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PILOT: A Step Toward Man-Computer Symbiosis

By Warren Teitelman


PILOT is a programming system constructed in LISP. It is designed to facilitate the development of programs by easing the familiar sequence: write some code, run the program, make some changes, write some more code, run the program again, etc. As a program becomes more complex, making these changes becomes harder and harder because the implications of changes are harder to anticipate. In the PILOT system, the computer plays an active role in this evolutionary process by providing the means whereby changes can be effected immediately, and in ways that seem natural to the user. The user of PILOT feels that he is giving advice, or making suggestions, to the computer about the operation of his programs, and that the system then performs the work necessary. The PILOT system is thus an interface between the user and his program, monitoring both in the requests of the user and operation of his program. The user may easily modify the PILOT system itself by giving it advice about its own operation. This allows him to develop his own language and to shift gradually onto PILOT the burden of performing routine but increasingly complicated tasks. In this way, he can concentrate on the conceptual difficulties in the original problem, rather than on the niggling tasks of editing, rewriting, or adding to his programs. Two detailed examples are presented. PILOT is a first step toward computer systems that will help man to formulate problems in the same way they now help him to solve them. Experience with it supports the claim that such "symbiotic systems" allow the programmer to attack and solve more difficult problems

Year: 1966
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Provided by: DSpace@MIT
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