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.



Magic of Merging
Written by Mike James   
Thursday, 20 August 2020

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 Thursday, 20 August 2020
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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 And Other Numbers
Written by Mike James   
Thursday, 14 March 2019

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 Saturday, 16 March 2019
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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 Monday, 17 December 2018
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Prime Numbers And Primality Testing
Written by Mike James   
Thursday, 27 June 2019

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.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 June 2019
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Principles Of Execution - The CPU
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Thursday, 10 January 2019

The real complexity of any computer system resides in the processor, but do you know how it works? I mean how it really works? How does the code that you write turn into something that does something? When you know how, it's not magic - just a matter of "fetch" and "execute".

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 January 2019
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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   
Friday, 23 March 2018

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 Friday, 23 March 2018
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Programmer's Guide To Theory - Error Correction
Written by Mike James   
Monday, 17 August 2020

Error correcting codes are essential to computing and all sorts of communications. At first they seem a bit like magic. How can you possibly not only detect an error but correct it as well? How do they work? In fact it turns out to be very easy to understand the deeper principles.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 August 2020
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Programmer's Guide To Theory - Information Theory
Written by Mike James   
Monday, 27 July 2020
So you know what a bit is – or do you? How much information does a bit carry? What is this "information" stuff anyway? The answers are, unsurprisingly, all contained in the subject called Information Theory, which, surprisingly, was invented by one man, Claude Shannon.
Last Updated on Monday, 27 July 2020
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Programmer's Introduction to XML
Written by Ian Elliot   
Thursday, 28 December 2017

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 Thursday, 28 December 2017
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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, 15 November 2018
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Reverse Polish Notation - RPN
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Thursday, 24 May 2018

RPN or Reverse Polish Notation 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 Thursday, 24 May 2018
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Search Engines
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 30 April 2010
 

The web would be virtually unusable without effective search engines that allow us to find the information we want.

Last Updated on Friday, 30 April 2010
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