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Chapel Hill | Chasing Men Who Stare at Arrays

Archive for the 'Chapel Hill' Category

Brooks on Iverson

In October of 2011, Dr Fred Brooks agreed to talk to me about when he and Dr Kenneth E Iverson, the father of APL, shared an office at Harvard University in the 1950s.  So, I went to Chapel Hill in North Carolina, USA to speak with him.

Professor Dr Jan Prins, also from The University of North Carolina, assisted with the interview and he thought it would be interesting to know what it was like for Dr Iverson to receive the Turing award in 1979, 17 years after the publication of A Programming Language.  Here is the answer:

– corrected (Thank you Roger.  Again. )

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Happy New Year! The 2011 Photo Array!

I’m looking forward to a 2012 that is just as fast paced as 2011. And for whatever it’s worth, I didn’t blog as much as I did last year which is something you will notice in this post of photos. Yes indeed, a picture is worth 1000 words.

In fact, we only made 12 posts for 2011 and in spite of this low showing, my faithful readers, according to a report WordPress sent me last night:

This blog was viewed about 9,700 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

I’m thrilled! Rock on!

Happy New Year Everyone! Let’s kick some more ass in 2012.

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Lettow on Brooks honouring the 90th anniversary of KEI’s birth

As they say in rock and roll, “You can’t always get what you want… but you just might find you get what you need…”

When Ken Lettow asked me if he could swing down to North Carolina for my interview with Professor Fred Brooks,  I answered with a resounding and emphatic, “NO!”

You gotta love Ken.  Persistence is his middle name.  He then proceeded to convince me that he would not bring havoc to my film set and in fact, he would make himself useful.  And a short training session later…   I have a  sound engineer and set photographer all in one enthusiastic bundle  of a subject matter expertise.   In short, a much appreciated helping hand.

In honour of the 90th anniversary of Ken Iverson’s birth Ken Lettow sent out a wonderful account of our adventure to North Carolina to the J-Chat forum:

As [KEI and Prof Brooks] developed course material for the class,  Ken began to formalize the notation that came to be known as APL, the “the blackboard version” as Eugene McDonnell once so aptly put it.  Their collaboration ultimately resulted in the publication of two books, Ken Iverson’s “A Programming Language”,  in 1962 and “Automatic Data Processing” by Iverson and Brooks, published in 1963.  They also became lifelong friends during this period.

You can read Ken’s  full text here.  He’s also posted a great set of photos.

Happy holidays everyone.  May the Force be with you always.

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J, K & NC (+ J Conference 2012)

I have a Stats exam next week and because I really should be studying, I thought I’d drop you a quick note.

First, a special announcement: the J folks are planning a conference RIGHT HERE in Toronto July 23rd  &24th 2012.  Come one! Come all!

The J-community has really stepped up to the plate in terms of financial and in-kind labour for this documentary project.  Let’s face it folks, unless you’re Fred Brooks, Arthur Whitney or Eric Iverson, or a dozen or so other stars, wanting to be in the documentary doesn’t do much for me.  

I expect you noticed I was in Chapel Hill last month.  Luckily, Roger Hui alerted me to the fact that The University of North Carolina has a programming gem in their freshman class who, at all of 18, has already made a splash in the J programming forums. Welcome Marshall Lochbaum, and his former high school math teacher Henry Rich (pictured above).

And of course, less obvious was my visit to NYC to see for myself what amazing work is going on at Kx.  If you haven’t watched the video of our Simon Garland in action (with moderator Tom Groenfeldt) you’re missing the cutting edge.

 

OK!  Off I go… Exam prep is really not that bad… or so I keep telling myself…

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One for the road

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