[SIGCIS-Members] First use of "policy" in computing/robotics

Paul McJones paul at mcjones.org
Tue Nov 6 16:50:40 PST 2018

Wulf et al (1974) speak of the separation of mechanism from policy in operating systems, and attribute the idea to Brinch Hansen in 1970:

2. Separation of mechanism and policy. Among the major causes of our inability to experiment with, and adapt, existing operating systems is their failure to properly separate mechanisms from policies. (Hansen [1] has presented cogent arguments for this separation.) Such separation contributes to the flexibility of the system, for it leaves the complex decisions in the hands of the person who should make them--the higher-level system designer.

W. Wulf, E. Cohen, W. Corwin, A. Jones, R. Levin, C. Pierson, and F. Pollack. 1974. HYDRA: the kernel of a multiprocessor operating system. Commun. ACM 17, 6 (June 1974), 337-345. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/355616.364017 (also available here: http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~remzi/cs736.html/Papers/hydra.pdf).

> On Nov 6, 2018, at 3:48 PM, Colin Garvey <garvec at rpi.edu> wrote:
> Hi all --
> Apologies if this is common knowledge and I've just not done my homework but--
> Could anyone point me toward a source of/on the first uses of the word "policy" in the computing/robotics world? Especially interested in the use of "policy" as something an "agent" has that basically tells them "what to do."
> Even just some estimates of when this language became widely used would be helpful.
> Thanks!
> Colin Garvey
> PhD Candidate, RPI
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