October 08, 2007
Cappuccino & Creativity: Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, Sentovich, and Szymanski
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Ellen – I really like the feature in Google that asks you, “Did you mean ?“
In my very first CS class, the professor wrote an algorithm for how to diaper a baby: The first step is to place the baby on a flat surface. Without further specifications, however, a wall would satisfy that spec and the baby would fall. The search space looks much bigger when it’s not just a small string, but all permutations.
Alberto – We have to replace the syntactical view with the semantic view!
Peggy – So, about my black box where I give the specifications in natural language, and my completed design pops out the other side?
Alberto – But when you say in natural language’ – words are not enough. You can’t expect to fulfill a specification for a car supplier, for instance, in natural language because if you give the specification in German, or Italian, or in English, something will be lost in translation. More importantly, there will be corners in the design you haven’t thought of, which need to be filled in. The key point here is that your black box must give immediate feedback – you must have a virtual prototype! And you need virtual engineering at the end of this interactive process!
Ellen – Yes, I think your black box will happen eventually. But natural language success in engineering has to come from fixed menus, as opposed to semantics. But there is no barrier [to the future research here]. Analog is how you speak, and you tailor what you say to your listener.
If you interact with a machine, you can interact just as well – it’s still just a dialog as it is with people. People make a statement to you, and you react. That’s the interactive aspect of dialog.
Peggy – So we create models of the world around us? Including the people?
Alberto – Yes, everyone is fundamentally a math model. You have input and from that you output something. The same is true for the people around you. Even if we have perfect models, even if I know your model, there’s no way to know if it’s correct. It’s only through dialog with me, that you make your ideas crisp to me. How many times have I worked with vague thoughts, and then – boom – after interacting with students, the ideas becomes crisp!
Ellen --- [That process] is particularly important in verification, to get the specification correct. Sometimes, for instance, you’ll get an answer, but in fact you didn’t ask the question correctly in the first place.
Alberto – Generally, when you talk about a specification, one problem is always inconsistency – a specification that is incorrect or is incomplete. So at the next level, you must ask if the constraints are satisfied. Is the specification contradictory? If a specification is incomplete, it is even more difficult because the solution space is incomplete.
Peggy – So we are talking about specifications for the world around us that are necessary and sufficient?
Alberto – Yes. In nature, you can take a wrong path and go back. But in engineering, you don’t have that option – you need to accelerate the path to the solution, to get it right through interactive and successive refinements. That’s what forma mente is all about!
2 – Coming soon to a theater near you
* EVE Verification Seminars –
Various dates in October across North America
* Xilinx Serial Connectivity Seminars –
Various dates in October across North America
* International System & SoC Forum 2007 –
October 10th to 12th in Prague
* International SoC Design Conference –
October 15th & 16th in Seoul
* VLSI-SoC 2007 –
October 15th to 17th at Georgia Tech in Atlanta
* EDAC Compliance Forum –
October 18th in Santa Clara
* 17th Annual IMEC Research Review Meeting –
October 18th & 19th in Brussels
* International Test Conference 2007 –
October 21st to 25th in Santa Clara
* Simplicity & Xilinx Verification Seminars –
Starting in October in Europe, NA & Asia
* 14th Annual Kaufman Award Dinner –
November 1st in Santa Clara
* ICCAD 2007 –
November 5th to 8th in San Jose
* Common Platform Technology Forum 2007 –
November 6th in Santa Clara
* FSA Semiconductor Leaders Forum –
November 7th in Taipei
* 2007 International SoC Conference –
November 7th & 8th in Newport Beach
* ISQED 2008 – send your papers
March 17 to 19, 2008 in San Jose
3 – New business cards
Coresonic AB announced
Rick Clucas has been named CEO. Clucas has 22+ years’ experience, including 17+ years in the IP industry most notably as Founder and CTO of ARC International. Previously, he served as an investment banking CTO, a consultant, and as CEO of Ignios. In related news, Coresonic also announced a 1 million euro investment from
Industrifonden, slated to “enable Coresonic to market its innovative LeoCore technology into the growing WiMAX market and other demanding wireless standards.”
* Nascentric announced
Grand Technology, Inc. (GTI) is the company’s distributor in Taiwan. GTI is a “tools and solutions provider” for ASIC and FPGA designers.
Synopsys announced it has acquired
Sandwork Design, a privately held, California-based provider of analog and mixed-signal verification solutions. Per the Press Release, “The Sandwork tools include SPICE Explorer, a transistor-level design debugging environment, WaveView Analyzer a high-capacity, high-performance AMS waveform analyzer, and SpiceCheck for fast electrical rule checks of transistor-level netlists.”
I spoke with Synopsys spokesman,
Ed Lechner, by phone on October 3rd about the Sandwork deal. Lechner’s the Director of Product Marketing for Custom Design at Synopsys, and his enthusiasm over the acquisition was palpable. He’s been heavily involved in the process, is a great admirer of the team and technology at Sandwork, and says not only are both coming over in total to Synopsys, but both will be honored and nurtured in their new home.
Per Ed, “Sandwork has a set of products that are already integrated into our Synopsys simulator. Our customers love the Sandwork products and we will help the Sandwork team grow their product line into [even larger] markets. It’s hard to find really good talent that’s already up and running these days, and the Sandwork team is great. [We admire] not only their cohesiveness, but their customers [are very appreciative] of their responsiveness.”
I asked Ed why the innovation that Sandwork brings to the verification process isn’t something that Synopsys was able to develop in-house. Ed was candid: “Sometimes small companies are able to focus on a [specific problem]. We have similar products going on here at Synopsys, but our core competency has been the verification simulation products. We saw that so many of our customers were using the Sandwork products, that rather than fight them, we’ve brought them on board.”
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-- Peggy Aycinena, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.
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