[SIGCIS-Members] Diagrammatic models of human computing

Brian Randell brian.randell at newcastle.ac.uk
Sun Apr 19 08:17:48 PDT 2015


One of the several forms that comprised Babbage’s scheme of Mechanical Notation was a type of flow diagram.

> Babbage regarded the Notation as a universal descriptive language of interaction not confined to science or engineering. In the context of the origins of computing, the Notation represents a serious attempt at formal symbolic representation of computational logic. The Notation is not a calculus but a symbolic description that exactly records how parts are interconnected and the way they are intended to interact. The Notation has three main forms. One form is that of a timing diagram which describes how motions of parts are phased and orchestrated in relation to each other (see Illustration 15). Another has the form of a flow diagram. The example in Illustration 17 traces each drive train for printing and stereotyping apparatus between 1847 and 1849 for both the Analytical Engine and Difference Engine No. 2. 


Automatic Computation: Charles Babbage and Computational Method by Doron D. Swade

Available at http://www.rutherfordjournal.org/article030106.html


Brian Randell

On 19 Apr 2015, at 15:41, David Hemmendinger <hemmendd at union.edu> wrote:

> 	Another early source, from the time-and-motion studies pioneers:
> Process Charts, Frank B. Gilbreth, Lillian M. Gilbreth (1921), American
> Society of Mechanical Engineers.
> 	It's available at https://archive.org/details/processcharts00gilb .
> Among its symbols are "moved by boy" and "moved by messenger boy".
>  David Hemmendinger                           hemmendd at union.edu
>  Professor Emeritus            http://athena.union.edu/~hemmendd
>  Computer Science Dept.                          +1 518 346 4489
>  Union College, Schenectady, NY 12308       FAX: +1 518 388 6789
>> Flowcharting  was borrowed from industrial engineering. You can find
>> examples in textbooks of the era. Henry Leffingwell's writings on office
>> management have some interesting diagrams that could be considered
>> precursors to flowcharting but they were almost certainly not known
>> to Goldstine et al.  I would suggest looking at the Log for the penn
>> differential analyzer or the Ucla differential analyzer to see if they
>> treated problems the same way.
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