ACM ByteCast Archive

ACM ByteCast is a podcast series from ACM’s Practitioners Board in which hosts Rashmi Mohan and Jessica Bell interview researchers, practitioners and innovators who are at the intersection of computing research and practice. In each monthly episode, guests will share their experiences, the lessons they’ve learned, and their own visions for the future of computing.

Listen to past episodes below, or wherever you get your podcasts.

 

We Welcome Your Feedback!

Please contact hosts Rashmi Mohan and Jessica Bell at acm.bytecast@gmail.com.

Ramesh Raskar

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan hosts Ramesh Raskar, Associate Professor at MIT Media Lab where he directs the Camera Culture research group. He holds more than 90 patents in computer vision, computational health, sensors, and imaging, and has co-authored books on Spatial Augmented Reality, Computational Photography, and 3D Imaging. His many awards and recognitions include the prestigious 2004 TR100 (MIT Technology Review), 2016 Lemelson–MIT Prize, and 2017 ACM SIGGRAPH Award.

Raskar discusses the fascinating research field dedicated to capturing and recording the world in new ways. He explains how computer vision provides a new eye and brain to help us both in seeing and processing the world and shares his recent work with extremely high-speed imaging. He also mentions his COVID-19 project: developing privacy-first contact-tracing tools to stem the spread of the outbreak. Raskar also discusses balancing entrepreneurship and research, and his REDX project to bring peer-to-peer invention to his students and advance AI for Impact.

 
Image of Ramesh Raskar
Image of Denae Ford

Denae Ford

In this episode of ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan hosts Denae Ford, a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research in the Software Analysis and Intelligence Team (SAINTes) group and an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Human Centered Design and Engineering Department at the University of Washington. Her research lies at the intersection of human-computer interaction and software engineering. In her work she identifies and dismantles cognitive and social barriers by designing mechanisms to support software developer participation in online socio-technical ecosystems. Ford is also a recipient of the National GEM Consortium Fellowship, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and Microsoft Research Ph.D. Fellowship. She is best known for her research on just-in-time mentorship as a mode to empower welcoming engagement in collaborative Q&A for online programming communities, including open-source software and work to empower marginalized software developers in online communities.

In the interview, Ford relates how an undergraduate research project inspired her to pursue a PhD in computing. She describes her approach in designing various research studies, the process she used to identify challenges and barriers to engagement in communities such as StackOverflow and GitHub, and how she and her collaborators went about building interventions. They also discuss how some of these interventions can be applied by industry. Ford also shares some future directions and developments in computing that most excite her—and the possibilities in making the field more equitable and inclusive.

Download the show notes.
Download the transcript.

Maria Klawe

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan hosts former ACM President Maria Klawe. Now in her 15th  year as President of Harvey Mudd College, she is a fellow of ACM, CIPS, AAAS, AMS, and AWM, recipient of numerous awards and 17 honorary doctorates, and previously served on the Board of Directors at Microsoft.

In the wide-ranging interview Klawe, who started out in pure mathematics and moved to theoretical computer science, provides not only professional but personal perspectives on balancing research, management, and family responsibilities. She reflects on how roles in both industry (at IBM’s Almaden Research Center) and academia (as Dean of Science at the University of British Columbia and later as Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University) prepared her for her current position. She also describes her famously successful efforts to increase and maintain faculty and student diversity at Harvey Mudd. Finally, Klawe offers some ways of helping traditionally underserved student populations of students gain a foothold in computer science academic programs as well as in industry.

Download the show notes.

Download the transcript.

Image of Maria Klawe
Image of Vint Cerf

Vint Cerf

 

In the latest episode of ACM ByteCast, host Jessica Bell chats with former ACM President Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, an Internet pioneer widely recognized as one of “the fathers of the Internet.” His many recognitions include the ACM A.M. Turing Award, the National Medal of Technology, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Marconi Prize.

Cerf takes us along on an amazing voyage from seeing his first tube-based computer in 1958 to his work on ARPANET and TCP/IP with Bob Kahn, providing a brief history of the Internet in the process. Along the way, he explains how they approached the problem of building a network architecture that scaled astronomically over time. Cerf also points to important social, business, and ethical problems yet to be resolved, and explains why it’s an exciting time to be a student in computing.

Download the show notes

Download the trascript

Jennifer Widom

 

In this episode, Rashmi Mohan welcomes ACM Fellow and past ACM-W Athena Lecturer Jennifer Widom, the Frederick Emmons Terman Dean of the School of Engineering and Fletcher Jones Professor in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. Widom has made significant contributions to databases and data science. She’s a member of the NAE and AAAS, a Guggenheim Fellow, and recipient of the ACM SIGMOD Edgar F. Codd Innovations Award and EPFL-WISH Foundation Erna Hamburger Prize. Widom has co-authored textbooks widely used for teaching database systems design, use, and implementation, served as editor of top academic journals, and keynoted and chaired major conferences, such as SIGMOD and VLDB.

She discusses her unconventional journey from undergraduate music performance major to computer science doctoral student and researcher at IBM’s Almaden lab, where her interest in databases and information management was cemented. Widom looks back on the heyday of Massively Open Online Courses, when her “Introduction to Databases” class had more than 100,000 enrolled students, and describes some of the challenges that have prevented MOOCs from truly upending higher education. She also describes her unusual sabbatical spent traveling the world and teaching free classes in databases and data science in developing countries, and offers bits of wisdom for those looking for similar experiences.

Download the shownotes

Download the transcript

Image of Jennifer Widom
Image of Shwetak Patel

Shwetak Patel

 

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, host Jessica Bell welcomes 2018 ACM Prize in Computing recipient and 2011 MacArthur Fellow Shwetak Patel. Patel is a professor of computer science at the University of Washington and a director of a health technologies group at Google. He recalls his beginnings as a computer engineer with an interest in both hardware and software, which narrowed to computing during grad school. They discuss how “smart house” technology and working in construction stimulated his interest in building sensors and how applied research enables his work to have a greater social impact. Patel also offers valuable insights on the benefits of academia as a starting point for innovation, the global implications of his work, and advice to people entering his field.

 

Download the shownotes

Download the transcript

Robin Murphy

In this episode of ByteCast, host Rashmi Mohan is joined by roboticist Robin Murphy, ACM Fellow and recipient of the ACM Eugene L. Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions. Murphy is a Raytheon Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University and  Director of the Humanitarian Robotics and AI Laboratory, formerly the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR). She helped found the fields of disaster robotics and human-robot interaction and has deployed robots to major disasters, including the 9/11 World Trade Center, Hurricane Katrina, and Fukushima.

Murphy details some of the logistical and algorithmic challenges of getting valuable data during disaster response and acting on it at a distance. She also touches on the use of robots during COVID-19, such as providing support for hospital workers. Finally, Murphy shares inspiring advice for kids and younger technologists looking to make a difference with emerging AI methods, and her enthusiasm for the future of robotics.

Image of Robin Murphy
Image of Theo Schlossnagle

Theo Scholssnagle

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, Jessica Bell talks with widely respected industry thought leader Theo Schlossnagle, Founder and CTO at Circonus, Co-Chair of ACM Queue, member of the ACM Publications Board, and elected Member at Large on the ACM Council. He shares his journey from a love of problem solving to computing and entrepreneurship and how his work at school helping classmates solve difficult problems led him to create his first company and provide solutions to some of the biggest internet businesses in the world. He also provides valuable advice for companies just beyond the start-up phase and to young engineers interested in founding a business.

Download the show notes

Download the transcript

Kristian Lum

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan welcomes Kristian Lum to the podcast. Lum is part of the research faculty at the University of Pennsylvania's CIS Department. Previously, she was Lead Statistician at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG), where she led the project on criminal justice in the United States. She's widely known for her work on algorithmic fairness and predictive policing and is a key organizer of the ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (ACM FAccT).

Lum discusses her transition from math and statistics into computer science, and how her lab work in bioinformatics expanded her interest into social issues. They touch on the sensitive nature of data and privacy and gray areas in criminal justice data collection. Lum mentions some applications of her work, advising the NYC Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice and partnering with the ACLU. She also describes a very timely project accounting for the time lag between COVID-19 infection and death. Finally, she traces her winding, fascinating career path from academic to industry and back.

Download the show notes

Download the transcript

Image of Kristian Lum
Image of Radia Pearlman

Radia Perlman

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, Jessica Bell is joined by Radia Perlman, ACM Fellow and renowned computer scientist, who has made fundamental contributions to Internet routing and bridging, including work on network resilience. Currently a Fellow at Dell EMC, Perlman is famous for writing the spanning tree protocol (STP), which powers the Ethernet. She reflects on her early days at MIT and later Digital Equipment Corporation, where she worked on DECnet, one of the first peer-to-peer network architectures, and how that inspired her doctoral thesis on routing in the face of malicious network failures. Perlman then relates how she wrote the algorithm behind STP “over a long weekend.” They also discuss the importance of teaching critical thinking in STEM education, healthy corporate culture, and the reciprocal value of mentorship.

Download the show notes.
Download the transcript.

Donald Knuth

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan is joined by 1974 ACM A.M. Turing Laureate Donald Knuth, author of the hugely popular textbook series, "The Art of Computer Programming." They discuss what led him to discover his love of computing as well as writing about computer programming, his outlook on how people learn technical skills, how his mentorship has helped him write “human oriented” programs, the problems he is still working to solve, and how his dissatisfaction with early digital typesetting led him to develop TeX, as well as his interest in playing and composing music for the pipe organ.

Download the show notes.
Download a transcript.

Image of Donald Knuth
Image of John Hennessy and David Patterson

John Hennessy & David Patterson

In this inaugural episode of ACM ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan is joined by 2017 ACM A.M. Turing Laureates John Hennessy and David Patterson. Their conversation touches on the paths that led these two luminaries to pursue computing careers and the "aha moment" that inspired their breakthrough work on RISC microprocessor architecture. They also discuss how they see the future of computing architecture unfolding in the coming years, the need for new memory technologies and better security, the importance of collaboration in innovation, and the promise of the open source community to develop both better software and hardware.

Download the show notes.
Download a transcript.