This book is for the researcher who may not be expert in computer programming or operation, but is interested in the possibilities of on-line computer systems. These systems are in a period of rapid development and are beginning to provide exciting new methods for conducting research.
The on-line system that this book describes in fully readable fashion is called OPS-3. It is multipurpose, modular, and open-ended. Its flexible design invites the user to make his own extensions, and enables him to assimilate previously written programs.
The nucleus of the system is a basic set of commands known as operators that can be executed as their names are typed. Over seventy operators are currently available with the system. Conventional subroutines from existing program libraries also can be used as operators without modification. And the researcher can construct (and test immediately) his own operators using any language that complies into conventional subroutines.
Moreover, operators may be combined into a sequence, known as a compound operator or KOP, in much the way that FORTRAN statements are combined into a program. In the OPS system, however, compilation is optional, and a KOP can be executed as it is being constructed.
Thus the researcher may enlist the computer's aid in defining his problem as well as in solving it. The dialogue between man and machine is intimate and immediate. The computer normally responds instantly to the user's queries or commands, thereby maintaining a conversational pace.
The system is applicable to a wide range of problems and activities, including algebraic computation, programming, matrix calculation, statistical analysis, data manipulation, simulation, and model building. It can be applied by an equally wide range of researchers, including those with negligible experience in computer operations.