Concepts familiar from grade-school algebra have broad ramifications in computer science.
Technology Review, MIT's national magazine of technology and policy, has been ranked No. 1 in the nation in the "most credible" category and No. 6 in the "most objective" category in a sample survey of 300,000 leaders from business and government.
The "Opinion Leaders of 1994" survey, titled "A National Study of Contemporary Issue Involvement and Media Influence," was done by Erdos & Morgan, a widely recognized opinion-research firm in New York City.
The goal of the research, the company said, "was to determine involvement with contemporary issues and media use and influence among a group of prominent Americans who have been designated as Opinion Leaders."
The respondents were asked to evaluate 64 of the country's leading magazines and newspapers and 32 major television news programs. Respondents were selected for the survey only if they read the publication or viewed the programs at least occasionally.
Numerical scores were assigned with respect to each of five descriptors: influential, objective, current, credible and enjoyable.
"It was an honor simply to be included among the country's leading media," said Steven J. Marcus, editor of Technology Review, which also serves as the alumni magazine, "but then we ranked in the top 10 in two of the five categories."
The magazine also did relatively well in the three other categories.
In being named "Most Credible," Technology Review was ahead of Scientific American, The Economist, National Geographic, the New England Journal of Medicine, Science, the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, National Review, Smithsonian and the Harvard Business Review.
In the "Most Influential" rankings, the magazine was No. 13, just behind Science and well ahead of Scientific American, Business Week and The New Republic.
Even at No. 44 in the "Most Enjoyable" category, the magazine was in the top half of the magazines and news programs surveyed, ahead of The New York Times, Fortune, and the nightly half-hour news shows of the three major TV networks.
The magazine's poorest showing was in the "Most Current" category. "This is a seemingly poor showing," Mr. Marcus said, "but the result was heavily skewed by newspapers, news weeklies and TV programs-which virtually by definition are more current But we did real well among other monthlies: nearly tied with Scientific American and ahead of the Atlantic, Audubon, Harper's and Smithsonian."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 1, 1995.