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Black Box

In science, computing, and engineering, a black box is a system which can be viewed in terms of its inputs and outputs (or transfer characteristics), without any knowledge of its internal workings. Its implementation is "opaque" (black). The term can be used to refer to many inner workings, such as those of a transistor, an engine, an algorithm, the human brain, or an institution or government.

Black Box


To analyse an open system with a typical "black box approach", only the behavior of the stimulus/response will be accounted for, to infer the (unknown) box. The usual representation of this black box system is a data flow diagram centered in the box.

The opposite of a black box is a system where the inner components or logic are available for inspection, which is most commonly referred to as a white box (sometimes also known as a "clear box" or a "glass box").

The modern meaning of the term "black box" seems to have entered the English language around 1945. In electronic circuit theory the process of network synthesis from transfer functions, which led to electronic circuits being regarded as "black boxes" characterized by their response to signals applied to their ports, can be traced to Wilhelm Cauer who published his ideas in their most developed form in 1941.[1] Although Cauer did not himself use the term, others who followed him certainly did describe the method as black-box analysis.[2] Vitold Belevitch[3] puts the concept of black-boxes even earlier, attributing the explicit use of two-port networks as black boxes to Franz Breisig in 1921 and argues that 2-terminal components were implicitly treated as black-boxes before that.

In cybernetics, a full treatment was given by Ross Ashby in 1956.[4] A black box was described by Norbert Wiener in 1961 as an unknown system that was to be identified using the techniques of system identification.[5] He saw the first step in self-organization as being to be able to copy the output behavior of a black box. Many other engineers, scientists and epistemologists, such as Mario Bunge,[6] used and perfected the black box theory in the 1960s.

The understanding of a black box is based on the "explanatory principle", the hypothesis of a causal relation between the input and the output. This principle states that input and output are distinct, that the system has observable (and relatable) inputs and outputs and that the system is black to the observer (non-openable).[7]

Black box theories are those theories defined only in terms of their function.[9][10] The term can be applied in any field where some inquiry is made into the relations between aspects of the appearance of a system (exterior of the black box), with no attempt made to explain why those relations should exist (interior of the black box). In this context, Newton's theory of gravitation can be described as a black box theory.[11]

Specifically, the inquiry is focused upon a system that has no immediately apparent characteristics and therefore has only factors for consideration held within itself hidden from immediate observation. The observer is assumed ignorant in the first instance as the majority of available data is held in an inner situation away from facile investigations. The black box element of the definition is shown as being characterised by a system where observable elements enter a perhaps imaginary box with a set of different outputs emerging which are also observable.[12]

In humanities disciplines such as philosophy of mind and behaviorism, one of the uses of black box theory is to describe and understand psychological factors in fields such as marketing when applied to an analysis of consumer behaviour.[13][14][15]

After talking with his friend, Dr. Gary Yeboah, Nolan ultimately decides to opt for an experimental procedure that might help him get his memory back by enlisting the help of Dr. Brooks, a neurologist at the hospital he was first brought to after the accident. After using hypnosis, Dr. Brooks explores Nolan's mind and deems him a suitable subject for her "black box" treatment, saying that together they can try to regain his memory.

Dr. Brooks reveals that Thomas died some time previously, but before he died she had mapped out his consciousness and uploaded it to the black box, so she could download his consciousness into the suitable host when one arrived. Thomas leaves, pretending to still be a Nolan, but is struggling with this new knowledge. Eventually, he leaves Ava with Dr. Yeboah, as he says he no longer trusts himself. Thomas seeks out his wife, and tries to explain to her that he is back, but finds that she has erased all traces of him, and does not want him in her life.

It appears that Thomas has let go of his hold on Nolan, as we see Nolan, Ava, and Dr. Yeboah leave, but Thomas's exact fate is left unknown. Dr. Brooks is then shown repairing the black box and trying to run Thomas's mapped consciousness, which seems to work, as she looks into the black box, says his name, and smiles.

The use of the black box model in psychology can be traced to B.F. Skinner, father of the school of behaviorism. Skinner argued that psychologists should study the brain's responses, not its processes.

The user of the black box can understand the results but cannot see the logic behind them. When machine learning techniques are used in the model's construction, the inputs are in fact too complex for a human brain to interpret.

These very rare, one of a kind, black skinny jeans were custom printed with Pushead's "Sad But True" artwork on the front and back featuring yellow-green skull illustrations, Metallica logo, and snakes.

TIM: Okay, I'll do that. Okay, let me do it one more time. Three, two, one. This is Tim Howard, and today on Radiolab we've been talking about black boxes. And the next story started with a radio piece that I heard at the Third Coast International Audio Festival. There were a lot of incredible stories, but there was this one called Keep Them Guessing that I just loved and I couldn't get it out of my head. So I sat Jad and Robert down in our little black box of a studio.

MOLLY: It was like a Dr. Seuss-ian land of butterflies, but I was there to look at the moment right before they become butterflies, which remains one of the most mysterious black boxes in nature. What I'm talking about is something called ...

There are usually many unanswered questions when a plane goes down. That's why investigators turn to the airplane's flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR), also known as "black boxes," for answers. Following any airplane accident in the U.S., safety investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) immediately begin searching for the aircraft's black boxes.

Answers, unfortunately, don't always come fast though. It took investigators nearly two years to find the black box from Air France Flight 447, 447 which crashed on June 1, 2009, into the South Atlantic. The box had not only survived impact, but also being submerged under nearly 13,000 feet of salty, corrosive seawater. In the end, the data proved that pilot error had contributed to a stall that eventually caused the crash.

These recording devices, which cost between $10,000 and $15,000 each, reveal details of the events immediately preceding the accident. In this article, we will look at the two types of black boxes, how they survive crashes, and how they are retrieved and analyzed.

The widespread use of aviation recorders didn't begin until the post-World War II era. Since then, the recording medium of black boxes has evolved in order to log much more information about an aircraft's operation.

Older black boxes used magnetic tape, a technology that was first introduced in the 1960s. Magnetic tape works like any tape recorder. The Mylar tape is pulled across an electromagnetic head, which leaves a bit of data on the tape. These days, black boxes use solid-state memory boards, which came along in the 1990s.

Whether the system is an older version or fully modern, all of the data collected by the airplane's sensors is sent to the flight-data acquisition unit (FDAU) at the front of the aircraft. This device often is found in the electronic equipment bay under the cockpit. The flight-data acquisition unit is the middle manager of the entire data-recording process. It takes the information from the sensors and sends it on to the black boxes.

Both black boxes are powered by one of two power generators that draw their power from the plane's engines. One generator is a 28-volt DC power source, and the other is a 115-volt, 400-hertz (Hz) AC power source.

These hardened housings are incredibly important. Without adequate protection, all of the flight data would be destroyed. So to make sure that data stays safe, engineers attack their black boxes with full fury to see if their products can withstand extreme abuse.

Although they are called "black boxes," aviation recorders are actually painted bright orange. This distinct color, along with the strips of reflective tape attached to the recorders' exteriors, help investigators locate the black boxes following an accident. These are especially helpful when a plane lands in the water. There are two possible origins of the term black box: Some believe it's because early recorders were painted black, while others think it refers to the charring that occurs in post-accident fires.

In addition to the paint and reflective tape, black boxes are equipped with an underwater locator beacon (ULB). If you look at the picture of a black box, you will almost always see a small, cylindrical object attached to one end of the device. While it doubles as a carrying handle, this cylinder is actually a beacon.

In the U.S. when investigators locate a black box, it's transported to the computer labs at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Special care is taken in transporting these devices in order to avoid any further damage to the recording medium. In cases of water accidents, recorders are placed in a cooler of water to keep them from drying out. 041b061a72


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