Wednesday, October 27, 2010

your data is your program.

Much more often, strategic breakthrough will come from redoing the representation of the data or tables. This is where the heart of a program lies. Show me your flowcharts and conceal your tables, and I shall continue to be mystified. Show me your tables, and I won't usually need your flowchargs; they'll be obvious.
--The Mythical Man-Month

In theory, I read The Mythical Man-Month almost 20 years ago for CS1. At the time, his historical examples seemed so dated, talking about monthy rental of kilobytes of ram and OS360 and PDP8 and PDP11 design. What could that teach me about cranking out modern C code?

As I reread it know, I realize how timeless are his examples of software as engineering discipline. Problems we still haven't solved -- how to maintain the vision of a small number of minds over a project that requires many, many hands.

I wish I could have understood his words back then, but wisdom is not so easily gained.

Experience is a dear teacher, but fools will learn at no other.
-- Benjamin Franklin

Dost thov love life? Then do not sqvander time
[ for that is what life is made of ]
-- Benjamin Franklin, as inscribed in Blacker Hovse

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