Skip to main content
26 votes
Accepted

Who coined the term "signal-to-noise ratio" and when did statisticians start using the term "noise" to describe randomness?

You are looking at relatively recent references. Noise originally comes from telecommunication analysis in early 1900s well before Shannon; basically, the electrical noise was heard as audible noise- ...
ACR's user avatar
  • 4,079
16 votes
Accepted

Did Turing know of Babbage's work?

See: Alan Turing, Collected works: Mathematical Logic (R.O. Gandy & C.E.M. Yates editors, 2001). [page 10, regarding Turing's paper On computable numbers... (1937)] It should be remarked that ...
Mauro ALLEGRANZA's user avatar
16 votes

Did amateurs ever produce important proofs or similar?

A case from this year is that of Aubrey de Grey. Aubrey de Grey, a biologist known for his claims that people alive today will live to the age of 1,000, posted a paper to the scientific preprint site ...
Bence Mélykúti's user avatar
12 votes
Accepted

Does Blum's speedup theorem have any conceptual predecessors?

The resemblance is not superficial. There is a precise relation between computer programs and formal proofs known as the Curry–Howard correspondence that took shape in 1960s. And Gödel's results on ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77.6k
11 votes
Accepted

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

This is how computer programming was done in those days. There was no such thing as a modern terminal with a screen, and no keyboards. A programmer would write her code first on paper (handwritten), ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
10 votes
Accepted

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

There is no evidence for an intentional purge of all audio recordings of Alan Turing. The BBC recordings seem to be the only ones ever made by Turing, so there wasn't really anything to "purge&...
David Bailey's user avatar
  • 1,242
9 votes
Accepted

What is the first reference to a nondeterministic Turing machine?

According to SEP, non-determinism was introduced by Rabin and Scott in Finite Automata and their Decision Problems (IBM Journal of Research and Development, 3(2) 114–125, 1959). Their main result was ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77.6k
9 votes

Did amateurs ever produce important proofs or similar?

A well-known example is the work of Marjorie Rice on pentagonal tilings of the plane. Wikipeidia: In December 1975, Rice came across a Scientific American article on tessellations. Despite having ...
Gerald Edgar's user avatar
  • 10.4k
9 votes
Accepted

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

Speaking as someone who worked in imaging tech and related fields from '79 to whenever, I can offer a little more. This image does contain a wide range of spatial frequencies as well as intensity ...
Carl Witthoft's user avatar
8 votes

What is the first historical reference to the binary search algorithm?

In Jataka, there's a story about Losaka http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/j1/j1044.htm So in time it came to pass that the people fell into a wretched plight. Reflecting that such had not been their ...
Bao-Tin Hoang's user avatar
7 votes

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

I think the answer to the main question is clear from his Wikipedia biography: Boyce died in 1974 aged 27, the same year SQL was released. He was a young researcher working for IBM in a pre-digital ...
Uri Granta's user avatar
  • 1,204
7 votes
Accepted

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

Not only was Peirce aware of the difference engine, he was also aware of the analytic engine, that was never built, of Jevons's 1870 machine, and was later personally involved with designing its ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77.6k
7 votes
Accepted

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

Donald Knuth's The Art of Computer Programming (TAOCP) Vol. 3 "Sorting and Searching" gives a detailed account on the history of ideas, including the sorting by merging, in Chapter 5.5. ...
Hermann Gruber's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

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

There is a curious discrepancy between the Russian and the English pages of Wikipedia on "differential entropy". The English page is rather vague on the origin, but the Russian page states ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77.6k
5 votes
Accepted

What technologies were used before JavaScript?

Javascript is older than Flash and ActiveX. Originally, it was developed by the Netscape, as the "small cousine" of the Java. The "World Wide Web" was originally developed only for ...
peterh's user avatar
  • 919
5 votes

When was the first appearance of the abbreviation RSA?

Nor does it appear in A method for obtaining digital signatures and public-key cryptosystems (Communications of the ACM Volume 21 Issue 2, Feb. 1978 Pages 120-126), which was Rivest-Shamir-Adleman's ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77.6k
5 votes

Did amateurs ever produce important proofs or similar?

There was a peculiar case when an anonymous forum commenter made significant progress on a problem. They could well have had substantial formal training (reading their posts I think this is likely). ...
Bence Mélykúti's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

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

If you search for the book here, you will be able to find the libraries near you that have this edition. You may be able to arrange an interlibrary loan if it is too far to travel. I also checked a ...
user25457's user avatar
5 votes

What was the first programming language that implemented hash maps / dictionaries as a base type?

Not sure if there is a definitive answer but Smalltalk certainly had dictionaries (hash maps) built into the language (as such it can be given an OO language) and Smalltalk predates Perl.
K7PEH's user avatar
  • 1,139
5 votes

Who coined the term “machine learning”?

The earliest reference appears to be: ... it is easy to see how a machine could be programmed so that it appeared to learn... whether it would in principle be possible to construct a generalized ...
iacob's user avatar
  • 400
4 votes

Entscheidungsproblem vs. Unvollständigkeitssatz

The two problems of completeness (Vollstandigkeit) and decidability of the predicate calculus were clearly defined in 1928 into the first "modern" mathematical logic textbook: David Hilbert and ...
Mauro ALLEGRANZA's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

Did Albert Einstein write a computer program?

No. Very few people had written computer programs at the time of his death, 1955, and most had backgrounds in numerical analysis, and computational techniques. Programs were written in machine code in ...
Peter Diehr's user avatar
4 votes

Who said “Either you speak maths or you speak nonsense?”

Googling around, I have found this quote somewhere on facebook: John McCarthy: Those who don't speak math are doomed to speak nonsense. However, this apparently ...
quetzalcoatl's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

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

Rate of convergence estimates are typically not counted as estimating complexity of algorithms because the relation between number of steps in them and computational complexity is not very ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77.6k
4 votes

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

Likely relevant resources are Konrad Zuse, "Der Computer ― Mein Lebenswerk" (Springer, Berlin 1984) and Raúl Rojas (ed.), "Die Rechenmachinen Konrad Zuses" (Springer, Berlin 1998). F.L. Bauer, H. ...
njuffa's user avatar
  • 6,704
4 votes
Accepted

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

I don't have a fully satisfactory answer, but maybe this helps. First one should note that Tarjan came up with an $O(m \log \log n)$-algorithm roughly at the same time. It's in this technical report: ...
Flowi's user avatar
  • 56
4 votes

What happened to cybernetics?

Perhaps Cybernetics lost some of its charm because Claude Shannon created Communications Theory 1 in 1948, which put the hazy concept of "communications" in firm, mathematical terms, which ...
nspies's user avatar
  • 41
4 votes
Accepted

What is Holon Programming?

Here is a typeset version of the 1973 Holon Programming: A Survey, prefaced with a letter to the author from Knuth. As the letter suggests, skip straight to the "Program Example" to see what ...
holon.scribe's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

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

Wegner writes of "pivot element" that partitions the array in Sorting a linked list with equal keys (1982), while none of his references (Sedgewick, Rivest, Loeser, Motzkin) does, as far as ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77.6k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible