[Beowulf] Linux Magazine - What He Said

Ellis Wilson xclski at yahoo.com
Thu Oct 2 12:10:40 PDT 2008

In the article:
"What if a high level programing description language was developed. 
Note I did not say programming language. This description language would 
allow you to “describe” what you needed to do and not how to do it (as 
discussed before)."

I would ask then, how does one "describe what you need to do"?  As a 
brief (and heinously simplistic) example, let us say that we wanted to 
replace a specific string in a long text file with another string.  In 
assembler, this would be a heinous and explicit long process where we 
tell it exactly what we are doing.  One could even argue at the C level 
we have a fair amount of control, but once we hit fairly high-level 
programming languages one merely can say 
text.replaceAll(oldstring,newstring); and you are done.  You have told 
the program what you want done, not how to do it.  Would I call Java, 
C#, etc. "Programming Description Languages"?  No.  Therefore I wouldn't 
call an even higher level HPC language a description language either.

In the article:
"This draft description would then be presented to an AI based clarifier 
which would examine the description, look for inconsistencies or missing 
information and work with the programmer to create a formal description 
of the problem."

Sounds like regular programming in an intolerant IDE with fancy terminology.

In the article:
"At that point the description is turned over to a really smart compiler 
that could target a particular hardware platform and produce the needed 
optimized binaries. Perhaps a GA could be thrown in to help optimize 

Later on it is also mentioned that "Maybe it would take a week to create 
a binary, but it would be cluster time and not your time", where in 
reality with those really troublesome (useful) problems there are truly 
terribly long running times.  With a GA (which produces eons more bad 
solutions than good) we would not only have to ascertain the fitness of 
the really nice solution (for those useful problems it could take a week 
or more at fastest) but also the fitness of the really really poor 
solution that swaps out constantly and computes redundantly.  That could 
take years...

The basic premise of the GA for code is Genetic Programming or an 
Evolutionary Algorithm, and so with these the same problems exist - bad 
solutions that monopolize time on the cluster.

Compilers will eventually be entirely AI (though I doubt I will see it) 
and when they are, singularity will have already happened and infinite 
resources will be available since designing hardware is naturally more 
space constrained than software.  All I'm saying is for right now, we 
are making the most of what we have without involving AI that 
extensively in our programming.

Just my opinions, and no hard feelings towards Doug.  Typically I enjoy 
thoroughly his articles.



More information about the Beowulf mailing list