Computer Science and Mathematics

The Year in Math 24 December 2022
A brief history of artificial intelligence 30 August 2021

In the summer of 1956, a group of researchers set out to try to reproduce human intelligence in a machine. More than sixty years later and despite enormous progress, that goal is still out of reach. Just how far, nobody knows.
An introduction to artificial intelligence for a new publication series put out by Aventine, a non-profit research institute that studies how rapid technological advancements and disruptive change will affect life in the decades to come.

What Justin Trudeau got wrong about Quantum Computing 18 April 2016

A video of the Canadian Prime Minister giving an apparently impromptu riff on quantum computing had a few mistakes in it.
This is a critique not so much of his minor errors, but of the media storm which treated his lecture as a sign of genius.
[Washington Post]

The big dangers of ‘big data’ 2 February 2015

Don’t fall in love with every bit you meet
An essay about how the obsession with data is undermining social structures in government, business and life.

Responding to the New York Times off-base math education editorial 10 December 2013

Math doesn’t have to be boring, but it does have to be math
The New York Times editorial board doesn’t understand the first thing about mathematics, and this is a big problem.

The end of the “La-Z-Boy era” of sequential programming 20 March 2013

What comes after Moore’s law?
The challenge of parallelism.
[Zocalo Public Square]

Can We Teach Computers What “Truth” Means? 26 February 2013

It’s harder than it sounds
How artificial intelligence can inform ideas about logic.

The book of primes 5 February 2013

A new largest prime number
And the significance of primes to mathematics.

CAPTCHA and the alternatives 31 January 2013

May it not rest in peace
Combatting spam and what it means to be human.

Learning Math From Software Is Like Learning Parenting
Skills From Second Life
29 June 2012
Why Johnny Can’t Add Without a Calculator 25 June 2012

Technology is doing to math education what industrial agriculture did to food: making it efficient, monotonous, and low-quality.
How and why graphing calculators, educational software, interactive whiteboards and the like undermine actual learning in elementary, middle and high schools.

Why Computers Still Can’t Translate Languages Automatically 11 May 2012

DARPA’s search for meaning
How researchers are trying to use semantic information in machine translation.

The Nucleus of the Digital Age 3 March 2012

A review of George Dyson’s “Turing’s Cathedral”
In pursuit of hydrogen bombs, a math genius and a brilliant tinkerer in Princeton developed the modern computer.
[Wall Street Journal]

Found in translation 22 February 2011

Translation by the numbers
How statistical machine translation evolved to work as well as it does
[Washington Post]

The trouble with software 25 November 2004

Managing complexity
Most software projects fail to meet their goals. Can this be fixed by giving developers better tools?

Anatomy of a search engine 16 September 2004

How Google works
A brief history of the world’s most revolutionary search engine. Plus, an interview with me about that brief history.

Not so secret codes 1 July 2004

Not the usual channels
An overview of coding theory

Profile: Dennis Ritchie, Unix pioneer 10 June 2004

Unix’s founding fathers
A profile of Dennis Ritchie and his colleaugues who first developed C, the programming language, and Unix.

Needles in haystacks 10 June 2004

A golden vein
The future of data mining

Novel computational techniques 1 April 2004

Bit by bit
Developments in quantum computing and chaotic computing