One of my research interests is finding the principles that underly the management of information, complexity and uncertainty. When something as simple as a web-form is called “technology” it is time to step back and examine your principles. One principle I am not sure about Postel’s law. It doesn’t hold often enough to be relied on and when it fails I am not sure who to be angry with. Continue reading Postel’s Law: Not Sure Who To Be Angry With
We describe the “the local to global principle.” It is a principle used to break algorithmic problem solving into two distinct phases (local criticism followed by global solution) and is an aid both in the design and in the application of algorithms. Instead of giving a formal definition of the principle we quickly define it and discuss a few examples and methods. We have produced both a stand-alone PDF (more legible) and a HTML/blog form (more skimable).
Continue reading The Local to Global Principle
On The Hysteria Over “The Cloud”
The frenzy of anticipation and opinion about “The Cloud” is so intense and so pointless it becomes “parody proof.”
Continue reading On The Hysteria Over “The Cloud”
An interesting article on programming languages by Guillaume Marceau is making the rounds:
The speed, size and dependability of programming languages. The article points out very clearly what some of the differences in major programming languages are. The author uses benchmarking and graphs in an interesting way.
Continue reading Programs reduced to statistics
Some time ago I subscribed to The Database Column because it would be fun to see what these incredible people wanted to discuss. We owe much of our current database technology to Professor Stonebraker and Vertica sounds like an incredible product. And I definitely want to continue to subscribe.
However, the reading experience is marred by some flaw in their RSS system that keeps marking the article “MapReduce: A major step backwards” as a new article. This causes the article to appear in my RSS reader every few weeks as “new.” This wouldn’t bother me too much except that the article runs so counter to experience that it is itself offensive.
Continue reading Map Reduce: A Good Idea
The other day’s blog post and a recent Andrew Binstock interview of Donald Knuth made me think more about how the ACM is really not serving the interests of computer science. Continue reading I know, I am the one being a jerk
“Sorting Used in Anger” (A rambling glimpse into the mind of a theorist)
Author: John Mount
The other day I had a bit of time to kill before an appointment. Luck was with me: there was a nearby bookstore and I was able to pass some of the time skimming through a book called “Beautiful Code.” Everything started out fun and nostalgic. The book title reminded me of “The Art of Computer Programming” (a book that probably did as much through the grace of its title as it did through its incredible contents to attract minds into theoretical computer science). One of the chapters of “Beautiful Code” was by Jon Bentley (a hero of sharp reasoning and clever coding) and as I flipped to the chapter my day was ruined. There it was: Quicksort an algorithm that I have a long love and hate relationship with.
Hello World: An Instance Of Rhetoric in Computer Science
John Mount: email@example.com
February 19, 2008
Computer scientists have usually dodged questions of intent, purpose or meaning. While there are theories that assign deep mathematical meaning to computer programs we computer scientists usually avoid discussion of meaning and talk more about utility and benefit. Discussions of the rhetorical meaning of programs is even less common. However, there is a famous computer program that has a clean an important rhetorical point. This program is called “hello world” and its entire action is to write out the phrase “hello world.” The action is simple but the “hello world” program actually has a fairly significant purpose and meaning.
I would like to briefly trace the known history of “hello world” and show how the rhetorical message it presents differs from the rhetoric embodied in earlier programs. In this sense we can trace a change in the message computer scientists felt they needed to communicate (most likely due to changes in the outside world).