Questions tagged [computer-science]

For questions about the scientific approach to computations and its applications.

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4 votes
1 answer
93 views

How the present technology related to big data as example influences the way history of science is done?

Heard recently about digital humanities as a new paradigm of inquiry into the history of mankind and other humanities. Is the historiography of science informed by technological advances that could ...
5 votes
2 answers
114 views

Did Kolmogorov complexity influence the development of communication complexity?

I was reading a wikipedia article about communication complexity and it seems to me that it bears some resemblance to Kolmogorov complexity. Was the founder of communication complexity influenced by ...
2 votes
1 answer
95 views

Historical examples of frauds discovered because someone tried to mimic a uniform random sequence

So, I'm preparing a talk about the well known fact that humans are bad at the task of generating uniformly random sequences of numbers when asked to do so. I would like to spice the talk a bit by ...
5 votes
0 answers
85 views

What was Gauss's algorithmic method to solve a certain "nearest neighbour search" problem in multi-dimensional euclidean space?

In his 1829 paper on a new formulation of mechanics, Gauss presented his principle of least constraint, which parallels previous formulations of analytical mechanics and provides a new point of view ...
3 votes
0 answers
263 views

Where does the term "arm's-length recursion" come from?

I've recently seen the term "arm's-length recursion" for a recursive method with a check that short-circuits the method's true or intended base case. What's the origin of this term? How did ...
17 votes
2 answers
1k views

The Abacus vs. the Electric Calculator (Nov 12, 1946): Why did the latter lose?

On Nov 12, 1946 the Americans organized a contest in Japan to compare the Japanese Abacus with the American Electric Calculator. The Abacus won: "Civilization, on the threshold of the atomic age, ...
2 votes
1 answer
1k views

What technologies were used before JavaScript?

I made a small research about the history before JavaScript was available to use, but I couldn't find much. I only found several plugins that was used, such as Adobe Flash, ActiveX. So, what I want ...
0 votes
0 answers
65 views

What effect were used for manufacturing HDD before 1988?

I understand Hard disk present before 1988 and I came to know that Giant magnetoresistance effect used in applications in Hard Disk manufacturing and this effect is discovered in 1988 So what effect ...
8 votes
1 answer
389 views

Does Blum's speedup theorem have any conceptual predecessors?

Blum's speedup theorem seems to me that bears at least some superficial resemblance to Godels research on the length of proofs under certain axiomatic systems. Does Blum's speedup theorem have any ...
16 votes
2 answers
707 views

What happened to cybernetics?

Recently, I've been looking into the life of the brilliant Norbert Wiener and the field he spawned, cybernetics. Before reading into it, I thought "cybernetics" was a pseudo-science-new-wave-...
11 votes
0 answers
352 views

How were contour plots of complex functions produced in the days of mechanical differential analyzers?

I was reading an old paper (specifically, the first appearance of the Pearcey function, here) and I was struck by the beauty of the plots it contains, particularly for a paper from 1945-46: Pearcey ...
7 votes
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298 views

What is Holon Programming?

Donald Knuth credits Pierre-Arnoul de Marneffe's idea of "Holon Programming" as the main influence on Literate Programming. See page 13 of "Literate Programming", Knuth's paper ...
5 votes
0 answers
143 views

Early parallel computing with human exchanging messages: is this story true?

As a student in applied maths, I can remember being told that in the 1940s there were early attempts of parallel computing not using any machine but only human calculation power. I believe the story ...
3 votes
0 answers
127 views

Has Turing's invention of Turing machines contributed to the development of real computers?

Has Turing's invention of Turing machines contributed to the development of real computers, which resulted in the personal computers we currently use? I often saw it mentioned that this is an ...
3 votes
0 answers
167 views

Who were the major thinkers before Turing to ask whether machines can think? How come Turing's Test lasted as the influential one?

Turing Test has often been referred to both in academia and outside it when talking about AI. Yet there were I suppose many more thinkers except for Turing, possibly Descartes among them, that dealt ...
4 votes
1 answer
321 views

Why was the 'differential entropy' from information theory so named?

The entropy of a distribution $p$ on a discrete set $\mathcal{X}$ is defined as $$H(p) = -\sum_{x \in \mathcal{X}} p_x \log p_x.$$ Shannon in his classic paper [1] defines the analogue for continuous ...
21 votes
3 answers
1k views

What happened to analog computers?

When was the last analog computer developed? What about one that is still in use (as in computation or experiment)? Were there major improvement done from the day digital computers became so popular?
4 votes
2 answers
2k views

How did von Neumann come up with his merge sort algorithm?

Since merge sort is the first $O(n \log n)$ time general purpose sorting algorithm I find it rather surprising that it was discovered without having any obvious conceptual predecessors. Are there any ...
31 votes
1 answer
3k views

Was object oriented programming influenced by the mathematical category theory?

Object oriented programming (OOP) is a programming model where code and data are encapsulated into units called objects that behave semi-autonomously. Interaction between objects is arranged through ...
1 vote
0 answers
79 views

Grey Walter and Norbert Wiener regarding holism

Grey Walter writes: Even in the very simplest system, with two active elements, multiple interconnection between elements give several modes for which simple observation is useless. The study of ...
6 votes
0 answers
315 views

What is the source of Donald Knuth's remark about naming programming languages?

(This question toes the line between belonging here and belonging on the Retrocomputing Stack Exchange.) Here is the quote; sometimes the first sentence is omitted: The most important thing in a ...
4 votes
2 answers
505 views

How did Yao come up with his minimum spanning tree algorithm?

I recently stumbled upon this text about Yao's algorithm for the minimum spanning tree (MST) and I was wondering if there are some preceding algorithms (other than Sollin's algorithm) that were ...
2 votes
1 answer
630 views

What is the origin of "banana brackets"?

"Banana" brackets are used to denote catamorphisms: Another notation found in the literature is . These symbols are very similar to the composition of a $($ and a $|$, is this similarity ...
0 votes
0 answers
74 views

Derek Oppen and the Nelson-Oppen combination procedure

Derek Oppen was a student of Stephen Cook known for the Nelson-Oppen combination of decision procedures method. Yet, there is no Wikipedia entry dedicated to him and his publication list extends ...
7 votes
0 answers
83 views

What was the first automated theorem prover?

From a lot of googling, it seems like the answer might be "Mizar", but I am not completely sure. What was (or is?) the first automated theorem prover (i.e. not necessarily active right now)?
5 votes
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Are there other articles by Ada Lovelace than translation of Menabrea's notes on Analytical Engine?

Ada Lovelace is well known as an translator of Luigi's Menabrea article on Babbage's Analytical engine. She also added notes to the translation which are in the end longer than the translation itself. ...
1 vote
0 answers
152 views

The mathematics of multiple values

tl;dr Why has the array paradigm, which emerged in the 1950s and 60s amongst mathematicians, and which underpins certain programming languages, apparently failed to capture and maintain interest ...
2 votes
1 answer
116 views

Where does the term "pivot" come from in the quicksort algorithm?

The quicksort algorithm is based on recursively choosing an element to partition the array. In every modern exposition that I've seen, this element is called the "pivot". However, as far as ...
2 votes
1 answer
173 views

Was a work of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage inspiration for pioneers of modern computing?

Recently, I came across a book about Grace Hopper where it is stated that Howard Aiken wanted her to become familiar with papers by Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage as he considered some of Babbage's ...
5 votes
1 answer
144 views

Was Charles Sanders Peirce aware of Charles Babbage's difference engine?

Is there any indication that Charles Peirce was aware of Babbage and his work on mechanical computing?
4 votes
1 answer
439 views

Why so hard to find references to pictures of Raymond Boyce?

Raymond Boyce was one of the first pioneers of the relational database and a co-developer of SQL, yet it is almost impossible to find any pictures of him: https://www.google.com/search?q=raymond+f+...
2 votes
1 answer
154 views

Origins and reason for Volume A and B divide in Theoretical Computer Science

At some point in history, theoretical computer science emerged as a sub-discipline of computer science. Later, apparently it segregated into "volume A" work and "volume B" work. This can be seen for ...
6 votes
0 answers
531 views

Was there an intentional purge of all audio recordings of Alan Turing?

The YouTube video Alan Turing's lost radio broadcast rerecorded contains a re-enactment of Alan Turing's lecture broadcast by the BBC. In the introduction, the narrator (James Grimes, also of the ...
16 votes
3 answers
2k views

Why did Norbert Wiener break off relations with Walter Pitts?

I read on the Wikipedia page on Walter Pitts that Norbert Wiener broke off relations with Walter Pitts, which "sent Walter Pitts into 'cognitive suicide'". Why did Norbert Wiener break off relations ...
8 votes
0 answers
145 views

When did computer pioneers realize that some problems are intrinsically hard?

In my theory computation class, I was told that early computer pioneers didn't realize that some problems are intrinsically hard—what we now call NP-hard problems. Instead, it took a while to realize ...
10 votes
1 answer
876 views

Why is the Halting problem attributed to Alan Turing?

The halting problem is a very famous example from computability theory of a problem that is undecidable. It is often said that the proof of its undecidability was given by Alan Turing, indeed ...
12 votes
1 answer
515 views

Did Turing know of Babbage's work?

Did Turing have any knowledge of Babbage's work? Is it known if he ever mentioned Babbage?
1 vote
1 answer
2k views

Who first invented the programmable digital computer?

I read Charles Babbage invented the first mechanical computer (the Analytic Engine) and that Ada Lovelace devised the first computer programs. Also I realize John Von Neumann invented the first ...
5 votes
1 answer
232 views

Who coined the term “machine learning”?

A lot of sources attribute the definition to Arthur Samuel (1959), "the field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed", but none of these sources ...
7 votes
2 answers
472 views

What mathematician or scientist has published the most peer-reviewed articles on chess problems?

This question involves not only those provided by the link, but also those "chess-themed" mathematics and computer science problems which are not included in the link. Who has published the most peer-...
7 votes
1 answer
124 views

Origin of O/L for false/true in German computer-science texts

In Konrad Zuse's Plankalkül ZIA ID 0020 from 1972, in his patent submission Z23624 "Rechenmaschine" ZIA ID 0177 from 1936 and modern German Wikipedia article on the dyadic system, 2020-01-17 we see L ...
1 vote
1 answer
123 views

When did the study of the rate of convergence of algorithms begin?

I was reading a book about computational complexity theory and the author made a claim that the study of time complexity of algorithms started with a result on the upper bound on the number of ...
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

The origin of logic gate symbols

Who first proposed the distinctive shapes and the rectangular shape labels? What is the consideration behind the shapes and the labels?
10 votes
1 answer
336 views

What is the first reference to a nondeterministic Turing machine?

I am looking for the first reference of a Nondeterministic Turing machine. There is no mention of them in the 1936 paper "On Computable Numbers."
1 vote
2 answers
256 views

Can you provide pages 7, 8, 25 of the 1969 edition of the Art of Computer Programming?

A paper published in 1975 references The Art of Computer Programming (then published in 1969), so it's probably the first edition. I can't even find this edition for sale anywhere. Would you be so ...
1 vote
0 answers
55 views

Is there a reason $⊑$ in CSP is analogous to $⊇$ (as opposed to $⊆$)?

The 'square' subset symbols are sometimes used to express analogous concepts to subsets, like prefixes or suffixes. However their use in CSP seems to be counterintuitive to their shape: $⊑$ appears ...
2 votes
1 answer
422 views

How did Lenna become the most used image in image processing?

$Lenna$ despite being an playboy model posing nude here and there, is one of the most used images for image processing. How she came into the world of image processing? Was it done intentionally by ...
4 votes
1 answer
138 views

When has the notion of "programming language for machines" emerged?

Nowadays, it seems just common sense to write a program in a high-level programming language and let it be compiler (or interpreted) into machine code to run a computer. However, when did the ...
4 votes
1 answer
555 views

Why would Margaret Hamilton and her team at NASA print the code on paper?

This famous photo depicts Margaret Hamilton, leader of the software engineering team for the Apollo Project, next a print out of the code she and her team wrote for the mission. This information is ...
2 votes
0 answers
86 views

In left- or right-rotation for arrays, where did those conventions for the directions come from?

This is a repost from another exchange. I was going to write a paper about code to rotate elements in an array, but I realized I have no idea why rotation towards the start of the array is “left” ...