Rules Research Archaeology

January 7, 2010

Most readers should be familiar with George Santayana‘s quote about remembering the past (also called Santayana’s Law of Repetitive Consequences).

The rise of the BRMS over the last few years has brought lots of enthusiastic new members to our little rules world. These people are eager to contribute to the field and make their own mark. It is the job of the “old guard” to make sure the newcomers are properly aware of the prior research in our field. (Having only participated in the space since 1995, I consider myself to still be a newcomer.) For example, the rise of the multi-core processor means that tons of older research in parallel rule engines is of interest and relevant. For another example, the classic work on conflict resolution strategies doesn’t appear to be online and is in a long out-of-print 30-year-old book. (And at least the prices for “Pattern-Directed Inference Systems” are somewhat affordable – as of this writing, “Human Problem Solving” starts at $190 and goes up to $800 on Amazon.) A third example is that the Wikipedia article on the Rete algorithm only has references to papers that are not online for one reason or another. (I personally haven’t even seen the “A network match routine for production systems.” working paper.)

Thus, I would like to highlight a few useful resources:

We need to work together as a group to improve the online availability of our history.

The Apollo Mission Programs

October 8, 2009

I note with some interest the recent release of some of the lunar module code in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing.

This is related to the Virtual AGC project, which is an effort to build an emulator for the Apollo Guidance Computer.

I’m fascinated by the constraints placed on computing resources in outer space environments, so I find this all quite interesting.

I’ll also take the opportunity to plug James Tomayko‘s book “Computers In Space: Journeys With NASA” – the content should be obvious from the title. I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Tomayko speak on this topic when he was on the ACM lecture circuit in the early 1990s and found his talk fascinating.