[SIGCIS-Members] Invention of the concept of process

Paul McJones paul at mcjones.org
Sat Dec 29 20:57:29 PST 2018


IBM’s Stretch project was considering multiprogramming in the late 1950s, but for example Ted Codd’s 1960 paper:

E. F. Codd. 1960. Multiprogram scheduling: parts 1 and 2. introduction and theory. Commun. ACM 3, 6 (June 1960), 347-350. DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/367297.367317

focussed on the problem of resource optimiztion rather than on the programming abstraction.

Early timesharing work such as CTSS tended to present the idea of a virtualized physical computer, but didn’t necessarily provide a programming interface for creating, destroying, controlling, and communicating with processes. I believe these ideas were “simmering” in the minds of a number of people during the late 1950s and early 1960s.




> On Dec 29, 2018, at 8:39 PM, Laurent Bloch <lb at laurentbloch.org> wrote:
> 
> Thank you for your answer, Paul. When we think about processes, of
> course the names of Dijkstra and Hoare come to the mind, but I believe
> they had precursors, before semaphores and communicating sequential
> processes. And 1965 seems a bit too late for the birth of the process.
> 
> Le samedi 29 décembre 2018 Paul McJones a écrit ceci :
> 
>> Laurent,
>> 
>> Edsger Dijkstra’s “Cooperating Sequential Processes" (EWD123) was written in 1965 (http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/EWD/ewd01xx/EWD123.PDF). His original paper on semaphores (EWD35) was written in Dutch several years before that (http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/EWD/transcriptions/EWD00xx/EWD35.html).
>> 
>> By 1965, the term process was becoming fairly well-known in operating systems circles. For example, in a paper presented in 1965, Jack Dennis wrote:
>> 
>> Processes. We consider that the system hardware comprises one or more processors, which we can identify as being distinct from the main memory, the file storage devices and the input/output devices. Each processor is capable of executing algorithms that are specified by sequences of instructions. A process is a locus of control within an instruction sequence. That is, a process is that abstract entity which moves through the instructions of a procedure as the procedure is executed by a processor.
>> 
>> This is from: Jack B. Dennis and Earl C. Van Horn. 1966. Programming semantics for multiprogrammed computations. Commun. ACM 9, 3 (March 1966), 143-155. DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/365230.365252
>> 
>> 
>> Paul
>> 
>> 
>>> On Dec 29, 2018, at 8:09 PM, Laurent Bloch <lb at laurentbloch.org> wrote:
>>> 
>>> Le dimanche 30 décembre 2018 Grider, Gary Alan a écrit ceci :
>>> 
>>>> Hasn’t there been great debate about when the first "stored program" was accomplished?  Some said on Maniac by Metropolis but others disagree I think.  
>>> 
>>> I would say that the concept of a process may appear when there are more than one program, potentially ready to execute, and in competition to access the processor.
>>> 
>>>> If that is what you are looking for I am pretty sure it was well before CTSS or Multics.  I think CTSS and Multics were in pursuit of time sharing (or multiple stored programs).
>>>> I think the first implementation of process pipes might have been Demos but that was way after CTSS days.
>>>> 
>>>> Gary
>>>> 
>>>> On 12/29/18, 8:37 PM, "Members on behalf of Laurent Bloch" <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org on behalf of lb at laurentbloch.org> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>>   Le samedi 29 décembre 2018 McMillan, William W a écrit ceci :
>>>> 
>>>>> "..., my question was about computer processes, i.e. programs in execution ..."
>>>>> 
>>>>> Laurent, do you mean process in the sense of a computer program loaded (at least partially) into primary memory, described by a process control block, and managed by an operating system?    
>>>> 
>>>>   Yes, it is precisely the kind of entity I am asking about. I would say it appears with CTSS or Multics, but I am not sure. Once I read the name of the creator of the concept, but I did not write it down and I forgot, hence my question.
>>>> 
>>>>> Or is the topic more broad than that?
>>>>> 
>>>>> Bill
>>>>> 
>>>>> ________________________________________
>>>>> From: Members [members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org] on behalf of Laurent Bloch [lb at laurentbloch.org]
>>>>> Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2018 6:03 PM
>>>>> To: James Cortada
>>>>> Cc: SIGCIS
>>>>> Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Invention of the concept of process
>>>>> 
>>>>> Le samedi 29 décembre 2018 James Cortada a écrit ceci :
>>>>> 
>>>>>> It might help to give us some context for your question.  For example, if
>>>>>> interested in process in business, then it emerges in the late 19th century
>>>>>> and in the second half of the 20th becomes process management, TQM etc.  If
>>>>>> in science, then it is language substituted for what otherwise we all think
>>>>>> of as the scientific method.  Even earlier the notions of methods and
>>>>>> techniques are embodiments of the idea of process.  Hence, my request for
>>>>>> context.      
>>>>> 
>>>>> Well, my question was about computer processes, i.e. programs in execution in a computer, sometimes also called tasks.
>>>>> 
>>>>>> On Sat, Dec 29, 2018 at 4:56 PM Laurent Bloch <lb at laurentbloch.org> wrote:
>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> Hi,
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> Surely many of you know the answer: who invented the concept of process,
>>>>>>> and when?
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> Thank you for your answers. Have a nice Sunday!
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>> Laurent Bloch - https://laurentbloch.net - lb at laurentbloch.org
>>>>>>> Si vous trouvez que l'éducation coûte cher, essayez l'ignorance !
>>>>>>> (A. Lincoln)
>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>> This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org, the email discussion
>>>>>>> list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member
>>>>>>> posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list
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>>>>>>> you can change your subscription options at
>>>>>>> http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org      
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> --
>>>>>> James W. Cortada
>>>>>> Senior Research Fellow
>>>>>> Charles Babbage Institute
>>>>>> University of Minnesota
>>>>>> jcortada at umn.edu
>>>>>> 608-274-6382      
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> --
>>>>> Laurent Bloch - https://laurentbloch.net - lb at laurentbloch.org
>>>>> Si vous trouvez que l'éducation coûte cher, essayez l'ignorance !
>>>>> (A. Lincoln)    
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>>   -- 
>>>>   Laurent Bloch - https://laurentbloch.net - lb at laurentbloch.org
>>>>   Si vous trouvez que l'éducation coûte cher, essayez l'ignorance !
>>>>   (A. Lincoln)
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> -- 
>>> Laurent Bloch - https://laurentbloch.net <https://laurentbloch.net/> <https://laurentbloch.net/ <https://laurentbloch.net/>> - lb at laurentbloch.org <mailto:lb at laurentbloch.org><mailto:lb at laurentbloch.org <mailto:lb at laurentbloch.org>>
>>> Si vous trouvez que l'éducation coûte cher, essayez l'ignorance !
>>> (A. Lincoln)
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org <http://sigcis.org/>, the email discussion list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/ <http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/> and you can change your subscription options at http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org <http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org>  
>> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> Laurent Bloch - https://laurentbloch.net <https://laurentbloch.net/> - lb at laurentbloch.org <mailto:lb at laurentbloch.org>
> Si vous trouvez que l'éducation coûte cher, essayez l'ignorance !
> (A. Lincoln)

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