6.9.21

 

Concurrency, State, and Cardano

 


Recently, there have been a flurry of messages on Twitter about limitations to Cardano, many of them misleading. Sundae Swap have put together an excellent summary of the issues.

After months of testing with smaller groups, the Cardano public testnet was recently upgraded to support smart contracts. The surge of activity that followed included many dApp tests and experiments, with developers eager to perform a large-scale test and show off their hard work. This effort has created a ferocious discussion around some of the design decisions behind Cardano. Many critics are using this discussion as an opportunity to point to Cardano, misrepresent the problem, and ultimately underestimate the potential of one of the giants of the crypto industry. Misconceptions are now floating around suggesting that Cardano only supports one transaction per block, only one user can interact with a smart contract at a time, and that cardano is ultimately destined for centralization. All of these are inaccurate, and we present below a new framing and the start of a few solutions that dApp builders might choose.

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5.9.21

 

Reading list

 


Kevin Doran wrote to me requesting a reading list on logic. He recommends an introductory guide to logic by Peter Smith. Smith's appendix lists several textbooks on logic, but misses my two favourites.

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29.7.21

 

Time to say goodbye to our heroes?

Lindy Elkins-Tanton describes and disputes the "hero" model of academia, and suggests a model instead organised around teams focused on big questions. Thanks to Jan de Muijnck-Hughes for the pointer.
Reorienting our focus from the hero model’s “big people” to the consideration of big questions will address many of the challenges plaguing universities today: incremental, derivative, low-risk science; faltering funding; relentless focus on quantity of publication; irreproducible research; ongoing complaints of harassment; lack of diversity; an atmosphere that leaves students struggling with mental health; and (despite enormous funding outlays) an inadequately trained workforce in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

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26.5.21

 

Low Code/No Code: Why you should be paying attention

 


A new trend in programming languages (or in avoiding programming languages). Thanks to Simon Gay for spotting. One summary here.

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12.4.21

 

Vote!

 

The UK holds elections on 6 May. From the gov.uk site:

Register by 11:59pm on 19 April to vote in the following elections on 6 May:

  • local government elections and referendums in England
  • Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales
  • Scottish Parliament elections
  • Senedd (Welsh Parliament) elections
  • Mayor of London and London Assembly elections

Register Online. It usually takes about 5 minutes. Start Now.

Registration is easy: a rare example of a well-designed web site.

You can also support your party with a donation. Mine is the Edinburgh Green Party; feel free to add yours via the comments. Current polling shows Green on track to win 10 seats in the regional lists, and Alba on track to get no seats.

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29.3.21

 

Conferences after COVID: An Early Career Perspective



One silver-lining to the cloud of COVID has been the development of virtual forms of participation. A SIGPLAN blog post by five early-career researchers offers their perspective on what we should do next.
We propose that SIGPLAN form a Committee on Conference Data. The committee would be made up of: one organizing-committee representative from each of the flagship SIGPLAN conferences, one early career representative, and, crucially, a professional data collection specialist hired by SIGPLAN. The group would identify and collect key data that is pertinent to conference organization, especially with respect to physical versus virtual conference formats. The committee would make data-driven recommendations to SIGPLAN organizers based on the collected data and guided by core tenets such as community building, inclusivity, research dissemination, and climate responsibility. We realize that this is not a small request, but we are confident that it is both necessary and achievable. If the committee were to form by May 1, 2021, it would be able to start collecting data at PLDI 2021 and continue through the next two years, providing enormous clarity for SIGPLAN organizers at a time when so much is unclear.

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24.3.21

 

Mandelbrot Maps --- an invitation


[An open request from three of my students. Please try it out! I'm impressed with what they have achieved.]

We'd like to invite you to take a look at Mandelbrot Maps - an interactive fractal explorer!

https://jmaio.github.io/mandelbrot-maps/

This has been my honours project for the past two years, and this year it's also been updated with contributions from Fraser Scott and Georgina Medd. (cheers!)

There's a [Help] menu with information about the various available options: hopefully you'll learn something new!

If you could take a few minutes to look around, we'd really appreciate it! 
Feel free to leave feedback either through the button on the website ([Settings] > [Info] > [Feedback]) or directly:
https://forms.office.com/r/uRQwkQvVpL

(This study was certified according to the Informatics Research Ethics Process, RT number 2019/22202)

Thank you!
Joao
The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
Scotland, with registration number SC005336.

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23.3.21

 

Why Should Anyone use Colours?

 


Marco Patrignani explains why and how to use colour in your technical papers. The guidelines for making highlighting useful even for colour-blind folk are particularly helpful.

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16.3.21

 

Wealth Shown to Scale and Incarceration in Real Numbers

 

Wealth Shown to Scale and Incarceration in Real Numbers, two intriguing infographics from Matt Korostoff.



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5.3.21

 

The Pandemic to Come

 


Maria Stoian muses on how our reaction to Covid-19 predicts our reaction to the Climate Crisis. Simultaneously downbeat and upbeat. Courtesy of the Nib.

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