Monthly Archive for January, 2010

APL Insights


Out of Their Minds

I love the title of Dennis Shasha & Cathy Lazere’s book, Out of ther Minds: The Lives and Discoveries of 15 Great Computer Scientists. I love it so much I can barely contain myself.

In fact, meeting Dennis in New York was completely, absolutely and fantastically special and  inspiring.  There’s more coming about this!  Eventually! AND Amazon brought the book to my front door today.  Lucky me!

And for some reason I’ve felt compelled to argue with Dennis!

WHAT was I thinking???

Which is, in fact, the thought I fell asleep with last night.

I’m trying to make the case that Ken Iverson’s affiliation with economist Wassily Leontief as his graduate student at Havard must have shaped his approach to array language design.  Leontief was the first “non-scientist” faculty member at Harvard to work with Howard Aiken and use Mark I.  Aiken & Leontief co-chaired Ken’s dissertation.  Since Leonteif’s work in

… economic analysis consists of constructing huge two-dimensional tables showing what each industry receives from and what it sells to every other industry.

– Cohen, I. Bernard Howard Aiken: Portrait of a Computer Pioneer, p. 205

In my mind, there must be a connection…

So, what is it?  I guess it’s time to go read that dissertation.

On a more personal note, it’s my father’s last night in his city home.  He’s off to his new farm on Manitoulin Island, Ontario tomorrow.  It’s far away and frigg’n cold up there, so, honestly, I don’t really get his urge to move. It’s those Albertan farm roots calling.  That’s for sure.  A history my family shares with the Iversons.

Thank You IBM for bringing me to the big city!  Not that I… hem…  have anything against Western Canada.


The more things change…

Another concern  centered on the need to attract more young people into the field in order to fuel the envisioned growth.

What year are we talking about?  Can you guess?  The field is computing.

Ready?   The quote is from Beyer’s Hopper biography pg 155 in reference to the subject of after hours conversations at the first Harvard Computing Symposium in 1947.  That was 63 years ago.  I recalled this quote today while corresponding with a newcomer to our array language community about the trials of finding good programmers.


PS.  A string search on this blog will reveal the proper bibliographic info for the reference.


2009 in facebook – just a taste


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