PRESIDENTS MESSAGE (p. 4) For those who are not impressed by qualitative information let me give some statistics: five years ago the society had a budget of $1.2 million with 26,539 members who paid $6 for their society membership. Our budget for last year was $4.2 million with a membership (as of September) of 55,767 who paid $8 each for society dues.
SURVEY (p. 11) The advent of VLSI and very recently developed automated design tools have removed a fundamental constraint from computer architecture. Computer designers are no longer rigidly bound by the cost of processing logic. The designer can now attack problems that once were computationally intractable by implementing systems in which thousands or even tens of thousands of processors cooperate to solve a single problem.
NETWORKS AND ALGORITHMS (p. 27) Although data flow machines have been discussed for several years, no optimal architecture has yet emerged. Later in this article, we show how a data flow language can be executed with maximum parallelism on the more conventional parallel machines described here.
SYSTOLIC ARCHITECTURE (p. 37) In a systolic system, data flows from the computer memory in a rhythmic fashion, passing through many processing elements before it returns to memory, much as blood circulates to and from the heart. Moreover, to implement a variety of computations, data flow in a systolic system may be at multiple speeds in multiple directionsboth inputs and (partial) results flow, whereas only results flow in classical pipelined systems. Generally speaking, a systolic system is easy to implement because of its regularity and easy to reconfigure (to meet various outside constraints) because of its modularity.
POLYMORPHISM (p. 47) As we are confronted with the potential for highly parallel computers made possible by very-large-scale integrated circuit technology, we may ask: What is the role of polymorphism in parallel computation? To answer this question, we must review the characteristics of parallel processing and the benefits and limitations of VLSI technology.
SIGNAL PROCESSING (p. 65) With the advent of VLSI, many processing elements can now be realized on a single chip, and large collections of processors have therefore become economically feasible. In this article, we present the reader with several highly concurrent, pipelined computing structuresstructures that are realizable in VLSI and that exhibit large throughputs.
SYSTEM DESIGN (p. 87) The next critical step in the evolution of highly parallel systems will be the introduction of VLSI components with architectures specifically created for applications in parallel structures. Most of these architectural innovations will come from skilled designers trained in VLSI design.
CAD/CAM (p. 105) Integration of CAD/CAM systems is the general shape of things to come. An early step toward that end would be for one system to be able to translate its particular data format into a neutral format which another system could then interpret and use. Next, a series of steps can be envisaged that would integrate one system with a closely related one, as groups of systems are brought together in engineering and as the division between CAD and CAM is breached.
ADA (p. 120) The First Law of Programming: Compared with the dedicated work of talented programmers, the benefits of all techniques of management, organization, documentation, and language are insignificant.
CONFERENCING (p. 129) First Edition, by the CommuniTree Group, is a computer-conferencing software package with general data base and electronic mail features. Each new message can be attached to any other already in the data base, allowing users to organize a conference tree of messages, any one of which can grow into a new conference or subconference.
A RADIO TELESCOPE (p. 140) Resembling a giant Y with arms 13 miles long, the Very Large Array of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a three-pronged array of 27 radio antennas that is controlled and monitored by 11 computer systems. The 212-ton, 82-foot-wide parabolic dish antennas are synthetically equivalent to a single reflector 17 miles across.
HANDICAPPED HELP (p. 147) The First National Search, announced in November 1980, was an effort to bring grass-roots initiatives to bear on the task of finding a variety of methods to apply the personal computer to the needs of the handicapped. It was highlighted by a national competition for ideas, devices, methods, and computer programs to help handicapped people overcome difficulties in learning, working, and successfully adapting to home and community settings.
PRESIDENTS MESSAGE (p. 4) The Computer Society Digital Library went live in August. The library offers full-text viewing and searching of articles as well as on-screen figure manipulation. Access to the digital library is now available on a subscription basis, making the Society among the first scientific and engineering publishers in the world to offer electronic subscriptions to its periodicals via the World Wide Web.
CHEAP CHIPS (p. 10) Digital signal processors were once the backwater of the chip industry. However, the embedded systems revolution has placed the relatively inexpensive chips in many consumer devices, including cars, consumer electronics products, and even medical equipment.
EMPLOYMENT IN 1998 (p. 14) January 1, 2000 is two years away, but already it is casting a giant shadow on the computer industry, in the form of the Year 2000 Problem.
THE FUTURE OF COMPUTING (p. 29) In this excerpt from Visions for the Future of the Fields, a panel discussion held on the 10th anniversary of the US Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, experts identify critical issues for various aspects of computing. In the accompanying sidebars, some of the same experts elaborate on points in the panel discussion in mini essays.
PROCESSOR DESIGN (p. 39) As part of this outlook issue, Computer invited six computer architects to participate in a virtual roundtable. [T]hese six architects shared several insights of interest to those of us not intimately connected with processor design.
PREDICATED EXECUTION (p. 50) In the future, integrating control and data speculation with predicated execution will enable advanced compiler techniques to increase the performance of future processors. With the adoption of advanced full predication support in IA-64 and perhaps many other architectures, predicated execution may become one of the most significant advances in the history of computer architecture and compiler design.
MICROSOFT RESEARCH (p. 51) A quiet migration of talent to Redmond, Washington, may shape the way all of us use computers in the next few years. What are 250 top researchers from academia and industry working on at Microsoft Research?
GADGET NETOPIA (p. 59) While successful Information Appliances do multimedia, e-mail, fax, and other functions inherited from their PC parents, they must do it much better than the current machines. If they are to be truly viable alternatives to traditional technology, there must be no setup complexities nor any computer jargon required to use them.
WHEELS ON THE WEB (p. 69) An open system that conforms to standard Internet protocols for communication to and from automobiles could greatly enhance driving. Existing Internet resources can be leveraged to integrate a car into the Internet. Service providers will subsequently produce innovative services for drivers and passengers that will improve safety and security as well as provide infotainment.
CURRICULUM INTEGRATION (p. 78) Raising the level of abstraction in the design of electronic systems has a major effect on the relationship of traditional electrical engineering with computer science. The classical overlap area, often called computer engineering, captures only certain aspects of this relationship. However, there is an equally important overlap area that deals with systems at a higher level of abstraction, and centers more on their application than on their hardware.
DIGITAL LIBRARIES (p. 93) Here we briefly address content-based retrieval and the issues of representation, storage, and retrieval of multimedia objects in digital libraries. We then very briefly identify some open areas of research.
STANDARDS (p. 138) While conflict ensures that technology will continue to change and grow stronger, it also ensures a certain forced honesty. As one organization invades the turf of anotherespecially when it comes to standards activitieswe get to see the cards held in the hands of the players.
OBJECTS (p. 140) In the future, object technology will not be confined to a niche. Objects will be pervasive; very little serious software will not be object-oriented at least in some way in 1998 and beyond.
BROWSER WARS (p. 151) The 1995 consent decree allowed Microsoft to monopolize the desktop OS market, but prevented it from strong-arming vendors into buying other Microsoft applications to keep their Windows licenses. This decree will be important in the legal browser wars that will take place in 1998.