Simplifying Cyberspace

A building as large as a football stadium stacked with three stories of computers—sound crazy? Actually, it’s facilities like these that make the Internet possible. Maintaining them, however, can be very costly. This is where Jay McCarthy, a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science, comes in.

McCarthy has developed a technique for programming such web applications as Gmail, Blackboard, Amazon, Ebay, etc., that enables companies to perform the same tasks using fewer machines.

Computer programming has been around for a while, but Web programming is a comparatively new field of twenty years. Despite the similarities between these two disciplines, Web programming presents new complex problems that cannot be directly solved with traditional programming approaches.

“The way that computers talk online is such that a lot of the techniques that developed over the sixty years of programming history are not obviously usable online,” McCarthy said.

Some of the online solutions that have been developed are roundabout and inefficient. However, with McCarthy’s technique, Web programmers can use the simpler, sixty-year techniques. This not only cuts tedious human labor, but frees up computer space as well.

The Internet is based on a network of computers that must store vast amounts of information in order to satisfy the millions of Internet search requests daily. The same indirect methods that bogged down Web programmers can also clutter this network. But, again thanks to McCarthy, a more straightforward approach of computer programming simplifies computer interactions, enabling fewer machines to do the same job.

Twenty companies, including the medicine and dentistry school of Queen Mary, University of London, are already benefiting from McCarthy’s work as they more efficiently use their time, space, and machines. Perhaps in the future, even more organizations will use his technique to generate the Internet data that we all access daily.

Learn more about McCarthy’s research here.

By Natalie Rice Posted on