Description: This summer research proposal inaugurated and defined the field. It contains the first use of the term artificial intelligence and this succinct description of the philosophical foundation of the field: "every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it." (See philosophy of AI) The proposal invited researchers to the Dartmouth conference, which is widely considered the "birth of AI". (See history of AI.)
IRE Convention Record, Section on Information Theory, Part 2, pp. 56–62, 1957
(A longer version of this, a privately circulated report, 1956, is online).
Description: The first paper written on machine learning. Emphasized the importance of training sequences, and the use of parts of previous solutions to problems in constructing trial solutions to new problems.
Description: Decision Trees are a common learning algorithm and a decision representation tool. Development of decision trees was done by many researchers in many areas, even before this paper. Though this paper is one of the most influential in the field.
Learning Quickly When Irrelevant Attributes Abound: A New Linear-threshold Algorithm
Description: One of the papers that started the field of on-line learning. In this learning setting, a learner receives a sequence of examples, making predictions after each one, and receiving feedback after each prediction. Research in this area is remarkable because (1) the algorithms and proofs tend to be very simple and beautiful, and (2) the model makes no statistical assumptions about the data. In other words, the data need not be random (as in nearly all other learning models), but can be chosen arbitrarily by "nature" or even an adversary. Specifically, this paper introduced the winnow algorithm.
Learning to predict by the method of Temporal difference
Description: From the abstract: "The global data relationships in a program can be exposed and codified by the static analysis methods described in this paper. A procedure is given which determines all the definitions which can possibly reach each node of the control flow graph of the program and all the definitions that are live on each edge of the graph."
A Unified Approach to Global Program Optimization
Description: Formalized the concept of data-flow analysis as fixpoint computation over lattices, and showed that most static analyses used for program optimization can be uniformly expressed within this framework.
Description: The Colossus machines were early computing devices used by British codebreakers to break German messages encrypted with the Lorenz Cipher during World War II. Colossus was an early binary electronic digital computer. The design of Colossus was later described in the referenced paper.
Description: This paper discusses the concept of RAID disks, outlines the different levels of RAID, and the benefits of each level. It is a good paper for discussing issues of reliability and fault tolerance of computer systems, and the cost of providing such fault-tolerance.
Description: This paper argues that the approach taken to improving the performance of processors by adding multiple instruction issue and out-of-order execution cannot continue to provide speedups indefinitely. It lays out the case for making single chip processors that contain multiple "cores". With the mainstream introduction of multicore processors by Intel in 2005, and their subsequent domination of the market, this paper was shown to be prescient.
IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 1984
Description: introduced 1) MRFs for image analysis 2) the Gibbs sampling which revolutionized computational Bayesian statistics and thus had paramount impact in many other fields in addition to Computer Vision.
Description: The classic paper on Multics, the most ambitious operating system in the early history of computing. Difficult reading, but it describes the implications of trying to build a system that takes information sharing to its logical extreme. Most operating systems since Multics have incorporated a subset of its facilities.
Description: This paper addresses issues in constraining the flow of information from untrusted programs. It discusses covert channels, but more importantly it addresses the difficulty in obtaining full confinement without making the program itself effectively unusable. The ideas are important when trying to understand containment of malicious code, as well as aspects of trusted computing.
Description: The Unixoperating system and its principles were described in this paper. The main importance is not of the paper but of the operating system, which had tremendous effect on operating system and computer technology.
Description: This paper describes the consistency mechanism known as quorum consensus. It is a good example of algorithms that provide a continuous set of options between two alternatives (in this case, between the read-one write-all, and the write-one read-all consistency methods). There have been many variations and improvements by researchers in the years that followed, and it is one of the consistency algorithms that should be understood by all. The options available by choosing different size quorums provide a useful structure for discussing of the core requirements for consistency in distributed systems.
Experiences with Processes and Monitors in Mesa
Description: The file system of UNIX. One of the first papers discussing how to manage disk storage for high-performance file systems. Most file-system research since this paper has been influenced by it, and most high-performance file systems of the last 20 years incorporate techniques from this paper.
Proceedings of the USENIX Workshop on Microkernels and Other Kernel Architectures, pages 11–30, April 1992.
Description: This is a good paper discussing one particular microkernel architecture and contrasting it with monolithic kernel design. Mach underlies Mac OS X, and its layered architecture had a significant impact on the design of the Windows NT kernel and modern microkernels like L4. In addition, its memory-mapped files feature was added to many monolithic kernels.
An Implementation of a Log-Structured File System for UNIX
Description: The paper was the first production-quality implementation of that idea which spawned much additional discussion of the viability and short-comings of log-structured filesystems. While "The Design and Implementation of a Log-Structured File System" was certainly the first, this one was important in bringing the research idea to a usable system.
Soft Updates: A Solution to the Metadata Update problem in File Systems
Description: This paper introduced LISP, the first functional programming language, which was used heavily in many areas of computer science, especially in AI. LISP also has powerful features for manipulating LISP programs within the language.
Description: This series of papers and reports first defined the influential Scheme programming language and questioned the prevailing practices in programming language design, employing lambda calculus extensively to model programming language concepts and guide efficient implementation without sacrificing expressive power.
Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
Description: Co-authored by the man who designed the C programming language, the first edition of this book served for many years as the language's de facto standard. As such, the book is regarded by many to be the authoritative reference on C.
Description: Written by the man who designed the C++ programming language, the first edition of this book served for many years as the language's de facto standard until the publication of the ISO/IEC 14882:1998: Programming Language C++ standard on 1 September 1998.
The first published description of computational morphology using finite state transducers. (Kaplan and Kay had previously done work in this field and presented this at a conference; the linguist Johnson had remarked the possibility in 1972, but not produced any implementation.)
This survey documents relatively less researched importance of lazy functional programming languages (i.e. Haskell) to construct Natural Language Processors and to accommodated many linguistic theories.
Description: The importance of modularization and information hiding. Note that information hiding was first presented in a different paper of the same author – "Information Distributions Aspects of Design Methodology", Proceedings of IFIP Congress '71, 1971, Booklet TA-3, pp. 26–30
in Dahl, Dijkstra and Hoare, Structured Programming, Academic Press, London and New York, pp. 175–220, 1972.
Description: The beginning of Object-oriented programming. This paper argued that programs should be decomposed to independent components with small and simple interfaces. They also argued that objects should have both data and related methods.
A technique for software module specification with examples
Description: A lovely story of how large software projects can go right, and then wrong, and then right again, told with humility and humor. Illustrates the "second-system effect" and the importance of simplicity.
The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering
Description: Statecharts are a visual modeling method. They are an extension of state machine that might be exponentially more efficient. Therefore, statcharts enable formal modeling of applications that were too complex before. Statecharts are part of the UML diagrams.