Where do you want to go today?

Now i’m through my list of 69 people to ask the Hamming question: What are the most important problems in computer science? Some were famous Turing Award winners (the Nobel prize of computer science) and some were mere mortals.

Not everybody has an email address published and i sent one snail mail. You can read the 11 replies i got so far. 38 are still unanswered, which gives me a good reply rate of 22%.

The question is where to go from here?

  1. Wrap up and close down – the purpose was to collect the answers and that’s probably done now. Time to switch off the lights.
  2. Continue – get more people on the list, send more emails, send snail mail, where no email address can be found.
  3. Embrace and extend – Widen the purpose and grow.

I’ve decided to go the third way, since i’m still motivated. This blog will now feature more general computer science topics. I made some changes to the user interface according to all the tips you can find on the web.

The direction of this blog is a little unclear now. I’ll nail it down over time, but now is a good point to let my readers (Yes, both of you!) comment on this. Where would you like this blog to go? What would you like to read about computer science?

Published in: on September 1, 2007 at 8:12 am  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ok, since you asked… πŸ™‚

    First of all I’d like to thank for the effort you put into this little project and the people for taking the time to respond. The responses turned out to be very interesting even though they don’t conclude to an overarching goal. Maybe there isn’t one, just progress. What’s your conclusion from the responses you got so far?

    To your questions. I suppose I can’t really answer the first one. I think it’s up to you what you think is worthwhile to research and write about. I try to answer the second one. Since I’m more the technical kind of person I think most of my interests lie within the fields of applied computer science (e.g. microkernels) rather than in general computer science. Nevertheless I thought about it and came up with some topics I find interesting. (interesting = in this context: “I know very little about it but like to learn more”) I took your question more generally so I don’t really expect you to write about those:

    Quantum Computing:
    Quantum computers are still a mystery to me so there are a lot of things I don’t know. What are quantum computers capable of? How do they work? How do you build one? What’s the current state of affairs? And last but not least: Are they important?

    Compiler and Programming Languages:
    How do you properly design and specify a language? How do you construct a compiler? What common optimization techniques are there? And why do compilers of higher level languages tend to produce less efficient code than those of lower level ones, what could you do about it?

    Automatic Program Verification and the future of Programming Languages:
    I think with the rising complexity of software systems the ability to reason about correctness becomes more and more important. Manual program verification is very cumbersome and therefore not applicable to large scale systems. So can you verify a program according to a formal specification automatically? How would that work? What kind of language would that require? Can you derive an implementation from a specification automatically as well?

    Computer Design Models beyond the von Neumann Architecture:
    Are many-core systems the way to go?

    Semantic Web:
    I don’t think googling or looking up wikipedia articles, albeit extremely useful, are very efficient ways to deal with the vast amount of information we have. Let’s say I want a list of impressionist artists born between 1824 and 1853 that have written at least one book but never visited Switzerland. That information is available and easily retrievable today but there are no means of combining this information in a given meaningful way automatically. So it would require a lot of tedious work. Is the semantic web a solution for such problems? If so, how would that work?

    Artificial Intelligence:
    How does machine learning work? Object recognition? Comprehension of natural language? … And some implied rather philosophical questions that go beyond mere computer science like: Can a machine be intelligent anyway? Can it have free will or emotions? Is true AI impossible or just beyond human capabilities?

    – Basti

  2. That’s a good list of topics, Basti. Maybe i can write an introduction article with lots of links to papers, blogs and stuff.

    I’ll also write a conclusion of all the replies, but i want to wait a few days. Maybe someone needs more time to reply.

  3. Have you already contacted the β€žrebelβ€œ of computer science, Mr. Joseph Weizenbaum himself?

  4. Well you forgot one reader πŸ™‚
    You have three.

  5. I can’t find an address of Weizenbaum …

  6. Maybe you should ask these guys:


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