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The effect of programming | 756 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
The effect of programming
Authored by: wharris on Friday, July 20 2012 @ 02:59 AM EDT
The section starting "imagine a device" is describing a Turing
machine, the theoretical model of what computation is. All existing general
purpose computing machines are partial implementations of Turing machines.

He is trying to further explain that a computer program is nothing more than
data stored in memory, exactly like the symbols on paper that his imagined robot
arm/camera is examining and reacting to.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

Actually, there's a good point
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 20 2012 @ 09:00 AM EDT
There are billions of embedded devices out there which contain a general-
purpose CPU wired to some RAM and ROM (or something pseudo-ROM-
like, such as EEPROM or even Flash). They might be in devices such as
washing machines and microwave ovens.

The key thing here is that the program they run *could* have been burned
into ROM, because it doesn't self-modify. We want to make sure that
courts understand these are still "machines" which consist of
"general-
purpose CPU plus input data", where the input data (the program's
instructions) is stored in an effectively nonvolatile medium. So arguments
based on typical desktop computer configurations (where all of the
attached memory is RAM) may not be sufficient to convince the lawyers
that a specific program in ROM in an embedded machine should not be
patentable.

On the other hand, even microcontrollers are now usually completely
reprogrammable, even if it takes external tools to do so. Some
demoscene programmers have taken microcontrollers out of things like
refrigerators, and connected them to a VGA display and written 3D
graphics demos for them! Thus demonstrating the awesome flexibility and
inherently deep capabilities of the general-purpose computer.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

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