Tending To Infinity

What kind of thoughts does the word ‘infinity’ evoke in your mind? Do you visualize a never-ending expanse that stretches in all directions? Or maybe a straight line extending in both directions beyond visual perception. Some of us may even think of an astronomical figure and conceptualize infinity to lie much beyond this number itself. Yet, how does mathematics treat infinity? How do we logically/formally make sense of this idea and put it to great use to further enrich our understanding of this universe?

Let’s explore and demystify what this rather abstract construct really conveys to us through the language of mathematics. Continue reading

The World’s Most Active ACM Chapters Series in Video, Episode 1: UPES ACM Student Chapter, Uttarakhand, India

Working as Departments Chief for ACM XRDS Magazine over the past few years has put me in contact with talented individuals and interest groups ranging from California’s exuberant Silicon Valley to Indonesia’s remote tapestry of mountainous islands. During this process of dialogue and discovery, I was often humbled by my ever-growing awareness of the cultural and geographical diversity of the world’s Computer Science community, and how little I actually knew about Tech in other parts of the world.

“How is campus life in the Computer Science departments in Santiago, Chile?”

“Is Systems Programming taught better in Eastern Europe than in the US Midwest?”

“How much emphasis on Mathematics is there at HCI departments in Japan?”

“How do students organize departmental LAN parties to play Counter Strike in South Africa?”

“Which university has the best community for drone programming in India?”

There are all questions that my younger self could have never dreamed to crack. My horizon and preconceptions were constrained not only by my limited access to information and travel destinations, but also by my social sphere and the rigid official advertising facade put up by institutions in foreign lands and cultures.

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What about developer surveys for software engineering research?

In this blog post we present some ideas that one can consider before conducting a qualitative survey to evaluate new software engineering tools and systems. These tips derive from our own surveys conducted on Android developers as part of my research in software engineering.

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How do students differ in gamified education?

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Gamification of University-level courses is becoming a common practice, as many professors decide to try offering their students a more engaging learning environment. Nevertheless, we still do not have a clear idea on how individual students engage differently with a gamified course. But now a detailed, long-term study from the University of Lisbon has presented some insightful observations on this topic.

During the course of their study, the researchers observed three editions of a gamified University of Lisbon course on Multimedia Content Production. The course employed a blended learning method that combined theoretical lectures, lab classes, and an online Moodle component where students engaged in discussions and completed online assignments.

Throughout the years, the researchers have learned from the experience and improved the course’s gameful design. A general observation from the student’s feedback is that they all felt the gamified course was indeed more engaging than the previous non-gamified editions. However, there were some noticeable differences on how individual students engaged with the course, which the researchers sought to investigate.

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The Surface Dial and the Physical/Digital Divide in Interactions

Microsoft announced their new Surface Studio this week. It acts as an all-in-one computer, but with a modular screen that can be re-positioned to act as a drawing tablet. The idea of a computer screen that works as a drawing tablet is nothing new. Wacom and other companies have been producing devices like this for years. What’s new about this is the fact that Microsoft has made the screen an integral part of the computing device, rather than a peripheral that can be added later if needed.

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The Surface Studio. (Image Credit: https://news.microsoft.com/surface-studio-2/)

By doing this, Microsoft is bringing a novel interactive technique to a wider audience. Starting at $3,000, a fairly wealthy audience, but still, comparable in price to a high-end Wacom tablets + a professional graphic artist computer.

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