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My Recollections of Operating System Design

Professor Edsger W Dijkstra ( University of Texas at Austin )

The lecture will present my recollections of operating system design from about 1956 to 1966. I am hoping for an audience young enough to remember little from those years. I hope to cover:

  • Consequences of the fact that in the beginning a single flip-flop was much larger than a modern cell phone and also dissipated a lot more heat.
  • Consequences of the fact that, by today's standards, communication across the Atlantic Ocean was limited.
  • How simple concepts, which are now taken for granted, were once major inventions or discoveries whose acceptance took a long time, and were widely resisted as all "dangerous novelties" are.
  • How, long before tasks were formalised, reasoning about programs became a central concern.

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