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Computing Reviews began naming an annual best review in 1987, which continued through 2002. We revived the tradition in 2012, making this year's winner the 19th annual best review. We feel it is important to highlight the excellent contributions of our reviewers to the publication.

Throughout the year, our dedicated category editors rate each review on several criteria, including technical accuracy, summarization of the thesis and content of the item being reviewed, and how interesting the review is overall. In addition, the category editors recommend items to be highlighted during the year. We used these rankings and highlight nominations to help us narrow down the list of finalists. Once the nominees were narrowed down, we sent each category editor a list of the reviews in his or her area. We asked each category editor to choose the review that was the most interesting and influential one that we could hold up as an example of a best review. We ended up with 20 finalist reviews, which were evaluated by a small committee of category editors and our editor in chief. One best review and one honorable mention were chosen, and our committee noted the excellence of all of the finalist reviews.

The Best Review of 2014 is Brad Reid's review of the book Social media in politics. According to one of the selection committee members, Reid "gives a good flavor of the global reach of the topic considered in the book."

The honorable mention is for John Art's review of the proceedings paper "Cowboys, ankle sprains, and keepers of quality: How is video game development different from software development?"

The 20 nominees for best review follow, and we hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed choosing them.

  Best Review of 2014

About Brad Reid

Brad Reid is a professor of Law and Ethics in the College of Business and also the Senior Scholar of the Dean Institute for Corporate Governance and Integrity at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. He taught at Abilene Christian University (ACU) from 1975 until 2010. He served as Chair of the ACU Department of Management Sciences from 1992 to 1995 and Chair of the Faculty Senate from 1996 to 1997. Reid has…

Read more about Brad...

Social media in politics:case studies on the political power of social media
Patrut B., Patrut M. (Eds.), Springer Publishing Company, Incorporated,New York, NY,2014.382pp.ISBN978-3-319046-65-5.
H.5.3 Web-Based Interaction
Review written by Brad Reid

The editors of this collection of 20 chapters by various global authors believe the Internet has not changed the nature of political action, but provides tools for those who choose to personally participate. Divided into three sections, “The Political Power of Social Media,” “Using Social Media in Electoral Marketing,” and “Social Media in Mobilizing People for Riots and Revolutions,” the international case studies will be interesting to political and social scientists, as well as students of the social aspects of information technology (IT).

In Part 1, chapter 1 briefly looks at the global presence of political parties on the web. Another author asserts that environmentalism opened a new period of civic engagement. A third author briefly reviews the role of social media in nine different social protest movements. An example of social media in specific practice is a chapter concerning Twitter in the 2013 Italian political elections. Finally, two authors write about graph theory algorithms for analyzing political blogs. The blog of President Obama is used as a case study example. Main ideas and links between topics are visually represented.

Part 2 addresses how politicians have used social media in the past two years in local, parliamentary, and presidential elections. Local elections in Belgium and gubernatorial... more

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  Best Reviews Nominees of 2014

Honorable Mention

Software Engineering (D.2)
Cowboys, ankle sprains, and keepers of quality: How is video game development different from software development?
Murphy-Hill E., Zimmermann T., Nagappan N.  ICSE 2014 (Proceedings of the 36th International Conference on Software Engineering, Hyderabad, India, May 31-Jun 7, 2014)1-11,2014.
Review written by J. M. Artz

Occasionally, when reviewing a really bad paper, I will point out that its only redeeming value is that it can be used as a bad example in a research methods class. So, to be fair, when a really good paper comes along, I should point out that it can be used as an example of good research in such a class. This ...

Hardware (B)
JACCIE:a Java-based compiler-compiler for generating, visualizing and debugging compiler components
Krebs N., Schmitz L.Science of Computer Programming79: 101-115,2014.
Review written by D. T. Barnard

The software described is a compiler generator integrated in a graphical user interface (GUI) to support debugging. A compiler is viewed as a scanner, a parser, and an attribute evaluator. The focus is on the front-end techniques, with a variety of parsing algorithms available for evaluation in particul...


Computer Systems Organization (C)
The practice of network security monitoring:understanding incident detection and response
Bejtlich R., No Starch Press,San Francisco, CA,2013.376pp.ISBN978-1-593275-09-9.
Review written by Janusz Zalewski

I reached for this book because I am one of those readers who needs what it offers. That is, I wanted to learn about network monitoring to improve its security. As the author advises on several occasions, the book is aimed at those professionals who deal with computer security but want to expand thei...


Software: Operating Systems (D.4)
The design and implementation of the FreeBSD operating system (2nd ed.)
McKusick M., Neville-Neil G., Watson R., Addison-Wesley Professional,Upper Saddle River, NJ,2014.928pp.ISBN978-0-321968-97-5.
Review written by Harry J. Foxwell

BSD UNIX is perhaps one of the most influential operating systems (OS) other than Microsoft Windows. Now more than 40 years old, its features and technologies continue to shape modern OS research, development, and computer science (CS) education. Although not as widely deployed as Linux or comm...


Data (E)
A brief history of cryptology and cryptographic algorithms
Dooley J., Springer Publishing Company, Incorporated,New York, NY,2013.118pp.ISBN978-3-319016-27-6.
Review written by G. Mick Smith

Despite its brevity, this 96-page book provides a detailed survey of cryptology from Julius Caesar’s time to 2001. Most readers will find the cryptographic algorithms included at specific points to be of greatest interest. In short, the work has restricted but specific appeal to...


Theory of Computation (F)
Walter Gautschi:selected works with commentaries (3 vols.)
Brezinski C., Sameh A., Springer,New York, NY,2014.669pp.ISBN978-1-461470-33-5.
Review written by Kai Diethelm

Walter Gautschi is one of the leading numerical analysts of the second half of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century. He has contributed to almost all areas of numerical analysis, and many of his results have proven to be highly significant and timeless. In view of this fact, Brezinsk...


Mathematics of Computing: Discrete Mathematics (G.2)
The Merino-Welsh conjecture holds for series-parallel graphs
Noble S., Royle G.European Journal of Combinatorics38: 24-35,2014.
Review written by Paparao Kavalipati

Orientation is an assignment of direction to each edge of an undirected graph. When none of the directed edges is in a cycle, the orientation is called acyclic. When every directed edge is in some cycle, the orientation is called total...


Mathematics of Computing: Mathematical Software (G.4)
The R book (2nd ed.)
Crawley M., Wiley Publishing,Chichester, UK,2013.1076pp.ISBN978-0-470973-92-9.
Review written by George Hacken

I continue to not be a statistician but rather a proverbial user of statistics, and therefore (at the risk of self-flattery) a dangerous person. Like many others in science, I was forced (in my case, a half century ago, and of course without preparation) into barely understood advanced statistics a...


Database Management (H.2)
Data science for business:what you need to know about data mining and data-analytic thinking
Provost F., Fawcett T., O’Reilly Media, Inc.,Sebastopol, CA,2013.414pp.ISBN978-1-449361-32-7.
Review written by Fernando Berzal

As Hal Varian, Google’s renowned chief economist, says,

The sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. People think I’m joking, but who would’ve guessed that computer engineers would’ve been the sexy job of the 1990s? The ability to take data--to be able to understand it, to process it, ... more


Information Storage and Retrieval (H.3)
Social networks:a framework of computational intelligence
Pedrycz W., Chen S., Springer Publishing Company, Incorporated,New York, NY,2013.450pp.ISBN978-3-319029-92-4.
Review written by M. G. Murphy

This interesting book is about social networks (well beyond the expected Facebook and Twitter) and the many tools from the world of computational intelligence that provide a framework for analyzing and drawing conclusions from them. There are 19 papers, each with relevant references, and an overall in...


Algebraic Manipulation (I.1)
Automated simplification of large symbolic expressions
Bailey D., Borwein J., Kaiser A.Journal of Symbolic Computation60: 120-136,2014.
Review written by Alasdair McAndrew

The simplification of algebraic expressions is one of the major uses of any computer algebra system, and yet there is a paucity of material on the fundamental algorithms that underlie simplification. Such papers that exist tend to be quite old (ten years or more); some commercial systems shroud ...


Artificial Intelligence (I.2)
Ontology-based interpretation of natural language
Cimiano P., Unger C., McCrae J., Morgan&Claypool Publishers,San Rafael, CA,2014.178pp.ISBN978-1-608459-89-6.
Review written by Klaus K. Obermeier

The holy grail for computational linguistics, as the authors see it, is the semantic interpretation of text. A combination of semantic web research, particularly related to ontology-based systems, together with linguistic formalisms and knowledge representations can lead the way. Think of ontology as...


Pattern Recognition (I.5)
Unsupervised methods for the classification of hyperspectral images with low spatial resolution
Villa A., Chanussot J., Benediktsson J., Jutten C., Dambreville R.Pattern Recognition46(6):1556-1568,2013.
Review written by Stefan Robila

Spectral imaging constitutes a fascinating type of data. Organized as a set of grayscale images, with each image recording the reflected light of the same scene under a different light wavelength range, a spectral image can reveal significantly more than a color image. Slight dissimilarities between ma...


Simulation and Modeling (I.6)
Mathematical modeling:models, analysis and applications
Banerjee S., Chapman & Hall/CRC,Boca Raton, FL,2014.276pp.ISBN978-1-439854-51-8.
Review written by Corrado Mencar

A fundamental concept in computer science (CS) is abstraction, which often translates into building models of reality that can be explored and simulated on a computer. Furthermore, the tight interweaving of CS and data science (the study of methods to extract knowledge from data) makes the abilit...


Document and Text Processing (I.7)
The truth about HTML5
Stevens L., Owen R., Apress,Berkeley, CA,2013.200pp.ISBN978-1-430264-15-6.
Review written by Nathan Carlson

Everything about this book is provocative, from the attention-grabbing title to the critically realistic diatribes embedded in each chapter. If you’re looking for an introduction to HTML5 that covers the “what” and the “how” of the specification, look elsewhere. However, if you are looking...


Computer Applications (J)
Elements of quantum computing:history, theories and engineering applications
Akama S., Springer Publishing Company, Incorporated,Cham, Switzerland,2015.126pp.ISBN978-3-319082-83-7.
Review written by Arthur Gittleman

Intended for readers with no special knowledge of the theory of computation or quantum mechanics, the author attempts to cover the elements of quantum computing, including history, theories, and engineering applications. Obviously a comprehensive treatment of these topics, including th...


History of Computing (K.2)
CoCo:the colorful history of Tandy’s underdog computer
Pitre B., Loguidice B., CRC Press, Inc.,Boca Raton, FL,2013.203pp.ISBN978-1-466592-47-6.
Review written by G. Mick Smith

What do an attractive woman, a singing monk, Isaac Asimov, and the “Three Mugateers” have in common? They all share the rather short but quirky story of one beloved but failed low-end early computer, affectionately known as the CoCo (color computer). This book is an interesting sidelight into the i...


Computers & Education (K.3)
A synthesized definition of computer ethics
Hall B.ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society44(3):21-35,2014.
Review written by B. Hazeltine

“This paper presents details of a content analysis study that analyzed definitions of computer ethics,” because consensus is lacking on the meaning of the term. The research began with 30 “explicit definitions” of the term and synonyms taken from literature. These definitions fi...


Legal Aspects of Computing (K.5)
The emergence of personal data protection as a fundamental right of the EU
Fuster G., Springer Publishing Company, Incorporated,New York, NY,2014.274pp.ISBN978-3-319050-22-5.
Review written by G. Mick Smith

Law in the European Union (EU) is at the forefront of proposing the fundamental right to personal data protection. This book reveals the steps leading to the emergence of the new understanding of rights while indicating the intricacies of its relationship with privacy. Moreover, personal data prote...


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