Issue No.08 - August (2012 vol.45)
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MC.2012.254
A summary of articles published in Computer 32 and 16 years ago.
FROM THE IEEE PRESIDENT (p. 3) "… IEEE's total membership last year passed the 200,000 mark, while the Computer Society alone went well beyond 40,000. Both are records. Of even greater interest, IEEE is growing at a rate of 10,000 members per year, but the Computer Society is growing proportionately even faster at 5000 members per year. …"
COMPILATION (p. 9) "Since the early 1960's there has been considerable interest in tools that reduce the effort needed to construct a good compiler. These tools are often called compiler-compilers or translator writing systems. The purpose of this special issue of Computer is to look at some of the newly created language development tools that are now in use and to look at some of the current research in experimental compiler-compilers. …"
USER SUPPORT (p. 16) "Every computer program defines an input language, albeit a primitive one. Too often, the same programmers who decry the lack of regular, powerful programming languages for their own use turn around and provide their users with rigid, restrictive, and awkward input languages. Although regular syntax, flexible input, and powerful error detection and recovery lead to improved reliability and productivity, too many programs force fixed-length fields and fixed column positions and provide little or no error checking and recovery. …"
DRIVER TABLES (p. 25) "By using a table-driven syntax analyzer, we can shift the analysis to a new language by giving a new grammar to the table-building program and then providing the new table to the analyzer. Similarly, by presenting a description of a new target machine to the code generator's table-building program, we can hope to retarget the code generator to produce code for the new machine."
PRACTICAL GOAL (p. 38) "The Production-Quality Compiler-Compiler project, an investigation of the code generation process, has as its practical goal the building of a truly automatic compiler-writing system. Compilers built with this system will be competitive in every respect with the best of today's hand-generated compilers, generating highly optimized object code and meeting high standards of reliability and reasonable standards of performance. The system must operate from descriptions of both the source language and the target computer. The cost of bringing up a new compiler, given suitable language and target architecture descriptions, must be small …"
PROJECT MANAGEMENT (p. 51) "… Practical working tools to support improved production [of software] are commonly available, and their design and generation have become a recognized topic for university instruction.
"Software engineering project management has not enjoyed the same progress. …"
A HIGH-LEVEL COMPUTER (p. 62) "The Symbol computer system is one of the few implementations of a high-level language computer. In order to better assess the relevance of the unique features of this computer, measurements were made on a number of programs. The measurements presented here were made by doing a static analysis of Symbol object programs generated from over 15,000 lines of source code. These results provided insights into how features of a new programming language were used, into how substantial optimizations to the storage efficiency of the instruction set could best be achieved, and into the extent to which it was justifiable to use special-purpose hardware to support high-level languages. …"
WOMEN IN COMPUTING (p. 79) "The past decade has seen a dramatic increase in the representation of women in the computer science field. During the 70's, women earned over 20 percent of the bachelor's degrees in computer sciences, compared to only 12.5 percent during the 60's. By 1978, women were receiving 25.8 percent of the bachelor's degrees and 18.7 percent of the master's degrees.
"Although these increases are encouraging, women still have a long road ahead to travel in establishing themselves as professionals in the computing field, …"
JAPANESE SEMICONDUCTOR INDUSTRY (p. 102) "The fast-growing Japanese semiconductor industry invested the equivalent of more than $460 million in new production facilities and equipment in fiscal 1979. This is more than double the industry's capital investments for fiscal 1978, …"
TRIBALISM (pp. 11-12) "… People simply want to belong to something, so when it comes to owning a Mac or Wintel, or joining AOL, Netcom, or Compuserve, or buying a Toyota, Chevy, or BMW, they have to rationalize it from a tribal perspective. Technology in and of itself does not sell. Technology must be applied to making products that appeal to tribalism (as well as individualism, personalization, and utility)."
REQUIREMENTS CREEP (p. 13) "The fate of software architectures is a good example of digital Darwinism. At best, most of them go awry. At worst, their degeneration is a consequence of natural selection run amok. Moreover, it isn't just designers who are affected; chaotic design practices have seeped into our entire high-tech culture. Having infiltrated the whole computer industry, Darwinism is spreading faster than promises in an election year. And much of this chaos is driven by an old nemesis—requirements creep."
WIRELESS REVOLUTION (p. 16) "According to Frost and Sullivan, a market research firm, revenue from wireless communications was $1.8 billion in 1989 and soared to $4.5 billion last year. About 13 percent of the US population uses cellular phones, and a new subscriber signs up on the average of once every three seconds. Analysts estimate there will be 40 million cellular users by the end of this year.
"Developments in personal communications services (PCS), personal digital assistants (PDAs), and wireless notebook technologies promise to fuel still more growth."
THE BIG DEAL (p. 25) "The big deal, in my opinion, has less to do with Java syntax or Web technology, even if it does lead to the 'death' of client-server technology. To me, the big deal is the elimination of 'fatware' and the growth of a global cottage industry associated with the creation of Java components. The real paradigm shift, in my opinion, will be the replacement of purchased software packages with transaction-oriented rental of Java applets attached to Web pages."
JAVA (p. 31) "While Sun's Java has perhaps received more press this past year than any other product since Windows 95, its potential remains less understood. Java is a software platform for network-centric computing. The key to its power is its write once, run anywhere model. The Java runtime environment translates Java code into machine instructions that run on any supported platform."
SCIENTIFIC COLLABORATION (p. 40) "Scientific collaborations currently rely heavily on face-to-face interactions, group meetings, individual action, and hands-on experimentation. Group size varies widely, from as few as three people in molecular chemistry to 300 in high-energy physics.
"The tools of computer-supported cooperative work are now being applied to such collaborations. Through immersive electronic interaction, team members distributed across a widespread area can collaborate, using the newest instruments and computing resources. …"
AGENT SOFTWARE (p. 62) "… Broadly defined, an agent is a program that performs unique tasks without direct human supervision. As such, it transforms the user from a worker into a manager who delegates tasks to that agent. Agents must be able to engage and help all types of end users—whether that is to act as 'spiders' on the Internet searching for relevant information, schedule meetings based on an executive' s constraints, or filter articles based on learned user profiles."
3D ANIMATION (p. 71) "Recent research has shown how you can obtain high-bandwidth interaction with 3D objects and environments in virtual systems or performance animation systems. Either way, devices that let you control multiple degrees of freedom sense user motions. You can also use more conventional desktop device configurations (a screen, a mouse, and a keyboard) with applications that can exploit 3D's potential."
COLOSSUS (p. 79) "On June 6, 1996, the 52nd anniversary of D-day, a rebuilt Colossus computer went into operation, bringing back memories of World War II for many attending the ceremony. Present were Tommy Flowers, original designer of the Colossus, and Bill Tutte, the cryptanalyst who first broke the Fish cipher. Several others who had worked at Bletchley Park in the UK, the home of Allied code-breaking operations during the war, also attended."
WEB PUBLISHING (p. 91) "… Many research journals are gradually migrating on-line, in effect participating in a new medium. Because information is the lifeblood of professionals, any change will significantly affect readers as well as publishers. By understanding a new medium's effects, we can anticipate and exploit the change; however, we must also recognize that our ability to control such change is not straightforward. …"
PDFs of the articles and departments from Computer's August 1980 and 1996 issues are available through the IEEE Computer Society' s website: www.computer.org/computer.