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Technology for Modelling : Electrical Analogies, Engineering Practice, and the Development of Analogue Computing - Charles Care

Technology for Modelling

Electrical Analogies, Engineering Practice, and the Development of Analogue Computing


Published: 30th July 2010
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Historians have different views on the core identity of analogue computing. Some portray the technology solely as a precursor to digital computing, whereas others stress that analogue applications existed well after 1940. Even within contemporary sources, there is a spectrum of understanding around what constitutes analogue computing. To understand the relationship between analogue and digital computing, and what this means for users today, the history must consider how the technology is used.

Technology for Modelling investigates the technologies, the concepts, and the applications of analogue computing. The text asserts that analogue computing must be thought of as not just a computing technology, but also as a modelling technology, demonstrating how the history of analogue computing can be understood in terms of the parallel themes of calculation and modelling. The book also includes a number of detailed case studies of the technology's use and application.

Topics and features: discusses the meaning of analogue computing and its significance in history, and describes the main differences between analogue and digital computing; provides a chronology of analogue computing, based upon the two major strands of calculation and modeling; examines the wider relationship between computing and modelling, and discusses how the theme of modelling fits within the history of analogue computing; describes how the history of analogue computing evolved through a number of stages of use; presents illustrative case studies on analogue modelling in academic research, oil reservoir modelling, aeronautical design, and meteorology.

General readers and researchers in the field of history of computing - as well as history of science more generally - will find this book a fascinating insight into the historical use and evolution of technology. The volume provides a long-needed historical framework and context for these core computing technologies.

Dr. Charles Care is a senior software engineer at BT and an Associate Fellow at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Warwick, UK.

From the reviews:

"Care's book looks at the history, technologies, concepts, and applications of analog computing. ... chapters provide a very good historical perspective on the subject. ... nicely summarizes Care's main themes. The book includes a detailed table of contents, a list of relevant acronyms, a comprehensive list of references, and a short index. It is an invaluable addition to the library of anyone interested in the history of analog computing and modeling." (David B. Henderson, ACM Computing Reviews, November, 2010)

Modelling, Calculation and Analogy: The Themes of Analogue Computing
Introduction: Analogue Computers in the History of Computingp. 3
Analogue Computers: Another Class of Computing Technologyp. 4
Analogue Computers: A Challenge to Definep. 7
Analogue Computing as Modelling Technologyp. 10
Structure of This Bookp. 13
Part I: Modelling, Calculation and Analogy: The Themes of Analogue Computingp. 13
Part II: Analogue Computing in Use: A Selection of Contextsp. 14
A Multi-Stranded Chronology of Analogue Computingp. 17
Two Meanings of Analogue: The Tension Between Analogy and Continuityp. 18
Towards a Chronology of Analogue Computingp. 20
First Thematic Time-Line-Mechanising the Calculus: The Story of Continuous Computing Technologyp. 22
1814-1850: Towards the Mechanical Integrator: The Invention and Development of the Planimeterp. 22
1850-1876: Maxwell, Thomson and Kelvin: The Emergence of the Integrator as a Computing Componentp. 26
1870-1900: The Age of the Continuous Calculating Machinep. 31
1880-1920: The Integrator Becomes an Embedded Component Initiating Associations Between Control and Calculationp. 33
1920-1946: The 'Heyday' of Analogue Computing?p. 35
Second Thematic Time-Line-From Analogy to Computation: the Development of Electrical Modellingp. 39
1845-1920: The Development of Analogy Methodsp. 40
1920-1946: Pre-digital Analogue Modellingp. 42
Third Thematic Time-Line-Analogue Computing and the Entwining of Calculation and Modellingp. 47
1940: The Emergence of Analogue Computing as a Technical Label and Class of Machinep. 47
1945-1960: The Development and Stabilisation of Computer Technologyp. 49
1950-1965: The Commercialisation of the Analogue Computer, and the Invention of Hybrid Computingp. 53
Conclusionsp. 54
Modelling Technology and the History of Analogue Computingp. 57
Modelling: A Variety of Definitions and Associationsp. 58
Modelling as a Meta-Narrative for the History of Computingp. 59
Support for Thinking of the Computer as a Modelling Mediump. 61
Theoretical Support for a Modelling Perspectivep. 63
Historical Support for a Modelling Perspectivep. 67
Analogue Computing as a Technology of Modellingp. 69
Conclusionp. 71
Origins of Analogue: Conceptual Association and Entanglementp. 73
The Establishment of 'Forward Analogy': Historical Influences from Electrical Theoryp. 74
Modelling with Electricity: Early Use of a Reverse Analogyp. 76
Clifford Nickle and Vannevar Bush: Modelling with the Reverse Analogyp. 78
Establishing a Modelling Medium Based on the Reverse Analogy: The Work of Nickle and Dohertyp. 78
Stabilising the Field: Bush's Classification Schemes and Their Enrolling Functionp. 81
Positive Association with Computing and Computational Rhetoricp. 83
Formation of an Analogue User Culturep. 84
George Philbrick and Lightning Empiricism: An Exemplar of Analogue Culturep. 86
Simulation Culture and the Transition to Digitalp. 89
Digital Languages for Simulating Analogue Computingp. 90
Dis-enrollment of Analogue Computing and the Redefinition of Analogue Culturep. 91
Conclusionp. 93
Analogue Computing in Use: A Selection of Contexts
Analogue Computers in British Higher Educationp. 97
Calculation, Modelling, or Control: Three Different Uses, Three Different Historiesp. 101
Analogue Research at Manchester: Networks, Tanks, and Hybrid Computingp. 103
Analogue Research at Imperial College: Networks and Tanks as Engineering Toolsp. 105
King's College London: Analogue Computing at 'Ultra-High Speed'p. 106
Analogue Computing at Birminghamp. 111
Analogue Computing at the University of Bath: An Example of a Technical Collegep. 115
The Flowers Report and the Funding of Analogue Computingp. 116
Conclusionp. 119
Analogue Computers and Oil Reservoir Modellingp. 123
Production Management and the Application of Analogue Computingp. 124
Modelling Hydraulic Pressures with Electricity: William A. Bruce and the Carter Analyserp. 125
Incorporating Repetitive Operation: The Reservoir Analysers Developed by the Sun Oil Companyp. 127
The Story of the BP Analogue Computerp. 131
Outsourcing Development to EMI Electronicsp. 133
The BP Analyser in Usep. 135
BP and the Analogue-Digital Debatep. 136
Analogue-Digital Issues at the Local Levelp. 137
Analogue-Digital Issues at the Corporate Levelp. 138
Conclusionp. 139
Analogue-Digital Decisions in British Aeronautical Researchp. 141
Analogue Computing for Aeronauticsp. 142
Soap Film Models as Analogue Computersp. 143
The Electrolytic Tank as a Table-Top Wind Tunnelp. 145
Aerodynamic Calculations, British Aircraft Designers and the ARC Computation Panelp. 147
Tanks Versus Networksp. 150
Deciding Between Analogue and Digital: The Case of Flutterp. 151
Thirty Year Persistence: The Shortcomings of Digitalisationp. 153
Conclusionp. 155
The Analogue Dishpan: Physical Modelling Versus Numerical Calculation in Meteorologyp. 157
Computation and the History of Meteorologyp. 158
Non-digital Approaches to Meteorologyp. 160
Richardson's Forecast Factory and His Suggested Analogue Alternativep. 160
Richardson: Mathematician, Experimentalist, Quakerp. 163
Richardson's Rotating Fluid Experiment and the Tension Between Experiment and Mathematicsp. 165
Dave Fultz and the Experimental Tradition of Meteorologyp. 169
Conclusionp. 173
Conclusionp. 177
Three Principal Conclusionsp. 178
Multiple Perspectives of Use Informing Multiple Historical Trajectoriesp. 179
Classifications and Social Associations in the Construction and Deconstruction of Analogue Culturep. 180
Analogue-Digital Debates Were Application Based not Technologically Basedp. 181
Challenges for Future Scholarship in the History of Analogue Computingp. 182
Concluding Remarksp. 183
Referencesp. 185
Indexp. 207
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781848829473
ISBN-10: 1848829477
Series: History of Computing
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 203
Published: 30th July 2010
Publisher: Springer London Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.5  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 1.1