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Reports from Santa Fe?

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  • patrickdlogan
    Any reports from the Santa Fe gathering?
    Message 1 of 2 , May 3, 2002
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      Any reports from the Santa Fe gathering?
    • Richard P. Gabriel
      There will be a substantial report done once I get a little time to work on it. There were extensive results, but the material is currently very raw and the
      Message 2 of 2 , May 3, 2002
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        There will be a substantial report done once I get a little time to
        work on it. There were extensive results, but the material is
        currently very raw and the workshop group was a little nervous about
        putting out the material in a more polished form.

        To be clear on this: We established at the outset of the workshop a
        privacy stance in order to give people permission to be as goofy as
        they felt was appropriate. In the end, all the material is
        releasable, but the wording (made on a private Wiki) of the results
        is very rough. I volunteered to do a polishing and organizing pass
        over it and post it on my website, but travel makes this a little too
        hard to do before June.

        In general we came up with around 10 decent Hilbert-type problems.

        Two major ideas came out of the workshop. One will seem political or
        philosophical, but there is an important methodological aspect to for
        science.

        Idea one: Biologists have relatively recently discovered that they
        need to look at even the biochemistry in system terms. Looking for
        people who know about such things, they find control theorists and
        computer scientists. However, computer scientists are now starting to
        discover that our computing metaphors are not sufficient for what
        computer scientists want to do let alone what the biologists want to
        understand. Therefore, we need to warn biologists off from thinking
        of biochemistry as computing. It is really system organization, which
        we don't know how to do.

        Idea two, following onto idea one: Imagine the world before
        computers. There would be rooms full of people with hand-operated
        calculating machines who would be mechanically executing the
        instructions a mathematician figured out for them. They would be
        calculating Bessel functions, Legendre polynomials etc to solve
        physics and acoustics problems. Later we made computers to do the
        hard work.

        Imagine today. There are rooms full of people with hand-operated
        programming environments who are mechanically executing the
        architectural instructions that an architect figured out for them.
        That is, we believe in computing for getting results, but not for
        putting out systems together. In most languages, programmer-specified
        computation goes on at runtime; in some languages (the ones we've
        rejected) programmer specified computation can go on at compile-time,
        at load-time, and at runtime. If we think about what these
        non-runtime computations are about, they are concerned with the form
        of the language and with the organization of the program or system
        being constructed. So, at compile and load time, code can be executed
        to construct the system. And at runtime too.

        The idea is to separate programming languages from organization
        languages. The former is for the computing, and the latter is for
        systems and programs to, under program not human control, organize
        themselves into a running system. I believe that even though we've
        danced around this idea that we have not completely grokked it
        before, and at this workshop we started to see it.

        -rpg-
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