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Questions tagged [history]

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

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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). ...
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1answer
38 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 ...
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1answer
26 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 ...
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1answer
61 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 ...
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1answer
106 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 ...
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1answer
40 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 from pag 750 ...
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1answer
35 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 ...
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1answer
32 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 ...
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1answer
46 views

liskov substitution principle seems to have two conventional meanings

This is a question about the semantics of the name, rather than about the principle itself. What is the Liskov Substitution Principle (LSP)? LSP seems to have two meanings in the literature I've ...
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1answer
84 views

What was Robert Floyd's algorithm for inserting brackets?

In page 71 of Mathematics for Computer Science (page 77 in the pdf) it says that "The Turing award (the “Nobel Prize” of computer science) was ultimately bestowed on Robert Floyd, for, among other ...
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21 views

What is the history/logic behind RAID-5 layout naming?

RAID-5 layout names specify their "handedness" (ie. left/right) - which specifies how the parity blocks are arranged - and "symmetry" (ie. symmetric/asymmetric) - which specifies how the data blocks ...
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64 views

Which languages, if any, implemented parametric polymorphism before ML?

In particular, was there any kind of implementation at the time Christopher Strachey wrote Fundamental Concepts in Programming Languages? In that work, Strachey lists Ad Hoc and Parametric ...
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1answer
36 views

Why strokes are treated differently than fills in modern graphics pipelines

This article shows some of the issues. But basically, on the web, you have fillStyle and strokeStyle, and in WebGL you have ...
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2answers
78 views

Machine code and punched cards

I have been looking into the history of programming, and everybody and their grandmothers begin the subject with a claim more or less similar to the following: At first, programmers used machine ...
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1answer
83 views

Famous hacker koan: who was it about, though?

Read this many years ago and can't remember who it was about. Nor can I remember the exact quote. The story goes: Famous computer scientist/professor is teaching a class. Student is having some ...
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25 views

How did the first computer model display text? [duplicate]

I have a question ive not been able to explain, and I still cant find the answer looking through computer history. I want to know how the first letters were programmed into the first computer. Let me ...
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40 views

Literature similar to Minsky's “Steps Toward Artificial Intelligence” (1961)?

With great pleasure I was just reviewing Marvin Minsky's publication "Steps Toward Artificial Intelligence" from 1961. Now I would like to know whether there are any more compilations about the ...
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39 views

Combining Computer Science and Humanities

I currently hold a bachelors in Computer science and a masters in Art History. I really want to combine the two and I know of Digital Humanities but I'm not completely aware of where Digital Humanists ...
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1answer
455 views

What is the origin of dot notation?

In object-oriented programming, dot notation is used when accessing the properties or methods of a class: ...
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63 views

Was there a phase in Machine Learning timeline when researchers thought some Neural Networks could not be trained?

I was talking to a professor who made a comment to my question. Me: So much of quality literature around this topic ( IP Protection for Neural Weights) emanated in 1990-1991, I'm truly at loss ...
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5answers
1k views

Why call it 'Time Complexity'?

P.S. I have added the tag 'history', if there is any historical connotation. Also, I found this question What is running time of an algorithm? but I am not satisfied with answers.
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1answer
220 views

How Babbage's Analytic engine made calculations of unlimited extent?

Brian Randell, in his article The COLOSSUS, explains how computing ushered in the 20th Century, by the development of the Colossus computer. He cites a passage from the Passages from the Life of a ...
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1answer
46 views

Why pointer dereference was once called “decrement”?

I'm reading McCarthy's paper Recursive Functions of Symbolic Expressions And Their Computation by Machine, where when the author describes the machine implementation of lists, he writes this: a. ...
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1answer
68 views

Is what the all-zeroes instruction does considered in machine instruction design?

I remember using a simulated machine with with a minimal instruction set in university. In particular I remember that the instruction that consisted of all zeroes loaded was a ...
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2answers
54 views

Do Core Computer Programs Have To Function By Powers Of 2? [closed]

As an example, the sRGB Gamut is 256 x 256 x 256 (all powers of 2). I'm aware that computers are generally binary. However, is it simply a matter of simplicity that sRGB was made this way, or was it ...
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1answer
143 views

The origin and the meaning of “Abstract Syntax Tree”

This question is closely related to Does an abstract syntax tree have to be a tree? and is partially answered there, but I would like to be more precise and to have more concise answers. What is the ...
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1answer
57 views

Are there any languages without tokens?

I know a lot of computer languages and they all use tokens. E.g. in very early BASIC you could say LET answer = 42, which is composed of seven tokens, ...
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1answer
468 views

What was the first Turing-Complete programming language?

What was the first turing-complete language? Know about the first machines and computers, but not the programming language.
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Punch-card computers running today

Are there any systems that operate primarily by punch cards (loading/saving data) in production usage today? (Or at least up to the year 2000?)
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1answer
117 views

What did Turing's mysterious small programme on the Manchester computer calculate?

I am reading Turing's "Computing machinery and intelligence" paper (https://www.csee.umbc.edu/courses/471/papers/turing.pdf) and found a fragment in which he says: I have set up on the Manchester ...
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1answer
138 views

Who was the first to show that there is a Universal Turing-Machine that uses a binary alphabet?

The title says it all, I think. We know there are universal Turing-machines that only use a binary alphabet. But who proved this first? Turing himself showed the existence of a universal Turing ...
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91 views

Where did our present regex notation originate?

First question, and my apologies if it is off-topic! This question suggests to me I may not be totally off-base. Where did our present regex notation originate? I am particularly wondering how <...
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0answers
269 views

Random Access Machines with only addition, multiplication, equality

The literature is fairly clear that unit-cost RAMs with primitive multiplication are unreasonable, in that they cannot be simulated by Turing machines in polynomial time can solve PSPACE-complete ...
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1answer
83 views

When did “regular” start referring to Type 3 languages/grammars?

In his 1959 paper, On Certain Formal Properties of Grammars, Chomsky defined a "regular" grammar as a specific form of a type 2 (context-free) grammar. (See Definition 8 of that paper.) He then goes ...
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Dennis Ritchie citation for “the C declarator syntax is an experiment that failed”?

I've often heard that the C declarator syntax described as "an experiment that failed." I've seen claims that this sentiment is also shared by its creator Dennis Ritchie. Does anybody have an actual ...
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1answer
151 views

How was multiprogramming brought into computer languages

I am going through the book operating system principles by Hansen . Hansen begins the third chapter on concurrent programming by discussing interleaving of the machine instructions of processes being ...
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20 views

Will computers always behave in an expected way, given constant electrical input? [closed]

For the purposes of this question, please forget about computers being unable to perform as expected due to excess workloads, exceeded capacities, or general bad hardware/devious software (e.g. a ...
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2answers
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Why is the word “calculus” used to describe systems of logic and computation?

Why is the word "calculus" used in this context? The reason I ask is because these usages of "calculus" seem unrelated to the far more popular use of "calculus" in "differential calculus" and "...
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330 views

What was the first public reference to bloom filters where the number of hash functions vary?

In traditional bloom filters, each item is hashed some fixed number of locations. One variant of this is to hash items a varying number of locations within the same bloom filter. This idea is ...
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1answer
709 views

What are the first computer science papers that used asymptotic time complexity?

When was big O first used in computer science and when did it become standard? The Wikipedia page on this cites Knuth, Big Omicron and Big Omega And Big Theta, SIGACT April-June 1976, but the ...
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35 views

What is the origin of state concept?

On a Turing machine, the state changes during the execution of the program. Von Neumann architecture implements this machine theory and typical computer hardware uses Von Neumann architecture. ...
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2answers
527 views

What is the origin of λ for empty string?

I usually use the symbol $\varepsilon$ for empty string (empty word or null string). But I know some people use $\lambda$ instead of $\varepsilon$. I think $\varepsilon$ is derived from the word "...
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sorting numbers on Babbage's analytic engine

I read that Babbage analytic engine is Turing complete. I wonder, how could I sort array of numbers on it? Imagine that I have numbers in storage and I want to sort them. How can I do that? The ...
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61 views

Book about the whole operation of the computers

I was wondering, If there is a book about whole operation of a Computer. I mean since the operation of software, programming languages (high and low level) and drivers until the deep physics ...
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127 views

Evolutionary theory applied to programming languages

I'm looking for books applying evolutionary theory to the history of programming languages. Researching the topic I have found an interesting paper - Modelling the Evolution of Programming Languages ...
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137 views

Why did the Mathematica Language choose term rewriting instead of the Lambda Calculus as its basis? [closed]

Now we can see that Church was associated with the Simply Typed Lambda Calculus. Indeed, it seems he explained the Simply Typed Lambda Calculus in order to reduce misunderstanding about the Lambda ...
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28 views

When was manual dynamic memory managment introduced?

Original Fortran only had static memory. Algol introduced stack allocation. Lisp had Garbage Collection. But when where manual dynamic memory management such as in C introduced. In C memory can be ...
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1answer
125 views

Origin of the concept of types

About the state of art that I'm running ahead of Type Theory I have the these questions all related about history of Types. Where did the idea of Type come from? (It seems that all start when ...
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2answers
189 views

How did early computers handle variable word length?

So quoting from the book: A History of Modern Computing (History of Computing) The introduction of reliable core memory made it practical to fetch data in sets of bits, rather than one bit at a ...
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What does the “Lambda” in “Lambda calculus” stand for?

I've been reading about Lambda calculus recently but strangely I can't find an explanation for why it is called "Lambda" or where the expression comes from. Can anyone explain the origins of the term?...