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We at Computing Reviews feel it is important to highlight the excellent contributions of our reviewers to the publication, and are happy to bring you the 21st annual best review.

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  Best Review of 2016
 

About H. Van Dyke Parunak

H. Van Dyke Parunak is Vice President for Technology Innovation at AxonAI, Inc. He has extensive experience in both academic and industrial environments with chaos and complex systems, artificial intelligence, distributed computing, and human interfaces. Since 1984, he led the Agent-based and Complex Systems Research group, housed since 1984 in a variety of companies, studying swarm intelligence, emergent

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Anigrafs: experiments in cooperative cognitive architecture
Richards W., MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2015. ISBN 9780262527781.
I.2.0 General
Review written by H. Van Dyke Parunak


A perennial challenge in cognitive science is framing an architecture powerful enough to be a credible support for human reasoning, yet simple enough to map to the known machinery of the human brain. Work done in the 1970s on systems such as Soar framed many of the problems, but the complex symbol processing in such systems is not a persuasive model for actual brain function. At the other extreme, models such as Braitenberg’s Vehicles [1] show how very simple circuits can produce surprisingly realistic movement behaviors from reasonable sensors, and models such as Minsky’s Society of Mind [2] suggest that collections of such reasoners might account for human cognition, but the details of this fusion remain obscure. This volume offers a coherent theory, together with a range of simulation experiments and modeling formalisms, for combining communities of simple reasoners into coherent higher-level systems.


Minsky’s fundamental insight, which can be traced back to Selfridge’s Pandemonium architecture for feature recognition in vision systems [3], is that competition among a community of reasoners can combine their agreements and cancel out their disagreements to yield a consensus view. But the devil is in the details. Simple combining methods such as having all reasons vote require an unrealistic global comparison that explodes combinatorically and is often... more

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  Best Reviews Nominees of 2016
 
 

Honorable Mention

 
Introductory & Survey (A.1)
Computational thinking
Grady Booch. YouTube, 01:04:09, published on Mar 16, 2016, Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6n4GNdIeFbs. Type: Video.
Review written by Rosario Uceda-Sosa

This one-hour lecture by Grady Booch is a walk through history seen as an evolution toward computational thinking, which will culminate in a symbiotic relationship between people and computers/machines....
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Honorable Mention

 
Applicative (Functional) Programming (D.1.1)
Common Lisp recipes: a problem-solution approach
Weitz E., Apress, New York, NY, 2015. 744 pp. ISBN 978-1-484211-77-9.
Review written by Edgar R. Chavez

Lisp, the second high-level programming language invented at the dawn of the computer age, has never been out of fashion, especially for artificial intelligence and other specialized areas. When the Lisp community recognized the benefits of an official language definition, the response ...
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Honorable Mention

 
Data Encryption (E.3)
Visual cryptography for image processing and security: theory, methods, and applications (2nd ed.)
Liu F., Yan W., Springer International Publishing, New York, NY, 2015. 167 pp. ISBN 978-3-319234-72-4.
Review written by G. Mick Smith

In this slim but overly packed volume, visual cryptography is reviewed along with its fundamental concepts in theory and practice. The area is absolutely critical at this time for counter-terrorism, corporate security, and in international relations; thus, the topic is of extraordinary ...
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Honorable Mention

 
Optimization (G.1.6)
Recent advances in computational optimization: results of the Workshop on Computational Optimization (WCO 2015)
Fidanova S., Springer International Publishing, New York, NY, 2016. 303 pp. ISBN 978-3-319401-31-7.
Review written by V. Kreinovich

There exist many optimization techniques ranging from the more traditional techniques of numerical optimization to heuristic techniques such as evolutionary computation, ant optimization, and so on. In numerical analysis, the quality of different optimization techniques is usually gauge...
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General (B.2.0)
Numbers and computers
Kneusel R., Springer Publishing Company, Incorporated, Cham, Switzerland, 2015. 231 pp. ISBN 978-3-319172-59-0.
Review written by Edgar R. Chavez

When writing software, we need a full, detailed understanding of how computers work with numbers. Inadequate understanding can have dire consequences. In Numbers and computers, Kneusel mentions two egregious examples: the explosion of an Ariane rocket [1], and the failure of a...
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General (C.2.0)
Mobile phone security and forensics: a practical approach (2nd ed.)
Androulidakis I., Springer International Publishing, New York, NY, 2016. 120 pp. ISBN 978-3-319297-41-5.
Review written by L.-F. Pau

Mobile phone security and forensics are clearly of top concern to many users, service providers, and the business and institutional worlds. The complexity of these issues increases at a fast pace, so it will not come as a surprise that a 113-page volume dedicated to them will have some ...
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Distributed Systems (C.2.4)
Cloud storage security: a practical guide
Wheeler A., Winburn M., Elsevier Science Publishers B. V., Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2015. 144 pp. ISBN 978-0-128029-30-5.
Review written by Alessandro Berni

Because everyone, knowingly or unknowingly, is a user of cloud services, this practical guide is recommended to technical and nontechnical readers alike, to get a compact and to-the-point presentation of risks associated with cloud storage systems from a security and privacy perspective...
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Language Classifications (D.3.2)
Java precisely
Sestoft P., The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2016. 216 pp. ISBN 978-0-262529-07-5.
Review written by Alexandre Bergel

Java is a programming language that has significantly grown in size and complexity since its inception in the ’90s. The mission of Java precisely is to concisely present technical aspects that are reputed difficult. This is particularly relevant since recent additions in...
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Security & Protection (D.4.6)
Enterprise Mac security: Mac OS X (3rd ed.)
Edge C., O’Donnell D., Apress, New York, NY, 2015. 511 pp. ISBN 978-1-484217-11-5.
Review written by Harry J. Foxwell

The information technology (IT) blogs and trade press are awash in articles about the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon. Many corporate system users have opted to provide their own Apple laptops over the more commonly employer-provided Windows laptops. The reasons and assumptions ...
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Nonnumerical Algorithms & Problems (F.2.2)
Computing equality-free and repetitive string factorisations
Schmid M. Theoretical Computer Science 618: 42-51, 2016.
Review written by M. Sohel Rahman

String factorization has long been at the heart of research on the combinatorics of words. It has attracted researchers from both theory and practice because not only is it inherently beautiful as a theoretical problem, but it has a lot of promising applications in different fields as...
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Probability & Statistics (G.3)
Using evaluation functions in Monte-Carlo tree search
Lorentz R. Theoretical Computer Science 644: 106-113, 2016.
Review written by Bálint Molnár

Recently, the deep learning paradigm became popular as a consequence of the success of Go game playing. Generally, the investigation of two-player games can be considered a good laboratory for experimenting with algorithms that pursue alternative approaches. For decades, the so-called...
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Systems (H.2.4)
Shasta: interactive reporting at scale
Manoharan G., Ellner S., Schnaitter K., Chegu S., Estrella-Balderrama A., Gudmundson S., Gupta A., Handy B., Samwel B., Whipkey C., Aharkava L., Apte H., Gangahar N., Xu J., Venkataraman S., Agrawal D., Ullman J.  SIGMOD 2016  (Proceedings of the 2016 International Conference on Management of Data, San Francisco, CA,  Jun 26-Jul 1, 2016) 1393-1404, 2016.
Review written by J. M. Perry

The evolution of technology is like a slow dance in which most steps are in place, but a few move forward. Motivated by increases of scale and efficiency, applications push the limits of technology and contribute to its advance. This paper presents an example of such an application...
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Content Analysis & Indexing (H.3.1)
Predictive analytics: the power to predict who will click, buy, lie, or die (2nd ed.)
Siegel E., Wiley Publishing, Hoboken, NJ, 2016. 368 pp. ISBN 978-1-119145-67-7.
Review written by H. Van Dyke Parunak

A wise man (reportedly Yogi Berra, but more likely a legislator in the Danish parliament) once observed, “Prediction is difficult, especially of the future.” In spite of the challenge, humanity’s oldest written records attest the demand for tools for prognostication. Today...
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User Interfaces (H.5.2)
A multimodal end-2-end approach to accessible computing (2nd ed.)
Biswas P., Duarte C., Langdon P., Almeida L., Springer International Publishing, New York, NY, 2015. 336 pp. ISBN 978-1-447167-07-5.
Review written by Thierry Edoh

Today, communication applications and devices such as smartphones are mostly designed for common use. However, they feature a plethora of complex functionalities that make their use difficult for certain groups of people. Thus, elderly populations and individuals with cognitive or physical...
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Sound & Music Computing (H.5.5)
Digital audio editing fundamentals
Jackson W., Apress, New York, NY, 2015. 142 pp. ISBN 978-1-484216-47-7.
Review written by David Bellin

Hands-on tutorials to popular free software are fairly common. What distinguishes this short (142 page) book is its coherent and concise explanation of foundational concepts...
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Algorithms (I.1.2)
Algorithms for computing backbones of propositional formulae
Janota M., Lynce I., Marques-Silva J. AI Communications 28(2): 161-177, 2015.
Review written by J. H. Davenport

The backbone (also called “necessary variables” or “fixed assignments”) of a propositional formula φ is the set of literals that are true in all models of the formula. Put another way, the backbone is the intersection of all implicants of φ. Since SAT...
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Graphics Utilities (I.3.4)
Extending "out of the body" tactile phantom sensations to 2D and applying it to mobile interaction
Kim Y., Lee J., Kim G. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing 19(8): 1295-1311, 2015.
Review written by Brad Reid

The quest for an all-senses virtual reality is not only of abstract research interest, but has numerous marketplace applications. Researchers have known for decades that the brain map of sensation does not necessarily correspond to physical reality. The authors report on their studies...
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General (I.4.0)
Digital image processing: an algorithmic introduction using Java (2nd ed.)
Burger W., Burge M., Springer International Publishing, New York, NY, 2016. 811 pp. ISBN 978-1-447166-83-2.
Review written by B. Belkhouche

This textbook is an excellent introduction to the fundamentals of digital image processing. It thoroughly blends basic theory and practical algorithms expressed in Java and ImageJ. It also provides a set of accessible exercises at the end of each chapter. It is suitable as a two-semester...
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Simulation & Modeling (I.6)
Automated memoization for parameter studies implemented in impure languages
Stoffers M., Schemmel D., Soria Dustmann O., Wehrle K.  SIGSIM-PADS 2016  (Proceedings of the 2016 Annual ACM Conference on SIGSIM Principles of Advanced Discrete Simulation, Banff, Alberta, Canada,  May 15-18, 2016) 221-232, 2016.
Review written by W. M. Waite

Memoization is a technique for avoiding reevaluation of a function when the result of a new evaluation will be the same as the result of the previous evaluation. In that case, the previous result is returned instead of executing the function. The technique is only useful when function...
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Document Capture (I.7.5)
Offline scripting-free author identification based on speeded-up robust features
Sharma M., Dhaka V. International Journal on Document Analysis and Recognition 18(4): 303-316, 2015.
Review written by Jin Chen

Text-independent writer identification (writer ID) has been studied for many years, and more and more techniques are now proposed to deal with various scripts and writing conditions. In general, there are two types of feature extraction: histogram-based statistical features that capture...
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Arts & Humanities (J.5)
Why only us: language and evolution
Berwick R., Chomsky N., The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2016. 224 pp. ISBN 978-0-262034-24-1.
Review written by Saturnino Luz

Although it underlies all our scientific and philosophical endeavors, human language ability remains one of science’s greatest puzzles. Generalizations regarding the functioning of language, the mechanisms that enable infants to learn it in the face of limited exposure to data, an...
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History of Computing (K.2)
ENIAC in action: making and remaking the modern computer
Haigh T., Priestley M., Rope C., The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2016. 360 pp. ISBN 978-0-262033-98-5.
Review written by D. Spinellis

If you have ever wondered why a central processing unit’s (CPU’s) register is called an accumulator, consider ENIAC’s 20 accumulators. Each (rack-sized) one could store eight decimal digits. Working similarly to a car’s mechanical odometer, it received their valu...
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Computer Uses in Education (K.3.1)
The emergence of GitHub as a collaborative platform for education
Zagalsky A., Feliciano J., Storey M., Zhao Y., Wang W.  CSCW 2015  (Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing, Vancouver, BC, Canada,  Mar 14-18, 2015) 1906-1917, 2015.
Review written by Andy Brooks

GitHub began as a platform to manage software development. More recently, however, GitHub has also been used as a platform to support education. To better understand this alternative use of GitHub, a qualitative study was undertaken. Online sources such as blogs were examined. Fifteen i...
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Governmental Issues (K.5.2)
Auditability and verification of elections
Ron Rivest. YouTube, 01:15:18, published on Nov 24, 2015, IISP at Georgia Tech, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5KitS5pSlc. Type: Video.
Review written by Alessandro Berni

A tangible result of the multistakeholder dialogue on Internet governance is the recognition of the universal benefits provided by the information society and a push to e-democracy as a way to strengthen democratic institutions and processes....
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Project & People Management (K.6.1)
Transforming learning and IT management through gamification
Prakash E., Rao M., Springer Publishing Company, Incorporated, New York, NY, 2015. 119 pp. ISBN 978-3-319186-98-6.
Review written by F. J. Ruzic

Although this book was released within the “Elsevier International Series on Computer Entertainment and Media Technology,” it provides serious insight into the concept of gamification, a new and interesting category that is slowly being recognized by more and more learners a...
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