Topic: Computing

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Internet Soviet Union Russia History Computing Russia/technology and engineering in Russia Russia/mass media in Russia

.su was assigned as the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the Soviet Union (USSR) on 19 September 1990. Even though the Soviet Union itself was dissolved a mere 15 months later, the .su top-level domain remains in use today. It is administered by the Russian Institute for Public Networks (RIPN, or RosNIIROS in Russian transcription).

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  • ".su" | 2019-09-18 | 353 Upvotes 226 Comments

Pi Calculus

Computing Computer science

In theoretical computer science, the π-calculus (or pi-calculus) is a process calculus. The π-calculus allows channel names to be communicated along the channels themselves, and in this way it is able to describe concurrent computations whose network configuration may change during the computation.

The π-calculus is simple, it has few terms and so is a small, yet expressive language (see #Syntax). Functional programs can be encoded into the π-calculus, and the encoding emphasises the dialogue nature of computation, drawing connections with game semantics. Extensions of the π-calculus, such as the spi calculus and applied π, have been successful in reasoning about cryptographic protocols. Beside the original use in describing concurrent systems, the π-calculus has also been used to reason about business processes and molecular biology.

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Computing Computer science Mathematics

A* (pronounced "A-star") is a graph traversal and path search algorithm, which is often used in computer science due to its completeness, optimality, and optimal efficiency. One major practical drawback is its O ( b d ) {\displaystyle O(b^{d})} space complexity, as it stores all generated nodes in memory. Thus, in practical travel-routing systems, it is generally outperformed by algorithms which can pre-process the graph to attain better performance, as well as memory-bounded approaches; however, A* is still the best solution in many cases.

Peter Hart, Nils Nilsson and Bertram Raphael of Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) first published the algorithm in 1968. It can be seen as an extension of Edsger Dijkstra's 1959 algorithm. A* achieves better performance by using heuristics to guide its search.

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  • "A*" | 2019-08-10 | 50 Upvotes 6 Comments

Aamber Pegasus

Computing New Zealand

The Aamber Pegasus is a home computer first produced in New Zealand in 1981 by Technosys Research Labs.

The hardware was designed by Stewart J Holmes. The software was designed by Paul Gillingwater, Nigel Keam and Paul Carter.

It is thought that Apple Computers introduction of the Apple II computer into the New Zealand market, and its subsequent heavy educational discounting was the final nail in the coffin for Technosys and the Aamber Pegasus computer. Total production numbers are unknown, but it is thought "around one hundred" were sold.

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Windows 3.1 beta crashed on 3rd-party DOS

Computing Microsoft Windows Microsoft Windows/Computing

The AARD code was a segment of code in a beta release of Microsoft Windows 3.1 that would determine whether Windows was running on MS-DOS or PC DOS, rather than a competing workalike such as DR-DOS, and would result in a cryptic error message in the latter case. This XOR-encrypted, self-modifying, and deliberately obfuscated machine code used a variety of undocumented DOS structures and functions to perform its work, and appeared in the installer, WIN.COM, and several other executables in the OS.

The AARD code was originally discovered by Geoff Chappell on 17 April 1992 and then further analyzed and documented in a joint effort with Andrew Schulman. The name was derived from Microsoft programmer Aaron R. Reynolds (1955–2008), who used "AARD" to sign his work; "AARD" was found in the machine code of the installer. Microsoft disabled the AARD code for the final release of Windows 3.1, but did not remove it, so that it could have become reactivated later by the change of a single byte in an installed system, thereby constituting a "smoking gun".

DR-DOS publisher Digital Research released a patch named "business update" in 1992 to enable the AARD tests to pass on its operating system.

The rationale for the AARD code came to light when internal memos were released during the United States v. Microsoft Corp. antitrust case in 1999. Internal memos released by Microsoft revealed that the specific focus of these tests was DR-DOS. At one point, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates sent a memo to a number of employees, reading "You never sent me a response on the question of what things an app would do that would make it run with MS-DOS and not run with DR-DOS. Is there [sic] feature they have that might get in our way?" Microsoft Senior Vice President Brad Silverberg later sent another memo, stating: "What the [user] is supposed to do is feel uncomfortable, and when he has bugs, suspect that the problem is DR-DOS and then go out to buy MS-DOS."

Following the purchase of DR-DOS by Novell and its renaming to "Novell DOS", Microsoft Co-President Jim Allchin stated in a memo, "If you're going to kill someone there isn't much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger."

What had been DR-DOS changed hands again. The new owner, Caldera, Inc., began a lawsuit against Microsoft over the AARD code, Caldera v. Microsoft, which was later settled. It was believed that the settlement ran in the order of $150 million, but was revealed in November 2009 with the release of the Settlement Agreement to be $280 million.

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Ada Lovelace

Biography Computing England Women Women scientists Biography/science and academia Biography/Royalty and Nobility Women's History

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (née Byron; 10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852) was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She was the first to recognise that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation, and published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. As a result, she is sometimes regarded as the first to recognise the full potential of a "computing machine" and one of the first computer programmers.

Augusta Byron was the only legitimate child of poet Lord Byron and his wife Lady Byron. All of Byron's other children were born out of wedlock to other women. Byron separated from his wife a month after Ada was born and left England forever four months later. He commemorated the parting in a poem that begins, "Is thy face like thy mother's my fair child! ADA! sole daughter of my house and heart?". He died of disease in the Greek War of Independence when Ada was eight years old. Her mother remained bitter and promoted Ada's interest in mathematics and logic in an effort to prevent her from developing her father's perceived insanity. Despite this, Ada remained interested in Byron, naming her two sons Byron and Gordon. Upon her eventual death, she was buried next to him at her request. Although often ill in her childhood, Ada pursued her studies assiduously. She married William King in 1835. King was made Earl of Lovelace in 1838, Ada thereby becoming Countess of Lovelace.

Her educational and social exploits brought her into contact with scientists such as Andrew Crosse, Charles Babbage, Sir David Brewster, Charles Wheatstone, Michael Faraday and the author Charles Dickens, contacts which she used to further her education. Ada described her approach as "poetical science" and herself as an "Analyst (& Metaphysician)".

When she was a teenager, her mathematical talents led her to a long working relationship and friendship with fellow British mathematician Charles Babbage, who is known as "the father of computers". She was in particular interested in Babbage's work on the Analytical Engine. Lovelace first met him in June 1833, through their mutual friend, and her private tutor, Mary Somerville.

Between 1842 and 1843, Ada translated an article by Italian military engineer Luigi Menabrea on the calculating engine, supplementing it with an elaborate set of notes, simply called Notes. These notes contain what many consider to be the first computer program—that is, an algorithm designed to be carried out by a machine. Other historians reject this perspective and point out that Babbage's personal notes from the years 1836/1837 contain the first programs for the engine. Lovelace's notes are important in the early history of computers. She also developed a vision of the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching, while many others, including Babbage himself, focused only on those capabilities. Her mindset of "poetical science" led her to ask questions about the Analytical Engine (as shown in her notes) examining how individuals and society relate to technology as a collaborative tool.

She died of uterine cancer in 1852 at the age of 36.

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AGPL License

Computing Computing/Software Computing/Free and open-source software

The Affero General Public License (Affero GPL and informally Affero License) is a free software license. The first version of the Affero General Public License (AGPLv1), was published by Affero, Inc. in March 2002, and based on the GNU General Public License, version 2 (GPLv2). The second version (AGPLv2) was published in November 2007, as a transitional license to allow an upgrade path from AGPLv1 to the GNU Affero General Public License (a variant of the original Affero GPL license that is compatible with GPLv3).

Both versions of the Affero GPL were designed to close a perceived application service provider (ASP) loophole in the ordinary GPL, where, by using but not distributing the software, the copyleft provisions are not triggered. Each version differs from the version of the GNU GPL on which it is based in having an added provision addressing use of software over a computer network. This provision requires that the full source code be made available to any network user of the AGPL-licensed work, typically a web application.

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AI Winter

United States/U.S. Government United States Technology Computing Systems Cognitive science Linguistics Computing/Computer science Robotics Transhumanism Linguistics/Applied Linguistics Systems/Cybernetics

In the history of artificial intelligence, an AI winter is a period of reduced funding and interest in artificial intelligence research. The term was coined by analogy to the idea of a nuclear winter. The field has experienced several hype cycles, followed by disappointment and criticism, followed by funding cuts, followed by renewed interest years or decades later.

The term first appeared in 1984 as the topic of a public debate at the annual meeting of AAAI (then called the "American Association of Artificial Intelligence"). It is a chain reaction that begins with pessimism in the AI community, followed by pessimism in the press, followed by a severe cutback in funding, followed by the end of serious research. At the meeting, Roger Schank and Marvin Minsky—two leading AI researchers who had survived the "winter" of the 1970s—warned the business community that enthusiasm for AI had spiraled out of control in the 1980s and that disappointment would certainly follow. Three years later, the billion-dollar AI industry began to collapse.

Hype is common in many emerging technologies, such as the railway mania or the dot-com bubble. The AI winter was a result of such hype, due to over-inflated promises by developers, unnaturally high expectations from end-users, and extensive promotion in the media . Despite the rise and fall of AI's reputation, it has continued to develop new and successful technologies. AI researcher Rodney Brooks would complain in 2002 that "there's this stupid myth out there that AI has failed, but AI is around you every second of the day." In 2005, Ray Kurzweil agreed: "Many observers still think that the AI winter was the end of the story and that nothing since has come of the AI field. Yet today many thousands of AI applications are deeply embedded in the infrastructure of every industry."

Enthusiasm and optimism about AI has increased since its low point in the early 1990s. Beginning about 2012, interest in artificial intelligence (and especially the sub-field of machine learning) from the research and corporate communities led to a dramatic increase in funding and investment.

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Alan Turing's 100th Birthday - Mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, scientist

Biography Computing Mathematics London Philosophy Philosophy/Logic England Biography/science and academia Philosophy/Philosophy of science History of Science Computing/Computer science Robotics Philosophy/Philosophers Cryptography LGBT studies/LGBT Person LGBT studies Athletics Greater Manchester Cheshire Cryptography/Computer science Philosophy/Philosophy of mind Molecular and Cell Biology Surrey Running

Alan Mathison Turing (; 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist. Turing was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general-purpose computer. Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Despite these accomplishments, he was not fully recognised in his home country during his lifetime, due to his homosexuality, and because much of his work was covered by the Official Secrets Act.

During the Second World War, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Britain's codebreaking centre that produced Ultra intelligence. For a time he led Hut 8, the section that was responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. Here, he devised a number of techniques for speeding the breaking of German ciphers, including improvements to the pre-war Polish bombe method, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine.

Turing played a crucial role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many crucial engagements, including the Battle of the Atlantic, and in so doing helped win the war. Due to the problems of counterfactual history, it is hard to estimate the precise effect Ultra intelligence had on the war, but at the upper end it has been estimated that this work shortened the war in Europe by more than two years and saved over 14 million lives.

After the war Turing worked at the National Physical Laboratory, where he designed the Automatic Computing Engine. The Automatic Computing Engine was one of the first designs for a stored-program computer. In 1948 Turing joined Max Newman's Computing Machine Laboratory, at the Victoria University of Manchester, where he helped develop the Manchester computers and became interested in mathematical biology. He wrote a paper on the chemical basis of morphogenesis and predicted oscillating chemical reactions such as the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction, first observed in the 1960s.

Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts; the Labouchere Amendment of 1885 had mandated that "gross indecency" was a criminal offence in the UK. He accepted chemical castration treatment, with DES, as an alternative to prison. Turing died in 1954, 16 days before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning. An inquest determined his death as a suicide, but it has been noted that the known evidence is also consistent with accidental poisoning.

In 2009, following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for "the appalling way he was treated". Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a posthumous pardon in 2013. The Alan Turing law is now an informal term for a 2017 law in the United Kingdom that retroactively pardoned men cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed homosexual acts.

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Amiga Unix

Computing Computing/Amiga

Amiga Unix (informally known as Amix) is a discontinued full port of AT&T Unix System V Release 4 operating system developed by Commodore-Amiga, Inc. in 1990 for the Amiga computer family as an alternative to AmigaOS, which shipped by default. Bundled with the Amiga 3000UX, Commodore's Unix was one of the first ports of SVR4 to the 68k architecture. The Amiga A3000UX model even got the attention of Sun Microsystems, though ultimately nothing came of it.

Unlike Apple's A/UX, Amiga Unix contained no compatibility layer to allow AmigaOS applications to run under Unix. With few native applications available to take advantage of the Amiga's significant multimedia capabilities, it failed to find a niche in the quite-competitive Unix workstation market of the early 1990s. The A3000UX's price tag of $4,998 (equivalent to $9,382 in 2019) was also not very attractive compared to other Unix workstations at the time, such as the NeXTstation ($5,000 for a base system, with a full API and many times the number of applications available), the SGI Indigo (starting at $8,000), or the Personal DECstation 5000 Model 25 (starting at $5,000). Sun, HP, and IBM had similarly priced systems. The A3000UX's 68030 was noticeably underpowered compared to most of its RISC-based competitors.

Unlike typical commercial Unix distributions of the time, Amiga Unix included the source code to the vendor-specific enhancements and platform-dependent device drivers (essentially any part that wasn't owned by AT&T), allowing interested users to study or enhance those parts of the system. However this source code was subject to the same license terms as the binary part of the system – it was not free software. Amiga Unix also incorporated and depended upon many open source components, such as the GNU C Compiler and X Window System, and included their source code.

Like many other proprietary Unix variants with small market shares, Amiga Unix vanished into the mists of computer history when its vendor, Commodore, went out of business. Today, Unix-like operating systems such as Minix, NetBSD, and Linux are available for the Amiga platform.

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