Tag Archive: Computer

Computer Science

In 1958, Chaim Pekeris completed a landmark project in computer science. As a physicist at the Weizmann Institute of Technology in Israel, he become fascinated with the relatively new science of quantum mechanics and its potential to explain from first principles the behaviour of atoms.

There was a problem however. The equation developed by Schrodinger that could do the job was too complex for mere mortals to handle. Using it to determine the electronic energy levels of a even a lowly helium atom was seemingly impossible.

Chaim had an idea, however: why not exploit the incipient field of computer science to do the job.

Today, Christoph Koutschan and Doron Zeilberger analyse the work he carried out over several years and compare it to the approach that they would take to the problem today. It makes for interesting reading.

Chaim’s task was monumental. He first had to persuade the Wiezmann Institute and a technical committee including Einstein and Von Neumann, to build a computer. Einstein proved hard to persuade but was eventually won over by Von Neumann.

WEIZAC, Israel’s first electronic computer was built between 1954 and 1954. According to Wikipedia, WEIZAC was an asynchronous computer operating on 40-bit words. Instructions consisted of 20-bits: an 8-bit instruction code and 12-bits for addressing. For a memory it had a magnetic drum that could store 1,024 words.

Today you’d get more processing power out of a washing machine.

Before the computer could get involved, Pekeris had to work out how to describe the two atoms and nucleus of a helium atom using the kind of recurring partial differential equations that a computer could handle. The result was a remarkable 33-term equation which he derived by hand, a single calculation that Koutschan and Zeilberger estimate must have taken 20 person hours.

The computer than had to be programmed–in machine code. That means writing it entirely in 0s and 1s, for which he recruited help from an early self taught programmer called Yigal Accad.

This program then kept WEIZAC busy for months, eventually producing a set of tables describing the energy levels of a helium atom, the first time this had been done accurately..

So how has Moore’s Law affected this process, ask Koutschan and Zeilberger.

They repeated Pekeris’ project using the modern tools of computer science to see how they compare.

They say that the numeric computation–the work done by WEIZAC–can be completed in a fraction of a second on any laptop such as Pavilion dv9000(Hp dv9000 battery) and Hp PB991A.

They also point out that the programming is much easier too, thanks to the many high level programming languages available today. Few people these days have to mess around with machine code, thankfully.

But perhaps the most surprising thing is that the algebra for working out the differential equations can also be done much faster today using computer algebra programs such as Mathematica and Maple.

Koutschan and Zeilberger say they were able to condense this part of the project, which took Pekeris at least 20-hours, into a 2-hour session.

That’s a fascinating study and counterintuitive in some ways too. While it’s easy to see the many orders of magnitude improvement that has improved hardware, it’s clear from this work that the speed up from software is more limited.

In particular, an order of magnitude improvement–from 20 hours to 2 hours–in the time it takes to do the algebra for this problem is a surprisingly small improvement over a 50 year period.

But given the nature of the problem, it’s hard to imagine how further order of magnitude improvements can be possible. What kind of computer algebra software could allow a human to program it work out these kind of differential equations in minutes or seconds.

Of course the limiting factor here is not the software but the ‘wetware’. Which means that the next generation of improvements will either have to focus on improving the wetware or taking it out of the loop entirely.

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Computer Forensics Technology

computer
The fact that computer forensics tools and methods can be successfully use to identify user passwords, computer logons, as well as other transparent information is absolutely correct. A simple example of this can be the extraction of password through file sharing. If a file sharing is enabled on a computer, then services such as NetBIOS can be sued to retrieve sensitive information about the system, such as the user names, configuration of the system as well as registry keys. These pieces of information can then be used to allow for a brute force password attack against any Windows NT system.  Furthermore, on a network, software such as packet sniffers can be used to extract data from the packets travelling a particular segment of a network, which can contain confidential information such as user credentials.

A simple utility which is often ignored called FINGER, can also be used to extract information about user logons remotely on computers on which the service has not been disabled. With regards to identification, detection and extraction of information that is transparently moved between different components of a computer, forensic tools allow the computer forensic experts to have a look at data that is generated from past activities on the computer. This data may be found in the swap files that contain temporary data generated by the various programs. This data may not only provide information about the usage of the program but also provide clues about the users credential and other information that is not saved in user files. Forensic tools can also have a look at data in file slack and unallocated file space, which is unreadable by the user in normal circumstances. This form of data can be categorized uniquely as ambient data and may span up to 50% of a computer hard drive. This ambient data may contain email fragments, word processing fragments, directory tree snapshots as well as remnants of any activity that has occurred in past work sessions on a computer. These chunks of data, when read, may provide important information and can prove to be an important clue for computer forensic expert looking for evidence, but these activities are only made possible with the help of computer forensic tools (Vacca, 2005).

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Computer Technology

Future-Computers

Computer technology just like other technologies has developed overtime and has also influenced our lives in different ways.  The research in human-computers interaction has been very successful and has influenced the computing system all over the world.  When we compare the evolution of computer technology and the several inventions that has taken place, it is evident that this industry is growing very fast and at a very high speed. This has been attributed to different challenges that have been faced by the players in this industry.  Information technology often shortens as IT is the common term that is commonly used to refer to the entire computer industry. It involves the use computers and software in the to mange information. However different companies use different terms to mean computer technology with some companies using terms like management information systems.

The history of information technology is very interesting. This can be traced from the time when a department of information technology used a single computer operator especially for data storage to the modern time with complex communication between computers across the world. For business people, this has altered the business field in which the business field has been level and most businesses and customers are able to communicate freely despite time and location (Schwabach 2006 p87).

The major players in this field are always in constant research in order to come up with the most current products for the competitive market. This is because this industry has become the backbone of the development of all the other industry. Information technology and computers are mandatory requirements for all the organizations in the current business world (Schwabach 2006 p87). However, players in this industry still experience major challenges with regard to piracy and conspiracy of most of their products. Major players which include Microsoft international, Toshiba, Acer, Compaq, Dell, and Hp among other players have not been able to control this illegal act despite their worldwide operations.

Computer technology industry is majorly concerned in the facilitation of communication, data storage, data processing and data delivery to the right people at the right time. This function is essential to every organization that is involved in business activities across the world. Currently, there is intense competition in this industry and the major player, Microsoft international is no longer enjoying the monopoly power that it used to enjoy before. However, this has led to the reduction in the cost of different products if compared to the past. This has also been attributed to partly by the advancement in the technology as well as due to the upcoming new products.

Computer technology has also been popular across the world and the field of expertise has been developed to a new level. Professionals in this field are many and the services that called for highly trained professionals can now be handled by ordinary people due to the production of computer programs that are user friendly (Geisst 2006 p.28). The availability of computers and the reduction in the cost of computers as well as training has also contributed to exposure IT by almost everybody unlike in the past when computers were for the rich and the middle income earners. Many individuals have become IT professionals are now helping in the executing different tasks like, computer networking and information processing, data management, data base and software design, engineering of computer hardware as well as the administration and management of the entire systems at affordable cost. One of the companies the major player in this industry is the Microsoft Corporation which has also transformed this industry at a great deal.

Microsoft Corporation
Background

Microsoft is a multinational company that is located in Redmond, Washington in the United States of America. Microsoft is a company that has world wide business operations and supports the computing industry in licensing, manufacturing and supporting a wide range of product and services in this industry. Through its product division, Microsoft Corporation consists of a variety of products that includes both services as well as tangible products. Microsoft was constituted I the United States of America on 4th April 1975 with the major objective of developing and selling BASIC interpreters mainly for Altair 8800. However, Microsoft has since dominated the operating system market by developing different products which it has dominated do date. Microsoft home computer operating systems are the most and the commonly used operating in different parts of the world. It has also dominated the office suite with the popular Microsoft office, recently ventured into the video game industry with the introduction of Xbox as well as in the electronics when they introduced Zune into the market (Shelly 2008 p.56). However, Microsoft Corporation has been criticised that it has for a long time used its monopolistic practices in business which they claimed included anticompetitive strategies. The European commission as well as the department of justice in the U.S. also confirmed that they violated the antitrust laws.

Product division

Microsoft Corporation offers a wide range of products into the markets both in the United States and internationally in other countries. These products include Server and tools, windows and windows live division as well as online services in their company clients section. These include a variety of server products, web application programs, software distribution, path management as well as software inventory (Schwabach 2006 p87). This division also provides consulting services in Information technology such as in the certifications of programs hence help in the development of programs and software by other partners.