Babbage's Bag

 

Charles Babbage invented the modern computer and with it started the development of computer science and all the computer technology that we take for granted today. Babbage's Bag is a look at many of the interesting ideas that are at the heart of computing. It's not quite theory and it's not quite practice. It certainly is fun if you give it a chance and it will provide a background of knowledge that it's all too easy to miss.



Turing's Test, the Loebner Prize and Chatterbots
Written by Mike James   
Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Turing Test - it's pure Hollywood. Any time a character in a film wants to impress all they have to mention is the Turing Test. There is even a $100,000 prize, the Loebner Prize, for the first AI to pass the famous test - but this too is mostly Hollywood. With the next Loebner Prize due on September 14th, it's a good time to review the whole situation.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 September 2013
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Virtual Memory
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Monday, 10 September 2012

Virtual memory is a way of pretending that your computer has more memory than it really has. But like all good things it comes at a cost. Virtual memory is an example of trading speed for storage.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 September 2012
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VPN - Virtual Private Network
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Monday, 04 July 2011

A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is an easy and low-cost way of connecting to your home or company network from anywhere in the world with all of the facilities that a local connection would bring.

Last Updated on Saturday, 12 May 2012
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What if Babbage..?
Written by Mike James   
Thursday, 27 December 2018

What if the computer had been invented in the Victorian era? This isn’t a silly idea. Charles Babbage was born in the eighteenth century - the age of the Industrial Revolution. The calculating machines he invented, although never fully realized in his lifetime, are rightly seen as the forerunners of modern programmable computers. What if he had succeeded? 

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 December 2018
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What is a Turing Machine?
Written by Mike James   
Thursday, 23 November 2017

The Turing machine can compute anything that can be computed. It is the very definition of computation and the fundamental tool for reasoning about computers. You really need to know what it is all about. Here is an illustrated guide.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 November 2017
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What Is Computable?
Written by Mike James   
Thursday, 14 June 2018

Performing a computation sounds like a simple enough task and it is easy to suppose that everything is computable. In fact there are a range of different types of non-computability that we need to consider. In this article we try to answer the question of what is computable and what is not. This is probably the fundamental question of computer science.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2018
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What's In A DOS
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Thursday, 11 October 2018

Now that Microsoft has open sourced MS-DOS it's a good time to look at filing systems, blocks and the FAT and how they are used. Let's explore the basics of a DOS - Disk Operating System.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 October 2018
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XOR - The Magic Swap
Written by Alex Armstrong   
Friday, 13 July 2018

We all know that if you want to swap the contents of two variables you need a third temporary variable to do the job. It's like swapping the contents of two mugs using a third to hold the contents of the first while you pour the second into it. Using a third temporary mug seems inevitable, but you can swap the contents of two variables without a third with the magic XOR swap.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 August 2018
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