RISC Architecture

 I accidentally ran across this video from 1986, and I love it for so many reasons. First, the video is about RISC architecture, which I teach in my undergrad course. Second, it calls to mind a show I really like, Halt and Catch Fire , since the video is from the same era that the show portrays, the early days of my computer science adventures. Surprisingly, given that the video is 34 years old, it still is a good overview of RISC concepts. Here are some time-stamped highlights: 1:16 The PC alternative shown is Leading Edge (1200 baud modem woo-hoo!) My husband bought this stock way back when, and lost a bundle. He started calling the company "Bleeding Edge" 1:50 The guys play the "RISK" board game (flashback!) while describing technology challenges in scaling up to memory as MASSIVE as 8M! 5:00 David Patterson appears as his younger self 11:15 Ridge Computers? gone to the dustheap of startups, I suppose 13:45 Check out the boxy mouse! The machine costs $10,000. Yik

Your Brain on Code

 Is reading code like solving math problems? or is it more like reading in general? Neither, it turns out. MIT researcher Eveline Fedorenko and team placed coders in a functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) scanner, and showed them code in a programming language in which they were proficient, then asked them questions about the code.   Although coding languages have many things in common with human languages, like meaning units and syntax, the fMRI showed that reading code did not significantly activate the regions of the brain associated with language. These language regions of the brain, including Broca's area, are primarily in the left hemisphere.  Instead, the distributed parts of the brain known as the multiple demand (MD) network were activated across the brain. These regions had previously been shown to be activated for complex mental tasks like solving math problems, or doing crossword puzzles. However, the regions activated for the coders were not identical to those activate

Google is watching

Google is watching you, but you knew that already. Several years ago I saw a pop-up like this: It scared the heck out of me so I just exited out of Chrome. It popped up again today and I hit 'I want to play' and this popped up: Wow. I have heard that this is how Google recruits developers. I don't know if that's true but I exited out of this. Maybe next time . . .

Innovation is about more than technology

I was watching an old Twilight Zone last night, filmed in 1962. The one where an elderly couple comes into a gleaming tech company to purchase new, young artificial bodies for themselves. Spoiler alert: the new technology has unforeseen negative consequences. (Isn't that the theme of every sci-fi work?) While they are touring displays of young, healthy bodies they may inhabit, for a price, a leggy secretary comes in and tells the executive that he has a call on the video phone. Oh how modern. A video phone. Artificial biology. And yet, a woman still has to be the secretary? Why was it easier for the writers/producers of this show to imagine videophones, brain transference technology, and more, but they could not imagine a shift in gender roles? Shiny new objects can gain entry into our lives easier than new ideas.  It's always easy to look back and see what others did not see due to their cultural blinders. But what are missing in this moment? How will people 50 years from now

Ethics in AI

This article from Quartz came into my phone's news feed this morning. AI conferences are beginning to think about ethics. Finally. Specifically, the premier machine learning conference NIPS requires a broader impact on society statement for presented research. One of the top natural language processing conferences, EMNLP, will now reject papers on ethical grounds. Whether these moves actually keep AI ethical or just push the dirty parts underground remains to be seen. But we all have a voice in keeping each other in check.  When I was a PhD student, our advisor had us sit in on talks by prospective faculty and arranged for the prospect to meet with just the students. I remember one young man boasting of one NLP project after the other, each more horribly intrusive on innocent lives than the last. All of these done in internships with a major computer manufacturer. Finally, when we got to questions, I asked him, "Can you describe any project you have done which makes the world

ARMing Data Centers

The server microprocessor market hovers around $15 billion/year. The market is largely dominated by Intel, although AMD is hoping to bite off 10% this year.  In contrast, ARM historically focused on the mobile device and IoT markets, but now ARM is shouldering its way into the cloud computing market. Case in point is Amazon's Graviton2 custom processors that use 64-bit ARM cores. Eyes are on ARM due to its reputation for power-efficient cores with good performance.  Ampere's Antra Chip A new entry into the market this year, Ampere's Altra chip, may be a game-changer. The Altra features up to 80 single-threaded cores utilizing ARM v8 chips.  Ampere's Renee James, a former president of Intel, founded Ampere Computing in 2017 and is currently its Chairman and CEO. Ampere markets the Altra as 'the world's first cloud native processor'. Ampere's Mt. Jade rack dual-socket rack server includes fast DIMM  and NVMe solid-state drive support.  The Altra is a chip

DFW R Users Group

The DFW R User's Group has a monthly Meetup meeting .  On Saturday September 22, 2018, I gave an overview of machine learning with R based on my book. Here is a link to the presentation :  If you just see html, click the "open with chrome" link at the top. Here is a link to the quick demo . Download the demo and presentation files here . I had a great time and I highly recommend this group to anyone interested in R.