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'[OT]: Absolute Truth?'
2001\05\15@230237 by James R Albers

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Is there a software solution for every hardware problem?

I say yes.

Jim Albers N9CYL

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2001\05\15@232837 by Sean H. Breheny

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Software must always run on hardware, so I think you may have to define the
question better.

Sean

At 09:53 PM 5/15/01 -0500, you wrote:
>Is there a software solution for every hardware problem?
>
>I say yes.
>
>Jim Albers N9CYL
>
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2001\05\15@233044 by Douglas Wood

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What about a software-only CPU?  :-)  (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)

Douglas Wood
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{Original Message removed}

2001\05\16@005653 by Stephen B Webb

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FWIW:

I was reading an article the other day (don't remember where...sorry)

The gist of it was that [some] [smart] people believe that there are
"analog computers" that can compute certain things that aren't turing
computable.  The analog computer in question did something like focus an
electromagnetic field in some particular way, and then measure the field
at some point.  The argument was that (for whatever reason) this system
could not be modelled by a digital computer, but was easily computable by
this "simple" analog computer (measurement device), hence analog computers
can compute non-turing-computable things.

I know I'm butchering the story & technical details; surely someone else
read this..?  Any opinions on it?

My point is just that if you allow this analog computer to be classified
as "hardware" (not really a stretch), and  "software" iff turing
computable, then we've got a winner (loser?).  Not all hardware can be
replaced by software.

-Steve

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2001\05\16@010533 by Bill Westfield

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   Is there a software solution for every hardware problem?
   I say yes.

No, of course not.  Fer instance...  We once shipped a bunch of ethernet
controller boards with parallel resonant rather than series resonant
crystals (or vis versa), which caused them to fail to meet the ethernet
specifications (although I believe the tended to work anyway.)

BillW

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2001\05\16@011312 by Dale Botkin

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On Tue, 15 May 2001, James R Albers wrote:

> Is there a software solution for every hardware problem?
>
> I say yes.

Well, sure...  but sometimes you have to supply a little hardware for the
software to work.  8-)

Case in point: Analog voltage level sensing.  Can be done in software, but
at minimum still requires a couple of passive components.  I can think of
lots of hardware problems that cannot be overcome by software alone.

Dale
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On my desk I have a workstation...

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2001\05\16@022224 by uter van ooijen & floortje hanneman

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> The gist of it was that [some] [smart] people believe that there are
> "analog computers" that can compute certain things that aren't turing
> computable.  The analog computer in question did something like focus an
> electromagnetic field in some particular way, and then measure the field
> at some point.  The argument was that (for whatever reason) this system
> could not be modelled by a digital computer, but was easily computable by
> this "simple" analog computer (measurement device), hence analog computers
> can compute non-turing-computable things.

I saw a similar article in a dutch newspaper and discusses it with my wife
(who happens to be a theoretical physica). The conclusion is that the
argument might have been accepted in the pre-quantum world, but nowadays the
accuracy and/or resolutiuon that such a device can reach is known to be
limited by the quantum theory, so it is no longer 'stronger' than a computer
(which is also limited in its accuracy).

Wouter

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2001\05\16@043855 by Roman Black

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Douglas Wood wrote:
>
> What about a software-only CPU?  :-)  (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)


Actually, these are common, they are called emulators
or simulators. I have a Z80 one that runs old Z80
computer games on a pentium. :o)
-Roman

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2001\05\16@044725 by Douglas Wood

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Yes, but runs on what? HARDWARE!  ;-)

Douglas Wood
Software Engineer
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{Original Message removed}

2001\05\16@044949 by Michael Rigby-Jones

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: Roman Black [SMTP:TakeThisOuTfastvidEraseMEspamspam_OUTEZY.NET.AU]
> Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2001 9:35 AM
> To:   RemoveMEPICLISTspamTakeThisOuTMITVMA.MIT.EDU
> Subject:      Re: [OT]: Absolute Truth?
>
> Douglas Wood wrote:
> >
> > What about a software-only CPU?  :-)  (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)
>
>
> Actually, these are common, they are called emulators
> or simulators. I have a Z80 one that runs old Z80
> computer games on a pentium. :o)
> -Roman
>
They still need hardware to run on though!

Mike

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2001\05\16@080406 by Russell McMahon

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> > Douglas Wood wrote:
> > >
> > > What about a software-only CPU?  :-)  (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)
> >
> >
> > Actually, these are common, they are called emulators
> > or simulators. I have a Z80 one that runs old Z80
> > computer games on a pentium. :o)

> Yes, but runs on what? HARDWARE!  ;-)

No, not at all.
You use a similar trick to the one that's used for writing a cross compiler
for a new machine that compiles itself incrementally as it goes.
You have a Z80 emulator for a 808x box and an 808x emulator for a Z80 box
and you run them on each other and then quietly remove the hardware when
they're not looking. Tends to run for longer periods without crashing than
Windows does, on average.



RM

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2001\05\16@085351 by Jeff DeMaagd

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----- Original Message -----
From: Russell McMahon <RemoveMEapptechEraseMEspamEraseMECLEAR.NET.NZ>

> > Yes, but runs on what? HARDWARE!  ;-)
>
> No, not at all.
> You use a similar trick to the one that's used for writing a cross
compiler
> for a new machine that compiles itself incrementally as it goes.
> You have a Z80 emulator for a 808x box and an 808x emulator for a Z80 box
> and you run them on each other and then quietly remove the hardware when
> they're not looking.

What happens when you pull the plug on the computer hosting your emulators?
One cannot run software without some kind of logic.  Where are these
emulators stored?  Right now one cannot have RAM without a pile of
transistors either.  One needs some sort of storage to hold it and that must
be a physical device as well.

Jeff
demaagd.com

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2001\05\16@090412 by Ray Gardiner

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Question was, can an analog computer do something that, inherently
a digital computer cannot?

I suspect not. But here are some approaches to prove the reverse.

Approach 1.
I seem to recall that it is not possible to predict in advance
whether a given turing machine program will halt. So it would
seem to me, that it would follow, that if you could solve the
"halting" problem with an analog computer of some sort you
would have proved that not all analog systems are computable.

Approach 2.
Just because analog systems are mathematically describable does
not mean that they are nesessarily solvable.

So, find a set of insolvable equations describing some analog
system. Then proceed to solve using your analog computer.
Maybe, something using random diode noise and feedback loops
could produce such a complex mathematical description. This would then
be impossible to solve digitally. (at least in finite time).

Either way, I suspect you will end up with the conclusion that
from a practical "engineering" point of view, digital computers can
do anything an analog computer can to any desired accuracy.

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2001\05\16@094352 by James Paul

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All,

Wouldn't an analog computer be output a voltage level that can
vary from one extreme to another, say 0V to 5V, in a very linear
and smooth fashion, versus the digital computer having to output
the same voltage range in discrete steps?   That may not exactly
be what you were talking about, but it is a truth nonetheless, no?

                                                  Regards,

                                                    Jim




On Wed, 16 May 2001, Ray Gardiner wrote:

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2001\05\16@103544 by Spehro Pefhany

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At 11:06 PM 5/16/01 +1000, you wrote:

>Either way, I suspect you will end up with the conclusion that
>from a practical "engineering" point of view, digital computers can
>do anything an analog computer can to any desired accuracy.

From a practical "engineering" POV, they can't necessarily do
it in the same time. A digital bandpass filter is not a big deal,
but a 1GHz one is probably impossible with any existing
computer, and probably cost-prohibitive much above 100MHz.

If it can't run fast enough, it's useless in practical terms,
the signal won't wait. ;-)

Best regards,

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2001\05\16@114725 by Laszlo Kohegyi

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>> Douglas Wood wrote:
>> > What about a software-only CPU?  :-)  (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)
>They still need hardware to run on though!
>Mike

You might have heard that if you realize more and more functions in hw,
you need less and less complex software. If you use infinitely huge
hw, you won't need any sw at all.

On the other hand you can substitute hw functions in sw. The more complex
the sw, the simpler the hw. When you reach the infinitely big sw,
you won't need hw at all -

           <BANG>

- a new universe created :-)

Regards

Les

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2001\05\16@130415 by uter van ooijen & floortje hanneman

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>  Wouldn't an analog computer be output a voltage level that can
>  vary from one extreme to another, say 0V to 5V, in a very linear
>  and smooth fashion, versus the digital computer having to output
>  the same voltage range in discrete steps?   That may not exactly
>  be what you were talking about, but it is a truth nonetheless, no?

The analog output has steps too, in the sense that two values that differ in
only slightly can not be (reliably) distinguished. Or to put it another way:
a signal with infinite SNR does not exist.

Wouter

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2001\05\16@144343 by Sean H. Breheny

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Hi Wouter,

But, in an analog computer, you can trade off time vs. accuracy. So, if you
allow the thing to settle for hours (while you do averaging, etc.) you can
get a very accurate value. It is true that this is impractical in most
cases because you begin to need hours and hours more time for what amounts
to only a bit or two more precision, but it is theoretically possible to
have an infinitely accurate(with the possible exception of quantum effects,
although I wonder if the fact that it is probably not staying in a single
quantum state might mean that in fact you could still get infinite
resolution) analog calculation (if noise is your only concern and you have
perfect components) by simply waiting longer, whereas a digital computer
requires that you keep adding hardware.

Sean

At 06:57 PM 5/16/01 +0200, you wrote:
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2001\05\16@191230 by Russell McMahon

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>  Wouldn't an analog computer be output a voltage level that can
>  vary from one extreme to another, say 0V to 5V, in a very linear
>  and smooth fashion, versus the digital computer having to output
>  the same voltage range in discrete steps?   That may not exactly
>  be what you were talking about, but it is a truth nonetheless, no?


In practical reality - Yes
In real reality - No :-)

Quantum limitations mean that there are finite limits to the smallness of
the step size.
In practice you will find many many m.........  other things that limit the
resolution long before quantum effects are noticed.



Russell

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2001\05\17@140803 by Peter L. Peres

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I don't know what you read, Stephen, but in electronics you often use
circuits that do the reverse of what you are really trying to do, and put
this in a negative feedback loop to get the desired (inverse) function. A
simple example is an analog divider (analog multiplier connected with
opamp I think - can buy these ready made as transonductance opamps I
think). Some of these things are very hard to compute using Turing
machines (and numerical algorythms in general) (and I do not mean
division). I can't give an example off of my head, but I am sure that
someone can.

Afaik most transcendental numbers calculated using computers are
approximations obtained with CORDIC and Taylor and other polynomial
series. Technically speaking, those functions 'cannot' be computed using
numerical algorythms, however polynomial series can be found (by smart
mathematicians) which approximate them very well.

Analog computers have one serious drawback: precision. An analog computer
of some complexity with 0.1% or better accuracy and precision is something
I'd like to see.

Peter

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