Revised & Updated 2nd Edition
“An instant classic in computer science...”–Glenn O’Donnel
The Science of Our Information Infrastructure
In SearchofCertainty uite soon, the world’s information infrastructure will reach such Q a level of scale and complexity that scientists and engineers will have to think about it in an entirely new way. The familiar notions of command and control are being thwarted by a faster, denser world of communication where choice, variety, and indeterminism rule. The myth of the machine that does exactly what we tell it to do is about to end.
What makes us think we can rely on all this technology? What keeps it together today, and how might it work tomorrow? Will we know how to build the next generation—or will we be lulled into a stupor of dependence brought about by its conveniences?
In this book, Mark Burgess focuses on the impact of computers and
information on our modern infrastructure by taking you from the
roots of science to the principles behind system operation and design.
To shape the future of technology, we need to understand how it
works—or else what we don’t understand will end up shaping us.
Mark Burgesswas the founder and principal author of CFEngine,
as well as Professor of Network and System Administration at Oslo
University College. For the past 20 years, he has led the way in the
theory and practice of automation and policybased management.
POPULA R SCIENCE
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THE SCIENCE OF OUR INFORMATION INFRASTRUCTURE
In Search of Certainty, Second Edition by Mark Burgess
Copyright © 2015 Mark Burgess. All rights reserved. Mark Burgess has asserted his right under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, 1988, UK, to be identified as the author of this work.
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Editors: Mike Loukides and Brian Anderson
September 2013: April 2015:
First Edition Second Edition
Proofreader:Jasmine Kwityn Cover Designer:Edie Freedman
Revision History for the First Edition September 2013: First edition published in ebook format by χtAxis Press, Oslo, Norway January 2014 and March 2014: Reprinted with corrections
Revision History for the Second Edition April 2015: First Release The O’Reilly logo is a registered trademark of O’Reilly Media, Inc. While the pub‐ lisher and the author have used good faith efforts to ensure that the information and instructions contained in this work are accurate, the publisher and the author dis‐ claim all responsibility for errors or omissions, including without limitation respon‐ sibility for damages resulting from the use of or reliance on this work. Use of the information and instructions contained in this work is at your own risk. If any code samples or other technology this work contains or describes is subject to open source licenses or the intellectual property rights of others, it is your responsibility to ensure that your use thereof complies with such licenses and/or rights. Quotations used within this work are referenced from public sources, and pose no known commercial infringement. Figures from academic papers used by permission of the authors.
Dedicated to my friends, who helped me to understand a little over the years.
“Let the future tell the truth, and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I have really worked, is mine.”
“For a successful technology. reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.
“I don’t want knowledge, I want certainty”
– David Bowie, Law (Earthling)
DY NA M IC S Concerning forces and changes in the world.
SE M A N T IC S Concerning meaning, interpretation and intent.