In general, bootstrapping usually refers to a self-starting process
that is supposed to proceed without external input. In computer
technology the term (usually shortened to booting) usually refers to
the process of loading the basic software into the memory of a
computer after power-on or general reset, especially the operating
system which will then take care of loading other software as needed.
The term appears to have originated in the early 19th-century United
States (particularly in the phrase "pull oneself over a fence by one's
bootstraps") to mean an absurdly impossible action, an
2.1.1 Software loading and execution
2.1.2 Software development
2.1.5 Overlay networks
2.1.6 Discrete event simulation
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
2.7.1 Quantum theory
2.7.2 Magnetically confined fusion plasmas
2.7.3 Inertially confined fusion plasmas
2.9 Electric power grid
2.10 Cellular networks
3 See also
5 External links
A pair of boots with one bootstrap visible
Tall boots may have a tab, loop or handle at the top known as a
bootstrap, allowing one to use fingers or a boot hook tool to help
pulling the boots on. The saying "to pull oneself up by one's
bootstraps" was already in use during the 19th century as an
example of an impossible task. The idiom dates at least to 1834, when
it appeared in the Workingman's Advocate: "It is conjectured that Mr.
Murphee will now be enabled to hand himself over the Cumberland river
or a barn yard fence by the straps of his boots." In 1860 it
appeared in a comment on philosophy of mind: "The attempt of the mind
to analyze itself [is] an effort analogous to one who would lift
himself by his own bootstraps." Bootstrap as a metaphor, meaning to
better oneself by one's own unaided efforts, was in use in 1922.
This metaphor spawned additional metaphors for a series of
self-sustaining processes that proceed without external help.
Baron Munchausen pulls himself and his horse out of a swamp by his
The term is sometimes attributed to a story in Rudolf Erich Raspe's
The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen, but in that story Baron
Munchausen pulls himself (and his horse) out of a swamp by his hair
(specifically, his pigtail), not by his bootstraps – and no
explicit reference to bootstraps has been found elsewhere in the
various versions of the Munchausen tales.
Software loading and execution
Booting and Reboot (computing)
Booting is the process of starting a computer, specifically with
regard to starting its software. The process involves a chain of
stages, in which at each stage a smaller, simpler program loads and
then executes the larger, more complicated program of the next stage.
It is in this sense that the computer "pulls itself up by its
bootstraps", i.e. it improves itself by its own efforts.
Booting is a
chain of events that starts with execution of hardware-based
procedures and may then hand-off to firmware and software which is
loaded into main memory.
Booting often involves processes such as
performing self-tests, loading configuration settings, loading a BIOS,
resident monitors, a hypervisor, an operating system, or utility
The computer term bootstrap began as a metaphor in the 1950s. In
computers, pressing a bootstrap button caused a hardwired program to
read a bootstrap program from an input unit. The computer would then
execute the bootstrap program, which caused it to read more program
instructions. It became a self-sustaining process that proceeded
without external help from manually entered instructions. As a
computing term, bootstrap has been used since at least 1953.
Bootstrapping can also refer to the development of successively more
complex, faster 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 language and so on, until one
can have a graphical IDE and an extremely high-level programming
Historically, bootstrapping also refers to an early technique for
computer program development on new hardware. The technique described
in this paragraph has been replaced by the use of a cross compiler
executed by a pre-existing computer.
Bootstrapping in program
development began during the 1950s when each program was constructed
on paper in decimal code or in binary code, bit by bit (1s and 0s),
because there was no high-level computer language, no compiler, no
assembler, and no linker. A tiny assembler program was hand-coded for
a new computer (for example the IBM 650) which converted a few
instructions into binary or decimal code: A1. This simple assembler
program was then rewritten in its just-defined assembly language but
with extensions that would enable the use of some additional mnemonics
for more complex operation codes. The enhanced assembler's source
program was then assembled by its predecessor's executable (A1) into
binary or decimal code to give A2, and the cycle repeated (now with
those enhancements available), until the entire instruction set was
coded, branch addresses were automatically calculated, and other
conveniences (such as conditional assembly, macros, optimisations,
etc.) established. This was how the early assembly program SOAP
(Symbolic Optimal Assembly Program) was developed. Compilers, linkers,
loaders, and utilities were then coded in assembly language, further
continuing the bootstrapping process of developing complex software
systems by using simpler software.
The term was also championed by
Doug Engelbart to refer to his belief
that organizations could better evolve by improving the process they
use for improvement (thus obtaining a compounding effect over time).
His SRI team that developed the NLS hypertext system applied this
strategy by using the tool they had developed to improve the tool.
The development of compilers for new programming languages first
developed in an existing language but then rewritten in the new
language and compiled by itself, is another example of the
bootstrapping notion. Using an existing language to bootstrap a new
language is one way to solve the "chicken or the egg" causality
Main article: Installation (computer programs)
During the installation of computer programs it is sometimes necessary
to update the installer or package manager itself. The common pattern
for this is to use a small executable bootstrapper file (e.g.
setup.exe) which updates the installer and starts the real
installation after the update. Sometimes the bootstrapper also
installs other prerequisites for the software during the bootstrapping
A bootstrapping node, also known as a rendezvous host, is a node in
an overlay network that provides initial configuration information to
newly joining nodes so that they may successfully join the overlay
Discrete event simulation
Main article: Discrete event simulation
A type of computer simulation called discrete event simulation
represents the operation of a system as a chronological sequence of
events. A technique called bootstrapping the simulation model is used,
which bootstraps initial data points using a pseudorandom number
generator to schedule an initial set of pending events, which schedule
additional events, and with time, the distribution of event times
approaches its steady state—the bootstrapping behavior is
overwhelmed by steady-state behavior.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Bootstrap aggregating and Intelligence explosion
Bootstrapping is a technique used to iteratively improve a
classifier's performance. Seed AI is a hypothesized type of artificial
intelligence capable of recursive self-improvement. Having improved
itself, it would become better at improving itself, potentially
leading to an exponential increase in intelligence. No such AI is
known to exist, but it remains an active field of research.
Seed AI is a significant part of some theories about the technological
singularity: proponents believe that the development of seed AI will
rapidly yield ever-smarter intelligence (via bootstrapping) and thus a
new era.
Bootstrapping (statistics) and Bootstrapping
Bootstrapping is a resampling technique used to obtain estimates of
Bootstrapping in business means starting a business without external
help or capital. Such startups fund the development of their company
through internal cash flow and are cautious with their expenses.
Generally at the start of a venture, a small amount of money will be
set aside for the bootstrap process.
Bootstrapping can also be a
supplement for econometric models.
Bootstrapping was also expanded
upon in the book Bootstrap Business by Richard Christiansen, the
Harvard Business Review article The Art of
Bootstrapping and the
follow-up book The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses by Amar
Startups can grow by reinvesting profits in its own growth if
bootstrapping costs are low and return on investment is high. This
financing approach allows owners to maintain control of their business
and forces them to spend with discipline. In addition,
bootstrapping allows startups to focus on customers rather than
investors, thereby increasing the likelihood of creating a profitable
Leveraged buyouts, or highly leveraged or "bootstrap" transactions,
occur when an investor acquires a controlling interest in a company's
equity and where a significant percentage of the purchase price is
financed through leverage, i.e., borrowing.
Bootstrapping in finance refers to the method to create the spot rate
Operation Bootstrap (Operación Manos a la Obra) refers to the
ambitious projects that industrialized
Puerto Rico in the mid-20th
Richard Dawkins in his book River Out of Eden used the computer
bootstrapping concept to explain how biological cells differentiate:
"Different cells receive different combinations of chemicals, which
switch on different combinations of genes, and some genes work to
switch other genes on or off. And so the bootstrapping continues,
until we have the full repertoire of different kinds of cells."
Bootstrapping analysis gives a way to judge the strength of support
for clades on phylogenetic trees. A number is written by a node, which
reflects the percentage of bootstrap trees which also resolve the
clade at the endpoints of that branch.
Bootstrapping is a rule preventing the admission of hearsay evidence
in conspiracy cases.
Bootstrapping is a theory of language acquisition.
Bootstrap model and Conformal bootstrap
Bootstrapping is using very general consistency criteria to determine
the form of a quantum theory from some assumptions on the spectrum of
particles or operators.
Magnetically confined fusion plasmas
In tokamak fusion devices, bootstrapping refers to the process in
which a bootstrap current is self-generated by the plasma, which
reduces or eliminates the need for an external current driver.
Maximising the bootstrap current is a major goal of advanced tokamak
Inertially confined fusion plasmas
Bootstrapping in inertial confinement fusion refers to the alpha
particles produced in the fusion reaction providing further heating to
the plasma. This heating leads to ignition and an overall energy gain.
Bootstrapping is a form of positive feedback in analog circuit design.
Electric power grid
Main article: Black start
An electric power grid is almost never brought down intentionally.
Generators and power stations are started and shut down as necessary.
A typical power station requires power for start up prior to being
able to generate power. This power is obtained from the grid, so if
the entire grid is down these stations cannot be started.
Therefore, to get a grid started, there must be at least a small
number of power stations that can start entirely on their own. A black
start is the process of restoring a power station to operation without
relying on external power. In the absence of grid power, one or more
black starts are used to bootstrap the grid.
Bootstrapping Server Function
Bootstrapping Server Function and Generic Bootstrapping
Bootstrapping Server Function
Bootstrapping Server Function (BSF) is an intermediary element in
cellular networks which provides application independent functions for
mutual authentication of user equipment and servers unknown to each
other and for 'bootstrapping' the exchange of secret session keys
afterwards. The term 'bootstrapping' is related to building a security
relation with a previously unknown device first and to allow
installing security elements (keys) in the device and the BSF
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A media bootstrap is the process whereby a story or meme is
deliberately (but artificially) produced by self and peer-referential
journalism, originally within a tight circle of media content
originators, often commencing with stories written within the same
media organization. This story is then expanded into a general media
"accepted wisdom" with the aim of having it accepted as self-evident
"common knowledge" by the reading, listening and viewing publics. The
key feature of a media bootstrap is that as little hard, verifiable,
external evidence as possible is used to support the story, preference
being given to the citation (often unattributed) of other media
stories, i.e. "journalists interviewing journalists".
Because the campaign is usually originated and at least initially
concocted internally by a media organization with a particular agenda
in mind, within a closed loop of reportage and opinionation, the
campaign is said to have "pulled itself up by its own bootstraps".
A bootstrap campaign should be distinguished from a genuine news story
of genuine interest, such as a natural disaster that kills thousands,
or the death of a respected public figure. It is legitimate for these
stories to be given coverage across all media platforms. What
distinguishes a bootstrap from a real story is the contrived and
organized manner in which the bootstrap appears to come out of
nowhere. A bootstrap commonly claims to be tapping a hitherto
unrecognized phenomenon within society.
As self-levitating by pulling on one's bootstraps is physically
impossible, this is often used by the bootstrappers themselves to deny
the possibility that the bootstrap campaign is indeed concocted and
artificial. They assert that it has arisen via a groundswell of public
opinion. Media campaigns that are openly admitted as concocted (e.g. a
public service campaign titled "Let's Clean Up Our City") are usually
ignored by other media organizations for reasons related to
competition. On the other hand, the true bootstrap welcomes the
participation of other media organizations, indeed encourages it, as
this participation gains the bootstrap notoriety and, most
Horatio Alger myth
Robert A. Heinlein's short sci-fi story By His Bootstraps
The Bootstrap Alliance, an institute founded by Douglas Engelbart
^ World Wide Words: Boot, Michael Quinion
^ "bootstraps--speculation/questions" (Mailing list). 2005-08-28.
Archived from the original on 2009-01-29.
^ a b "figurative 'bootstraps'" (Mailing list). 2005-08-11.
^ a b Jan Freeman, Bootstraps and Baron Munchausen, Boston.com,
January 27, 2009
^ Jan Freeman, The unkindliest cut, Boston.com, January 25, 2009
^ Ulysses cited in the Oxford English Dictionary
^ Phrase Finder
^ Buchholz, Werner (1953). "The System Design of the IBM Type 701
Computer". Proceedings of the I.R.E. 41 (10): 1273.
^ Francis, Paul (2000-04-02). "Yoid: Extending the Internet Multicast
Architecture" (PDF). www.aciri.org. Retrieved 2008-12-24.
^ Traversat; et al. (2006-06-20). "US Patent 7,065,579". Retrieved
^ Saxena; et al. (2003). "Admission Control in Peer-to-Peer: Design
and Performance Evaluation" (PDF). In ACM Workshop on Security of Ad
Hoc and Sensor Networks (SASN) 2003. Retrieved 2008-12-24.
^ The Art of the Bootstrap, Venture Beat
^ J. Scott Armstrong (2001). "Judgmental Bootstrapping: Inferring
Experts= Rules for Forecasting" (PDF). Principles of Forecasting: A
Handbook for Researchers and Practitioners. Kluwer Academic
Bootstrapping in Entrepreneurship
^ Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden, pages 23-25, 1995 (paper)
^ Bradley Efron; Elizabeth Halloran & Susan Holmes (1996).
"Bootstrap confidence levels for phylogenetic trees" (PDF). PNAS.
93 (23). doi:10.1073/pnas.93.23.13429. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
Look up bootstrapping, bootstrap, or pull oneself up by one's
bootstraps in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Dictionary.com entries for Bootstrap
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A video talk by Douglas Engelbart on
Bootstrapping on YouTube
Engelbart Institute on Bootstrappin