Questions tagged [history]

Questions about genesis and development of computer science as a scientific discipline and its applications.

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Mathematical benefit to use CPU/memory that increases by powers of 2 as 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit, 64-bit, etc?

Historically, processors often increase in bit-size by powers of 2, such as 8-bit, then 16-bit, 32-bit, 64-bit. Although this has not always been the case, it is a well known trend. One benefit is ...
BipedalJoe's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
42 views

Good books about the history of computer science and its pioneers?

I have read a book ‘Men of Mathematics’ by Eric Temple Bell, which includes the development of mathematics through ages and the biography of famous mathematicians . I am looking for such an history ...
Sillyasker's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
60 views

What is the earliest compiler in chain that was used to create what we nowadays have as a modern C compiler?

My apologies if the title is confusing. First I begin with the statement that may be wrong but what I always thought what happened. "Dennis Ritchie created C compiler which was used to create ...
Clear Sky's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
44 views

Computability = Enumerating a sequence in the particular order?

In the paper "Computability by Probabilistic Machines" by K. de Leeuw, E. F. Moore, C. E. Shannon, and N. Shapiro (in Claude E. Shannon: Collected Papers , IEEE, 1993, pp.742-771), a ...
Ma Joad's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
44 views

Has Triangle Finding ever been faster than Matrix Multiplication?

The Triangle Finding problem (TF) in Graph Theory was shown by Itai and Rodeh in 1977 [1] to be solvable as fast$^1$ as Boolean Matrix Multiplication (BMM, Matrix Multiplication over $\{0, 1\}$ with ...
hadizadeh.ali's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
34 views

Did Jon von Neumann know about Claude Shannon's work when he wrote the "First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC?"

In the "First Draft" JvN described an adder circuit to do binary addition, which was a much faster way of doing computer addition than using decimal lookup tables as the ENIAC had done. JvN'...
jimboweb's user avatar
  • 111
1 vote
4 answers
211 views

Is the reason for a stack to decrease the size of a program (by adding the use of subroutines)?

The stack allows subroutines to be used. It can store return address for "return from subroutine" instruction (RTN) and also arguments for the function. It is not possible to store return ...
BipedalJoe's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
80 views

Is there an algorithm which was originally invented to solve a contrived problem but later found practical use?

This is probably a computer science history question. Is there an algorithm which was originally invented to solve a contrived problem but later found practical use?
Omar Shehab's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
55 views

First piece of code in scientific papers

What is the first/oldest piece of source code shown in an scientific paper or journal? I am looking for source code of assembly or a high level programming language which was real (implemented) and ...
Peter Kofler's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
93 views

Why do combinators look this way?

Out of curiosity, why do combinators look this way? For example, why is $K = \lambda x y \to x$ and why is it called $K$? Why is it not $\lambda x y f m \to f m x$? These are just arbitrary letters, I ...
alexey polusov's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
1k views

Which Turing Award winners have supervised the PhDs of other Turing Award winners?

John McCarthy won the Turing Award in 1971 [1]. Two students whose PhD he supervised went on to win Turing Awards: Raj Reddy (1994) [2] Barbara Liskov (2008) [3] What other Turing Award winners ...
Ellen Spertus's user avatar
1 vote
4 answers
514 views

Why is C still the fastest? Critique my take

A friend and I were surprised that C still has near-best performance among languages. I thought about why this is, and I wrote up a few paragraphs. I wonder if the friendly folks on CS stack could ...
Eric Auld's user avatar
  • 115
3 votes
0 answers
201 views

What is the etymology of "swizzle"?

The word swizzle can refer to an operation performed in GPU algorithms: [The] ability to compose vectors by arbitrarily rearranging and combining components of other vectors. Swizzle (computer ...
Chance Snow's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
28 views

SMP operating system that had been "proven" to be bug free?

Many years ago someone told me about a historical SMP operating system (or program?) that had been all but proven to be bug free (or something close to this). But yet turned out to have bugs that were ...
Morty's user avatar
  • 253
1 vote
2 answers
88 views

Who said first "In practice, log log N is at most (single digit number)?"

In one of my undergrad theory or algorithms classes, I remember a professor sharing a quip that went something like In practice, $\log(\log(N))$ is at most 9. ...the idea being that even though the ...
futurulus's user avatar
  • 111
2 votes
0 answers
28 views

History of the category of effectful computations

The 1971 paper A Catalog of Optimizing Transformations contains this passage: irreducible subprograms require special handling. (An irreducible subprogram is one which maintains a history, performs I/...
Theo H's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
156 views

Does the concept of "side-effect" predate functional programming?

When I was reviewing a book, I saw that there's a sentence claiming "side effect is a term coming from the domain of functional programming". I would think that the concept existed before ...
kolistivra's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
44 views

Oldest publication of the lower bound on comparison sort

We all know that the worst case complexity for comparison sort is in $\Omega(n\log(n))$, but who was the first to publish this? Everywhere I look, people have their own proofs but no reference to the ...
thedudehimself's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
19 views

What is the historical origin of the concept of a "clipping path"

Algorithms for clipping lines to a rectangle seem to have been invented by Ivan Sutherland in the late 60s. At some point the rectangle was generalized to an arbitrary polygonal area, and these days ...
Theo H's user avatar
  • 321
7 votes
0 answers
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P=NP turns 50. 1971 STOC conference

Stephen Cook presented his seminal paper "The complexity of theorem-proving procedures" at the 1971 STOC (Symposium on Theory of Computing) conference which was held May 3-5, 1971 at Case ...
John Coleman's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
130 views

What is a good general-knowledge-level title description of Dr. Aho's and Dr. Ullman's body of work for which they were awarded the 2020 Turing Award?

I recently read in the New York Times that my old "Data Structures and Algorithms" class professor Dr. Ullman had received the Turing Award along with Dr. Aho. The article title was "...
Armand's user avatar
  • 131
3 votes
1 answer
175 views

Why is the address-of operator in C/C++ represented with the "&" symbol?

I've started learning C++, and I know a little bit of C. Something that always struck me as somewhat off was that the address-of operator is represented with the seemingly random ampersand (&) ...
Nat H's user avatar
  • 31
1 vote
0 answers
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How close are current computer technologies in terms of energy efficiency to the Landauer Limit?

I'm trying to figure out how close (in orders of magnitude) current computer technologies are in terms of energy efficiency to the Landauer Limit. However, I'm finding (seemingly) conflicting ...
andrewzian's user avatar
26 votes
3 answers
6k views

Is there any reason why the modulo operator is denoted as %?

I would like to know if there is any reason why many programming languages use the notation % for the modulo operator? It is used in the most "famous" ...
zdm's user avatar
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0 votes
0 answers
50 views

How did we go from Binary to something like Python?

If there's one thing the pandemic has shown us its that High school Geometry did not save us. I am a high school math teacher and I understand my job and its usefulness only exist in a post scarcity ...
CSNOOB SAFE Space pls 's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
558 views

Origin of "Cookie" in Computing?

"Cookies" are a user-facing computing construct. They are codified in many technical specifications, including the earliest reference in an HTTP spec, RFC 2109, published February 1997. Many ...
Jameson's user avatar
  • 143
2 votes
0 answers
37 views

Is the discrepancy in Turing's representation of complete configurations intentional?

On page 235 of Turing's 1936 paper, in the figure marked (C), the illustration appears not to match the description. The description states that space has been made on the left of the scanned symbol, ...
orome's user avatar
  • 121
0 votes
0 answers
18 views

Term for language that abstracts program location?

What is the technical term that describes a programming language that abstracts (or at least largely abstracts) the machine location of programs? I’m thinking here specifically of the evolution of ...
orome's user avatar
  • 121
3 votes
0 answers
51 views

What was the impact of Impagliazzo's A Personal View of Average Case Complexity?

I'm studying his paper and I was wondering how the community reacted to it. Yes, Average Case Complexity has come a long way since then, but I want to know if it was directly influenced by it.
J. Dionisio's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
27 views

Origin of GUI terminology

I'm wondering where the GUI terminology like modal dialogue comes from. Who first used these terms? Is there a paper or a book, or was it just sw?
Tomas By's user avatar
  • 111
4 votes
2 answers
145 views

Origin of using ">" to represent child in a tree

What are the earliest known uses of the "greater than"/"chevron" symbol (>) to denote a parent-child relationship in a tree structure? i.e. parent > child e.g. ...
Alasdair McLeay's user avatar
0 votes
3 answers
2k views

Why the 127 encodings of ASCII needed to be extended to 256?

As you all know the ASCII chart needed to be extended from 127 encoding to 256, I can't really see why. Some google expert on Coursera said "We needed that because of the foreign languages". I still ...
Omar Ibrahim Culé's user avatar
54 votes
1 answer
11k views

What is the earliest use of the "this" keyword in any programming language?

I understand the this (or self or Me) is used to refer to the current object, and that it is ...
huijing's user avatar
  • 651
3 votes
0 answers
92 views

What is the first programming language where the keyword "new" appeared?

It's really interesting when this keyword first appeared as a lot of popular languages but relatively old languages( C++, C#, Java, JS ) use it. I understand use of "new" in C++ in practical manner( ...
Andrei's user avatar
  • 131
2 votes
0 answers
47 views

Similarities between Babbage's difference engine and the Turing machine

What would you consider similarities between the difference engine and the Turing machine? At this point I feel I know how they both function, yet I can't point out any worthwhile similarities between ...
Polly's user avatar
  • 21
0 votes
1 answer
575 views

Who invented the adder, full-adder, half-adder?

I didn't find, in the digital design books, who invented the adders. The same person invented the half-adder and the full-adder? What's the oldest publication on digital arithmetic design?
Pillqu's user avatar
  • 1
2 votes
0 answers
23 views

When did our current concepts of program modularity develop?

I take it that the concept of a modular subroutine call/return existed prior to the concept of a call stack (and hence to the possibility of recursive subroutines or of recursion limits). I would ...
benjimin's user avatar
  • 121
4 votes
1 answer
546 views

Why are struct and class essentially the same in C++?

struct and class in C++ are nearly identical (as covered for example here). But why is this so? What did happen when C++ was ...
hyde's user avatar
  • 153
1 vote
0 answers
40 views

How many floating point ops were performed worldwide over a time interval [closed]

I am looking for information regarding the evolution of computing capability. Specifically I would like to know how many floating point operations were performed worldwide from, say, the deployment of ...
Trekkie's user avatar
  • 111
3 votes
1 answer
142 views

Lambda Calculus as a branch of set theory

This answer to a question about whether C is the mother of all languages contained an interesting tidbit that I am curious about: The functional paradigm, for example, was developed mathematically (...
Ben I.'s user avatar
  • 1,710
1 vote
0 answers
48 views

Design considerations of datatypes in early programming languages like C

Although type theory originated (e.g. already discussed by Russell in 1910s) much earlier than programming languages, I have this feeling that languages such as C considered type-checking from a very ...
wlnirvana's user avatar
  • 259
2 votes
0 answers
778 views

Four Pillars of Object Oriented Programming

I'm researching object oriented programming and I've come across the term "four pillars of OOP" in a few places now. I originally saw them listed as: Abstraction Encapsulation Inheritance ...
Philip Kirkbride's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
140 views

Is McCarthy Formalism first ever formalism for defining functions recursively in computer science?

McCarthy formalism is a formalism for defining functions recursively, first introduced in classic paper Recursive Functions of Symbolic Expressions and Their Computation by Machine, Part I (1960). ...
Siegmeyer's user avatar
  • 133
0 votes
1 answer
41 views

Origin of a story about a computer in the 50's recommending offing Pensioners [closed]

There's a story I've heard a few times in various computer science talks, usually offered as a cautionary tale, that goes something like this: In the late 50s, the British gov't purchased an early ...
simplicio's user avatar
  • 101
1 vote
1 answer
48 views

Interpretation of Turing's statement on universal computers

I'm currently reading a book about artificial intelligence and i frequently come across the concept of universal computers, as it is essential to understand the book i would like to know the meaning ...
Sam Farjamirad's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
2k views

Reason programming language B was named "B"?

I’ve searched around for this already but ironically the results have been overshadowed by “Why C was named C” instead. If C was named “C” because it came after B, why was B named "B", since the only ...
dandev's user avatar
  • 21
7 votes
1 answer
1k views

Who first introduced the pushdown automaton?

I'm interested in learning more about the history of automata theory and have tracked down many of the original papers on Turing machines, finite automata, and the like. However, I'm having trouble ...
templatetypedef's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
170 views

How the concept of computer change over time? [closed]

There was a time when a "computer" was a person who worked on accounts. However, machines were introduced and this profession eventually died out over time. The definition below was taken ...
Raphael Augusto's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
478 views

Did Date and Darwen's "Third Manifesto" have a lasting impact?

In 1995, two DB theory researchers, C.J. Date and H. Darwen, published a text with the rather impressive-sounding name "The Third Manifesto" with their ideas regarding future DBMSes, which would ...
einpoklum's user avatar
  • 965
1 vote
1 answer
57 views

Problems with decidability open (for a long time) proven decidable

It seems to me that problems whose dedicability remains open for a long time, if resolved, tend to end up being undecidable. A prominent example would be (e.g.) Hilbert's tenth problem, whose ...
badroit's user avatar
  • 727