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This nOde last updated March 22nd, 2005 and is permanently morphing...
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bootstrap (b¡t´stràp´) noun
1. A internal linkloop of leather, cloth, or synthetic material that is sewn at the side or the top rear of a boot to help in pulling the boot on.
2. Computer Science. A subroutine used to establish the full routine or another routine.

verb, transitive
bootstrapped, bootstrapping, bootstraps
1. To promote and develop by use of one's own initiative and work without reliance on outside help: "We've bootstrapped our way back with aggressive tourism and recruiting high tech industries" (John Corrigan).
2. Computer Science. To establish (a program) with a bootstrap.

1. Undertaken or accomplished with minimal outside resources or help.
2. Computer Science. Being or relating to a internal linkprocess that is self-initiating or self-sustaining.

- idiom.
by one's (own) bootstraps
By one's own efforts.

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Treepeople - Actual Re-Enactment (1994)

Treepeople - Actual Re-Enactment 12" (orange vinyl)


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When the bootstrapping internal linkprocess of building better, cheaper, experimental interactive internal linkinformation processing systems intersects with the rising curve of electronic capabilities, and the dropping curve of computational costs, it will become possible for millions, rather than a thousand or two, to experience the kind of information environment the internal linkARPA-sponsored infonauts knew.

Information in formation
In the early 1980s, millions of people already own personal computers that will become obsolete when versions a hundred times as fast with a thousand times the internal linkmemory capacity come along at half of today's prices.

When tens of millions of people get their hands on powerful enough devices, and a means for connecting them, internal linkJCR Licklider still thinks the job will only be in its beginning stages.

Looking toward the day when the "internal linkintergalactic network" he speculated about in the midsixties becomes feasible, he remains convinced that the predicted boost in human cultural capabilities will take place, but only after enough people use an early version of the system to think up a more capable system that everybody can use:

"With a large enough population involved in improving the system, it will be easier for new ideas to be born and propagated," he notes, perhaps remembering the years  when interactive computing was considered a daring venture by a bunch of mavericks. The most significant issue, he still believes, is whether the medium will become truly universal.
 - Howard Rheingold - _Tools For Thought_atomjacked inventory cache

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Bootstrapping is the problem of starting a certain system without the system already functioning. It seems just as impossible as "pulling oneself up by the bootstraps" which Baron Münchhausen, according to stories, could do. However solutions, accordingly called bootstrapping, exist; they are processes whereby a complex system emerges by starting simply and, bit by bit, developing more complex capabilities on top of the simpler ones.

Bootstrapping describes different things in several domains.


Bootstrapping is generally a longer term for booting, or the process of starting up any computer.

Bootstrapping can also refer to the development of successively more complex programming environments. The simplest environment will be, perhaps, a very basic text editor (e.g. ed) and an assembler program. Using these tools, one can write a more complex text editor, and a simple compiler for a higher-level internal linklanguage. and so on, until one can have a graphical IDE and an extremely high-level programming language.


Syntactic bootstrapping is the idea that children use syntactic knowledge they have developed to help learn what words mean -- semantics builds on top of syntax.


The idea of bootstrapping is significant in a number of fields in the biological sciences. The process by which a fertilised ovum develops into an embryo, particularly the way in which the nuclear genome is expressed differently in its various cells as these differentiate, is one example of bootstrapping. The internal linkevolution of progressively better adapted organs through natural selection in a lineage of organisms is another. Some biologists, including Graham Cairns-Smith, believe that the origin of life itself may have been a bootstrap process as one or more systems of biological internal linkinformation storage formed the internal linkfoundation for successor systems that ultimately supplanted them culminating in the emergence of our current internal linkDNA-based system.


The term bootstrap has a number of meanings in electronics. In classical analog designs, a bootstrap circuit was an arrangement of components used to boost the input impedance of a circuit by using a small amount of positive internal linkfeedback. This was often necessary in the early days of bipolar transistors, which inherently have quite a low input impedance. The need for such arrangements has largely been alleviated by the use of modern FET designs, except when ultra-high input impedances are required.

Another meaning is in connection with the booting process of a computer or other complex system, where the underlying electronics must arrange for the orderly startup of the actval CPU and related electronics components. This is done long before the CPU is in a state where it can begin to execute software. Nowadays the bootstrap is coordinated by special integrated circuits that monitor the raw power supply and provide the relevant signals to enable the CPU and other chips accordingly.


In statistics bootstrapping is a method for estimating the sampling distribution of an estimator by resampling with replacement from the original sample.

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