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Comment: Program != Theorem (Score 1) 263

by Stenboj (#47285215) Attached to: The Supreme Court Doesn't Understand Software
A Patent can be issued for a novel and useful composition of matter or process. A theorem is neither, and is indeed not patentable. But an automated process, like the bottle capper at the end of a beer bottling production line, is carrying out a potentially patentable process, even though it may be implemented in a way that depends crucially on the operation of an embedded control program. Agreed so far? Let's take another step: how about the PageRank algorithm that processes information in a way that grew up in an empirically-driven manner without any central core of mathematics? I think that there is a sensible argument to be made that we are still in patentable territory under present law. Dammit. I'd like to see most software patents eliminated, but their continued existence is not good evidence against SCOTUS understanding of software.

Comment: Re:Analogous trouble in the embedded world (Score 1) 311

by Stenboj (#44082775) Attached to: Are You Sure This Is the Source Code?
Curious indeed! If you are loading the memory image from the same linker output file format as the debugger uses, for instance if you are loading with the debugger itself, then I would not expect the problem to occur. If you are really loading with one file format and verifying from another, and still have no trouble, please post that fact. It would be good to know that EW for ARM is better than EW for MSP430 in that way. The simplest way to account for my observations is to assume that there is an entirely separate linker for each output format at least for the MSP430, and that the code that chooses link order is not always the same from one to another. The way standards were set and enforced during development could then be very different for the two flavors, and indeed the algorithm might be always the same for the ARM flavor. I am about to decide what tools to use for an ARM project. I like most things about IAR, and if you can verify the memory image successfully using different linker output formats for original load and for the debugger when verifying I would almost certainly use IAR on ARM instead of something else.

Comment: Analogous trouble in the embedded world (Score 1) 311

by Stenboj (#44063719) Attached to: Are You Sure This Is the Source Code?
I write embedded control firmware for MSP430 processors, building and debugging with IAR Embedded Workbench. In production I build each version to two targets with identical source files but with the single change of different loader output file formats, one for the TI gang programmer used in production, another for the field update loader that we must sometimes distribute to update customers' systems. A third output format (with debug information) is needed if I am going to go in through the JTAG port to do any debugging. Surprise: the resulting memory images from any two of these builds using the same source files have not been identical any time that I have checked. There is no hash nor any date field by the time the image is loaded and I make the comparison with the contents of target hardware memory. In this case, the linker does not always place modules in the same order, and that seems to account for the difference. As far as I can tell they are always linked correctly and so far the program images always seem to have identical functionality, but it means that I cannot use the memory compare function of the JTAG debugger to verify a memory image that was loaded with either the Gang programmer or our field update loader. I asked IAR about this, and they said that yes, the module order was not guaranteed to be consistent between loader output file formats. So I can be sure that each of these build output files does correspond to a known source, and the same source, and all of them work if any of them do, but the memory images they produce fail comparison. Grumble, grumble.

Comment: Re:Real history - illuminating, not depressing (Score 1) 388

by Stenboj (#43179123) Attached to: Dr. Robert Bakker Answers Your Questions About Science and Religion
That fallacy is a caricature, of course. With Copernicus, again look at the details. Copernicus got away with the science per se. What got him in trouble was defying church authority about how to phrase it. It didn't help at all that he put the pope's arguments in the mouth of his fool character in the dialogues. The Catholic church has a genuinely bad record about lots of things, but it is, for instance, one of the few to acknowledge plainly and officially today that evolution is genuine science to be taken seriously. It really is true that a large fraction of the early work in any science was done by religious people, who in a paraphrase of Augustine's words felt that they were "reading that other book written by God: nature". And also true that the idea that the world was governed by a single orderly scheme, which arose strongly in the monotheistic religions, was an important precursor of science. Fools there are, and fools there have always been. Most of the fools are religious whenever and wherever most people are religious. There is a genuine tension between the approaches taken by science and religion, of course, and the competition for loudest modern anti-science fools is between the religious right and the economic interests that urge them on. But the idea that the two must be eternal enemies is a new one and one I don't think is correct. The names I didn't have with me when writing an earlier post were John William Draper and Andrew Dixon White. They are largely responsible for the impression widely held today that science and religion must always be enemies. That was not a widely held idea before late in late in the 19th century. For this history, see p139 and the following section of Understanding Fundamentailsm and Evangelicalism, by George M Marsden ISBN 978-0-8028-0539-3. The Great Courses videos on "Science and Religion" offer much the same story. So what is a self-described "non-religious" person doing with all these references? I'm interested in religion as a phenomenon, and being a scientist I'm in the habit of looking at the evidence.

Comment: Real history - illuminating, not depressing (Score 4, Insightful) 388

by Stenboj (#43151059) Attached to: Dr. Robert Bakker Answers Your Questions About Science and Religion
I had intelligent, devout parents and grew up in a conservative religious backwater. Our pastor was a nominally Lutheran biblical literalist. I slowly pulled myself loose from the science denial of my church, and went on to become a scientist myself (Physics). My path would have been easier had I known then about Augustin and his kin who a millennium or more ago also had to pull themselves away from simplistic interpretations of the Bible. I ended up not religious myself, but I can respect my friends, including scientists, who are religious. The frightened religious conservatives we see so commonly in the US today are not representative of the best in the world's religious traditions, nor the best in Christianity, and they are not even typical of thoughtful Christians that we can see in a broad historical view. The supposed eternal conflict between science and religion is a late-developing meme, propagated in the late 18th century by a couple of folks (I do not have the reference here with me) for their own purposes as part of the professionalization of science, which had previously been an amateur's realm. im-thatoneguy may have had a bad early experience with Christians, as did the most virulently anti-christian of my friends, but he should keep in mind that the loudest Christians we hear today in the US are a recent anomaly, and are a caricature of Christianity. We need to look a bit deeper to see the real relation between science and religion, and our guest for the last two days has kindly pointed us into that deeper realm. I thank him for it, and I think that we all should do that.

Comment: The sapphire is just a substrate (Score 4, Informative) 96

by Stenboj (#37334882) Attached to: Scientists Create New Type of Superconductor Wires
See which I reached via the sapphire outfit's site. The sapphire is a substrate for epitaxial deposition of an unspecified superconductor. It is not the conductor and the story is making more sense now.

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig