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Tag Archives: sensor networks

Evolving programming languages

Most programming languages have fixed definitions and hard boundaries. In thinking about building software for domains we don’t understand very well, a case can be made for a more relaxed, evolutionary approach to language design.

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Adventures at either end of the performance spectrum

Over the past week I’ve been playing with some very small machines intended as sensor network nodes. Paradoxically this has involved deploying a ridiculous amount of computing power.

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Sensor and sense-ability

I’m talking at the BCS Edinburgh branch tonight about sensing and sensor-driven systems.

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Call for papers:Software Engineering for Adaptive and Self-Managing Systems

Papers are invited in all aspects of software engineering for adaptive systems, for the SEAMS symposium in Hawaii in May 2011. The deadline is now quite close. (more…)

Forth for sensors?

Most sensor systems are programmed using C: compact and well-known, but low-level and tricky to get right when things get compact and complex. There have been several proposals for alternative languages from across the programming language research spectrum. I haven’t heard anyone mention Forth, though, and it’s worth considering — even if only as a target for other languages.

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Things that won’t change

Technology always advances, and in most areas the rate of change is also increasing all the time. But there are some areas where technological changes either happen only slowly, or even go into reverse. Not something we’re used to in computer science, but it’s a feature of sensor network programming: what are the challenges that technology won’t solve for us?

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Programming with limited certainty

Sensor networks are all about uncertainty: if the sensor says it’s 20°C  out there, then it might be 20°C plus-or-minus half a degree or so (limited precision); or it might be some different temperature, and the sensor’s just reported a duff value for some reason (limited accuracy). By contrast, computers most definitely aren’t about uncertainty, a fact enshrined in the famous maxim “garbage in, garbage out”. What does this mean for our ability to build really large, robust and flexible sensor networks?

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