The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) last week ran a competition that involved identifying the location of 10 fixed red balloons throughout the United States. It was an exercise designed to see how people can self-organize on the Internet and how information disseminates through social and viral networks. It was won by MIT, taking just 9 hours to find 10 red balloons placed all over the United States.
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All the major computing architectures in use today trace their lineage back to the pioneering work of mathematician John von Neumann. Developed from the 1930s through the 1950s, the theories put forth by von Neumann provided the foundation on which the ENIAC, the first general-purpose computer, were based. Subsequently, every system developed since then has relied on the same basic principles to deliver faster levels of computational performance.