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“Software Progress Beats Moore’s Law”

The New York Times picks up on a point made in the recent report of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology assessing the Federal Networking and Information Technology R&D program:  “performance gains in doing computing tasks that result from improvements in software algorithms often far outpace the gains attributable to faster processors.”

UW CSE’s Ed Lazowska, co-chair of the PCAST NITRD Working Group, is quoted:

“The rate of change in hardware captured by Moore’s Law, experts agree, is an extraordinary achievement. ‘But the ingenuity that computer scientists have put into algorithms has yielded performance improvements that make even the exponential gains of Moore’s Law look trivial,’ said Edward Lazowska, a professor at the University of Washington.

“The rapid pace of software progress, Mr. Lazowska added, is harder to measure in algorithms performing nonnumerical tasks. But he points to the progress of recent years in artificial intelligence fields like language understanding, speech recognition and computer vision as evidence that the story of the algorithm’s ascent holds true well beyond more easily quantified benchmark tests.”

Read this really interesting article here.  Followup post in Business Insider here.

March 7, 2011