Introduction: What Are the Extraordinary Ideas
Computers Use Every Day?
How were the great ideas of computer science born? Here’s a selection:
This is a gift that I have … a foolish extravagant spirit, full of
forms, figures, shapes, objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions, rev-
—WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Love’s Labour’s Lost
|•||In the 1930s, before the first digital computer has even been built, a British genius founds the field of computer science, then goes on to prove that certain problems cannot be solved by any computer to be built in the future, no matter how fast, powerful, or cleverly designed.|
|•||In 1948, a scientist working at a telephone company publishes a paper that founds the field of information theory. His work will allow computers to transmit a message with perfect accuracy even when most of the data is corrupted by interference.|
|•||In 1956, a group of academics attend a conference at Dartmouth with the explicit and audacious goal of founding the field of artificial intelligence. After many spectacular successes and numerous great disappointments, we are still waiting for a truly intelligent computer program to emerge.|
|•||In 1969, a researcher at IBM discovers an elegant new way to structure the information in a database. The technique is now used to store and retrieve the information underlying most online transactions.|
|•||In 1974, researchers in the British government’s lab for secret communications discover a way for computers to communicate securely even when another computer can observe everything that passes between them. The researchers are bound by government secrecy—but fortunately, three American professors|
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Publication information: Book title: Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future: The Ingenious Ideas That Drive Today's Computers. Contributors: John Maccormick - Author. Publisher: Princeton University Press. Place of publication: Princeton, NJ. Publication year: 2012. Page number: 1.
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