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A computing executive advocated a national computer network that would link the nation's universities in a speech on campus yesterday. "We are aiming for a method of unifying scholarship on a wide basis," he told an audience of over 70 people. Roberts stressed that the system proposed by his company features user-friendly software. With the nation's leading research institutions connected, information could be exchanged in unprecedented volume, he said. "Penn certainly has the potential to be in the middle of all the things going on," Roberts added. But during his 45-minute lecture, he also shed light on the financial and political problems that the system faces before implementation. One concern expressed by legislators is the network's potential susceptability to computer viruses. In November 1988, a Cornell graduate student designed a "Worm" program that crippled over 6000 computers nationwide. But Roberts and his company insist that current legal and system protective measures are enough to prevent such a catastrophe. Students in the audience said they were very pleased with the lecture and presentation. "I didn't realize that the industry and government were so connected," Engineering Ph.D. candidate Ian Fox said. "I got to see what [my] world will be like." Faculty members also lauded Robert's speech. Martin Prang, who heads the computer center in the Medical School, said that a network would be a "positive area of development," adding that small schools may have information or material that the University did not.

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