tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
[personal profile] tim
"So, it's meme time. Describe-what-you-do-using-the-most-common-thousand-words-in-American-school-fiction time." [personal profile] pseudomonas pointed out that the corpus used here is a bit weird, but constraints are fun, so I'm going to roll with it anyway.

People tell computers to do things by writing words. To make it easier, they come up with different "word sets" for the computer. There are word-sets that are built into computers, which we say are "low". And there are word-sets that people use to tell the computer what to do, which we say are "high". I work on one of the high word-sets.

One of the things that happens when people tell computers what to do is that people can get confused. Then, the computer does the wrong thing. When that happens, cars might not want to stop, or an up-goer could burst into fire. To make people less confused, a high word-set can have "types". A typed word-set doesn't let you put one sort of thing where a different sort of thing is supposed to go. We say a typed word-set is "safe" if someone showed that if your words use types the right way, then your words will do the thing they stand for and the computer won't get stuck trying to do it.

When people tell computers what to do, they usually want the computer to do it quickly. Some of the high word-sets are safe, but not so good for making computers go fast, because the words in them are very different from the low word-set that the computer uses. Other word-sets are very close to the low word-set, but they make it easier to get confused when you're writing words. The word-set I work on makes it easy to tell the computer to do things quickly, and also easy to be less confused while using it.

Finally, a computer you buy now is usually made of lots of little computers. It's hard to think about what all of the little computers should do at the same time, because you only have one brain to think with. One way to think about telling all the little computers to do is to stop them from sharing memory with each other. Instead, you can make them talk to each other by sending notes to each other. The word-set I work on lets you use this "note-passing" way of getting all the computers to do work at the same time.

How do we turn the words we write into things a computer can actually do? The answer is that we write more words to tell the computer how to turn words from our high word-set into words from the computer's low word-sets. Those words we write help the computer turn a few big words into a lot of small words. I work on one of those "computer-help things" for our high word-set. I fix parts of it where people got confused before, and sometimes I help change it to handle new and different words.


I'll just make one observation here: "computer" is in the corpus, but "language" isn't.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-01-24 09:24 pm (UTC)
lileyo: A drawing of Osaka, from the manga Azumanga Daioh, looking a bit blissed out. (Osaka)
From: [personal profile] lileyo
I for serious love this. I can completely imagine reading this to some of the less-computer-literate folks I work with in my tech support job, and having it make perfect sense.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-02-03 05:15 am (UTC)
ext_17921: (Default)
From: [identity profile] lindseykuper.livejournal.com
Ooh, can I borrow some of this? I've been meaning to do it for myself, but got frustrated and gave up when I couldn't figure out how to express things. This has given me some ideas, though.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-02-04 07:55 am (UTC)
ext_17921: (Default)
From: [identity profile] lindseykuper.livejournal.com
Done. I used your first two sentences verbatim!

I think my favorite parts of yours are "an up-goer could burst into fire" and "note-passing" (hee!).

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tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

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