“Buran” and the programming language DRAGON [English translation on DRAKON]

“Buran” and the programming language DRAGON

Have you ever heard of a programming language DRAGON? We do not. But our reader says that the dragon had already declared a program of the course of computer science in higher education.

Author: Vladimir Parondzhanov | Section: Readitorial | Date: April 13, 2009

Have you ever heard of a programming language DRAGON? We do not. But our reader says that the dragon had already declared a program of the course of computer science in higher education. Spelling and punctuation of the author saved. - Approx. Ed.

In 1976, the Soviet Union in secrecy began to develop a Space Shuttle Buran project “Buran-Energia”. It was an ambitious project. In its creation took part in 86 ministries and departments and enterprises of the USSR in 1286 (about 2.5 million).

His first and only space flight “Buran” made November 15, 1988. Orbiter was launched c Baikonur Cosmodrome using rocket “Energy”. After the flyby of Earth Buran made a landing on the airfield a specially equipped “Jubilee” at Baikonur. The flight went without a crew, a fully automatic mode. In contrast to the US Space Shuttle, which can land only on manual operation. In connection with the collapse of the USSR and the difficulties of the transition period in 1990, work on the program “Energy-Buran” were suspended, and in 1993 the program permanently closed.

The development of programming languages ​​for Burana

In developing Burana problem of development and mining software was one of the most difficult. Initially it was assumed that the solution would require several thousand programmers. Please note that our programmers are used to writing programs in assembly language, because the amount of memory on-board computer “Beads-4″ at that time was very limited.

The materials of the Institute of Applied Mathematics. MV Keldysh about the challenges and accomplishments of the period referred to as:

“In 1983, the space shuttle Buran developers turned to the Institute [applied mathematics] to help in the development of on-board software and ground software testing of the ship. According to their estimates for the work required several thousand programmers. After studying the problem, it was decided to develop a problem-oriented languages ​​based on the terms, concepts and form of control algorithms and testing of the ship used by developers. The implementation of these languages ​​helped to attract to the creation of on-board and test the software developers themselves of the ship – the authors of control algorithms and testing. Working languages ​​and associated tools has made ​​little a team of highly qualified programmers of the Institute of Applied Mathematics, in an extremely short period of time. For the development of onboard software was created specialized language PROL2 real time and based on its automation system programming and debugging SAPO PROL2 … For software development ground testing of the ship was created problem-oriented language dipole and based on its automation system programming and debugging “…

Thus, to solve the problem of shortage of programmers to create Burana at our request, the Institute of Applied Mathematics of Russian language created two:

  • PROL2 language real time to develop on-board integrated programs (author Victor Kryukov)
  • problem-oriented programming language for ground tests dipole (author Vladimir Lutsikovich)

In addition, the center Pilyuginskom led by Konstantin Fedorov was developed for modeling language LAX. Thus, there are three new languages: PROL2, dipoles and LAX.

Language DRAGON was born in the cradle of space

Although the language is successfully solve tasks, it became clear that specialization prevents the cause of languages. This idea was expressed in 1986 by the chief of department of complex Yuri Trunov (later General Designer and Director General Pilyuginskogo center). Trunov summoned the head of the laboratory of the complex development of the computer system Burana Vladimir Parondzhanova and commissioned him to create a universal language, capable of replacing the above three.However Parondzhanov decided to put the problem differently. He believed that the new language must not only meet the practical needs of space technology, but also to solve an extremely wide range of tasks that go far beyond traditional programming.

Therefore, when creating a language DRAGON were nominated unusual for programmers, mathematicians, and “techies” humanitarian requirements.
1. To improve the working of the human mind.
2. To propose effective means to describe the structure of human activity.
3. Provide a person such language tools that dramatically simplify the perception of complex procedural issues and communication with colleagues, doing incomprehensible comprehensible and thus literally make people think clearly, deeply and productively. In these circumstances, the likelihood of mistakes, miscalculations and mistakes inevitably falls, and productivity increases.
4. Radically facilitate intersectoral and interdisciplinary communication between representatives of different organizations, agencies, departments, laboratories, scientific schools and professions.
5. Eliminate or reduce the barriers of misunderstanding between workers of different specialties (physicians and physicists, mathematicians and designers, biologists and economists, and so on. D.), As well as programmers and those who are allergic to any programming.
6. To achieve a radical improvement of software quality by the criterion of “comprehensibility of algorithms and programs.”

The development of language and DRAGON software

Development of a new language and programming system began in 1986. After 11 years on the basis of the Dragon was built automated technology of designing algorithms and programs (CASE-technology) called “graph-phlox.”

All the work was completed by 1996. Then the language of dragons and graph-system phlox came into operation. With them were the algorithms and programs dorazgonnogo module spacecraft international project Sea Launch. In total, the development and testing of software and other elements of the management system took three years. By 1999, all the works were completed. The system was ready to start.

The first launch of the missile complex “Sea Launch” held on March 28, 1999. It occurred at 5:00. 30 min. Moscow Time (March 27, 1999 at 18 h. 30 min. PST) co Launch Platform “Odyssey” in the Pacific Ocean near the islands of Kiribati.

This launch was a baptism of fire dragon and language technologies create programs “Graphite-Phlox.” He has convincingly demonstrated its effectiveness and reliability.Since then, the program Sea Launch conducted 29 missile launches. The last launch took place on September 24, 2008. Language DRAGON has been used successfully in many other space programs:

  • upper stage spacecraft “Frigate”;
  • upgraded carrier rocket “Proton-M”;
  • dorazgonny module spacecraft DM-SL-B (Project “Starting in the desert,” or “Land Launch”) and others.

Since the results of the use of the Dragon were consistently high, management Pilyuginskogo center decided to use Dragon technology in all future projects.

Programming without programming

DRAGON – a very easy language. So easy that many developing computer programs for space rockets in practice are not programmers, and engineers – on the principle of “programming without programmers.” The reason for not programmers simple. When solving practical applications engineers thoroughly proficient and know very well the material formulation of the problem. In contrast, the programmers do not know, “the physics of the process” and become “superfluous men”, without which, in some cases (but not always) it is possible to do.

This can significantly reduce costs, improve the performance of “costs – the result,” to accelerate the work. And to get rid of errors “broken telephone” caused by mutual misunderstandings between programmers and engineers.

Secrets of space development – national economy

DRAGON universal. It can be used to visualize and fast algorithm development, not only in “space,” but in “earthly” human activities. The practical usefulness of the Dragon has been praised. It can be assumed that the language DRAGON widely distributed in various areas, including in the education system. At the time, Niklaus Wirth, author Pascal, decided that Pascal should be the first language with which to begin the study program. This view has become almost universally accepted.

At that time, the program written in plain text. For a text Pascal programming, indeed, it was the best language learning.

However, today the situation has changed. The future belongs to ergonomic language.In these circumstances, the grandfather Pascal lost its former glory wonderful educational tool.

Today, this role goes to the visual language of dragons. DRAGON It becomes the most simple, easy, convenient, and logically consistent language, which must begin with the study of algorithms and programming.

Dragon in the education system

In 1996, the State Committee on Higher Education of the Russian Federation has included the study of language in the syllabus DRAGON informatics higher education.This fact is reflected in a document called the State Committee:

Currently it is prepared textbooks for middle and high school. Already published the first of them – the game tutorial for children of secondary school age.


Parondzhanov VD How to improve the work of the mind: Algorithms without programming – it’s easy! M .: Delo, 2001. – 360s. This book is given the most complete description of the language of dragons.

Parondzhanov VD Language DRAGON. Brief description. In this article briefly outlines the most important ideas of the language of dragons.

The “visual language of Dragons” at the forum site OberoneCore.

Here you can download the program Dragon Editor

Parondzhanov VD Why sage like a monkey or paradoxical encyclopedia of contemporary wisdom. M .: Ripol Klassik, 2007. 1154s. - S. 295-434. Given the popular exposition of the language of dragons.

Parondzhanov VD Entertaining science. M .: Bustard, 2007. 192s. 240 illustrations.Given a simplified summary DRAGON language for students grades 5-9.

Ya Bezel Is it possible to improve the work of the mind? A new look at the problem.Reflections on a new book // Bulletin of the Russian Academy of Sciences, vol 73, № 4, 2003, pp 363-365.

Review of the book “How Parondzhanov VD improve mind: Algorithms without programming – it’s easy! M .: Case 2001″.

Update. Here you can see the 45-minute film about the Buran “History of the Russian Space Shuttle”

Wiki-encyclopedia OberonCore “visual language of the Dragon.”

Vladimir Parondzhanov
Senior Researcher Scientific-Production Center of Automatics and Instrument (Federal Space Agency)


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