Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Catchy: "Put the Turing in Manufac-turing"

From an op-ed piece by Ken Goldberg and Vijay Kumar:

But U.S. manufacturing today is where database technology was in the early 1960's, a patchwork of ad hoc solutions that lacked the rigorous methodology that leads to scientific innovation. That all changed in 1970 when Ted Codd, an IBM mathematician, invented relational algebra, an elegant mathematical database model that galvanized federally funded research leading to today's $14 billion database industry.

Manufacturing needs the same treatment. Just as the method to add two numbers together doesn't depend on what kind of pencil you use, manufacturing abstractions can be wholly independent of the product one is making or the assembly line systems used to assemble it. Another precedent is the Turing Machine, an elegant abstract model invented by Alan Turing in the 1930s, which established the mathematical and scientific foundations for our now-successful high-tech industries. Without Turing's theoretical work, the system that typeset this line wouldn't exist.

What's needed today is an analogy to the Turing Machine for design, automation and manufacturing. Recent developments in computing and information science have now made it possible to model and reason about physical manufacturing processes, setting the stage for us to "put the Turing into Manufacturing". The result, as was the case with databases and computers, would be higher quality, more reliable products, reduced costs, and faster delivery

As they say, RTWT.

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