The head of Pixar Animation Studios talks tech with Stanford professor Pat Hanrahan.
Sharing visualization with the world
The designer of the ARM chip shares lessons on energy-efficient computing.
In a rare interview, David Shaw discusses how he's using computer science to unravel the mysteries of biochemistry. Bonus: Listen to an audio clip of material not found in the text version.
Can code ever be too terse? The designer of the K and Q languages discusses this question and many more with Queue editorial board member Bryan Cantrill.
The TCP/IP pioneer discusses the promise of content-centric networking with BBN chief scientist Craig Partridge.
In part two of their discussion, our editorial board members consider XP and Agile.
In part one of a two-part series, three Queue editorial board members discuss the practice of software engineering. In their quest to solve the next big computing problem or develop the next disruptive technology, software engineers rarely take the time to look back at the history of their profession. What's changed? What hasn't changed? In an effort to shed light on these questions, we invited three members of ACM Queue's editorial advisory board to sit down and offer their perspectives on the continuously evolving practice of software engineering.
To understand more about LINQ and ORM and why Microsoft took this approach, we invited two Microsoft engineers closely involved with their development, Erik Meijer and Jos Blakeley, to speak with Queue editorial board member Terry Coatta.
Today general-purpose processors from Intel and AMD dominate the landscape, but advances in processor designs such as the cell processor architecture overseen by IBM chief scientist Peter Hofstee promise to bring the costs of specialized system on a chip platforms in line with cost associated with general purpose computing platforms, and that just may change the art of system design forever.
All too often the reporting tools that developers select for their applications are a little more than an afterthought. In this Premium ACM Queuecast, Vice President of Product Management for Actuate, Paul Clenahan, explains why it's in the interest of developer to select richer sets of reporting tools and how these tools more readily accessible though the Eclipse Foundation's BIRT project, spearheaded by Actuate.
Unravel the mysteries and learn the best practices associated with mastering the new application installation routines for Vista applications. In this Premium Queuecast hosted by Michael Vizard, Bob Corrigan, senior manager for global product marketing at Macrovision, and Robert Dickau, principal trainer, reveal the five most crucial things you need to know about Vista application installations.
Today's software producer faces many challenges in building and keeping a satisfied customer base. In this ACM Premium Queuecast, Macrovision FLEXnet Publisher Product Manager Mitesh Pancholy discusses how companies can solve their license management challenges and turn their software operations into a profit center.
Time again companies moving to build large scale systems and networks stumble over the same problems. In an interview with ACM Queuecast host Michael Vizard, Jarod Jenson, the brains behind the Enron Online trading site, talks about the best practices he emphasizes now that he is the chief architect for Aeysis, a consulting firm that specializes on advising clients on how to build manageable high performance systems.
A new paradigm created to empower business system analysts by giving them access to meta-data that they can directly control to drive business process management is about to sweep the enterprise application arena. In an interview with ACM Queuecast host Michael Vizard, Oracle vice president of product development Edwin Khodabakchian explains how the standardization of service-oriented architectures (SOAs) and the evolution of the business process execution language (BPEL) are coming together to finally create flexible software architectures that can adapt to the business rather than making the business adapt to the software.
When it comes to managing and deploying large scale systems and networks, discipline and focus matter more than specific technologies. In a conversation with ACM Queuecast host Mike Vizard, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels says the key to success is to have a relentless commitment to a modular computer architecture that makes it possible for the people who build the applications to also be responsible for running and deploying those systems within a common IT framework.
Probably the single biggest challenge with large scale systems and networks is not building them but rather managing them on an ongoing basis. Fortunately, new classes of systems and network management tools that have the potential to save on labor costs because they automate much of the management process are starting to appear.
Interviewing either Kurt Akeley or Pat Hanrahan for this month's special report on GPUs would have been a great opportunity, so needless to say we were delighted when both of these graphics-programming veterans agreed to participate.
Jason Hoffman has a Ph.D. in molecular pathology, but to him the transition between the biological sciences and his current role as CTO of Joyent was completely natural: "Fundamentally, what I've always been is a systems scientist, meaning that whether I was studying metabolism or diseases of metabolism or cancer or computer systems or anything else, a system is a system," says Hoffman. He draws on this broad systems background in the work he does at Joyent providing scalable infrastructure for Web applications.
From Tunisia to Taiwan, Mary Lou Jepsen has circled the globe in her role as CTO of the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project. Founded by MIT Media Lab co-founder Nicholas Negroponte in 2005, OLPC builds inexpensive laptops designed for educating children in developing nations. Marvels of engineering, the machines have been designed to withstand some of the harshest climates and most power-starved regions on the planet.
This month ACM Queue speaks with two Sun engineers who are bringing file systems into the 21st century. Jeff Bonwick, CTO for storage at Sun, led development of the ZFS file system, which is now part of Solaris. Bonwick and his co-lead, Sun Distinguished Engineer Bill Moore, developed ZFS to address many of the problems they saw with current file systems, such as data integrity, scalability, and administration. In our discussion this month, Bonwick and Moore elaborate on these points and what makes ZFS such a big leap forward.
Joel Spolsky has never been one to hide his opinions. Since 2000, he has developed a loyal following for his insightful, tell-it-like-it-is essays on software development and management on his popular Weblog “Joel on Software” (http://www.joelonsoftware.com). The prolific essayist has also published four books and started a successful software company, Fog Creek, in New York City, a place he feels is sorely lacking in product-oriented software development houses.
Over the past 30 years Michael Stonebraker has left an indelible mark on the database technology world.
For years, the software industry has used open source, community-based methods of developing and improving software—in many cases offering products for free. Other industries, such as publishing and music, are just beginning to embrace more liberal approaches to copyright and intellectual property. This month Queue is delighted to have a representative from each of these camps join us for a discussion of what’s behind some of these trends, as well as hot-topic issues such as identity management, privacy, and trust.
In our interview this month, Cisco Systems' Cullen Jennings offers this call to arms for SIP (Session Initiation Protocol): "The vendors need to get on with implementing the standards that are made, and the standards guys need to hurry up and finish their standards." And he would know. Jennings has spent his career both helping define IP telephony standards and developing products based on them. As a Distinguished Engineer in Cisco's Voice Technology Group, Jennings's current work focuses on VoIP, conferencing, security, and firewall and NAT traversal.
Rootkitting out all evil Rootkit technology hit center stage in 2005 when analysts discovered that Sony BMG surreptitiously installed a rootkit as part of its DRM (digital rights management) solution. Although that debacle increased general awareness of rootkits, the technology remains the scourge of the software industry through its ability to hide processes and files from detection by system analysis and anti-malware tools.
As authors of the seminal textbook, Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach (4th Edition, Morgan Kaufmann, 2006), John Hennessy and David Patterson probably don’t need an introduction. You’ve probably read them in college or, if you were lucky enough, even attended one of their classes.
Douglas W. Jones and Peter G. Neumann have long been active participants in promoting integrity in the election process, with special emphasis on the dependable use of information technology, as well as on the weak-link nature of the entire process, from beginning to end.
This month Queue tackles the problem of system evolution. One key question is: What do developers need to keep in mind while evolving a system, to ensure that the existing software that depends on it doesn’t break? It’s a tough problem, but there are few more qualified to discuss this subject than two industry veterans now at Sun Microsystems, David Brown and Bob Sproull.
Jordan Cohen calls himself 'sort of an engineer and sort of a linguist.' This diverse background has been the foundation for his long history working with speech technology, including almost 30 years with government agencies, with a little time out in the middle to work in IBM's speech recognition group. Until recently he was the chief technology officer of VoiceSignal, a company that does voice-based user interfaces for mobile devices. VoiceSignal has a significant presence in the cellphone industry, with its software running on between 60 and 100 million cellphones. Cohen has just joined SRI International as a senior scientist.
To explore this month’s theme of component technologies, we brought together two engineers with lots of experience in the field to discuss some of the current trends and future direction in the world of software components. Queue Editorial board member Terry Coatta is the director of software development at GPS Industries. His expertise is in distributed component systems such as CORBA, EJB, and COM. He joins in the discussion with Leo Chang, the cofounder and CTO of ClickShift, an online campaign optimization and management company.
Many think of Amazon as 'that hugely successful online bookstore.' You would expect Amazon CTO Werner Vogels to embrace this distinction, but in fact it causes him some concern.
When thinking about purpose-built systems, it’s easy to focus on the high-visibility consumer products—the iPods, the TiVos. Lying in the shadows of the corporate data center, however, are a number of less-glamorous devices built primarily to do one specific thing—and do it well and reliably.
The IT world has long been plagued by a disconnect between theory and practice—academics theorizing in their ivory towers; programmers at “Initech” toiling away in their corporate cubicles. While this might be a somewhat naïve characterization, the fact remains that both academics and practitioners could do a better job of sharing their ideas and innovations with each other. As a result, cutting-edge research often fails to find practical application in the marketplace.
One of the industry's go-to guys in performance improvement for business systems is Jarod Jenson, the chief systems architect for a consulting company he founded called Aeysis. He received a B.S. degree in computer science from Texas A&M University in 1995, then went to work for Baylor College of Medicine as a system administrator. From there he moved to Enron, where he played a major role in developing EnronOnline. After the collapse of Enron, Jenson worked briefly for UBS Warburg Energy before setting up his own consulting company. His focus since then has been on performance and scalability with applications at numerous companies where he has earned a reputation for quickly delivering substantial performance gains.
In the landscape of today’s megaservices, Hotmail just might be Mount Everest. One of the oldest free Web e-mail services, Hotmail relies on more than 10,000 servers spread around the globe to process billions of e-mail transactions per day. What’s interesting is that despite this enormous amount of traffic, Hotmail relies on less than 100 system administrators to manage it all.
There are not many names bigger than Ray Ozzie's in computer programming. An industry visionary and pioneer in computer-supported cooperative work, he began his career as an electrical engineer but fairly quickly got into computer science and programming. He is the creator of IBM's Lotus Notes and is now chief technical officer of Microsoft, reporting to chief software architect Bill Gates. Recently, Ozzie's role as chief technical officer expanded as he assumed responsibility for the company's software-based services strategy across its three major divisions.
In the December/January 2004-2005 issue of Queue, Roger Sessions set off some fireworks with his article about objects, components, and Web services and which should be used when (“Fuzzy Boundaries,” 40-47). Sessions is on the board of directors of the International Association of Software Architects, the author of six books, writes the Architect Technology Advisory, and is CEO of ObjectWatch. He has a very object-oriented viewpoint, not necessarily shared by Queue editorial board member Terry Coatta, who disagreed with much of what Sessions had to say in his article. Coatta is an active developer who has worked extensively with component frameworks.
A Conversation with David Anderson It’s supercomputing on the grassroots level—millions of PCs on desktops at home helping to solve some of the world’s most compute-intensive scientific problems. And it’s an all-volunteer force of PC users, who, with very little effort, can contribute much-needed PC muscle to the scientific and academic communities.
There have always been similarities and overlap between the worlds of biology and computer science. Nowhere is this more evident than in computer security, where the basic terminology of viruses and infection is borrowed from biomedicine.
Delivering software to customers, especially in increments to existing systems, has been a difficult challenge since the days of floppies and shrink-wrap. But with guys like Tim Marsland working on the problem, the process could be improving.
Leading the way to manage the world's information
Tim Bray's Waterloo was no crushing defeat, but rather the beginning of his success as one of the conquerors of search engine technology and XML. In 1986, after working in software at DEC and GTE, he took a job at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, where he managed the New Oxford English Dictionary Project, an ambitious research endeavor to bring the venerable Oxford English Dictionary into the computer age.
Big talk with the creator of smalltalk - and much more. When you want to gain a historical perspective on personal computing and programming languages, why not turn to one of the industry's preeminent pioneers? That would be Alan Kay, winner of last year's Turing Award for leading the team that invented Smalltalk, as well as for his fundamental contributions to personal computing.
If you were looking for an expert in designing database management systems, you couldn't find many more qualified than IBM Fellow Bruce Lindsay. He has been involved in the architecture of RDBMS (relational database management systems) practically since before there were such systems. In 1978, fresh out of graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley with a Ph.D. in computer science, he joined IBM's San Jose Research Laboratory, where researchers were then working on what would become the foundation for IBM's SQL and DB2 database products.
Mike Deliman was pretty busy last January when the Mars rover Spirit developed memory and communications problems shortly after landing on the Red Planet. He is a member of the team at Wind River Systems who created the operating system at the heart of the Mars rovers, and he was among those working nearly around the clock to discover and solve the problem that had mysteriously halted the mission on Mars.
That light we see at the end of the tunnel is the convergence of voice and data communications with business applications. As chairman and chief executive officer of Avaya, Donald Peterson is in a position to help make that convergence happen sooner rather than later. Peterson has been with Avaya since it was spun off from Lucent in 2000. Prior to that he was chief financial officer of AT&T's Communication Services Group and Lucent.
As a teenager, James Gosling came up with an idea for a little interpreter to solve a problem in a data analysis project he was working on at the time. Through the years, as a grad student and at Sun as creator of Java and the Java Virtual Machine, he has used several variations on that solution. "I came up with one answer once, and I have just been repeating it over and over again for a frightening number of years," he says.
Stu Feldman, Queue board member and vice president of Internet technology for IBM, interviews the chief executive officer of the nonprofit Internet Archive.
The seeds of Unix and open source were sown in the 1970s, and Sam Leffler was right in there doing some of the heaviest cultivating. He has been actively working with Unix since 1976 when he first encountered it at Case Western Reserve University, and he has been involved with what people now think of as open source, as he says, "long before it was even termed open source."
Search is a small but intensely competitive segment of the industry, dominated for the past few years by Google. But Google's position as king of the hill is not insurmountable, says Gigablast's Matt Wells, and he intends to take his product to the top.
In 1999, Teresa Meng took a leave of absence from Stanford University and with colleagues from Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, founded Atheros Communications to develop and deliver the core technology for wireless communication systems. Using a combination of signal processing and CMOS RF technology, Atheros came up with a pioneering 5 GHz wireless LAN chipset found in most 802.11a/b/g products, and continues to extend its market as wireless communications evolve.
In many ways online games are on the bleeding edge of software development. That puts Will Harvey, founder and executive vice president of Menlo Park-based There, right at the front of the pack. There, which just launched its product in October, is a virtual 3D world designed for online socializing.
Oracle Corporation, which bills itself as the world's largest enterprise software company, with $10 billion in revenues, some 40,000 employees, and operations in 60 countries, has ample opportunity to put distributed development to the test. Among those on the front lines of Oracle's distributed effort is Steve Hagan, the engineering vice president of the Server Technologies division, based at Oracle's New England Development Center in Nashua, New Hampshire, located clear across the country from Oracle's Redwood Shores, California, headquarters.
Instant messaging (IM) may represent our brave new world of communications, just as e-mail did a few short years ago. Many IM players are vying to establish the dominant standard in this new world, as well as introducing new applications to take advantage of all IM has to offer. Among them, hardly surprising, is Microsoft, which is moving toward the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) as its protocol choice for IM.
The computer industry has always been about power. The development of the microprocessors that power computers has been a relentless search for more power, higher speed, and better performance, usually in smaller and smaller packages. But when is enough enough?
Google is one of the biggest success stories of the recent Internet age, evolving in five years from just another search engine with a funny name into a household name that is synonymous with searching the Internet. It processes about 200 million search requests daily, serving as both a resource and a challenge to developers today.
Chris DiBona has been out front and outspoken about the open source movement.
Sit down, turn off your cellphone, and prepare to be fascinated. Clear your schedule, because once you've started reading this interview, you won't be able to put it down until you've finished it.
To peek into the future of networking, you don't need a crystal ball. You just need a bit of time with Mario Mazzola, chief development officer at Cisco. Mazzola lives on the bleeding edge of networking technology, so his present is very likely to be our future. He agreed to sit down with Queue to share some of his visions of the future and the implications he anticipates for software developers working with such rapidly evolving technologies as wireless networking, network security, and network scalability.
Linux may well play a significant role in the future of the embedded systems market, where the majority of software is still custom built in-house and no large player has preeminence. The constraints placed on embedded systems are very different from those on the desktop. We caught up with Jim Ready of MontaVista Software to talk about what he sees in the future of Linux as the next embedded operating system.
Adam Bosworth's contributions to the development and evolution of Web Services began before the phrase "Web Services" had even been coined. That's because while working as a senior manager at Microsoft in the late '90s, he became one of the people most central to the effort to define an industry XML specification. While at Microsoft, he also served as General Manager of the company's WebData organization (with responsibility for defining Microsoft's long-term XML strategy) in addition to heading up the effort to develop the HTML engine used in Internet Explorer 4 & 5.