Hardware-Software Interaction: Microscopics and Macroscopics

Neil Steiner, Information Sciences Institute, University of Southern California

This work inquires into the interaction between hardware and software at microscopic and macroscopic levels. The fundamental nature of that interaction is presumably governed by the laws of physics, and though information theory tells us how to measure information, it does not tell us how computation actually works. Many of the interesting questions are difficult to even formulate at present, and we merely present some observations at the microscopic level.

Interactions at the macroscopic level are no less interesting, and are much easier to explore at present. We investigate them in the hopes of attacking the problem from a different angle, for the same reasons that particle physics explores cosmology. In keeping with this, we consider autonomous computing systems that can change their own hardware while running, and we implement a demonstration system. The system assumes responsibility for its resources and operation, absorbs much of its complexity inside itself, and presents a simpler interface to its environment.