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Re: [feyerabend-project] Reports from Santa Fe?

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  • 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 1 of 2 , May 3, 2002
      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

      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.

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