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Subject: Re: WMCCC - may the best man at getting the fastest hardware win :(

Author: Bruce Moreland

Date: 10:53:17 10/19/97

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On October 19, 1997 at 10:54:34, Chris Whittington wrote:

>So the point is that YOU and Bruce (and less so Fritz) are taking the
>decision to try and massively alter the result of this event. You're
>doing it under a screen of everybody else either does it or has done it
>and nobody complained in the past and its all quite normal and and and
>and infinitum; and in the past it was those terrible COMMERCIALS and
>nobody complained, but now we are AMATEURS (with resources of course),
>so its ok, and anyway AMATEURS are better than  COMMERCIALS both in
>terms of the programs and morality.

There is nothing in the definition of an amateur that says you have to
be poor, or have to take the event less seriously.  And the only one who
is spending money is me, apparently.  The rest have managed to acquire
free machines.  I don't see the basis for criticism of this, I don't see
why someone can be criticized for making a phone call that someone else
didn't think to make.  It was not unfair of these people to make this
phone call, it was smart.

It's not immoral to do this, either.  This contest is the same this year
as it was last year, and the year before, and they are treating it the
same way they did in those years.  If there is a problem with the
competition, please offer some constructive suggestions and try to
garner support for these.

When I chose hardware for this event, I knew that I would have to do
better than the supplied hardware.  If I didn't do better, many others
would, and they might do a lot better.  My response was to upgrade my
hardware.  I have seen Dark Thought compete on Alphas for the previous
two years, and I knew that Crafty got a good speedup on one (part of the
problem with Dark Thought is that they have been very quiet in the past,
although they have a web page now, so it has been hard to know exactly
how much their Alpha helps then when compared to a PC), so I decided to
do that.

You discount the Dark Thought team for some reason.  I do not.  They
have finished well the last two WMCCC's, and if I remember right they
didn't do so bad at the WCCC either.  And they scored this amazing coup
this year by finding very fast hardware.  I think that if they keep
participating, they will win one of these, maybe this one.  And I enjoy
their selection of an alternate path (the Alpha), the same way that I
enjoy yours (speculation).

I still think this is mostly about the Alpha as compared with the PC.
Last year I brought hardware that was even faster compared to the
supplied machines, and if anyone criticized this, I didn't hear about
it.  The perception about the Alpha is that it isn't useful for anything
other than extremely vertical applications.  Since I have used the
hardware, I don't see any reason why this should be the case, and I
think that this is one reason that DEC is sponsoring people.

>Its an open question whether assembler helps. I can recollect Bruce
>commenting that C was better for coding, better for debugging and that's
>why he used it. The portability issue is a more recent one that he has
>brought up, but wasn't his stated reason last year.

I did not adopt some secret "surprise porting" strategy.  "I know, I'll
use C to make my program portable, but say I use C because it's easier
to write code and easier to debug it, but of course they'll ignore me
because that just sounds like the same old broken record, but when a new
machine comes out, 'wham', I'll hit them with -- portability!"

I've tried assembly code.  I know how to do it.  I'm good at it.  I
couldn't get enough speedup to justify it, so I don't use it.  But even
if I did use it, I would also have the C in there with "#ifdef"'s, to
retain portability and verify that the assembly code works properly.

>Its 'fair' right now that we all run on roughly equivalent systems. Then
>we, and joe public, can read something into the results. That's fair.
>
>Suppose you or Bruce win. What will that mean ? That you have the best
>program ? No, not necessarily. Not necessarily at all.

Of course not.  It never means this.  It didn't mean that last year, and
it didn't mean it the year before, etc.  You don't always win when you
have the best hardware, and you don't always when you have the best
program.

bruce



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