Sequential Programming Considered Harmful?

Russ Miller wants computer science students to think in parallel from the get-go

3 min read
Photo of blocks falling.
Photo: iStockphoto

Over 350 computer science students take Russ Miller’s Discrete Structures course every fall semester. About 90 percent are freshmen. By week five, they are breaking problems into small chunks and learning ways to solve each chunk at the same time—in parallel.

Today, multicore processors power our laptops and cellphones. Distributed cloud servers or supercomputer clusters process large data sets to improve Facebook news feeds or predict the weather. To take full advantage of these systems, you need parallel algorithms. “It’s a parallel world,” says Miller, a computer scientist at the State University of New York at Buffalo. “Why is no one teaching a course in parallel algorithms to freshmen?”

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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