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Introduction To Information Management

Jan 15, 2015



Describes how usage of computer has changed information technology

  • 1. Information Technology is not Computer Science ITM-1: Day 1 Soumyanath Chatterjee, 20075

2. IT is a very old conceptA wolf's jawbone more than 20,000 years old with fifty-five notches in groups of five. This bone, which was discovered in Czechoslovakia in 1937, is the first evidence of the tally system. Soumyanath Chatterjee, 2007 Contrary to popular belief, Information Technology has been with us since the dawn of civilization. Much of the practices are age old. First evidence of a system of counting and storing information dates back to more than 20,000 years old. Society always had the need to collect, process and disseminate information. Information processing was always with us in the form of food availability, hidden treasure, stories, rules for conduct, trading, religious rituals, plans of enemies or command of ruler. No civilization could survive without an elaborate information system.6 3. Basic Information TechnologyCollect DistributeProcess Security Soumyanath Chatterjee, 2007 Information is as much a commodity as like any other thing like coin, grains, drinks. You do not get information just like that, there has to be a facility in place to collect information. Then one needs to make the information available to the right person, at right time. This requires a facility for information dissemination. At times, this may look paradoxical that unlike other commodity, information is not a physical commodity. It is not a exchangeable product, if you share a piece of information both will have it. It is not goods, not even a form of energy, yet much of the infrastructure for information technology depends on these physical processes. Information is a resource, that makes an action possible. Without information we shall have chaos. The fact that information is not an exchangeable commodity makes guarding the information an important aspect of IT. In fact Genghis Khan, the father of modern organization, had used the business of Information Security as an strategic weapon. He had a secret army wing called Arrow Rider. Arrow riders provided covers for the messengers of Genghis Khan, at the same time, they used to intercept the messengers of enemy, this made his enemies clueless about the movements of Genghis Khan and their own troops leading to utter chaos. Nothing much has changed from the days of Arrow riders to present days of command aircrafts, the strategy still remains very much the same only technology has changed. 7 4. IT processesInput/ Document Output Process Decision Prepare Manual Input Sum Or Collate Merge Sort Extract Soumyanath Chatterjee, 2007 Store Data DelayDisplay Basic process of IT remains much the same as given in the flow chart symbols. Namely: Input/Output Process Decide Document Prepare Manual input Summarize Collate Sort Share Extract Merge Store Wait And Display (disseminate)8 5. Computer : An IT toolPascal's ArithmeticAbacus [1000 BC] Napier's Bones [1600 AD]Machine [1640] Leibniz's Step IBM Mark-I Reckoner [1671][1942] IBM Blue Gene Soumyanath Chatterjee, 2007 [2007] IT is not computer science. Although today its use is so encompassing that Information Technology Association of American defines IT as "the study, design, development, implementation, support or management of computer-based information systems, particularly software applications and computer hardware." IT deals with the use of electronic computers and computer software to convert, store, protect, process, transmit and retrieve information, securely.But actually, this is a very restrictive view of IT. As the architect of Toyota Production System puts it an IT system can be much more advanced that use of computer. In fact the control exercised by KANBAN in Toyota factories was much more effective than computer based information systems in American Car factories. In fact it was so effective, that in early 80s American Car industry was in the verge of shut down by the competition of Japanese Car Manufacturers. Main strategic differentiators there was control (read information) that let the Japanese to control their inventories, address their quality problems much more efficiently than rest of the world. None of these were computer based.Information Technology needs to address the business of : Collect Convert Process & Transmit information SECURELY.Here security means: Privacy Reliability9 6. Enigma machine [1941] Enigma machine used by germans posed serious threat to allied forces due to its encryption on the fly. It was used to encrypt operational level commands by German forces Soumyanath Chatterjee, 2007 The Enigma machine was used by the Germans to encrypt low level secret communications, such as battlefield communications or communications to U- Boats. It was a mechanical device which operated on letters. An operator encrypted a message using a typewriter like interface and then the encoded message was sent using Morse Code. The Lorenz machine was the machine used by the Germans for more strategic communication. It took as input a message encoded using what is called a Baudot code. Baudot code had been used for years for teleprinter communications, and is essentially a conversion of the message into binary (a "binary encoding"): 1s and 0s. The Lorenz cipher would then encrypt the message to produce another binary encoding of the message (but now a binary encoding of the encrypted message). Since the Lorenz cipher worked on binary encodings it could process information much faster than the Enigma machine, since no one needed to type a message into the machine. The Lorenz cipher was used by Hitler to communicate between his centres of command. If the Allies could break into the Lorenz information they would know what Hitler and his followers were actually thinking.10 7. Lorenz machine Soumyanath Chatterjee, 2007 In breaking the Enigma machine the British had the advantage of actually having an Enigma machine which had been recovered by the Polish. When breaking into the Lorenz machine though, they did not have a clue how it worked at all. To make it worse still, picking up the airborn traffic was harder. Intercepting the remote binary signal produced by Lorenz machines was much more difficult than recognizing the Morse code used by the Enigma. They worked out exactly how the Lorenz machine worked just from seeing scrambled messages However, by setting up listening stations the British recovered enough messages for the British cryptographers at Bletchley to actually work out exactly how the Lorenz machine worked, without ever seeing one. It was an amazing intellectual feat. The cryptographers at Bletchley also worked out how to break the machine using subtle statistical weaknesses of the machine. Unfortunately, to actually exploit the weaknesses they needed to process a large amount of data. A lot of calculations would need to be performed on a given target message quickly. After all cracking a message years after it was sent wasn't a lot of help. This meant that a machine would be needed to exploit the weaknesses found. To solve this problem Tommy Flowers, an engineer who worked for the post office, designed a machine which worked on the digital data stream of the Lorenz traffic and could carry out the statistical tests needed to find the key. One of the things he needed to take into account when designing the machine though was that different tests might be needed to be used at different times. As a result he designed the machine in a flexible way so that it could carry out whatever tests ended up being needed.11 8. The Colossus Soumyanath Chatterjee, 2007 So Colossus was able to process digital data. It was also able to perform different tasks, including ones that were not envisaged by its designers. Even better you could use Colossus to perform other calculations that were not necessarily related to code breaking. That's a feature which distinguishes it from the Bombes, and a feature which makes its claim as the first modern computer.In short, Colossus was a programmable digital computer just as modern computers are. One distinct difference between Colossus and modern computers though is that Colossus was programmed by someone connecting various pieces of the machine together using wires. A modern computer's program is stored with its data, inside the machine. This improvement did not come until a machine called the Manchester Baby in 1948.The Colossus allowed the breaking of the most important German communications and so allowed the Allies in the last years of the war to see inside the minds of the Nazis. Apart from its code breaking use the Colossus is important because it was the first digital computer to be able to be used for different tasks. It was therefore the first machine to partially fulfill Alan Turing's pre-war idea of a Universal Machine which can be programmed to compute anything.Many of the Bletchley team went onto build the first post war computers in the UK, at Manchester and Cambridge. Many of the US computer pioneers also had secret access to Colossus during the war. However, the Colossus' role has only recently been fully recognized. The machines were all apparently destroyed at the end of the war, and their existance was kept secret until only recently. Of the 10 000 people who worked at Bletchley none spoke of what they had been involved in or even of Bletchley Park's existence for 30 years when its existence eventually became public knowledge.The ideas behind the Lorenz cipher are very similar to the type of stream ciphers used to encrypt large data quantities in modern devices, such as your mobile phone. The ideas behind Colossus which broke the Lorenz cipher had to be kept secret because govenments continued using ciphers based on the same principles as Lorenz for a long time. Luckily the early computer pioneers really could keep a secret.12 9. Manchester Baby and its computer program by Tom Kilburn[1948] Soumyanath Chatterje