Featured in Five is a monthly section where we pose five questions to a Computing Reviews featured reviewer. Here are the responses from our current featured reviewer, Jolanta Mizera-Pietraszko (Wroclaw University of Technology, Poland).
Q: What is the most important thing that's happened in computing in the past 10 years?
A: Over the last decade, computing technologies have developed rapidly. From my perspective, some of the most amazing developments have been in areas like cloud computing, robotics, e-learning, mobile applications, green computing, P2P social networks, e-business, and cyber security research. Thanks to the popularity of mobile devices, I find the ubiquitous access to information of any kind and at any moment simply outstanding; in particular, multilingual information—called translingual engineering in research—enables anyone, regardless of foreign language competence, to surmount language boundaries, no matter the language syntax. Astonishing advances in machine translation and search techniques have enabled this.
Q: By the end of your career, where do you think computer science will have taken us? What are you working on that might contribute toward that?
A: It is most interesting to speculate about which of the above-mentioned areas will dominate the others, or perhaps what new research will develop. Maybe e-learning will change the way in which schools work. Maybe social networking will change the way humans interact. Maybe mobile technology will change our way of life. For instance, I always use my HTC with a 5” screen to connect to my laptop while away to check emails, print documents, conference online, record videos, take photos, read news, remind me about deadlines, and so on.
My contribution to computing is my invention of a language and system-independent asymmetric backward-translation technology that not only makes the machine translation process perfect, but simultaneously provides great knowledge about the language pair phenomena required for system training, testing, or evaluation. In one example of the system translation, a producer learned about 15 critical points that would improve the machine translation system’s efficacy.
Q: Who is your favorite historical figure? Why?
A: One of the concepts my parents taught me is that every person has some skill that he or she is better at than others; it is a kind of obligation to devote it to humanity. Even more, when humanity appreciates the contributions of that person as a solid foundation, he or she becomes, in a way, immortal. So many favorite historical figures have influenced me. One of them is Leonardo da Vinci, who, in his famous Notebooks, reveals the nature of sound, describing the motions of the tongue muscles while producing five vowels that, when composed, create all of the sounds pronounced in all languages. It sounded fascinating enough for me when I read it, but it came back to me when teaching UNESCO teachers some basics of the Polish language: I used the knowledge and, to my complete astonishment, heard them pronounce difficult Polish words just the same as native Polish speakers. Another great figure is Salvador Dali. Every time I look at his paintings, they reflect some new detail from his life.
Q: If you weren't working in the computer science field, what would you be doing instead?
A: While in school, my favorite subjects were computer science, English, French, and mathematics. Translingual engineering involves them all. Therefore, I would love to teach these subjects. While this job would be very challenging, I think it would be quite rewarding.
Q: What is your favorite type of music?
A: Rock & roll made a breakthrough in music style all over the world—The Beatles, Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones made great contributions to this genre. Due to the educational character of the songs’ texts, while in America, I love listening to country music, which integrates its classical form with some new elements. Classical music heard in philharmonic halls or operas, which I recall from my childhood, always moves me to tears.