Babbage's Bag
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.



Introduction To The Genetic Algorithm
Written by Mike James   
Tuesday, 07 October 2014

Genetic algorithms pop up all over computer science and applied computing. They are simple, easy to apply and easy to understand. What mystery remains is why they work at all? How can something seemingly so random home in on a one in a million plus solution? 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 October 2014
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IP addressing and routing
Written by Ian Elliot   
Thursday, 16 December 2010

Every programmer should understand how the Internet works and this means understanding IP addressing and routing. It's a good time to find out about such things with DOS attacks on the rise and IPv6 about to take over from IPv4.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 December 2010
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Kolmogorov Complexity
Written by Mike James   
Monday, 02 September 2013

This xkcd cartoon provides an ideal excuse to explain Kolmogorov complexity. It is an interesting topic and one that gets right to the heart of programming of how programming relates to ideas like information and entropy.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 September 2013
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Magic of Merging
Written by Mike James   
Tuesday, 01 October 2013

The merge sort is an under-appreciated algorithm - yet it is neat, clever and it still has its uses. With the rise of big data, parallel methods and online processing, you can even argue that it is growing in importance. Let's take a look at how it works and when you should use it. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 October 2013
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Mouse's tale
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 04 February 2010

The mouse - where did it come from and how does it work?

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 February 2016
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Muiti-core processors
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 21 May 2010

We are being offered ever more cores within a single processor as if this was as good as making the machine go faster. What exactly is the change from single to multi-core all about?

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 May 2010
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Multitasking
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 20 October 2009

We take multitasking for granted now but it was a difficult technology to get right - and still is.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 October 2009
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Neural networks
Written by Editor   
Friday, 28 August 2009

Neural networks are useful and might provide a route to an artificial brain.

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 March 2011
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Non-computable numbers
Written by Mike James   
Saturday, 19 December 2015

What are the limits to computation? The computer science theory of computation can be intimidating because of its use of logic but taking a programmer's approach makes it seem much simpler. So if you want to know what a non-computable number is - read on.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 January 2016
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Peer-to-Peer file sharing
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 09 March 2010

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing is both a technology and a legal, if not moral, battle.

Last Updated on Saturday, 30 October 2010
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Power of computing
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 31 May 2010

A quirky look at the power supply. Why do computers need power at all and how do power supplies work. The answers are surprising.

Last Updated on Sunday, 30 May 2010
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Power of Operators
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014

This article  is more or less everything that the working programmer should know about operators and their associated expressions and, of course, the use of parentheses.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 May 2014
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Prime Numbers And Primality Testing
Written by Mike James   
Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Testing to see if a number is a prime or not is the basis of many encryption and security methods. It has long been assumed that there is no fast way, i.e no polynomial time method, to determine if a number is prime, but now we know different. It is lesson to us all that a classic problem that was long thought not to have a polynomial solution does indeed have one. Given that we rely on some of these problems to keep our secrets safe, this is a change in perspective.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 September 2013
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Principles Of MP3
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Thursday, 11 May 2017

MP3 is just a file format for audio files but judging by the revolution in the way music is listened to since it was introduced you might think it was much more and in a sense it is.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 May 2017
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Processor Design - RISC,CISC & ROPS
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Wednesday, 12 June 2013

When it comes to processor architecture we still don’t  have a clear agreement on what sort of design philosophies should be followed. How do you make a faster general purpose processor? This is a question about architecture. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 June 2013
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Programmer's Introduction to XML
Written by Ian Elliot   
Wednesday, 13 February 2013

XML is a general purpose markup language that can be used to control the structure of data. Despite the fact that many prefer the simplicity of JSON it still has many advantages. What makes it so good?

Last Updated on Monday, 25 February 2013
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Public Key Encryption
Written by Mike James   
Thursday, 01 June 2017

Public key encryption is vital to the working of the Internet and the commercial web in particular. We look at how it works and explain the RSA system in detail.

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 June 2017
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Quick Median
Written by Mike James   
Friday, 11 August 2017

You have probably heard of Quicksort but what about Quick Median? This is another of the many partitioning algorithms that work in clever ways to do things faster. Quick Median is a useful and  instructive algorithm and it was invented by C.A.R. Hoare who also invented the Qucksort.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 August 2017
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Recursion
Written by Mike James   
Thursday, 13 April 2017

Recursion is often said to separate real programmers from the pack. What is it that makes it so powerful? What is it that makes it so difficult? What is the "shape" of recursion as a flow of control?

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 April 2017
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Reverse Polish Notation - RPN
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Tuesday, 21 October 2014

This week's cartoon is based on the use of RPN or Reverse Polish Notation. This used to be a basic of the computer programmer's world, but today it is not as well known. Hence there may be some perfectly clued up programmers who are still left wondering what the sausage is doing outside of the bun.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 October 2014
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