Issue No. 02 - February (2008 vol. 41)
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MC.2008.36
International Data Transmission (p. 3).
"Western Union International has received approval from the Federal Communications Commission to furnish its International Digital Data Service to France, Italy, Spain, and Austria. The service is claimed to provide high quality and reliability, primarily by simultaneous transmission of data via undersea cable and satellite. The FCC approval is for one year of operation, within which IDDS must submit an analysis of its service. IDDS will be required to submit a tariff proposal before beginning service, based on transmission speed (from 50 bits to 9.6 kilobits per second), transmission volume, and other factors."
[Update: "WUI and ITT Datacomm Applications before FCC," p. 3.]
ATM Adoption (p. 3).
"While the EFTS Commission continues to organize, a recent survey … indicates the extent and distribution of existing EFT systems. … 'The survey, which had a response rate of 97 percent of 4700 national banks, showed that fully 10 percent of the banks had at least one Automated Teller Machine. As expected, a high proportion of large banks have an EFT system—72.9 percent of billion dollar banks and 48.4 percent of those in the half billion to billion dollar range. However, more than half of all EFT systems are in banks with under $100 million in deposits. …"
[Update: "EFTS Survey Released," p. 3.]
Computer Consumers (p. 8).
"In today's strong consumer market, the computer industry must be responsive to the message that is coming from the consumer sector and design products to meet their demands. Products needed include banking systems that are designed for the convenience of the customer and not only for the banker, and point-of-sales terminals that have digital displays on the side of the consumer as well as on the side of the cashier. … Machines should be easier to use. The need to have a computer expert at every application site must be diminished by the introduction of systems that are easier to use and do not require the complex error-prone programmer interventions to make them operate. The system of the future must be designed for the end user—i.e., the consumer."
[C. Adams, "Over the Horizon: A Report on the June 1975 Computer Elements Technical Committee Workshop in Vail, Colorado," pp. 8–11.]
Design Automation (p. 12).
"Design automation systems have made large-scale integrated electronics feasible for commercial production. Without computer-aided design, simulation, test data verification, and technology checking programs, manual LSI product-design cycles and error rates would exceed permissible product development times and costs. …
"The strategic goals of a DA system are to (a) provide a method for expeditious completion of a design; (b) formalize design methodologies to assure needed design discipline, integrity, and completeness; and (c) provide for orderly release-to-manufacturing procedures. …"
[W. Rosenbluth, "Design Automation Architecture and Applications," pp. 12–17.]
High Reliability (p. 18).
"Just before the turn of this century, the newly invented Bell telephone began to receive widespread use. The early telephone network required many wires to carry conversations, and … these wires filled the sky at an alarming rate. An automatic dial telephone switch invented by an undertaker called Strowger further enhanced the proliferation of the telephone. Along with the invention of telephone switching came the corresponding invention (or curse) of devices to record subscriber billing information. Early billing accumulation devices consisted of electromechanical counters which were incremented when the subscriber used his telephone. Today, these counters are still widely used, but new semiconductor components for the first time make electronic replacement programs attractive."
[J.C. McDonald, "Testing for High Reliability: A Case Study," pp. 18–21.]
Virtual Machines (p. 38).
"The introduction of computers which have user alterable microprograms presents users with both an opportunity and a problem. To take full advantage of the opportunity to tailor the architecture of the computer to the application domain, the problem of microprogram development and testing must be solved. The technique outlined here provides a tool which furnishes the microprogrammer with a virtual machine which is microprogrammable. The function provided is similar to that provided by a simulator, but the technique is more efficient and allows multiple microprograms to be executed concurrently with regular programs on a single real machine."
[J.D. Bagley, "Microprogrammable Virtual Machines," pp. 38–42.]
Unstructured Programming (p. 47).
"… My assertion is that machine code programs for commercial and administrative applications in the early days were sometimes astonishingly complex …; that such programs necessarily exhibited a high degree of structure; that, when theoreticians were later faced with designing programs whose complexity … matched that of earlier real-life programs, they naturally found themselves evolving the same structural disciplines; and that then, in their ignorance, they assumed that all programmers of the machine-code era had proceeded in the same undisciplined manner as they themselves had."
[J. Inglis, The Open Channel: "The True History of Unstructured Programming," pp. 47–50 (reprinted by courtesy of the Editor of the Computer Bulletin).]
Vision Systems (p. 9).
"A typical vision system requires integrating algorithms from diverse areas such as image processing, numerical analysis, graph theory, artificial intelligence, and databases. There is no clear understanding and consensus on how to achieve this. Specific problems in integration can also be attributed to a lack of understanding of the vision process itself, even if the computations and parallelism of some individual components are well understood.
"Recent efforts in architectural design and development have embedded architectural components for each level of processing into one integrated architecture … Compared to the progress in architectural advances in general-purpose parallel processing for other scientific disciplines, however, architectural advances for vision systems are in their infancy."
Animate Vision (pp. 12–13).
"… Animate vision researchers, inspired by successful biological systems, seek to develop practical, deployable vision systems by discovering and exploiting principles that link perception and action. Animate systems use active vision and are structured as vertically integrated skills or behaviors, rather than as visual modules that try to reconstruct different aspects of the physical world.
"Despite the computational simplifications of the animate vision paradigm, a parallel implementation is necessary to achieve the required performance. Fortunately, many of the tasks in an animate vision system are inherently parallel. … Thus, finding parallelism in the application is easy. However, the type of parallelism we would like to exploit varies among tasks in the system, and no single model of parallel computation is likely to suffice for all tasks."
Image Processing (pp. 22–23).
"Because image processing is such an important application area for parallel computers, it makes sense to provide [programming] languages for this area. Apply and Adapt are both languages that make it possible to write certain types of image-processing operations, while providing the highest possible level of architectural independence. …
"Apply is a simple, architecture-independent language for local image-processing operations. Local operations produce an output pixel based on a small window surrounding the corresponding input pixel; they include edge detection and smoothing. …
"Adapt allows the definition of local operations as well as global operations, in which an output pixel can depend on many or all input pixels. Histogram and other feature-extraction operations are global operations. Adapt is based on the split-and-merge programming model."
Geometric Hashing (p. 33).
"Developing realistic vision systems that can recognize rigid objects from a database of hundreds of models is a continuing goal of vision researchers. A model-based vision system extracts features such as edges and points from digital imagery and compares them with a database of models to identify objects within a scene. Many model-based vision systems are based on hypothesizing matches between scene features and model features, predicting new matches, and verifying or changing the hypotheses through a search process. A new method, called geometric hashing, offers a different and more parallelizable paradigm …"
Parallel Programming (p. 54).
"The 'need for speed' has been the most influential factor in supercomputer design. In the past, technology fueled the development of faster computers through better semiconductor devices and very large scale integration (VLSI). Technology, as a source of speed for a single processor, is bounded by the speed of light and physical limitations on miniaturization. Consequently, it has become necessary to replicate hardware to allow concurrent execution to achieve the performance requirements of many of today's scientific and industrial applications. This concurrent execution, or parallel processing, has forced the reformulation of the most well-accepted sequential programs and even the mathematical rethinking of some problems. The parallel programmer needs to 'think parallel.'"
Grace Hopper (p. 84).
"Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, pioneer computer programmer and co-inventor of Cobol, died January 1 at her home in Arlington, Virginia. Known as the mother of computerized data automation in the US naval service, she retired from the Navy in 1986, having been the oldest military officer still on active duty. …"
Work Scheduling (p. 94).
"Microsystems Software has released four WAN versions of its CaLANdar workgroup-scheduling software. The package uses standard e-mail packages to distribute activity and availability information.
"DOS users can distribute CaLANdar activity through in-place interserver gateways in a multiserver environment. The package allows Microsoft Mail, cc:Mail, and Banyan Vine Mail administrators to maintain CaLANdar user lists within their e-mail naming system."