Re: What databases have taught me
Date: 28 Jun 2006 00:26:41 -0700
> Dan wrote:
> > Pickie wrote:
> > > Dan wrote:
> > > ><SNIP> ... Babbage, Turing, Shannon, and many
> > > > others did just fine. I now see the problems they solved, resolved in
> > > > the worst possible ways with the state of the art tools and
> > > > computational models. <SNIP>
> > >
> > > OK, I'll bite. What exactly can I learn (or re-learn) from Babbage?
> > > What exactly does "doing just fine" mean with regard to Babbage when he
> > > signally failed to build either one of his machines?
> > >
> > > Or is this just a variation of the lament for the lost *Truely*
> > > Relational DBMS?
> > Hey pickie,
> > To your question, "what can I learn from..?", perhaps my statement was
> > overly general, but I was trying to convey my appreciation for those
> > that could describe a problem and solution using english and formalisms
> > to solve problems, even without the benefit of tools and technology. I
> > don't want to go on a rant here though. It is merely my own opinion
> > and therefore subjective.
> > In regards to Babbage's failures, I was under the impression his plans
> > and specifications resulted in a perfectly functioning difference
> > engine in the late 1900's, but that funding and such proved the barrier
> > to him succeeding in his time. He still visualized a mechanical
> > computer for solving problems without the benefit of having a computer
> > or programming language and it had remarkable similarity of
> > architecture to computers of our time.
> > In regards to your last point. No. I am not one of those that does
> > such lamenting.
> > - Dan
> You picked bad examples. The contributions of Turing and Shannon have
> not been lost at all - they underpin the way computers work. I don't
> think anyone is resolving their (Babbage, Turing and Shannon's)
> problems using state of the art tools and computational models "in the
> worst possible ways".
I didn't say the contributions had been lost. I also didn't limit my examples to just Babbage, Turing, and Shannon, though I didn't explicitly list others explicitly. I admit I formulated my point rather poorly and concede you raise valid points.
> The accepted story is that Babbage did not have the technology
> available to him to build parts to the accuracy he required. However,
> the Science Museum in London built a working "Difference Engine No. 2"
> in 1989-1991 to accuracy achievable in Babbage's time, and using
> materials as similar to those he could use as possible. Babbage had
> made no attempt to build a No 2 machine.
> The difference engine was to carry out a specific task - much like the
> earliest electronic computers. The analytical engine was to have been
> a general purpose machine. A similar inspiration worked in those who
> built the first general purpose electronic computers. In that sense we
> may be said to have solved Babbage's problem over again, but we didn't
> lose all that much by it.
Thanks for the added information and clarification.