Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Cure for Flash Crashes? "Software Tool Jolt Against Faulty Infinite Loops"

No, not the answer for algo traders but interesting.
From Crazy Engineers:
It is usually a frustrating experience when you are about to finish an extremely important task on your computer and your computer hangs, stalls, stops working whatever! Everything happens at the precise moment just before you are about to hit CTRL+S key combination which usually ends up you losing all your data since the time you last saved it. A thorough knowledge of computers will tell you that computer hang-ups are normally a product of your computer getting stuck in an infinite loop. Although, this is not always the case but infinite loops are the sole culprits of you being unable to control your PC.

Researchers from MIT Prof. Martin Rinard and his graduate students Michael Carbin, Sasa Misailovic and Michael Kling demonstrated a solution to tackle this problem at the 25th European Conference on Object-Oriented Programming in Lancaster, England this July. The group led by Prof. Rinard have designed a software called Jolt which can identify an infinite loop and if the machine is stuck in between in this loop due to incorrect coding, then Jolt simply directs the function to move ahead to execute next instruction.

In the conference, the group demonstrated jolt which was able to move the hung computers to stable enough states which helps you to at least save your data and exit safely, however in majority of cases it showed better performance there by giving you at the very least, partial solution of the computations which they were earlier trying to perform....MORE
The 1987 crash was caused in part by feedback loops. As stocks dropped the computers said the appropriate course of action was to sell more stocks as 'portfolio insurance'.
Which begat lower prices which triggered more selling ad nauseum.

After October 1987 the software salesmen didn't pitch portfolio insurance anymore.
Here's the hometown take at MIT News:
Defibrillator for stalled software