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2017.11.19

Reviving the 1973 Unix Programmer's Manual

The 1973 Fourth Edition of the Unix Programmer's Manual doesn't seem to be available online in typeset form. This is how I managed to recreate it from its source code.

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2017.09.15

Who are the Publishers of Computer Science Research?

To answer this question, I downloaded the DBLP database and used the DOI publisher prefix of each publication to determine its publisher. I grouped the 3.4 million entries by publisher and joined the numeric prefixes with the publisher names available in the list of Crossref members. Based on these data, here is a pie chart of the major publishers of computer science research papers.

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2017.06.16

Impact Factor of Computer Science Journals 2016

Clarivate Analytics (ex Thomson Reuters, ex ISI) has published the 2016 InCites Journal Citation Reports. Following similar studies I have performed in the past, here is my analysis of the current status and trends for the impact factor (IF) of computer science journals.

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2017.05.10

Unix Architecture Evolution Diagrams

Today I put online two diagrams depicting the architecture of the Unix operating system, one for the 1972 First Research Edition and one for FreeBSD, one of its direct descendants. Here are the details on how I created these diagrams.

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2017.01.20

Measures of Donald Trump's Inaugural Address

Computers allow us to measure objectively the properties of text. I applied some established text and sentiment analysis algorithms on Donald Trump's inaugural address and compared the results with the same metrics of past well-known presidents. Presidential speeches are nowadays typically a team effort. Nevertheless, I thought that the speech writing team's output reflects the president's choices regarding staffing, policy, and style. Moreover, as luck would have it, in this case it was reported that Donald Trump wrote the inaugural address himself. The findings of this exercise surprised me.

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2015.06.28

Impact Factor of Computer Science Journals 2014

The Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge has published the 2014 Journal Citation Reports. Following similar studies I performed in the past eight years (2007, '08, '09, '10, '11, '12, '13, '14) here is my analysis of the current status and trends for the impact factor of computer science journals.

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2015.02.28

ABS's 2015 Academic Journal Guide

The UK-based Association of Business Schools recently published the 2015 Academic Journal Guide (AJG) as an update to its 2010 version, sparking controversy in its press coverage. Following a study I've been performing on the impact factor of computer science journals for the past eight years based on the yearly Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge updates of its Journal Citation Reports, I decided to look at what has changed in the AJG from 2010 to 2015.

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2014.08.08

Impact Factor of Computer Science Journals 2013

The Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge has published the 2013 Journal Citation Reports. Following similar studies I performed in the past sever years (2007, '08, '09, '10, '11, '12, '13) here is my analysis of the current status and trends for the impact factor of computer science journals.

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2013.07.03

Impact Factor of Computer Science Journals 2012

The Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge has published the 2012 Journal Citation Reports. Following similar studies I performed in the past six years (2007, '08, '09, '10, '11, '12) here is my analysis of the current status and trends for the impact factor of computer science journals.

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2012.12.12

Changes in the Way we View Computing

The Association for Computing Machinery recently released the 2012 version of the ACM Computing Classification System (CCS). This is the work of 120 volunteers and marks significant changes over the previous version, which was released in 1998. To create it the volunteers mined ACM Digital Library search terms and used the services of a specialist company that creates ontologies. To see what has changed in the past 14 years in the way we view computing, I used Wordle to create word clouds from the 1998 and the 2012 versions. Here are the two views of our discipline's Zeitgeist and my take of their differences.

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2012.07.03

Impact Factor of Computer Science Journals 2011

The Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge has published the 2011 Journal Citation Reports. Following similar studies I performed in 2007, '08, '09, '10, and '11, here is my analysis of the current status and trends for the impact factor of computer science journals.

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2012.03.22

How do Big US Firms Use Open Source Software?

We hear a lot about the adoption of open source software, but when I was asked to provide hard evidence there was little I could find. In an article I recently published in the Journal of Systems and Software together with my colleague Vaggelis Giannikas we tried to fill this gap by examining the type of software the US Fortune 1000 companies use in their web-facing operations. The results were not what I was expecting.

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2011.07.31

Impact Factor of Computer Science Journals 2010

The Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge has published the 2010 Journal Citation Reports. Following similar studies I performed in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, here is my analysis of the current status and trends for the impact factor of computer science journals.

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2010.06.19

Impact Factor of Computer Science Journals 2009

The ISI Web of Knowledge recently published the 2009 Journal Citation Reports. Following similar studies I performed in 2007, 2008, and 2009, here is my analysis of the current status and trends for the impact factor in computer science journals.

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2009.10.15

Tags for Bibliography References

I love writing my papers in LaTeX. Its declarative style allows me to concentrate on the content, rather than the form. I even format the text according to the content, keeping each phrase or logical unit on a separate line. Many publishers supply style files that format the article according to the journal's specifications. Even better, over the years I've created an extensive collection of bibliographies. I can therefore use BibTeX to cite works with a simple command, without having to re-enter their details. This also allows me to use style files to format references according to the publisher's specification. Yet, there is still the problem of navigating from a citation to the work's details. Here is how I solve it.

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2009.06.24

Impact Factor of Computer Science Journals 2008

The ISI Web of Knowledge recently published the 2008 Journal Citation Reports. Following similar studies I performed in 2007 and 2008, here is my analysis of the current status and trends for the impact factor in computer science journals.

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2009.04.30

Best Day to Blog

Most of us don't have enough time to blog every day. Given that blogging ideas can often be pending for days, which is the best day to publish them?

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2009.03.10

YouTube vs. TOSEM

Over the past couple of weeks colleagues and friends I encounter in the hallways or at various meetings have been commenting about a small video I posted on YouTube. This video, titled Information Train, describes a demonstration experiment I performed at an event whose aim was to familiarize children with science. Often this video is the first discussion I've ever had with a colleague regarding my work. This struck me as odd, because I consider other parts of my research a lot more significant that this experiment. However, a look at the number of downloads of an article we recently published in the (highly regarded) ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology (TOSEM) and the views of the YouTube video proved instructive.

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2009.02.04

Beautiful Architecture

What are the ingredients of robust, elegant, flexible, and maintainable software architecture? Over the past couple of years, my colleague Georgios Gousios and I worked on answering this question through a collection of intriguing essays from more than a dozen of today's leading software designers and architects.

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2009.01.22

Paper-Based Publishing Meets the Web

A few hours ago somebody posted a link to Brian Kernighan's IEEE Software column titled Sometimes the Old Ways Are Best at reddit.com. At the time of writing, the entry has already attracted 143 comments and 172 votes. It contains is an (often interesting) discussion between Young Turks praising IDEs/SlickEdit/BeyondCompare and defenders of Unix tools. One bemused respondent commented (in a somewhat irreverent style) on the strange fact that a column that hit the headlines in January was mentioning summer projects. Here is the story behind the column's timeline and some thoughts on paper-based publishing.

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2008.06.27

Impact Factor of Computer Science Journals 2007

The ISI Web of Knowledge recently published the 2007 Journal Citation Reports. Following a similar study I performed last year, here is my analysis of the current status and trends for the impact factor in computer science journals.

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2008.05.30

Denise Rousseau on Publishing to Top Tier Journals

Yesterday I heard a talk by Denise M. Rousseau, President of the Academy of Management and the 1998-2007 Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Organizational Behavior. During the talk (which turned out to be an interesting Q&A discussion) I wrote down some of the tips she gave. Here they are.

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2008.05.24

Interoperability, at Last

Language is a very powerful way to describe behavior. Therefore even when I create pictures, instead of dragging around my mouse, I use declarative tools like GraphViz, gnuplot, and UMLGraph. These allow me to describe what I want to draw, instead of how I want the end-result to look like. The truth however is that the end-results are not always perfect. Today I realized that the state of the art has advanced to the point where I can create the drawing declaratively, and then visually polish the final drawing.

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2008.04.28

In Presentations Less is More

A couple of months ago I prepared the slides for a paper I will present at the 30th International Conference on Software Engineering. After reading Garr Reynolds's book Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design on Presentation Design and Delivery I became enlightened, and I decided to redo the presentation from scratch, creating less cluttered, more focused, and simpler slides.

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2007.11.22

Cover Letters for Publications in LaTeX

I admit it. Although I compose most of my journal publications in LaTeX, I use Microsoft Word for writing the cover letters. The university's letterhead is provided in Word, and setting up and compiling a LaTeX document for a single text page is not worth the trouble.

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2007.11.10

On Paper

A box of crayons and a big sheet of paper provides a more expressive medium for kids than computerized paint programs.

— Clifford Stoll

This column came to life as I was trying to devise an algorithm for analyzing initializers for C arrays and structures. At the time I was using the CScout refactoring browser to look for possible differences between closed and open source code. I had already processed the Linux, FreeBSD, and Windows research kernel source codel and only the OpenSolaris kernel remained. Unlikethe other three code bases, Sun’s code didn’t appear to use any exotic compiler extensions, so CScout uncomplainingly devoured one file after the next. Then, after aspproximately six hours of processing and 80 percent along the way, it reported a syntax error.

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2007.10.11

Creative Commons Around the World

On Saturday Lawrence Lessig will be inaugurating the launch of Creative Commons licenses in Greece. This prompted me to investigate how pages licensed under creative commons licenses are distributed on the internet.

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2007.07.10

Impact Factor of Computer Science Journals 2006

The ISI Web of Knowledge recently published the 2006 Journal Citation Reports. Here is my analysis of the current status and trends for the impact factor in computer science journals.

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2007.05.23

Decyphering Modern Texts

One would think that the decyphering of old writings would be the domain of archeologists poring over ancient palimpsests. It turns out that, thanks to modern technology, the quality of documents written only a decade ago can decay to the point of requiring decypherment. And don't get me started on the problems of digital preservation and the decay of URLs.

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2007.03.23

Software Development Productivity Award

Yesterday, at the 17th annual Jolt Product Excellence and Productivity Awards my book Code Quality: The Open Source Perspective won a Software Development Productivity Award in the Technical Books category.

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2007.02.27

A Peek at Beautiful Code

An exciting new book is about to hit the shelves, and I consider myself very lucky to be among its contributors. Beautiful Code, subtitled "leading programmers explain how they think", contains 33 chapters where contributors describe some code they consider noteworthy. Although I don't consider myself worthy of the book's subtitle, I love coding, and I'm extremely happy that code is taking the leading role among such an illustrious cast. Here is the complete table of the book's contents.

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2007.02.04

How to Embed Citations in Diagrams

Diagrams in scientific publications occasionally link to other elements of the publication, such as bibliographic or section references. Maintaining consistency between the citations in the diagram and the publication can be tricky, but a small Perl script can automate this process.

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2007.01.15

Landscape vs Portrait Monitors

Laptop monitors keep getting wider and wider. What I would really like would be for them to get higher.

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2006.11.08

Converting RIS to BibTeX

Digital libraries increasingly provide an option to export bibliographic data. Unfortunately, many, like IEEE Xplore, SpringerLink, and Scopus don't support the BibTeX format I use for storing my bibliographies. (To its credit the ACM Portal offers a BibTeX export option. On the other hand, Elsevier's ScienceDirect and JSTOR don't offer any export facility.)

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2006.10.24

A Solution for Web Citations

In 2003 I published a study providing evidence that the half life of a web citation was four years. WebCite offers a neat solution to this problem.

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2006.10.11

Web Page Hits, Amazon.com's Sales Rank, and Actual Sales

Over the past three years I've been collecting the amazon.com Sales Rank for my book Code Reading: The Open Source Perspective, and (lately) also for its sequel Code Quality: The Open Source Perspective. Yesterday I mapped the sales rank to actual sales, and correlated those with significant events and hits on the book's web page.

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2006.07.02

Quality, Democracy, and Code

Edwin Fine recently posted on amazon.com a review of my book Code Quality: The Open Source Perspective. In the review he complained about the quality of proofreading and copy editing. (The errors he noted are now listed in the book's errata.) His comments sparked off a delightful discussion on the reasons behind the falling quality levels of various products, the philosophical importance of this phenomenon, and its effect on coding standards.

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2006.04.12

Code Quality: The Open Source Perspective

My new book Code Quality: The Open Source Perspective got published, three years after I started writing it. The book owes more to open source software than any of the books dealing with Linux, PHP, Apache, Perl or any other book covering a specific technology.

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2006.03.16

Active Voice v Passive Voice

The most common change copy-editors perform on my prose is the conversion of passive voice constructs into active voice. By now I've become accustomed to it, and I now try to use active voice whenever possible. It turns out that the proverbial coin has in this case two faces.

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2005.12.19

Who Will Edit the Editors?

I am often asked to review papers that are written in a language only superficially resembling English. In a few cases the writing is so confused that I return the manuscript, asking for it to be edited by a native speaker of English. I realize that writing proper English is an additional hurdle for, possibly brilliant, scientists who are not native speakers of English, and I often wondered how authors could address this problem. Apparently, there are companies that will edit scientific papers for a modest fee.

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2005.06.09

An Open Letter to a Copy-Editor

Copy-editors perform a valuable service. They take prose that is often rough and unfinished, and massage it into a professional document. Unfortunately, sometimes copy editing can go to far and distort the meaning, especially in technical writing. Also, my feeling is that across the across-the-board copy editing performed by many publications results in writing whose language is uniformly polished, and, yes, bland. Think of what would happen if the writings of Hemmingway got copy edited. While I consider my writing at least five leagues below that level, I prefer to learn my own way toward perfection, than to battle with corrections that sometimes change the meaning of what I write in treacherous ways.

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2005.05.11

Ordnung muss sein

A free-form translation of the above German phrase (orderliness must exist) would be that orderliness is not negotiable. In the domain of information technology I find this motto particularly pertinent.

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2004.11.19

Poster Presentations

I've found myself twice in a period of six months giving a poster presentation at a conference. This has been a new experience for me, and, by looking at what others were doing, I realized I could do a lot better.

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2004.10.27

Accuracy and Precision in Scientific Publications

The interesting article by Paper, Rodger and Simon, Voice Says it All in the Navy, (Communications of the ACM 47(8):97-101, August 2004), is tarred by an unfortunate and, sadly, increasingly common error. In the article's tables and explanatory text the authors report their results with an unwarranted precision of three significant digits: 71.4, 42.9, 57.1, and so on.

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2003.05.20

Code Reading: The Open Source Perspective

In July 2000, while working on a paper on the use of slicing for choosing parts of an application to develop in a scripting language (don't ask), I found myself searching open-source programs for motivating examples, and experimenting with a tool for annotating the corresponding source code. At some point, a loud click sound in my mind brought to my attention the fact that although most books and courses teach us how to program, we actually spend most of our time reading code others have written. I reasoned that by applying my annotation tool on open source software I could write a book to present the ideas, techniques, and tools that go behind code reading.

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Unless otherwise expressly stated, all original material on this page created by Diomidis Spinellis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Greece License.