By Kenneth Nichols
From the 1st traces of the preface of this paintings by way of Kenneth Nichols, it's obvious that what used to be at the beginning deliberate to be of extra concise scope grew right into a dialogue of all issues linked to software program patents, and therein lies the rub. it really is fascinating that the writer notes in precisely the second one sentence that he "came to the belief that the details of the controversy [within the programming group over the desirability and supreme influence of software program patents]...are no longer that fascinating or enlightening". quite? i locate it abnormal that someone with a J.D. and an M.S. in computing device technology might make this type of assertion. after all, his follow-up assertion that the "larger and extra vital tale" contains the truth that "software improvement is a brand new form of inventive task, person who defies the neat and jointly particular categorizations of highbrow attempt as both creative or medical" will be precise, Frederick P. Brooks wrote commonly in this subject in his vintage tome on software program engineering lengthy sooner than the USPTO accepted the submitting of comparable patents. thankfully, Nichols dedicates such a lot of his paintings to the extra uninteresting material, even though regrettably the reasons supplied are a piece dull themselves. placing apart the truth that this publication used to be written within the past due Nineteen Nineties, besides the fact that, there's a lot to supply right here to the pro software program engineer in addition to the non-technical administration group linked to software program pursuits of this nature. for instance, the author's concise 20-page creation introduces good a lot of the history material. Nichols additionally discusses good the themes of algorithms, programming, machine technological know-how, software program engineering, and the way patents slot in with this universe. the guts of the textual content, the 3rd bankruptcy which offers a variety of software program patent examples, although, is especially poorly developed for my part, even though the reason in its first few pages on significant phrases resembling "novelty" and "nonobviousness" is concisely written. The diagram only if depicts strategies regarding nonobviousness, written within the variety of a Venn diagram, is principally well matched for the dialogue. The fourth bankruptcy covers the software program patent controversy, and the reader is easily rewarded in my view whilst achieving this aspect within the e-book after 50 pages of rambling. it's unusual that the 7th bankruptcy is devoted to a definition of programming, a dialogue most suitable for the introductory pages of the booklet, even though the various rates supplied in those pages are rather interesting, equivalent to the W. Saba quote from an IEEE periodical that "hardware engineers have long past additional than their software program opposite numbers simply because layout grew to become a science...Unlike engineers, software program engineers nonetheless deal in magic and witchcraft". apparently adequate, it used to be only in the near past that The Economist mentioned the emergence of computing device technology because the foundational department of technological know-how. final of all, whereas the 6th bankruptcy boldly starts by way of proclaiming "we've eventually come to the great half" since it bargains with innovations for software program builders, in simple terms 6 pages are devoted to the topic! If Nichols is to put in writing extra on software program patents, i like to recommend a whole booklet devoted to suggestions.
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Extra info for Inventing Software: The Rise of "Computer-Related" Patents
As we shall see, software that creates other software from imprecise specifications or even by analyzing the problem itself is already in commercial use. Recall the sharp distinction between invention and software the patent lawyer made earlier. Now imagine that, instead of reading novels and turning them into game software, our system can read patent specifications and turn them into working embodiments. At this point, the patent specification, which (along with the file wrapper) defines the invention, has become an embodiment of itself, effectively erasing any boundary between the two.
Instead of framing the solution as a task that can be broken down into small steps, the programmer casts the problem in terms of a set of rules to which the solution must conform. In declarative pseudocode, one might enter the following rules: Socrates is a man man is mortal Algorithms, Inventions, and Software 39 and receive the answer "yes" by posing the question is Socrates mortal? This simple example does not convey the full power of the declarative paradigm, though it suggests a common declarative-language application, the expert system, in which a body of knowledge is represented as a set of rules.
This process is known as modularity. Block diagrams, or flowcharts, which are often used to provide a graphical representation of program behavior by showing the flow of execution, provide yet another nexus between the imperative mode and the patent examination process. The EGCR states: In many instances, an applicant will describe a programmed computer by outlining the significant elements of the programmed computer using a functional block diagram. Office personnel should review the specification to ensure that along with the functional block diagram the disclosure provides information that adequately describes each "element" in hardware or hardware and its associated software and how such elements are interrelated.