Sunday, March 04, 2012

C++ Driving Google Car

After winning $2M DARPA self-driving vehicle challenge for Stanford team,
prog Sebastian Thurn is now making self-driving cars in Google
(and teaching excellent AI and robotics online classes)

Most popular programming language in Google are:
  • Python
  • Java, and
  • C++

    Can you guess what is the programming language mostly used for Google car?

    cs373_oo2_00_l_Office-Hours-Week-2 - YouTube

    The keyword is "efficiency".
    When it comes down to computers, the performance is "king".

    Similar considerations influenced Microsoft recent focus on "Native".
    On "Build" developers conference, there was more talk about C++ than about .NET.

    iPhone battery can last longer
    because its software is (mostly) based on (objective-)C.
    Most of Android phones, using less efficient Java,
    have a simple solution: a replaceable battery :)

    Windows Vista was originally attempted in .NET, with many features.
    The project was late, and code slow, so it was re-written in "native" C++
    (and many features canceled)... Lesson learned,
    Windows 8 is taking 1/2 of .NET (XAML) and moving it in WinRT core,
    this time completely "native" (C++).
    C++ (version 11) language is also greatly improved...

    Amazon is also running on C++ for the most part...

    Facebook has an interesting twist: software is written in PHP (easy to write)
    and then it is converted to C++ to run fast...

    There are places (Enterprise, maybe Cloud) where
    performance compromise of Java and .NET is acceptable.
    Everywhere else... "the good, the bad, and the ugly" C/C++
  • Microsoft SQL Server StreamInsight

    Microsoft StreamInsight, part of the recent SQL Server 2008 R2 release,
    is a new platform for building rich applications
    that can process high volumes of event stream data with near-zero latency

    Databases are expanding way beyond traditional relational and transnational processing.
    Microsoft SQL Server is in each version getting more capability,
    that could sometimes be confusing. In fact, it is relatively easy:
    SQL Server is a trusted name in IT, so anything data-related
    Microsoft bundles with SQL server... Instead of NoSQL they call it "Big Data".

    One of such "new features" is processing of "stream data".
    For example, monitoring continuously changing stock prices for trading,
    or monitoring status of large number of device, such as power meter readers, etc.
    In such cases there is a HUGE amount of data, and key is to detect events in them.

    A new "keyword" is "Complex Event Processing", (CEP)
    part of broader "Business Intelligence" (BI) tools.

    StreamInsight is a .NET tool, programmed from VisualStudio.
    It is part of SQL Server since version 2008 R2 (except Express edition).

    Here a brief video introduction: Microsoft Showcase: Stream Insight

    Here are slides/presentation @ SlideShare

    An article @ MSDN Magazine

    Official Microsoft introduction: Microsoft StreamInsight

    Effectively analyze large amounts of event data streaming in from multiple sources. Derive insights from critical information in near real time by using Microsoft StreamInsight. Monitor, analyze, and act on data in motion and make informed decisions almost instantaneously.

    An article in March 2012 MSDN Magazine (not on web yet),
    appropriately written by Microsoft Research people,
    mentions that is expected 50 Billion (!) network connected devices by 2020.
    That is 7 networked devices for every human on the planet, all sharing data!
    That is a lot of data! StreamInsight is a tool that could help.
    They also mentioned using using Netduino hardware platform
    and .NET micro edition for programming such "sensor" devices...

    Related story... Trading on Stock Exchange (New York) is moving HUGE amounts of money
    and it is highly time-sensitive. Being able to buy or sell a few milliseconds faster
    makes millions of dollars difference. So, to get "closer to action" companies are installing
    private optical cables for example between Boston and New York...

    Microsoft StreamInsight is a tool for applications like that :)