Featured in Five is a monthly section where we pose five questions to a Computing Reviews featured reviewer. Here are the responses from our October featured reviewer, Feng (George) Yu (Youngstown State Univ.).
Q: What is the most important thing that's happened in computing in the past 10 years?
A: In my humble opinion, the change in “thinking” in computing is the most important thing that has happened in 10 years. What I mean is that the way people are thinking has dramatically changed in this field, and it can be observed in many aspects.
In infrastructure, multicore processors, high-speed large memory chips, high capacity hard drives, fast speed general purpose graphics processing units (GPGPUs), high-speed Internet and other high-performance computing hardware have become less costly and more powerful each year. Based on that, we replaced the traditional computing model with virtualization technology, which leads to the birth of cloud computing. We replaced support vector machines (SVM) in machine learning with the deep neural network (DNN), powered by GPGPUs, on pattern recognition for image and speech processing. In addition, we switched from on-disk data management to in-memory data management.
In platforms, cloud computing and big data have transformed from buzzwords to enterprise standards. More than ever, we migrate enterprise services into clouds from physical clusters. We use the MapReduce paradigm to process a much larger volume of data than ever before on commodity hardware, which is made possible by using Hadoop ecosystems.
In human interaction, we have become more open and connected. Open source has benefited countless people. More than ever, enterprises have chosen to use open source solutions and have even made significant contributions. For example, Linux is widely adopted in production. People use Git to collaborate in development remotely. Crowdsourcing springs up, and social networks connect everyone.
Our thinking has changed greatly in the past 10 years. There is no doubt these changes will continue in the next 10 years and even longer. The key is how to predict and govern the dynamics.
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 to that?
A: We will see computing sprawling into every aspect of life. The Internet of Things (IoT) has already become a symbol. Robotics and AI software will serve people in more households. Programming education will be provided at even earlier ages. In addition, we also expect new trends to keep coming out in software and hardware. For instance, quantum computing has become increasingly popular. FPGA will be utilized more in system-on-chip (SoC). Internet2 will be accessible in more places. Soft robots will be more vivid and friendly.
In less than 50 years, we have achieved so much in computing. These changes will keep going faster and faster. The speed of individual learning has already fallen far behind the speed of knowledge creation. I will keep working and trying to make tiny changes in my current and, possibly, related research fields. More importantly, I will continue working and trying to cultivate new generations toward computing and related disciplines.
Q: Who is your favorite historical figure? Why?
A: I don’t know. No one is perfect, but I believe we are all created equally with special purposes in our lives.
Q: If you weren't working in the computer science field, what would you be doing instead?
A: I would like to become a mathematician. I like topology and geometry since they are beautiful. I like analytics since it is logical. I like statistics since it is holistic. Many computer science problems are intrinsically math problems, so they would be a natural fit for me. Besides that, there are many math problems waiting for solutions.
Q: What is your favorite type of music?
A: I like to listen to soft music when I am working. On Pandora, my favorite channels are “Instrument Praise Radio” and “Solo Piano Radio.”