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6. Networking in the telephone-computer era
Local area networks (LANs) are a very transient aspect of our computer environment. Once Integrated Service Digital Network (ISDN), Broad-band ISDN (BISDN), and packet switching are fully implemented and installed, file transfers will be sufficiently fast to provide current LAN services between any two telephone-computers. At that time, of course, telephone-computers will have telephone numbers, indeed will be the terminal equipment represented by one's telephone number. Simpler forms of telephone communication, such as voice, email, fax, and electronic messaging, will be subsumed within a much broader spectrum of telecommunication services mediated by the telephone-computer.
When one telephone-computer calls another, pairs of windows are created; one window of each pair appears on the monitor of each computer. One pair of windows is controlled by each participant. The participant controlling a given pair of windows can enter any of his sub-languages; then any of the wide-ranging data and graphics thereby available can be displayed on both windows of the pair. If both participants are authorized to enter the given sub-language, then both can address this sub-language jointly.
For example, in figure 9, a banker calls Bob Moore, one of his clients. The banker shows Moore a bar graph of the changes in Moore's DetEd stock over the last quarter. Moore asks what happened during the previous quarter, and the banker immediately instructs the computer to bring this information forward. The banker shows Moore the implications of the changes he is advocating, and Moore's questions are quickly answered with the supporting data displayed by the computer. A change is made, and its effect is immediately seen by both parties. Once a transaction is decided upon, it is immediately implemented by means of a transaction transfer to the appropriate stock exchange.
We have already shown how a manager can create a sub-language and then authorize his subordinates to be able to enter it, thus creating a common sub-language. A sub-language on one telephone-computer can be entered from a different telephone-computer, provided the requesting person has been authorized.
The combination of basing with the single, worldwide telephone network adds up to a powerful set of capabilities. To see the significance of basing, consider the matter of virtual address space. In current practice, each computer has its own private virtual address space. Data and processes in other files must be brought into this virtual address space by bulk transfer before they can be utilized in calculations. This two-level addressing constitutes a major barrier to the expanded use of computers, in particular to the integration of information resources relevant to the changing needs of applications from the vast resources that are available. That is not how "addressable memory" is utilized in our daily life. Our addressable memory provides an encyclopaedic array of vast amounts of data and process, while only a minute fraction is involved in our immediate considerations.
In the telephone-computer age, there is just one common virtual address space, down to the byte level, for all telephone-computers, for all these resources. This address space is blocked into pages, which are also the packets that move over the telephone lines. International agreements long ago have created a universal address standard, namely the telephone number. When one installs a new telephone and is assigned a new telephone number, one is thereby automatically assigned one's own slice of "virtual memory," one's own corner of the world's address space. Companies that maintain huge data and powerful processing resources have the whole world as their market because they are uniquely identified and reachable through their telephone number. It remains to provide the means of establishing the addressability to these resources. That is the role of basing.
Basing one sub-language on another establishes addressability among the data and process pages that constitute the physical manifestation of these sub-languages. Basing results in the sharing of a common address space whose key element is the addressable page. Therefore, pages whose "home" is on one station are co-mingled with pages from another. This results in a common address space (down to the byte level) across the entire hierarchy of associated sub-languages. Thus it is the sub-languages in such a hierarchy that are "networked," not computers. Such a network may be small and of short duration, servicing an immediate problem. Other networks may be large and stable, hosting an extensive hierarchy of sub-languages. Such "networks" are created, and deleted, by the simple acts of basing and unbasing.
The banker has formed such a network with the various stock exchanges and commodity markets (these being archival stations, discussed below). Since the banker shares an address space and sub-language with these markets, transactions can be completed as a natural aspect of any dialogue with a client.
Here again, in figure 10, is the maintenance professional working on the nosecone radar of a Boeing 747 aircraft, his computer by his side. Consider the networking aspects of this maintenance situation. The computer is networked, in the strong sense of sharing address space, with the Boeing maintenance shops in Seattle, Washington. That is, a sub-language in this computer is based on the Boeing Maintenance sub-language in the Seattle shops. None of the maintenance material is in the computer being used by the maintenance person. First, the identification of the aircraft being serviced is established. In response to a call for a full-colour, annotated image of the radar nose-cone area, the pixel data sets come, via ISDN, from a single source - the high transaction rate server in Seattle. Although some processing is being done locally, all maintenance data and diagnostic analysis are being done in Seattle. The bane of having out-of-date maintenance manuals will be a thing of the past. The addressable page is both the unit of storage and the packet of telecommunication. If the maintenance professional is still puzzled, clicking the mouse on a special icon will establish an immediate conversation with a maintenance specialist at Boeing in Seattle. Both monitors will display the same material, both people can use their mouse to point, and both can have a voice discussion of the problem at hand.
Figure 11 illustrates the point that all of the database records, semantic procedures, utility routines, pixel data sets, etc., are stored as pages, and that only the necessary pages are brought into main memory. We see that by using basing and networking, many if not most of these pages will be drawn from distant stations at the time they are needed.
Each individual item of information in a network of sub-languages has its unique address by which it is identified. The stations whose peripheral memories are the depositories for these items are uniquely addressable by their telephone numbers. Note that it is the hierarchies of sub-languages, with their associated common address space, that are networked, and not the computers. Thus, within a single computer, a person may have many sub-languages, each in its own network. Sub-languages, not computers, are networked; sub-languages have no geographic limits.
In current database technologies, the database consists largely of links from one node of the database to another. The "links" in our semantic net database consist of page addresses. Thus for a network of more than one telephone-computer, the links within a database may refer to pages that reside anywhere in the net anywhere in the world. A database in such a network is "distributed" in an intrinsic way; the basing procedure implements this. The size of a page is 2,024 bytes.
The 64-bit page address has the following structure:
|byte offset on a page||211 bytes|
|page number||2 21 bytes|
|telephone number||2 32 bytes|
Thus, up to four billion telephone-computers can be accommodated. Each telephone computer may hold two million pages, that is four billion bytes of information. Thus the bound on directly addressable data and processes, the size of the single virtual memory, is 10 19 bytes.
Figure 12 shows a schematic of a typical sub-language network. The inclusion in these networks of large volume servers of archival information will be typical. We have seen this need in maintenance situations. Companies like Mead Data Central in Dayton, ISML, a Houston-based supplier of scientific sub-routines, SpringerVerlag's Beilsteins Handbuch der Organischen Chemie, cookbooks and garden catalogues, the New York Stock Exchange stock closings, and the show records of the American Kennel Club will all be available, page by page as needed by thousands of users. A department store, serving several hundred thousand charge customers, will do so through a high transaction server that makes available all manner of sales material, processes incoming queries and orders, and connects customers to knowledgeable sales personnel.
Figure 13 shows a maintenance professional working for a local service company. The professional's mobile station is in at least two networks: the first, previously illustrated, is with the home maintenance station whose server has all records for the field locations served and all the maintenance information. The second is the dispatcher network. The central dispatcher can see on the map displayed before him the location of all maintenance trucks as they move about the city. When the dispatcher receives a call requesting maintenance service, he can type in the address of the caller and immediately see its location on the map, spot the nearest maintenance unit, click it with his mouse, and talk with the maintenance person directly to coordinate the new service.
7. All of the world's information
What needs to be addressed? The obvious answer is anything that may at some time be an object of attention in some sub-language. Each object class will have its own grain and often its own special means for the identification of its relevant elements.
It is interesting to note that many, if not the majority of, objects referred to by sub-languages do not have "names" in the lexicon. Consider the marriage of Edward D. Moore and Patricia Jones Moore. Friends of the Moores often refer to their marriage; for example, "her daughter by her second marriage," but it does not have a name. "Texas Instruments FB74 transistor" may name a class of its instances as they exist in a great variety of circuits, or alternatively, of its instances in circuit drawings (as sub-drawings). In either case, they will inherit the properties (such as impedance) of the FB74 transistor class. In the latter case, one can identify the particular transistor either by "the FB74 transistor used in the monopole section of the shift register" or by pointing at the transistor and clicking the mouse while viewing the circuit diagram.
How is the addressability problem for all of the world's information solved? We identify the notion of the Archival Station. You call up a station that supplies information you wish to be accessible to one of your sub-languages. A form appears on your monitor and you are asked to fill it out. After doing so, you put your charge card in the card-reader slot in your telephone-computer. You are then free to base your sub-language on any material of interest to you and available from this source. Your initiating call to the Archival Station provides it with all it needs for billing, notification, etc. The act of basing automatically identifies authorization information necessary for security. The Archival Station only infrequently initiates a call to you. Your computer calls it, requesting a page. Since the request is sent as one of your own pages, it carries not only the requested page address but also the return address as well. Thus it carries all the information the Archival Station needs to identify you and your account and provide you with the information you need. In this manner, the Archival Station information resource sub-language can be "in" as many "networks" as there are clients who wish to have its resources available. Since clients' sub-languages are based upon this resource, it itself is protected from change. Billing services for the use of these pages are handled by the telephone company in the manner of "900" numbers today.
All telephone-computer users in each of their sub-languages have complete freedom to choose and base on whatever information resources they desire, paying for accesses to only those pages required in the course of their processing. Furthermore, this information does not come as isolated, independent displays (as, for example, in the French Minitel System). Any number of such resources may be integrated in response to a single user query in a single sub-language. This may be a sub-language a telephone-computer user has developed in conjunction with one of his personal interests, having personally selected the several information resources it has been based upon. The processes of adding such resources and of extending and modifying the sub-language and its data in many ways then become just part of normal day-to-day activities.
8. The new world of computing applications development environment
The most serious problem facing the computer industry today is the prohibitive cost of software development. Without a major improvement in this area, the telephone-computer will remain underutilized. So what is the software development environment for application programming in the era of the telephone-computer?
Each sub-language has an associated meta-sublanguage. A sub-language expresses the way a person views an area of interest; a meta-sublanguage has as its focus the associated sub-language itself. This meta-sublanguage is the proper software development environment of the applications programmer. In this environment, he can extend the vocabulary and grammar rules of his user's sub-language to encompass the idiosyncratic expressions of the user's domain, construct here the utilities needed for efficiently building and maintaining the semantics of these expressions, and create the new object classes, their data structures and processes, that bring the necessary efficiency to the computer's support of user needs. The result is a programming environment that is domain specific and highly efficient.
The same language processor that handles the "English" sentences for the client also handles the "Pascal" or "C" statements for the applications programmer. So it is a straightforward matter to give the meta-sublanguage access to the lexicon and grammar table of the sub-language. When a new rule of grammar is added, the name of the semantic procedure is put into the meta-sublanguage's lexicon, linking to both the source code file and the paged object code.
When a sub-language L 2 is based on a sub-language L 1, the basing process also creates a meta-sublanguage meta-L 2, based on meta-L 1. All sub-languages are ultimately based on BASE; thus, all meta-sublanguages are ultimately based on Meta-BASE. Meta-BASE contains a rich programming environment: trace, breakpoints, and a complete spectrum of programming and debugging tools. Further, it knows all about the associated user sub-language. The client's sub-language's symbol map and grammar table, source code for its semantic procedures, etc., are all available to the applications programmer through the efficient syntax of the meta-sublanguage inherited through basing on Meta-BASE. In the example in figure 14, both the end-user and the application programmer are referring to the British Star, however their respective interests are markedly different.
The applications programmer maintains and extends the client's sub-language by dealing directly with the syntax rules and associated semantic procedures of the sub-language. To add a new capability for the client, the programmer first enters the client's sub-language, types "metalanguage" to enter the meta-sublanguage, and then types "RULE. " The meta-sublanguage responds with the prompt "SYNTAX" and the programmer adds the syntax for the new grammar rule. If this includes a new part of speech not recognized by the sub-language, it is automatically added to the appropriate table. The meta-sublanguage then prompts for the semantic procedure, which is then programmed directly on-line. When the procedure has been completed, the system:
|language:||" English . " " French "||"Pascal ,""C"|
|subject matter||domain of user's interest||user's sub-language|
|user: "What is the cargo and destination of the British Star?" applications programmer: "dump record for British Start'|
(1) compiles the procedure;
(2) links the result to the resident code; (3) puts the result on a page;
(4) puts the syntax into the grammar table linked to this page.
Note that linking is done only with the relatively small resident code. The programmer types "return" and is back in the client's sub-language, with all the client's data, grammar, and previously added extensions and can immediately try out the new rule in this actual client environment. Again, entering the meta-sublanguage, the programmer can edit the procedure and iterate. One final iteration, for removing remaining debug material, and the programmer can call the client, saying that the new capability is available and giving a concrete illustration of how it can be used on the coupled windows.
In figure 15, the Trust Officer of a bank has called the applications programmer to request a new analysis procedure, "the ABC value," to be applied to various equities. One new rule of grammar with semantic procedure defining the notion of the ABC value is all that the programmer need add. It can then immediately be used by the banker in far-ranging queries.
Just as any given sub-language can be extended by adding new syntax rules and their associated semantic procedures, its meta-sublanguage can be extended by adding syntax and semantics appropriate to the context of the applications programmer. The applications programmer can extend his own domain-specific meta-sublanguage by first typing "METARULE," and then proceeding as before when adding a "RULE." The programmer can indicate any convenient syntax for calling this new procedure, including of course the standard functional notation. A new utility procedure can be added by typing "PROC"; he will then be prompted to write, on-line, the program for the utility. For example, in the meta-accounting sub-language, the programmer may add the procedure: "update_col_totals(ledger, change_ amount)," which can subsequently be used in semantic procedures either by the programmer or by an applications programmer who has purchased the accounting package. If a programmer wants to use an abbreviation for an often used sequence of code- a "macro" in the programming sense - then "MACRO" is used in place of "RULE" or "PROC."
We see in figure 16 that the BASE sub-language has been extended to an Accounting Sub-language. The Accounting Sub-language contains all the terms and syntax that are commonly used in the accounting world. For example, it may include an object class of procedures and data structures for double-entry bookkeeping. Meta-accounting includes an extensive family of accounting utilities and a convenient syntax for using them. Thus, a meta-sublanguage becomes highly domain knowledgeable. When carefully crafted, it can have the look and feel of a specification language, yet after macro expansion and compilation, produce efficient object code.
Such a sub-language/meta-sublanguage may be marketed by a software firm specializing in accounting. The source code for the semantic procedures will not, of course, be shipped with the package. The ABC Co. purchases this package, and their small group of application programmers tailor the ABC Co. Accounting sub-language to the special practices and jargon of their own accountants. They lose nothing of their company's pre-existing capabilities; they simply add rules that embed their own existing files and special procedures in the "accounting English" that the package provides.
Now the whole panorama of the sub-language hierarchy begins to come into focus. Each office of the enterprise has its own sub-languages, which may be related to each other through basing. Many of these sub-languages will also be based on other information resources, including archival stations. Many will have been extended to include domain-specific application packages. But this is only half the picture.
9. Toward an efficient organization of the software and data provider industry
A sub-language does not have to be a complete, self-contained "language." It may, for example, consist of only those syntax rules and associated semantic procedures that are the tangible implementation of a new object class. By identifying the object class by a new, otherwise unused, part of speech, the encapsulation of the processes and data of the object classes is achieved. Since this new object class is automatically made a subclass of "noun," the objects of this class satisfy the already existing syntax of "English" and thereby link to other appropriately related object classes in a natural way.
To visualize this other half of the picture, consider how easy it is to change a significant part of a sub-language, in contrast to the difficulties this would entail in current systems. One rather narrow facility that almost all sub-languages will want to include is a graphics package. A graphics package exists now, consisting of syntax rules, semantic procedures, and utility procedures, and these in turn call appropriate Postscript operators. The package only supports two-dimensional drawings. Suppose some software house that generally works close to the UNIX or DOS level produces a considerably improved graphics package that supports three-dimensional drawings. The applications programmer in any applied software shop, say one specializing in spreadsheet packages, can go into the meta-sublanguage of any appropriate sub-language and type: "delete from file:" followed by the name of the file containing the current graphics sub-language syntax, then after having mounted the new graphics system in the floppy disk drive, type: "extend from disk." The result is the replacement of one graphics package by the new, updated one. Everything else remains the same; no data are disturbed, no relinking of the whole huge system is required. And when the new spreadsheet package is purchased, the client will be able to analyse and modify their pre-existing database along any three selected attributes in a beautiful three-dimensional display.
The door is now open for a vast proliferation of software development at all levels, a layering of development levels, a multiple branching hierarchy of specialization. It is just such a hierarchy that characterizes the textile industry, the automotive maintenance industry and, indeed, today's computer hardware business. The monolithic, application-independent "tools" approach that so dominates the software industry today finds its proper niche in the lower levels within this far broader perspective.
Near the top of this hierarchy, shown in figure 17, software houses that consider themselves as specialists in their client's domain rather than in computer software can succeed in small, specialized markets because their development environment is already highly specific to their needs. The result is the drastic reduction of software development costs. This opening of the competitive market to the innovative specialist will produce sub-languages that can be fully understood by the telephone-computer and imbue it with a really penetrating understanding of the subject domain.
Let us suppose that some software house that specializes in the graphic aspects of merchandising has produced a package, including television camera, for building catalogues. A women's apparel shop has purchased this package and is seen in figure 18, preparing a Spring Sales catalogue. How is the catalogue material to be connected to the rest of the apparel shop's information system? The software house assumed correctly that video sequences and other catalogue material would be directly related to items of merchandise offered by their clients, and that the names of these items would already be in the client's lexicon as noun phrases. This was enough; what other links from these items- inventory levels, prices, etc. - are maintained by the stores is immaterial to the catalogue-building package. So when the store personnel are in the midst of preparing a catalogue, and the catalogue package asks for the description of the merchandise item to be associated with a particular graphic, the store personnel reply using their store's item number. The catalogue package procedure then links the graphics to this item record in the database; it is, therefore, indirectly linked to all non-catalogue aspects of store management.
When a customer, perusing the catalogue over the telephone-computer, clicks the mouse on a graphic and types: "Send me one of those in size 14, colour blue," the following occurs:
(1) The pronoun "me" is assumed to be the person on the phone to the store's telephone-computer, who is therefore identifiable from the page address of the page sent to the store containing the request; from this the store, using a standard utility procedure, goes to the customer's telephone-computer for the number of the customer's credit card (entered by the customer in the computer slot as a part of logging in), which identifies the customer's account, credit rating, and other information.
(2) The syntax of the catalogue package, through a graphics package the software house had based on, includes the RULE: <noun_phrase> => "one of those" <click>. The semantics of this rule retrieves the item number associated by the catalogue package with this graphic.
(3) The store's order-processing package, purchased from a different software house, includes the verb "send" with the associated semantic procedure that carries out the appropriate processing of the whole transaction.
(4) The underlying English includes all of the other rules necessary to complete the parsing, and therefore the processing of the request. The customer's telephone-computer displays the text: "Mrs. Smith, we are pleased to send you a Calvin Klein dress, catalogue item 08249, size 14, colour blue. Your account will be billed for $124.99 plus $7.50 shipping and tax, for a total of $132.49. You can expect delivery in 3 to 5 days. Thank you for your order."
As another example, a furniture store has purchased a software plus equipment package that helps customers visualize potential purchases. In figure 19, the sales person has put the floor plan of the customer's room on the scanner (seen in the background). As the customer selects furniture items, their identifying numbers are typed in and the mouse is clicked at the appropriate site on the floor plan. The package then displays (perhaps on a giant, room-scaled screen), from any viewpoint, how the room will look. Colours, fabrics, furniture orientation, etc., can be changed and the immediate effect seen.
The scanner package, which identifies the inputs to the ultimate graphic process, would be rather easy to implement using the standard graphics package of the BASE sub-language. The output graphics pose a considerably more difficult problem. How can the cost of development of such sophisticated software be amortized? Inputs would probably be pictures of each item taken from a prescribed set of angles. The output would likely use ray tracing to get the shadows and textures just right. This package, however, would contain no other aspects, whether it be furniture, automobiles, microscopic pictures of tissue, a "blow-up" schematic of the nose-cone of an airplane, or whatever. The specialists building such packages would not need to know anything about accounting or linguistics. Their deliverable product would likely be a chip, together with grammar rules and procedures for extending a meta-sublanguage rather than a sub-language. Providing the result as meta-sublanguage syntax gives the applications programmers that use it a great deal of flexibility in the way their user interfaces can be designed and ease in using this flexibility. Thus, the resulting package can be conveniently tied in with other packages (such as the scanner package in the application cited here, a catalogue-building package, a medical lab package, or one used in developing the graphics for the Boeing maintenance package used by the airplane mechanic who was shown working on the nose-cone). This means that the high development cost of such a package could be distributed over a wide market comprised of software houses closer to applications, and labs with their own strong programming groups, each having its own distinct clientele (like the furniture store).
Many exciting capabilities are being demonstrated in academic and industrial laboratories. However, in today's software development environments, the cost is prohibitively high; and it will be a long time before these capabilities will find their way into any but military and space applications. The software development environment presented here sharply reverses that trend by supplying a simple, linguistic linking at the meta-sublanguage level.
10. The vision and the realization
So here is our paradigm: It is the constant re-evaluation and adjustment of the relevant view that characterizes human information processing. A succinct expression of this view is a sub-language that is describable as a formal syntax and denotational semantics. When the basic conceptual structure of a task environment is changing only slowly, a sub-language can be established that characterizes the task and the considerations relevant to it. A computer can be programmed to understand this sub-language. providing a natural computer adjunct in accomplishing that task.
Programming languages are the proper sub-languages of system programmers, and their very limited application is the implementation of operating systems and language processors. Possibly it is only lack of a clear and relevant paradigm that has delayed even applications programmers from having an appropriate way to communicate with the computer. It is now time for the rest of us to be provided with the sub-languages appropriate to our concerns, sub-languages that are natural and efficient for our communications with the computer and for our communications with each other through the computer. Then the computer will find its appropriate niche as a medium of communication, tying people, information resources, and processing power together into the efficient focus of our appropriate sub-language. This is our vision. However, vision alone will not provide the better answer to Dr. Lucky's question. It is a sad commentary on this industry that the many visions, the promises, remain largely just that - visions and promises. The Apple Computer film "Knowledge Navigator" offers no clue for bringing that vision into being.
How do we realize our vision? How do we solve the many technological problems that lie in the path of such a development?
The problems now faced by the software industry are clear and indeed are recognized by that industry; the first of these is by far the most stringent:
(1) The high cost of software development.
(2) The integration of multiple media, of data, and of geographically dispersed people and resources into a coherent user interface.
(3) The computer's current inability to understand references to internal contents of files- to know what we are pointing at in a picture, to be able to answer questions using a table of data from a journal article, or to know to inform others of a change in an item of data.
(4) The difficulty in getting any single relevant item from all the world's information without being blocked by the enormous barriers of ambiguity, volume, and non-focused indexing.
We have faced these problems and have concluded that current software development practices, built as they are on the minimalist philosophy and the current perspective of software engineering, are not conducive to solving these problems. Object-oriented programming is a major step in the correct direction, but is insufficient because it does not deal with the adverse effects of the isolated, monolithic system that is the hallmark of the minimalist and software engineering views. Further basic changes of approach are required.
In seeking a solution to these problems, we have first put forward a clear paradigm: The sub-language is the proper focus of software development. From the vantage point of this paradigm, follow three radical changes in software system architecture:
(1) A single, grammar-driven language processor that includes language extension utilities.
(2) Segmentation at the language-processing level using a page-address structure compatible with networking.
(3) Hierarchical sub-languages sharing a common, worldwide address space to solve the distributed data and distributed processing problems.
In presenting our vision here, it has been important to us that our ideas really work, and that our words are backed by a solid, working system. The New World of Computing System exists. We have embodied the radical changes into a complete, rounded system. We have gone farther by extending this system to include capabilities that elucidate and amplify the basic concepts. The many technical designs, both indicated in the above presentation and implied by the illustrations, have been fully implemented in this single, integrated system. We have successfully tested and demonstrated every technological capability required to achieve every aspect of our vision. Thus, the basis has now been laid, a technical solution has been achieved for that new world of computing, the era of the telephone-computer.
The research phase of the New World of Computing System is completed. It exists today at the level of a commercial prototype. It is now ready to move into product development.
The New World of Computing System is written entirely in standard "C," except for a few hardware interface assembler procedures. It is running under UNIX4/OpenWindows5 and MS-DOS6/Windows.7 It currently consists of over 400,000 lines of "C" - about 3 megabytes of compiled code. Of this, only about 300 kilobytes is resident; the rest is on the System's own pages (together with data, text, etc.) and is managed by the System's own paging subsystem. The System's own pages are the packets sent across existing and future-digital telecommunication systems. This includes pages containing the digitized voice, and echoed texts and graphics, that will constitute telephone communications. Current PC and workstation hardware and ISDN telecommunication standards are completely adequate to fully support the functionality of the New World of Computing System as described in this document.
"New World of Computing" is the registered trade mark of the California Institute of Technology, which holds the copyright to the New World of
Computing System. We wish to thank AT&T/NCR for their continuing sup port and participation in the development of this System.
1. Dr. Lucky is the Executive Director, Communications Sciences Research, AT&T Bell Laboratories.
2. William James, "The Will to Believe," reprinted in Kallen, ed., The Philosophy of William James, chap. 2. New York: Modern Libary.
3. Alfred Tarski, "Der Wahrheitsbegriff in den formalisierten Sprachen," Studia Philosphica, vol. 1,1936.
4. UNIX is a trademark of AT&T Bell Laboratories.
5. OpenWindows is a registered trademark of Sun Microsystems Corp.
6. MS_DOS is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp.
7. Windows is a trademark of Microsoft Corp.
Real-world computing and flexible information access: MITI's new programme
3. The concept of real-world computing
4. Outline of RWC programme
5. Theoretical foundation
6. Novel functions for application
7. Computational bases
8. Research organization and plan
MITI (Ministry of International Trade and Industry) began in 1992 a new 10-year programme called "Real-World Computing." The programme, which is to lay the theoretical foundation and to pursue the technological realization of human-like flexible information processing, is aimed at establishing the basis for flexible and advanced information technologies that are closely allied to human thought processes and capable of processing a variety of diversified information in the real world. A three-tiered research structure will attempt to establish a new theoretical foundation, investigate elemental novel functions, and develop new computing systems that can exploit parallel and distributed processing.
The remarkable development of computer and communication technologies is producing an innovative change in society, not only in industrial activities but also in our way of life. It is foreseen that the variety and the quantity of information to be handled will greatly increase by the next century. Information technology will be expected to expand the information processing abilities of humans and provide everyone with flexible access to various kinds of information in the real world.
Today, the computer far surpasses human ability in certain well-defined domains, such as numerical computation, document processing, and, recently, even in logical inference. Nevertheless, it still lacks flexibility and re mains far behind humans in many respects, such as pattern recognition, problem solving from incomplete information, learning capability, etc. This Information-processing function seen in humans is characterized by the term "flexible information processing" or "real-world computing" in contrast to the conventional rigid information processing performed by computers that assumes complete information in a pre-assumed world or problem domain. "Intuitive" information processing, in contrast to "logical" information processing, is immature in current information technology.
In 1992, MITI (Ministry of International Trade and Industry) began a new R&D programme called "Real-World Computing" (previously called "New Information Processing Technology") as a 10-year Japanese national project to follow the Fifth Generation Computers project that officially ended in June of that year. The objective of the new programme is to lay the theoretical foundation and to pursue the technological realization of human-like flexible information processing as a new paradigm of information processing toward the highly advanced information society of the twenty-first century. The paradigm seems essential for the qualitative advancement of current information technology and for providing computers and users with flexible information access and collaboration in the real-world environment.
The programme covers a wide range of information technology: basic theory and novel functions for application to realize flexible information processing, and computational bases for massively parallel and distributed processing, including neural computing and optical computing/ interconnection. Through the programme, which is open to the world, it is also intended that Japan make a greater international contribution to basic science and generic technology, which should be the common property of mankind.
The present paper, after reviewing the background, outlines the content of the Real-World Computing programme and provides details on research and development in the programme.
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