Cheap Complex Devices: Two Novels written by APL programs 
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 Cheap Complex Devices: Two Novels written by APL programs

Found at:   http://www.*-*-*.com/

The two novels (if we can agree to call them that) that accompany this
introduction are co-winners of the inaugural Hofstadter Prize for
Machine-Written Narrative, awarded by the Society for Analytical
Engines to the best computer-written novels of seventy-thousand words
or more, as judged by a Committee of writers, literary critics,
computer scientists, and ordinary humans not unlike yourself. The
Bonehead Computer Museum and Bees, or the Floating Point Error, A
Dissertation, ("Bonehead" and "Bees," for short) represent the state
of machine-written narratives in the year 1998.

One of the more startling developments in the entire process is that
both winning entries were written not in LISP, the programming
language generally preferred for artificial intelligence (AI)
programs, but in APL (the letters stand for "a programming language");
not only that, they were written in a dialect of APL that runs only on
Data General NOVA computers, a model last manufactured in 1982, and
currently in use only in the on-board flight computers in
Grumman-built AWACs, the military aircraft used for airborne battle
command. The actual computer on which the two novels were "written"
was obtained at auction of a government surplus, end-of-useful-life
AWAC parts, and it is interesting to note, (given the subject of
Bonehead) that this machine was in use over the Kasimiyah ammunition
dump during the Gulf War.

After the computer was obtained, there still were some interesting
problems in setting up the run-time environment for the storywriters.
On the hardware side, constructing the NOVA's information environment
required some ingenuity, since NOVAs were largely obsolete before the
Internet existed, and therefor there was no easy mating protocol to
hook the CPU to the network card. On the software side, the Committee
faced the crucial challenge of verifying that the programs behaved as
advertised; that is, that they were not hoaxes, the software
equivalent of the dwarf-in-the box chess-playing "machines" of the
late 1800's. Making this verification was no mean feat. APL is a
language known for its concision, ability to manipulate symbols, and
"power;" it is even more famous for being inscrutable even to those
adept in programming it. APL was designed to use all the characters on
the original "symbol" type-ball of the IBM selectric typewriter, and
in appearance it more nearly resembles Egyptian hieroglyphics than any
other language. (APL is called a "write-only language," since nobody
knows how to read it.) To make matters worse, the source to the APL
compiler was encumbered when Fairchild Semiconductor won its notorious
antitrust suit against Data General, therefor the only way to verify
that the submitted programs actually "wrote" the novels that they
claimed to was by disassembly of the MP/AOS pseudo-op pop code that
the compiler produces as an intermediate step? laborious process akin
to putting together paper documents that have gone through a shredder.
If it were not for the stunning clarity of the MP/AOS assembly
language programming manual, this present volume would not exist, and
the Hofstadter prize would await its first claimant.

Complete APL sources to the programs that wrote Bonehead Computer
Museum and Bees are included on the CD-ROM packaged with this book.



Tue, 25 May 2004 08:19:19 GMT  
 Cheap Complex Devices: Two Novels written by APL programs

Quote:

> Found at:  http://www.wetmachine.com/cheap/chapter1.shtml
> . . .
> One of the more startling developments in the entire process is that
> both winning entries were written not in LISP, the programming
> language generally preferred for artificial intelligence (AI)
> programs, but in APL (the letters stand for "a programming language");
> not only that, they were written in a dialect of APL that runs only on
> Data General NOVA computers, a model last manufactured in 1982, and
> currently in use only in the on-board flight computers in
> Grumman-built AWACs, the military aircraft used for airborne battle
> command. The actual computer on which the two novels were "written"
> was obtained at auction of a government surplus, end-of-useful-life
> AWAC parts, and it is interesting to note, (given the subject of
> Bonehead) that this machine was in use over the Kasimiyah ammunition
> dump during the Gulf War.

I think this is an invention. I made a search on the Internet and the
only reference I found to the Hofstadter Prize (apart from the one
given above) was the following:

Quote:
>Similarity to Hofstadter Prize Winner (Score:1)

>(User #15604 Info)
>Go to wetmachine.com and read the introduction to Cheap Complex Devices.
>Then read at least the first chapter of Acts of the Apostles.
>Or reverse the order of these steps. Does not the summary of
>The Bonehead Computer Museum seem eerily or suspiciously closely matching
>to that of Acts of the Apostles? This makes me more interested in each
>book, but also suspicious of the validity of Cheap Complex Devices.
>A quick search turns up no results for the Hofstadter Prize other than this
>very page.

Acts of the Apostles is a book written by John Sundman, the same person
who owns the above web site.

Regards,

--

Manuel Alfonseca
Author of the Chronicles of the Magic Jigsaw Puzzle
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0595148697/paginapersonal06
http://shop.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?isbn=059514...
Director
Escuela Tecnica Superior de Informatica
(Higher Technical School of Computer Science)
Universidad Autonoma de Madrid
Campus de Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain
Tfn: +34 91 348 2278
FAX: +34 91 348 2235
http://www.ii.uam.es/~alfonsec



Tue, 25 May 2004 19:43:23 GMT  
 
 [ 2 post ] 

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