Questions tagged [computer-science]

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

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Did Walter Pitts refuse to allow his name to be made publicly available?

I read on the Wikipedia page on Walter Pitts that : Pitts was also described as an eccentric, refusing to allow his name to be made publicly available. He refused all offers of advanced ...
Franck Dernoncourt's user avatar
11 votes
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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 ...
Emilio Pisanty's user avatar
8 votes
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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 ...
vy32's user avatar
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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)?
Александр's user avatar
7 votes
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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 ...
texdr.aft's user avatar
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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 ...
texdr.aft's user avatar
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history of backpropagation

Has anybody read or have access to Alex Andrew Significance Feedback in Neural Nets Report of Biological Computer Laboratory, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL GM-10718-03 TR No 5 September ...
Gottfried William's user avatar
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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 ...
user2554's user avatar
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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. ...
Martin Vesely's user avatar
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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 ...
Joce's user avatar
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Where is the first reference to the "Z combinator", a call-by-value fix-point combinator?

I'd like to know the earliest reference to the Z-combinator. This could be either where the name was first coined, or even the first discussion of a need for an applicative-order Y combinator. I didn'...
Jason Hemann's user avatar
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Was the Vigenère cipher broken many years before Kasiski?

The Vigenère cipher was broken by Kasiski in 1863 but I read novels and romans from older time, for example during the French Revolution where a student broke Vigenère cipher. Is it likely that ...
user4698's user avatar
3 votes
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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 ...
user51244's user avatar
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306 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 ...
Jason Hemann's user avatar
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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 ...
Louis    's user avatar
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Etymology of 'qubit'; is there any relation to cubits?

Whilst several not-very-authoritative sources e.g. Wikipedia state that the word qubit was derived, partially, as a play on the word cubit (obviously it also stands for 'quantum bit'), is there any ...
Toby Hawkins's user avatar
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Where did the divide and conquer method for radix conversion come from?

While doing the tedious work of documenting my software I tried to find the original source of the divide and conquer method for the conversion of numbers of one base to a number in another base (...
deamentiaemundi's user avatar
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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” ...
CTMacUser's user avatar
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Why is $\eta$ used in $\eta$-conversion?

In lambda calculus there are three types of reduction, $\alpha$-renaming $\beta$-reduction $\eta$-conversion The use of $\eta$ in $\eta$-conversion seems rather strange to me. Since they already ...
Sriotchilism O'Zaic's user avatar
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What did Dijkstra think about Monte Carlo algorithms?

In A Discipline of Programming, Dijkstra wrote: Two circumstances have changed the scene since then.* The one is the insight that, even in the case of fully deterministic machines, program testing ...
Geremia's user avatar
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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 ...
Albert Will's user avatar
1 vote
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156 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 ...
Steve's user avatar
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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 ...
iacob's user avatar
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When was the Server Side Include feature of web servers first made available?

Server Side Include (SSI) is a specific concept and related feature of web servers. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Server_Side_Includes When was this feature first introduced? The Wikipedia ...
Alex R's user avatar
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Gentzen and computer science

This is a cross-post from mathstack: https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/2584003/gentzen-and-computer-science?noredirect=1#comment5333947_2584003 I would like to learn a bit about the ...
Javier Arias's user avatar
1 vote
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32 views

How was the "train on 70% of data" convention established?

It's common in machine learning to train on 70% of non-validation data, testing on the remaining 30%. I'm not sure whether the motive for this is theoretical or "empirically this works well", although ...
J.G.'s user avatar
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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 ...
Gottfried William's user avatar
1 vote
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116 views

What is the relationship between constructivism and object oriented programming?

I am exploring the topic of constructivism from discreet math, and think it is related to object oriented programming. Can anyone confirm or deny the two are related?
Billy Armfield's user avatar
1 vote
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147 views

How many computers are there?

There are about 7.13 billion humans alive today. When installing Java, it says that 3 billion devices run Java. The question is, out of how many? How many computing devices that have enough ...
WBT's user avatar
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Who invented bit permutations like shuffle, butterfly and bit-reversal?

This question is about a class of periodic permutations,that are produced by applying finite permutations to the binary digits of all integers. In lack of a better name, they shall be called bit ...
Watchduck's user avatar
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Technical analysis of von Neumann's contributions to computing?

I have seen the book The Annotated Turing and I found it quite nice to understand the ideas of Alan Turing. Are there similar books for understanding von Neumann's ideas in computing?
tryst with freedom's user avatar
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When did mathematical logic start being applied in/ with computer science?

I am going through articles about Turing machines which were introduced to solve the entscheidung problem by Alan Turing in 1936. To what I understand, all modern computers are essentially Turing ...
tryst with freedom's user avatar
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85 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 ...
user1868607's user avatar
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54 views

Frege alluded to a logic algorithm?

Somewhere (I wish I remember where) I read that Gottlob Frege, although he didn't invent a logic algorithm, alluded to one (the Quine–McCluskey algorithm? something else? converting truth tables to ...
Geremia's user avatar
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Tri-nary processor?

Every now and then, I run across a rumor of the Soviets building a tri-nary processor, way back when. But I can never find a source beyond the infamous guy who knows a guy... The idea is interesting,...
That Guy's user avatar