Topic: Software/Computing

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Possible explanations for the slow progress of AI research

Computing Computer science Science Fiction Cognitive science Robotics Transhumanism Software Software/Computing Futures studies

Artificial general intelligence (AGI) is the hypothetical intelligence of a machine that has the capacity to understand or learn any intellectual task that a human being can. It is a primary goal of some artificial intelligence research and a common topic in science fiction and futures studies. AGI can also be referred to as strong AI, full AI, or general intelligent action. (Some academic sources reserve the term "strong AI" for machines that can experience consciousness.)

Some authorities emphasize a distinction between strong AI and applied AI (also called narrow AI or weak AI): the use of software to study or accomplish specific problem solving or reasoning tasks. Weak AI, in contrast to strong AI, does not attempt to perform the full range of human cognitive abilities.

As of 2017, over forty organizations were doing research on AGI.

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“Bush hid the facts” bug

Computing Microsoft Windows Microsoft Windows/Computing Software Software/Computing

Bush hid the facts is a common name for a bug present in some versions of Microsoft Windows, which causes text encoded in ASCII to be interpreted as if it were UTF-16LE, resulting in garbled text. When the string "Bush hid the facts", without newline or quotes, was put in a new Notepad document and saved, closed, and reopened, the nonsensical sequence of Chinese characters "畂桳栠摩琠敨映捡獴" would appear instead.

While "Bush hid the facts" is the sentence most commonly presented on the Internet to induce the error, the bug can be triggered by many strings with letters and spaces in the same positions, for example "hhhh hhh hhh hhhhh". Other sequences trigger the bug as well, including even the text "a ".

The bug occurs when the string is passed to the Win32 charset detection function IsTextUnicode. IsTextUnicode sees that the bytes match the UTF-16LE encoding of valid (if nonsensical) Chinese Unicode characters, concludes that the text is valid UTF-16LE Chinese and returns true, and the application then incorrectly interprets the text as UTF-16LE.

The bug had existed since IsTextUnicode was introduced with Windows NT 3.5 in 1994, but was not discovered until early 2004. Many text editors and tools exhibit this behavior on Windows because they use IsTextUnicode to determine the encoding of text files. As of Windows Vista, Notepad has been modified to use a different detection algorithm that does not exhibit the bug, but IsTextUnicode remains unchanged in the operating system, so any other tools that use the function are still affected.

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Cyc

Computing Computer science Cognitive science Software Software/Computing Databases Databases/Computer science

Cyc (pronounced SYKE, ) is a long-living artificial intelligence project that aims to assemble a comprehensive ontology and knowledge base that spans the basic concepts and rules about how the world works. Hoping to capture common sense knowledge, Cyc focuses on implicit knowledge that other AI platforms may take for granted. This is contrasted with facts one might find somewhere on the internet or retrieve via a search engine or Wikipedia. Cyc enables AI applications to perform human-like reasoning and be less "brittle" when confronted with novel situations.

Douglas Lenat began the project in July 1984 at MCC, where he was Principal Scientist 1984–1994, and then, since January 1995, has been under active development by the Cycorp company, where he is the CEO.

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  • "Cyc" | 2019-12-13 | 357 Upvotes 173 Comments

Dennis Ritchie

Biography Computing Computer science Biography/science and academia New York (state) New York (state)/Hudson Valley Computing/Computer science Software Software/Computing C/C++ Japan New Jersey Linux

Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie (September 9, 1941 – c. October 12, 2011) was an American computer scientist. He created the C programming language and, with long-time colleague Ken Thompson, the Unix operating system and B programming language. Ritchie and Thompson were awarded the Turing Award from the ACM in 1983, the Hamming Medal from the IEEE in 1990 and the National Medal of Technology from President Bill Clinton in 1999. Ritchie was the head of Lucent Technologies System Software Research Department when he retired in 2007. He was the "R" in K&R C, and commonly known by his username dmr.

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Grace Hopper

United States/U.S. Government United States Biography Computing Military history Military history/North American military history United States/Military history - U.S. military history Military history/Military science, technology, and theory New York City Women scientists Biography/science and academia Women's History Military history/Military biography Biography/military biography Software Software/Computing Military history/Maritime warfare Pritzker Military Library

Grace Brewster Murray Hopper (née Murray December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, she was a pioneer of computer programming who invented one of the first linkers. She popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, an early high-level programming language still in use today.

Prior to joining the Navy, Hopper earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University and was a professor of mathematics at Vassar College. Hopper attempted to enlist in the Navy during World War II but was rejected because she was 34 years old. She instead joined the Navy Reserves. Hopper began her computing career in 1944 when she worked on the Harvard Mark I team led by Howard H. Aiken. In 1949, she joined the Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation and was part of the team that developed the UNIVAC I computer. At Eckert–Mauchly she began developing the compiler. She believed that a programming language based on English was possible. Her compiler converted English terms into machine code understood by computers. By 1952, Hopper had finished her program linker (originally called a compiler), which was written for the A-0 System. During her wartime service, she co-authored three papers based on her work on the Harvard Mark 1.

In 1954, Eckert–Mauchly chose Hopper to lead their department for automatic programming, and she led the release of some of the first compiled languages like FLOW-MATIC. In 1959, she participated in the CODASYL consortium, which consulted Hopper to guide them in creating a machine-independent programming language. This led to the COBOL language, which was inspired by her idea of a language being based on English words. In 1966, she retired from the Naval Reserve, but in 1967 the Navy recalled her to active duty. She retired from the Navy in 1986 and found work as a consultant for the Digital Equipment Corporation, sharing her computing experiences.

The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper was named for her, as was the Cray XE6 "Hopper" supercomputer at NERSC. During her lifetime, Hopper was awarded 40 honorary degrees from universities across the world. A college at Yale University was renamed in her honor. In 1991, she received the National Medal of Technology. On November 22, 2016, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

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KaiOS

Software Software/Computing

KaiOS is a mobile operating system based on Linux, developed by KaiOS Technologies, a US-based company. It is forked from B2G OS (Boot to Gecko OS), an open source community-driven fork of Firefox OS, which was discontinued by Mozilla in 2016.

The primary features of KaiOS bring support for 4G LTE E, VoLTE, GPS and Wi-Fi with HTML5-based apps and longer battery life to non-touch devices with optimized user interface, less memory and energy consumption. It also features over-the-air updates. A dedicated app marketplace (KaiStore) enables users to download applications. Some services are preloaded as HTML5 applications, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. The operating system is comparatively lightweight on hardware resource usage, and is able to run on devices with just 256 MB of memory.

The operating system first appeared in 2017 and is developed by KaiOS Technologies Inc., a San Diego, California-based company headed by CEO Sebastien Codeville with offices in other countries. In June 2018, Google invested US$22 million in the operating system. India-based telecom operator Reliance Jio also invested $7 million in cash to pick up a 16% stake in the company.

In market share study results announced in May 2018, KaiOS beat Apple's iOS for second place in India, while Android dominates with 71%, albeit down by 9%. KaiOS growth is being largely attributed to popularity of the competitively-priced Jio Phone. In Q1 2018, 23 million KaiOS devices were shipped.

KaiOS is also the name of an unrelated Linux project, dating from 2014 and targeted at embedded systems.

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  • "KaiOS" | 2019-09-18 | 98 Upvotes 79 Comments

List of failed and over-budget custom software projects

Lists Software Software/Computing

This is a list of notable custom software projects which have significantly failed to achieve some or all of their objectives, either temporarily or permanently, and/or have suffered from significant cost overruns. For a list of successful major custom software projects, see Custom software#Major project successes.

Note that failed projects, and projects running over budget, are not necessarily the sole fault of the employees or businesses creating the software. In some cases, problems may be due partly to problems with the purchasing organisation, including poor requirements, over-ambitious requirements, unnecessary requirements, poor contract drafting, poor contract management, poor end-user training, or poor operational management.

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Namecoin

Computing Computing/Software Numismatics Software Software/Computing Numismatics/Cryptocurrency Cryptocurrency Computing/Computer Security

Namecoin (Symbol: or NMC) is a cryptocurrency originally forked from bitcoin software. It is based on the code of bitcoin and uses the same proof-of-work algorithm. Like bitcoin, it is limited to 21 million coins.

Namecoin can store data within its own blockchain transaction database. The original proposal for Namecoin called for Namecoin to insert data into bitcoin's blockchain directly. Anticipating scaling difficulties with this approach, a shared proof-of-work (POW) system was proposed to secure new cryptocurrencies with different use cases.

Namecoin's flagship use case is the censorship-resistant top level domain .bit, which is functionally similar to .com or .net domains but is independent of ICANN, the main governing body for domain names.

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Run Commands, the 'rc' in '.bashrc'

Software Software/Computing

In the context of Unix-like systems, the term rc stands for the phrase "run commands". It is used for any file that contains startup information for a command. It is believed to have originated sometime in 1965 at a runcom facility from the MIT Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS).

From Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie:

There was a facility that would execute a bunch of commands stored in a file; it was called runcom for "run commands", and the file began to be called "a runcom". rc in Unix is a fossil from that usage.

Tom Van Vleck, a Multics engineer, has also reminisced about the extension rc: "The idea of having the command processing shell be an ordinary slave program came from the Multics design, and a predecessor program on CTSS by Louis Pouzin called RUNCOM, the source of the '.rc' suffix on some Unix configuration files."

This is also the origin of the name of the Plan 9 from Bell Labs shell by Tom Duff, the rc shell. It is called "rc" because the main job of a shell is to "run commands".

While not historically precise, rc may also be expanded as "run control", because an rc file controls how a program runs. For instance, the editor Vim looks for and reads the contents of the .vimrc file to determine its initial configuration. In The Art of Unix Programming, Eric S. Raymond consistently refers to rc files as "run-control" files.

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Universal Disk Format

Computing Microsoft Windows Microsoft Windows/Computing Software Software/Computing Microsoft

Universal Disk Format (UDF) is a profile of the specification known as ISO/IEC 13346 and ECMA-167 and is an open vendor-neutral file system for computer data storage for a broad range of media. In practice, it has been most widely used for DVDs and newer optical disc formats, supplanting ISO 9660. Due to its design, it is very well suited to incremental updates on both recordable and (re)writable optical media. UDF is developed and maintained by the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA).

Normally, authoring software will master a UDF file system in a batch process and write it to optical media in a single pass. But when packet writing to rewritable media, such as CD-RW, UDF allows files to be created, deleted and changed on-disc just as a general-purpose filesystem would on removable media like floppy disks and flash drives. This is also possible on write-once media, such as CD-R, but in that case the space occupied by the deleted files cannot be reclaimed (and instead becomes inaccessible).

Multi-session mastering is also possible in UDF, though some implementations may be unable to read disks with multiple sessions.

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