Arithmetic is the Simplest Thing That Could Possibly Work

Tony Garnock-Jones wrote “In an essay by Marvin Minsky I read over the weekend, Communication with Alien Intelligence, Minsky explores the idea that arithmetic spontaneously arises in computing systems, analogously to the spontaneous assembly of amino acids in the Miller/Urey Experiment. In the process of exploring the first few thousand simplest Turing machine programs, he and his student…”

Thunderbird’s Ridiculous Menu Structure

Tony Garnock-Jones wrote “It so happened that, having just installed the beta of Thunderbird 1.5, one of the first things I wanted to do was compose an email. Early on in the message, I typed the word “summarise”. This spelling is correct in UK English, but clearly is not in US English, as the check-spelling-as-you-type indicator flashed up.…”

Restartable Nested STM Transactions

Matthias Radestock wrote “I’ve just finished reading [Versioned Boxes as the Basis for Memory Transactions](, which proposes some neat extensions to the STM model to make it more suitable for applications with long-running transaction and high contention. It also solves another problem of traditional STMs by guaranteeing that transactions will always see a consistent state during execution. These…”

GRIN as intermediate representation for Lazy Functional Languages

Tony Garnock-Jones wrote “Shae Erisson points out Urban Boquist’s GRIN thesis. It’s very interesting: the choice of the GRIN intermediate language allows a number of good optimisations. A control-flow analysis is done to enable inlining of evals. The information the analysis computes is similar to the kind of information you get from dynamic profiling in a Self-like system…”