Logical Inferences Per Second (LIPS) vs. Horsepower
Of course we're a little jealous of those developers who get to develop those fun and nifty IPhone apps! Perhaps we're just a tad bit curious too. But for the moment we are absolutely in the grips of a very different kind of software development.
It is a tricky distinction to make when we talk about the computer in terms of solving the problem as opposed to being part of a solution to problem. I guess in some ways its all a matter of perspective.
So if we can put it another way, we are currently involved in developing software that uses the process of inference to reach conclusions that when applied or understood represent the solution to some (normally nasty) problem or set of problems. This inference process usually takes the form of logical deduction, induction, or abduction. We want to contrast the process of inference to that of computation. So instead of focusing on the work required for a computation we focus on the work required for an inference. In particular we look at how many logical inferences an agent might use to solve some problem. Normally we are concerned with how many inferences an agent might use in the worst case scenario to solve the problem. Once we have some idea of how many inferences that is then we know how big the problem space is and how much computing power we could potentially need. For instance, in our 19 emails project, the worst case scenario for our agent was 19! * 3000 inferences. From a hardware perspective if I have a quad core processor and each processor is clocked at 1.8 GHZ, what are we talking about in terms of LIPS? That is 1.8 GHZ = How many LIPS?