Archives

August 2012

How to make a difference in computer architecture 2012-08-28

An epilogue to the past few posts, also published as chapter 16: “What now?” Who will constructs computers of the future, and how? I’m not sure yet, but we can start with a few statements.

Innovation in computer architecture, while necessary, is not a task that can be carried …

General-purpose computers are the stem cells of computing 2012-08-27

General-purpose computers are, like stem cells for living organisms, key to the perpetuation of computer engineering. Here’s why.

Sometime between 1992 and 1996, CALC was written. CALC was a graphing program: the user would interactively enter on the keyboard the definition of a function and the coordinates of a …

The wonder and promise of general-purpose computers 2012-08-25

As I argue in the intro to this book, the advent of general-purpose computers has altered the limitations of the human condition in ways both unforeseen and still poorly understood.

In the middle of the 20th century, something exceptional in the history of mankind happened: a universal tool was invented …

What is “computer science” exactly? 2012-08-24

The words “computer science” seem to mean different things. Some use it to talk about making web pages, others to talk about computational complexity theory or category theory. As I argue in the intro to this book, it’s more than the combination of both. Here’s why.

The term …

Science is team work, and so is innovation 2012-08-23

What is “science” exactly? What is “innovation” in technical fields? Here’s my take, from the intro to my recent book.

The traditional purpose of the fundamental sciences is the acquisition of new knowledge pertaining to observed phenomena, in an attempt to describe “what is.” In parallel to the discovery …

Flavours of liberty 2012-08-18

A dear friend yesterday shared his quest to sharpen his understanding of philosophical concepts by studying their opposites. Like one can better understand light by acknowledging darkness, it seems to him that much is to be learned about wealth, power, comfort, safety and liberty by considering what they are not …

Reading is good, reading right is better 2012-08-06

Distraction is pleasurable, but there are many ways to waste time reading stuff online. There’s the useless stuff, and there’s the stuff that makes you stupid. In contrast, choose wisely and balance useful stuff with stuff that makes you smarter and more creative.

For example: web comics are …

Gratitude and social expectations 2012-08-05

Recently I have published a book. This could not have happened without the help of a few special people, whom I thus profusely thank at the beginning. Yet this simple expression of gratitude has raised unexpected questions, some from people close by, that make me wonder what picture of me …