News Update :: Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Russian Students Triumph at ACM College Programming Bowl

Students from Saratov State University in Russia won first place in the Association for Computing Machinery’s International Collegiate Programming Contest. The 30th annual "battle of the brains," which was hosted by Baylor University and sponsored by IBM Corp., challenged students to solve a semester's worth of programming problems within a five-hour deadline.

At the beginning, more than 5,600 teams from 84 countries entered the competition. In the finals, 83 teams were pitted against each other. According to IBM (which announced that it would continue to manage the events in partnership with ACM), participation in the contest has increased seven-fold since 1997. The contest involved 10 complex real-world programming problems. They included finding the most cost-effective way to create a secure network for business-to-business transactions on the Internet and identifying the degrees of separation between a network of individuals around the world.

Jagiellonian University, Poland, Altai State Technical University, Russia, and the University of Twente, Netherlands, finished the competition in second, third, and fourth places, respectively. They all won gold medals. MIT took top honors in North America, but finished in 8th place overall, winning a silver medal. For more information, click here.

Stanford Summit to Explore Coming Era of 'Superintelligence'

Stanford University futurists are organizing a conference next month to explore “Singularity,” an era of theoretical human superintelligence created as the rate of technology change accelerates over the coming decades.

The theory has been embraced by Ray Kurzweil, the noted inventor of omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, and the text-to-speech synthesizer. "Based on models of technology development that I've used to forecast technological change successfully for more than 25 years, I believe…by the 2040s our civilization will be billions of times more intelligent,” Kurzweil said.

Kurzweil will speak at the event, dubbed the “Singularity Summit,” and sponsored by the Stanford University Symbolic Systems Program and the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence. The free one-day event is open to the public and will be held Saturday, May 13, on the Stanford campus. "Some regard Singularity as a positive event and work to hasten its arrival, while others view it as unlikely, or even dangerous and undesirable," said Todd Davies, associate director of Stanford's Symbolic Systems Program."

Speakers will include cognitive scientist Douglas R. Hofstadter, author of the Pulitzer prize-winning Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid; nanotechnology pioneers K. Eric Drexler and Christine L. Peterson; and science-fiction novelist Cory Doctorow. For more information, click here.

U. Cincinnati Delivering School, Class Info Via Mobile Phones

This semester the University of Cincinnati has begun delivering class announcements, assignments, schedule changes, and other school information to its 35,000 students via their mobile telephones. “The number one goal of the university's strategic plan is to place students at the center," said Michael Lieberman, dean of instructional and research computing. "The plan includes putting the priority on the students' needs, and creating a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-week learning, living, and social environment.” The university is using technology from clearTXT Inc. as the mobile communications platform for the system. For more information click here.

CA Joins Carnegie Mellon Electronic Sourcing Consortium

Software services mega-firm CA has joined Carnegie Mellon's Information Technology Services Qualification Center (ITSqc), a research consortium that aims to formulate best practices in external IT services sourcing and electronic sourcing. Una O'Neill, senior vice president and general manager of CA Technology Services said the company wanted to lend its expertise, as well as pursue the consortium’s ultimate goal: to streamline the business of software outsourcing.

The ITSqc is developing two “eSourcing Capability Models” for service providers and for clients who use IT-enabled sourcing services. The models include a number of best practices that are associated with successful sourcing relationships. These can assist service providers and clients in identifying and assessing their current capabilities associated with best practices. Jane Siegel, director of the ITSqc, said she believes CA will help the push toward “global adoption” of the models. For more information, click here.

Educational Food Chain Becoming Wireless Top to Bottom

Considering the technology transformations in many of the nation’s primary and secondary schools, higher education institutions have less than five years to go wireless. That’s if what’s happening at the typical American middle school is any guide. The Wichita Kansas Public School System said it is standardizing on the wireless Palm TX handheld computer for its seventh-grade technology program. The school district purchased nearly 730 handhelds as part of a major renovation of its technology curriculum for middle schools.

The district will begin to introduce the handhelds into the seventh-grade technology curriculum next year. They will be used in the district's 14 middle schools and two alternative schools. "Handhelds can facilitate new learning experiences. We have used them successfully at the elementary school level and found that students are more productive,” said instructional technology specialist Jim Clark. “They want to get their hands on the devices the minute they enter the building.” For more information, click here.
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