Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

European computer scientists seek new framework for computation

30.10.2008
There have been several revolutions during the 60 year history of electronic computation, such as high level programming languages and client/server separation, but one key challenge has yet to be fully resolved.

This is to break down large complex processes into small more manageable components that can then be reused in different applications.

There are many possible ways of doing this, but none of them cope well with all processes, with the major problem lying in the dependant links, or correlations, between components that cannot be broken down, the threads that interconnect whole computer processes or programs. These correlations are common to all processes in which computation is involved, including biological systems and the emerging field of quantum computing, as well as conventional programming.

European computer scientists believe the time is right now for a coordinated effort to solve the correlation problem and a group of them recently held a workshop organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF) to establish a framework for further research. The workshop was an astounding success, firstly in identifying that correlations in computer science represented an important problem common to the whole field of programming and software development now highly relevant to all industries and everybody's lives. It was, as was noted by the workshop's convenor Ellie D'Hondt, a specialist in quantum computing research at Vrije Universiteit in Brussels, an important forum for accumulating the required expertise to take the field forward.

"We are now at a stage were all participants understand why we need a correlation paradigm, that there is a commonality between the fields included, and we converged on a definition and basic principles," said D'Hondt." People are now ready to do research on the problem, and this is what we should get together on in another year or so."

Now is a good time to tackle the correlation problem. The evolution of general purpose computing has reached a point where the correlation problem can stand in the way of progress. The explosion of the Internet has been associated with rapid growth in software components designed to be reused to avoid the cost of duplicated programming effort.

The workshop discussed progress in the relatively new field of aspect-oriented software development (AOSD), which is bringing new techniques for isolating the correlations cutting across software components. The techniques of AOSD make it possible to modularise those aspects of a system or process that cut across different components. In this way the cross cutting aspects themselves can be broken down into reusable components or objects. This in turn enables a whole process to be broken down more completely into components that also embrace the cross cutting aspects.

Research into correlation is also timely because expertise is emerging independently in three different fields, quantum computing, bio computing, and AOSD, the latter being most applicable to general purpose computing. As D'Hondt noted, cooperation between specialists in these fields is needed to avoid duplication of effort, but more particularly because it will stimulate and drive forward the whole study of correlations. On this front the ESF workshop was highly successful, because it bought together representatives from each of the three fields in small groups. "It was amazing to have these groups of people actually communicate," said D'Hondt. "We split up into small groups where there would be one aspect, one quantum and one bio person, people not usually knowing each other beforehand, and this worked! People came up with small presentations after only one day of talks getting introduced to the whole body of work."

A common thread emerged from these mini-workshops, which was the fact that correlations appear when progressing from the high level global description of a problem to the lower level local components. "Correlations capture the interaction between the parts," said D'Hondt. In other words the devil is in the

detail. This is as true in biological systems as say a web based search engine. In the human brain for example it is possible to define how long term memories are formed, but this does not tell us how an individual neuron might be phase locked with another at a local level, so that the two depend on each other. Similarly in computation, a high level view does not describe the particular order in which lower level components need to be executed on the basis of the correlations or links between them. For example two sub-programs might share a common variable, which decides when they have to be executed within a larger task or application.

The ESF workshop also established a common theme, which was that correlations can be a good thing, rather than a hindrance to computation, as has been shown in quantum computing. "Correlations are often seen as a burden, a nuisance, something making the problem hard to solve," said D'Hondt. "But my experience in quantum computing tells me it is something that can also steer computations or even make them possible."

Quantum computing involves entangled states that can actually be exploited to perform specific tasks more quickly - in effect just one computation can sometimes execute a large number of entangled components, each of which would require separate processing in a traditional computer.

The ultimate objective set out in the ESF workshop was to produce a recipe for programming taking full account of correlations, but this is still a long way off. Yet as D'Hondt noted, the basic framework for a new programming paradigm based on correlations in computer science was established.

Thomas Lau | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esf.org
http://www.esf.org/activities/exploratory-workshops/physical-and-engineering-sciences-pesc/workshops-detail.html?ew=6593

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Brown researchers teach computers to see optical illusions
24.09.2018 | Brown University

nachricht One Step Ahead: Adaptive Radar Systems for Smart Driver Assistance
20.09.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Hochfrequenzphysik und Radartechnik FHR

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists present new observations to understand the phase transition in quantum chromodynamics

The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.

This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.

Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...

Im Focus: Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...

Im Focus: New soft coral species discovered in Panama

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...

Im Focus: New devices based on rust could reduce excess heat in computers

Physicists explore long-distance information transmission in antiferromagnetic iron oxide

Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.

Im Focus: Finding Nemo's genes

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

"Boston calling": TU Berlin and the Weizenbaum Institute organize a conference in USA

21.09.2018 | Event News

One of the world’s most prominent strategic forums for global health held in Berlin in October 2018

03.09.2018 | Event News

4th Intelligent Materials - European Symposium on Intelligent Materials

27.08.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Matter falling into a black hole at 30 percent of the speed of light

24.09.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA balloon mission captures electric blue clouds

24.09.2018 | Earth Sciences

New way to target advanced breast cancers

24.09.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>