This week we're spotlighting the KS-2009 project, which is developing software to solve two-, three-, and four-variable Karnaugh maps(k-maps) on the J2ME platform. Karnaugh maps were invented in 1952 by mathematician Edward W. Veitch, and further developed in 1953 by physicist Marice Karnaugh, both of whom worked for Bell Labs. K-maps are usefule for solving Boolean algebra functions.

While I studied quite a lot of mathematics on my way to getting a Bachelor's degree in Physics in the 1970s, I certainly never encountered Karnaugh maps. From a quick search of the web, it looks like a primary application of k-maps is the design of circuits. For example, see "Logic simplification with Karnaugh maps" on the site. From this, I would guess that some of the people I worked with in the 1980s, when I was developing instrument control and data acquisition software (interfacing HP-9000 and PC computers with the instruments using RS-232 and GPIB cables), probably were familiar with Karnaugh maps, since often I was interfacing the computers and software with their custom built circuit boards.

But back to the present: the KS-2009 project describes itself as "the world's first Karnaugh Map Solver for handheld devices" and describes k-maps as follows:

Karnaugh Maps are used to normalize complex digital circuits to reduce the requirements and complexity of hardware while implementing Digital Logic circuits. Mobile devices being so easy to access, this software will be a boon for all those digital circuit designers who are very often confronted with the problem to normalize complex digital circuits, and find normalization procedure using Karnaugh maps manually, very time consuming and difficult.

Talking about the current Version 1.0 release of KS-2009:

KS - 2009 Version 1.0 can be made in use to solve 2-variable Karnaugh maps, 3-variable Karnaugh Maps and 4-variable Karnaugh maps. The solutions will be given out in SOP (Sum of Products) form to ease understandability. This software is made on J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition) platform using CLDC-1.0 and MIDP-1.1 profiles. KS - 2009 supports S-60 and higher mobile devices which support for Java Environment.

If you're interested in what is meant by "sum of products" there are lots of introductory pages available, for example, Canonical form (Boolean algebra) and K-maps (Karnaugh Maps). I myself have too little background in boolean algebra to get much from these pages quickly. It sounds so simple, doesn't it? Boolean algebra! Surely someone who once felt comfortable working with differential equations should be able to pick it up in a flash, right?

The other thing the KS-2009 project makes me think about is: here's a tool that engineers can use to solve fairly complex problems using a hand-held device they can carry with them from a laboratory to a conference room, to an auditorium presentation, then back to the laboratory. Undoubtedly, the hand-held device they are carrying is more powerful and has greater analytic capability and processing speed than the clunky desktop workstations I was working on during my instrumentation days 25 years ago. The progress has been enormous since the start of my professional career. The KS-2009 project is one more demonstration of that fact.

In Java Today, the Java User Groups Community reports that the London Java Community has reached 750 members:

Email from Barry Cranford states that the London Java Community (founded in 2007) has now reached over 750 members. They run their meetings using and they maintain a blog

"...Having been founded in November 2007, after twelve months we hit 250 members, I had hoped we could grow to 750 by the end of the year so it