[Pl-seminar] Semantics Seminar Schedule

Mitchell Wand wand at ccs.neu.edu
Thu Nov 30 00:05:02 EST 2006

NU Programming Languages Seminar
Wednesday, 12/06/06
Room 108 WVH (http://www.ccs.neu.edu/home/wand/directions.html)
(* Note non-standard room *)

Richard P. Gabriel, PhD MFA
Distinguished Engineer
Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Design Beyond Human Abilities

For 50 years we've been developing a science and practice of software
based on understandings and explorations of software systems of
modest size-centering on systems of a few tens of thousands of lines
of code but extending up to about 50 million lines. Scale makes a
difference: scale of time and of size. The prospect of ultra large
scale software systems-systems with perhaps trillions of lines of
code encompassing millions of processors, ranging from sensors the
size of dust to the largest servers, with much of it with real-time
requirements-will change everything. Imagine, if you can, how such
systems will be made. Can they truly be said to be designed at all?
The realities of such systems will force us to reëexamine the very
foundations of computing and software engineering; our concepts of
abstraction, modularity, information hiding, pure static typing, and
many other things will need to be refined, expanded, or reformulated.
Consider, further, that such systems in normal circumstances cannot
be routinely reïnstalled nor globally rebooted, and when used in life-
critical situations, they must not stop. Data must be readable and
usable for decades, even as standards and hardware changes.

This talk will examine the nature of such systems, especially how
they are designed, built, and what is needed to keep them running.
We'll take both a philosophical and technical look at some of the
aspects of ultra large scale software that make us need to revise our
foundations and what those revisions will be like.

Biography: Richard P. Gabriel is a Distinguished Engineer at Sun
Microsystems looking at the architecture, design, and implementation
of extraordinarily large, self-sustaining systems. He is the award-
winning author of four books and a poetry chapbook. He lives in

This talk is joint with the NU ACM Student Chapter.

Upcoming Events:

# Wed 12/13 Pete Manolios, A Complete Compositional Reasoning
  Framework with Applications to Hardware Verification
# Wed 1/24 Bil Lewis, Omniscient Debugging


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