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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

An executive system implemented as a finite-state automaton

The 473L command and control system used by the Air Force permits many operators to access large data files through the use of a computer. The man-machine interface is satisfied by several communication consoles from which operators may enter queries and view replies. A data link permits remote stations to send messages, status reports and inventories directly to the computer. The information received over the online data link is used to update the data files which are stored on disk. The 473L programming system is divided into an Executive Control Program and five components with different processing priorities. These priorities permit the system to be most sensitive to the console inputs and permit the operators at all the consoles to time share the central processor. The Executive Control Program provides for the orderly transitions of control among the programming system components. The major emphasis of the paper is on the technique of using the definition of a finite-state automaton for organizing the Executive Control Program.

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