Topic: general purpose computer systems

topics > computer science > computer hardware > Group: machine model

design for change
general vs. specific purpose systems
specific purpose computer systems


In mathematics, the trend is towards the most general theorems. In programming, the trend is toward general languages and universal operating systems. Programming languages are standardized and compiled which makes the language locally and globally rigid. The operating system also locks in an interface to the computer. Usually they provide a number of conveniences which for real programs may become unwanted features. The user's interface to general purpose computers is capable of any action, but its rigidity makes it inappropriate for any specific activity. (cbb 5/80)
Subtopic: services vs. an application up

Quote: Fleximatic provides a set of services for any problem instead of special features for an area of computation [»holtAW5_1958]
Quote: a bank's computer can play a game of chess; i.e., computers are capable of inventive nonsense [»mckeWM_1975]

Subtopic: no change == inflexible up

Quote: the difficulty of modifying a language's compiler can prevent extending the language [»halpMI1_1968]

Subtopic: general vs. flexible up

Quote: software is general if it can be used without change; it is flexible if it can be easily changed [»parnDL5_1978]
Quote: generalized software is less efficient than flexible software

Subtopic: cost of generality up

Quote: a general-purpose system can not optimize the use of resources; too easy to overload the system and degrade service by thrashing [»lampBW10_1983]
Quote: a mathematician proves a general theorem instead of closely related ones; but in software, generality is too expensive for unlikely events [»parnDL5_1978]

Subtopic: user friendly vs. generality up

Quote: hardware and system designers create walls accidentally when trying to be user friendly [»palmJ1_1978]
Quote: for example, an operating system may output a 'return' if a line becomes too long, but this destroys picture drawing via cursor control

Related Topics up

Topic: design for change (76 items)
Topic: general vs. specific purpose systems (11 items)
Topic: specific purpose computer systems
(9 items)

Updated barberCB 6/04
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