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SMC-IT quotation

“You cannot program for future spacecraft using only deterministic code.” - Scott Hubbard

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
pwinkler
Jul. 18th, 2006 05:27 pm (UTC)
I've actually thought this sort of thing for a long time, although maybe for different reasons than he had. One of the things I've found worst about the way computers generally work is that they're so completely frail; a single bit flip can completely kill a machine. We use checksums and redudnancy to try to make it more reliable, but the same problem exists at all levels. Errors in incoming data, due to sensor malfunctions, signal interference, or whatever, can send you down completely unjustified paths on a flowchart.

We were trying to overcome the last part at my previous job using software based off of fuzzy logic algorithms. I'm not sure how that's going, as I left a long time ago and was there for less than a year. I think that if you have sufficient feedback systems, redundancy, and good logic, then you can make something pretty robust.

Of course, the problem with this is that you start to loose the ability to predict exactly what the computer's going to do.
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