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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary (also found in English - Vietnamese, English - English (Wordnet), )
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1. operating system (Often used equivalently to daemon,
especially in the Unix world, where the latter spelling and
pronunciation is considered mildly archaic). A program or
part of a program which is not invoked explicitly, but that
lies dormant waiting for some condition(s) to occur.
At MIT they use "demon" for part of a program and "daemon"
for an operating system process.
Demons (parts of programs) are particularly common in AI
programs. For example, a knowledge-manipulation program
might implement inference rules as demons. Whenever a new
piece of knowledge was added, various demons would activate
(which demons depends on the particular piece of data) and
would create additional pieces of knowledge by applying their
respective inference rules to the original piece. These new
pieces could in turn activate more demons as the inferences
filtered down through chains of logic. Meanwhile, the main
program could continue with whatever its primary task was.
This is similar to the triggers used in relationaldatabases.
The use of this term may derive from "Maxwell's Demons" -
minute beings which can reverse the normal flow of heat from a
hot body to a cold body by only allowing fast moving molecules
to go from the cold body to the hot one and slow molecules
from hot to cold. The solution to this apparent thermodynamic
paradox is that the demons would require an external supply of
energy to do their work and it is only in the absence of such
a supply that heat must necessarily flow from hot to cold.
Walt Bunch believes the term comes from the demons in Oliver
Selfridge's paper "Pandemonium", MIT 1958, which was named
after the capital of Hell in Milton's "Paradise Lost".
Selfridge likened neural cells firing in response to input
patterns to the chaos of millions of demons shrieking in