical methods and symbolic calculus that enable machines to reason about actions and observations, and to assess cause-effect relationships from empirical findings. His work serves as the standard method for handling uncertainty in computer systems, with applications ranging from medical diagnosis, homeland security and genetic counseling to natural language understanding and mapping gene expression data. His influence extends beyond artificial intelligence and even computer science, to human reasoning and the philosophy of science.

The ACM Turing Award, widely considered the "Nobel Prize in Computing," carries a $250,000 prize, with financial support provided by Intel Corporation and Google Inc. It is named for the British mathematician Alan M. Turing, whose 100th anniversary will be celebrated in June at the ACM 2012 Turing Centenary Celebration that includes 34 past Turing Award winners along with Pearl.

"Like Alan Turing himself, Pearl turned his thinking to constructing procedures that might be harnessed to perform tasks traditionally associated with human intelligence," said Vint Cerf, chair of the ACM 2012 Turing Centenary Celebration, and a former ACM Turing Award recipient. "His accomplishments over the last 30 years have provided the theoretical basis for progress in artificial intelligence and led to extraordinary achievements in machine learning, and they have redefined the term 'thinking machine.' " Cerf pointed to Pearl’s innovation as a quantum leap from Turing’s "test" dating to the 1950s, when Turing set out to discover if machines could think. "Pearl’s work on reasoning with uncertainty as well as his game-changing contributions to machine reasoning about causality have had a pervasive influence not only on machine learning but on natural language processing, computer vision, robotics, computational biology, econometrics, cognitive science, and statistics," Cerf said.

"Dr. Pearl’s work provided the original paradigm case for how to do statistical AI," said Dr. Limor Fix, Director of the University Collaborative Research Group, Intel Labs. "By placing structured knowledge representations at the heart of his work, and emphasizing how these representations enabled efficient inference and learning, he showed the field of AI how to build statistical reasoning systems that were actually telling us something about intelligence, not just statistics."

Alfred Spector, Vice President of Research and Special Initiatives at Google Inc, said, "Judea Pearl has been the most prominent advocate for the use of probabilistic models within artificial intelligence. He developed representations and algorithms that made it feasible to tackle large, complex problems that handle uncertainty. Before Pearl, most AI systems reasoned with Boolean logic - they understood true or false, but had a hard time with 'maybe.' " This meant, he said, that early AI systems tended to have more success in domains where things are black and white - like chess, for example. "But modern applications of AI, such as robotics, self-driving cars, speech recognition, and machine translation deal with uncertainty. Pearl has been instrumental in supplying the rationale and much valuable technology that allow these applications to flourish, and his clear and persuasive speaking and writing convinced the vast majority of the field to adopt these new techniques."

Heuristics - Finding a Firm Mathematical Foundation
Pearl’s early work on heuristic search - a trial-and-error method of problem-solving - propelled the evolution of AI into a mature field with sound scientific foundations. He challenged and ultimately overturned the prevailing approach to reasoning embodied in expert systems and other technologies developed in AI. In his 1984 book Heuristics: Intelligent Search Strategies for Computer Problem Solving, he set a new standard where algorithms, even heuristic ones, had to be analyzed rigorously in terms of their correctness and performance. He subsequently devised ways of programming machines to discover their own heuristics.

Probability and Bayesian Networks – Establishing a Dialogue between Man and Machine
Pearl went on to develop the theoretical foundations for reasoning under uncertainty using a "Bayesian network," a term he coined in 1985, named for the 18th century English mathematician Thomas Bayes. An extremely general and flexible modeling tool, a Bayesian network mimics the neural activities of the human brain, constantly exchanging messages without benefit of a supervisor. These networks revolutionized AI by providing a compact way of representing probability distributions and reasoning about them. Prior to this time, the AI community had ignored the problem of uncertainty due to its apparent lack of connection to human cognitive process and its computational cost. Pearl showed how Bayesian networks and their belief-updating algorithms provide an intuitive, elegant characterization of complex probability distributions, and the way they track new evidence. This development was a critical step toward achieving human-level AI that can interact with the physical world.

Pearl’s framework with its combination of rich representational structure and a powerful inference engine remains the most successful approach to solving problems of representing, organizing, and exploiting information. His approach has changed the face of research in machine learning, which relies fundamentally on probabilistic and statistical inference. Bayesian networks have also altered the analysis of biological data, with applications in medicine ranging from the design of HIV vaccines to the search for genetic causes of disease. They also underlie most systems for speech recognition, fault diagnosis, and machine translation. His 1988 book Probabilistic Reasoning in Intelligent Systems offers techniques based on belief networks that provide a mechanism for making semantics-based systems operational.

Causality – Advancing the Computer’s Learning Process
In addition to their impact on probabilistic reasoning, Bayesian networks completely changed the way causality is treated in the empirical sciences, which are based on experiment and observation. Pearl’s work on causality is crucial to the understanding of both daily activity and scientific discovery. It has enabled scientists across many disciplines to articulate causal statements formally, combine them with data, and evaluate them rigorously. His 2000 book Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference is among the single most influential works in shaping the theory and practice of knowledge-based systems. His contributions to causal reasoning have had a major impact on the way causality is understood and measured in many scientific disciplines, most notably philosophy, psychology, statistics, econometrics, epidemiology and social science.

Recent Research - Focusing on Computers and Morality
Pearl’s later research explores ways of programming computers to reason introspectively and to take responsibility for their actions. This work evolved from his efforts to understand precisely the conditions under which predictions can be made regarding the effect of interventions on outcomes, and conversely, how backward reasoning can identify the most plausible explanation of an observed outcome. Pearl identified counterfactual sentences - conditional statements whose antecedents are contrary to real-world observations - as the building blocks of scientific thought and moral behavior, and developed algorithms to reason about these statements, or test them against data. He has argued that equipping machines with these building blocks is necessary for achieving cooperative behavior among robots and humans.

Judea Pearl is a professor of computer science at UCLA, where he was director of the Cognitive Systems Laboratory. Before joining UCLA in 1970, he was at RCA Research Laboratories, working on superconductive parametric and storage devices. Previously, he was engaged in advanced memory systems at Electronic Memories, Inc. Pearl is a graduate of the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. In 1965, he received a Master’s degree in Physics from Rutgers University, and in the same year was awarded a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.

Among his many awards, Pearl is the recipient of the 2012 Harvey Prize in Science and Technology from the Technion, Israel, the 2011 Rumelhart Prize from the Cognitive Science Society, and the 2008 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computers and Cognitive Science from the Franklin Institute. He was presented with the 2003 Allen Newell Award from ACM and the AAAI (Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence). His groundbreaking book on causality won the 2001 Lakatos Award from the London School of Economics and Political Science "for an outstanding significant contribution to the philosophy of science."

Pearl is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of AAAI and the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). He is President of the Daniel Pearl Foundation named after his son.

ACM will present the 2011 A.M. Turing Award at its annual Awards Banquet on June 16, in San Francisco, CA. The 2012 ACM Turing Centenary Celebration takes place on June 15-16, immediately preceding the ACM Awards Banquet

About the ACM A.M. Turing Award
The A.M. Turing Award was named for Alan M. Turing, the British mathematician who articulated the mathematical foundation and limits of computing, and who was a key contributor to the Allied cryptanalysis of the German Enigma cipher and the German “Tunny” encoding machine in World War II. Since its inception in 1966, the Turing Award has honored the computer scientists and engineers who created the systems and underlying theoretical foundations that have propelled the information technology industry.

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The ACM Publications Board has approved a new journal: The ACM Transactions on Spatial Algorithms and Systems (TSAS).
Editor-in-Chief appointed: Professor Hanan Samet, Professor, Computer Science Department, Center for Automation Research , and Institute for Advanced Computer Studies at the University of Maryland
Anticipated first issue: early 2013

Scope of proposed publication
The field of spatial information handling is interdisciplinary and requires cross fertilization of many fields. It has been consistently growing since the early 1960's. Its importance continuously increases with the emergence of new application domains and with the availability and ubiquity of large spatial data such as maps, repositories of remote sensing images, 3D medical atlases, and the decennial census. Businesses, industry, academia, and governmental agencies are utilizing spatial information to improve their daily operations, structure new strategies, and increase overall productivity. Applications of spatial information handling can be found in location-based services in the M(mobile)-commerce industry, strategic assessments in the military agencies, climatology studies (e.g., effects of tsunamis) in meteorological research, computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) applications, medical imageries and atlases (e.g., 3D brain atlas), land-use classification of satellite imagery in urban planning, detection of local instability in traffic in the transportation groups, epidemiological pattern forecasting (predict spread of disease) in the healthcare field, analyzing crime hot spots in law enforcement applications, creation of high resolution three-dimensional maps from satellite imagery in intelligence information gathering, etc.. The Chorley report points out that 80% percent of data have spatial properties or a spatial reference.

Combined with the increased demand for spatial data processing, spatial information systems and algorithms are gaining a substantial share across the spectrum in the industrial, government, and academic sectors. For the past twenty years, a number of educational institutions, e.g., NCGIA and UCGIS [18], have progressively integrated spatial information into their core curricula in order to address market demands. Spatial information permeates through a broad spectrum of subjects, fusing itself with disciplines such as business, law, engineering, and architecture. In the IT field, spatial information service is no longer an esoteric and an exclusive section but has grown to be one that merges with several facets of the IT industry. In the government sector, the European Commission in their March 2000 meeting established seven goals to be “the most competitive and dynamic economy in the world” with five of those goals directly involving spatial information handling.

Serving the interests and driven by the new ACM Special Interest Group on Spatial Information (SIGSPATIAL), TSAS articles will tend either to present new techniques and concepts or to report on experiences and experiments with spatial information systems. Insights useful to system designers, builders, and users will be emphasized.

Among the topics within the scope of TSAS are the following:


  1. Spatial Information Acquisition
  2. Modeling
  3. Spatial and Spatiotemporal Data Structures and Algorithms
  4. Analysis, Querying, and Integration
  5. Human Computer Interaction and Visualization
  6. Systems and Architectures
  7. Applications
  8. Spatial Information and Society


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In order to help users distinguish among versions of the same document they may encounter in web searches, CrossRef has developed a new service called CrossMark, now in the final phase of its Pilot. The CrossMark service is expected to roll into production with its early adopters next month, in April 2012.

Publishers certify the scholarly literature at publication and have increasingly taken on the responsibility of stewarding updates, corrections, withdrawals, and retractions. The CrossMark Service introduces a standardized way of managing this responsibility. The CrossMark itself is affixed to the stewarded version of record and contains a link leading to current information the publisher maintains about its status. In an age where copies of versions of records may be downloaded one day and read at another time, or retrieved from multiple locations, it is useful to check the CrossMark to discover whether the article may have been corrected or withdrawn in the interim.

CrossMark provides the user with the document’s provenance and current status and serves to distinguish it from other versions a user may encounter.





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Under the leadership of Dr. Zvi Kedem, Professor of Computer Science at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Science, 150 distinguished computer scientists working in 13 subject-oriented teams, have completed a major year-long CCS Update Project. The ACM domain experts worked in conjunction with Semedica, a division of Silverchair that specializes in ontology development. The 2012 CCS is accompanied by an extended thesaurus and a mapping from the 1998 version which will be used in a massive retrospective conversion of the old subject index.

The CCS now provides a contemporary cognitive map of the broad computing field, reflecting the current thinking of leading experts supplemented by algorithmic analysis of the ACM Digital Library’s user search logs and author-provided keywords.

In April 2012, the new CCS will be posted at It will be deployed within the ACM Digital Library and put into use for new articles over the next six months.

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Computing Reviews presents a daily snapshot of what is new and hot in computing. Written by computer scientists, who are authorities in their fields, reviews cover all aspects of current computing literature. All reviews are edited for style, and a board of editors evaluates their content. In conjunction with the ACM Digital Library, Computing Reviews provides an expert overview of developments and gives readers insight into what computer scientist from around the world are reading and talking about.

Please update your bookmarks and links for Computing

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ACM's first free webinar is now available on demand. "The Cloud in Your Hands—Marriage of Cloud Computing with Smart Devices," presented by Arjmand Samuel, Senior Research Program Manager, Microsoft Research, and Danny Dalal, Senior Development Lead, Microsoft Research, and moderated by David B. Johnson, Professor of Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering, Rice University and chair of ACM SIGMOBILE. In the webinar you'll learn:


  • Why use cloud services with mobile devices?
  • What user scenarios are possible by marrying cloud services with mobile devices?
  • How do you develop cloud-enabled mobile apps?

To view the webinar click on the Webinars link, and be sure to share this with friends and colleagues who may be interested in this topic.


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The ACM Digital Library sales and management team attend many conferences year round all over the world. We are always happy to meet with our consortia and agent partners at these events. Please see the list below for the events ACM will be attending in 2012. To schedule a meeting, or to request any other information, please email

April 1st - 4th 2012
2012 DoDIIS Worldwide Conference
Colorado Convention Center
Denver, Colorado

June 5th - 8th 2012
11th South African Online Information Meeting(SAOIM)
Sandton Convention Center
Johannesburg, South Africa
Booth: To be Advised

August 11th - 16th, 2012
77th IFLA General Conference & Assembly
Helsinki Exhibition & Convention Centre (HECC)
Finland, Helsinki
Booth: C105

October 10th – 14th, 2012
Frankfurt Bookfair
Ludwiq-Erhard-Anlage 1
60327 Frankfurt am Main Germany

ACM also sponsors hundreds of conferences and symposia each year, as part of our continuing mission to support computer science education and curricula reform. Here is a list of ACM Conferences scheduled for the next couple of months.

Conference: EuroSys '12: Seventh EuroSys Conference 2012
Starts: 10-Apr-12
Ends: 13-Apr-12

Conference: CPS WEEK '12: Cyber-Physical Systems Week 2012
Starts: 16-Apr-12
Ends: 19-Apr-12

Conference: IPSN 2012: The 11th International Conference on Information Processing in Sensor Networks (co-located with CPS Week 2012)
Starts: 16-Apr-12
Ends: 19-Apr-12

Conference: WISEC'12 : Fifth ACM Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks
Starts: 16-Apr-12
Ends: 18-Apr-12

Conference: HSCC'12: Hybrid Systems: Computation and Control (part of CPS Week 2012)
Starts: 17-Apr-12
Ends: 19-Apr-12

Conference: ICCPS '12: ACM/IEEE 3rd International Conference on Cyber-Physical Systems (with CPS Week 2012)
Starts: 17-Apr-12
Ends: 19-Apr-12

Conference: ICPE'12: Third Joint WOSP/SIPEW International Conference on Performance Engineering
Starts: 22-Apr-12
Ends: 25-Apr-12

Conference: GLSVLSI'12: Great Lakes Symposium on VLSI 2012
Starts: 29-Apr-12
Ends: 01-May-12

Conference: CHI '12: CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Starts: 05-May-12
Ends: 10-May-12

Conference: NOCS'12: International Symposium on Networks-on-Chip
Starts: 07-May-12
Ends: 11-May-12

Conference: CCGrid '12: 12th IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Cluster, Cloud and Grid Computing
Starts: 13-May-12
Ends: 16-May-12

Conference: SIGMOD/PODS '12: International Conference on Management of Data
Starts: 20-May-12
Ends: 24-May-12

Conference: CF'12: Computing Frontiers Conference
Starts: 15-May-12
Ends: 17-May-12

Conference: STOC'12: Symposium on Theory of Computing Conference
Starts: 19-May-12
Ends: 22-May-12

Conference: SIGMIS-CPR '12: 2012 Computers and People Research Conference
Starts: 31-May-12
Ends: 02-Jun-12

Conference: IWLS '12: International Workshop on Logic and Synthesis
Starts: 01-Jun-12
Ends: 03-Jun-12

Conference: ICSE '12: 34th International Conference on Software Engineering
Starts: 02-Jun-12
Ends: 09-Jun-12

Conference: SLIP '12: International Workshop on System Level Interconnect Prediction
Starts: 03-Jun-12
Ends: 03-Jun-12

Conference: EC '12: ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce
Starts: 04-Jun-12
Ends: 08-Jun-12

Conference: Expressive '12: Joint Symposia on Sketch-Based Interfaces and Modeling, Non-Photorealistic Animation and Computational Aesthetics
Starts: 04-Jun-12
Ends: 06-Jun-12

Conference: IWQoS '12: International Workshop on Quality of Service 2012
Starts: 04-Jun-12
Ends: 05-Jun-12

Conference: ICMR '12: International Conference on Multimedia Retrieval
Starts: 05-Jun-12
Ends: 08-Jun-12

Conference: NOSSDAV '12: Network and Operating System Support for Digital Audio and Video Workshop
Starts: 07-Jun-12
Ends: 08-Jun-12

Conference: JCDL '12 : 12th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries
Starts: 10-Jun-12
Ends: 14-Jun-12

Conference: MobiHoc '12: The Thirteenth ACM International Symposium on Mobile Ad Hoc Networking and Computing
Starts: 11-Jun-12
Ends: 14-Jun-12

Conference: PLDI '12: ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation
Starts: 11-Jun-12
Ends: 16-Jun-12

Conference: SIGMETRICS '12:ACM SIGMETRICS/PERFORMANCE Joint International Conference on Measurement and Modeling of Computer Systems
Starts: 11-Jun-12
Ends: 15-Jun-12

Conference: ISMM '12: International Symposium on Memory Management
Starts: 12-Jun-12
Ends: 13-Jun-12

Conference: HPDC'12: The 21st International Symposium on High-Performance Parallel and Distributed Computing
Starts: 18-Jun-12
Ends: 22-Jun-12

Conference: SACMAT '12: 17th ACM Symposium on Access Control Models and Technologies
Starts: 20-Jun-12
Ends: 22-Jun-12

Conference: Comparch '12: Federated Events on Component-Based Software Engineering and Software Architecture
Starts: 25-Jun-12
Ends: 28-Jun-12

Conference: DIS '12: Designing Interactive Systems Conference 2012
Starts: 25-Jun-12
Ends: 29-Jun-12

Conference: HT '12: 23rd ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media
Starts: 25-Jun-12
Ends: 28-Jun-12




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