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Is software engineering, math, science, or what?

30 replies on 3 pages. Most recent reply: Jan 3, 2011 12:32 AM by sfhdweb sfhdweb

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John D. Mitchell

Posts: 244
Nickname: johnm
Registered: Apr, 2003

Direct (but not immediate) Costs Posted: Mar 28, 2005 5:54 PM
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> Yet there are still domains where rigor remains critical
> (bridge building, massively scalable systems, embedded
> software, transportation control).

But, isn't part of the problem that we don't look beyond the immediate price tag to all of the true costs of software? For example, how much does losing a document cost users each year because their word processor doesn't give a crap about their data ("because it's not 'critical'")?

I'm certainly biased but I find the example in the discussion of Anatomy of Insanity? (http://www.artima.com/forums/threaded.jsp?forum=106&thread=81574) to be priceless.

Haven't we, as both users and developers, learned our lessons yet?

Todd Blanchard

Posts: 316
Nickname: tblanchard
Registered: May, 2003

Re: Direct (but not immediate) Costs Posted: Mar 28, 2005 10:02 PM
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> But, isn't part of the problem that we don't look beyond
> the immediate price tag to all of the true costs of
> software?
...
> Haven't we, as both users and developers, learned our
> lessons yet?

Obviously not. Mass insanity prevails. At least from where I sit. But don't look at me. I no longer program for a living (moved into project management) primarily because of the mass insanity. C++ and Java and other intentionally limited machine oriented languages of that ilk have sucked every bit of fun out of software development. So I quit because I think you are all mad and I don't want to play with madmen.

I still program. Just not for money. I write things in Squeak (Smalltalk) and Objective C (Macintosh). Smalltalk is the language you are all wishing for. I dare say it is the first language intentionally developed to be convenient for the person rather than the machine. This was probably its downfall because it was too advanced for the hardware when it was first introduced but its a long way from dead.

Nearly all of the recent innovations in software development have originated from the Smalltalk community. Among them are TDD, XP, AOP (which is more or less trivial in Smalltalk to implement so it hasn't been elevated to a whole new thing) and Traits. The language is completely written in itself which makes in amenable to the development of new kinds of language constructs like continuations (http:://seaside.st), prototype based development (think Self), and simulation (eToys).

I see talk about inventing new languages, but I think mining our past for good ideas is likely more fertile ground and Smalltalk certainly deserves a second look.

Joe

Posts: 24
Nickname: larson
Registered: Nov, 2004

Re: Direct (but not immediate) Costs Posted: Mar 29, 2005 2:00 AM
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> I no longer program for a living (moved into project >management) primarily because of the mass insanity. C++ and >Java and other intentionally limited machine oriented >languages of that ilk have sucked every bit of fun out of >software development. So I quit because I think you are all >mad and I don't want to play with madmen.

We all agree that project management has nothing to do with engineering, math or science :)

Vincent O'Sullivan

Posts: 724
Nickname: vincent
Registered: Nov, 2002

Re: Direct (but not immediate) Costs Posted: Mar 29, 2005 5:25 AM
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> > I no longer program for a living (moved into project
> >management) primarily because of the mass insanity. C++
> and >Java and other intentionally limited machine oriented
> >languages of that ilk have sucked every bit of fun out of
> >software development. So I quit because I think you are
> all >mad and I don't want to play with madmen.
>
> We all agree that project management has nothing to do
> with engineering, math or science :)

Don't knock project managers. They're critical to getting those all-important time sheets filled in at the end of the week. And how else would you get your leave signed off?

Maarten Hazewinkel

Posts: 32
Nickname: terkans
Registered: Jan, 2005

Re: Direct (but not immediate) Costs Posted: Mar 29, 2005 6:21 AM
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> Don't knock project managers. They're critical to getting
> those all-important time sheets filled in at the end of
> the week. And how else would you get your leave signed
> off?

Really good project managers are truly priceless assets. They're also only slightly more common than unicorns. I can recall only one person in my own experience who might fit the category.

Unfortunatly, bad ones seem to be about as common as cockroaches, and share the characteristic that it might be worth paying up just to be rid of them.

Maarten Hazewinkel

Posts: 32
Nickname: terkans
Registered: Jan, 2005

Re: Direct (but not immediate) Costs Posted: Mar 29, 2005 6:28 AM
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> I'm certainly biased but I find the example in the
> discussion of Anatomy of Insanity?
> (http://www.artima.com/forums/threaded.jsp?forum=106&thread=81574)
> to be priceless.

It actually seems to be at:
http://www.artima.com/forums/flat.jsp?forum=106&thread=69024

John D. Mitchell

Posts: 244
Nickname: johnm
Registered: Apr, 2003

Anatomy of Insanity link Posted: Mar 29, 2005 1:32 PM
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> It actually seems to be at:
> http://www.artima.com/forums/flat.jsp?forum=106&thread=6902

Doh! Yes, indeed. Thanks for the fix.

John D. Mitchell

Posts: 244
Nickname: johnm
Registered: Apr, 2003

Project mismanagement Posted: Mar 29, 2005 1:36 PM
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> We all agree that project management has nothing to do
> with engineering, math or science :)

Indeed. :-) It's mostly about upselling, blame management, and the insidious Belief of Control (http://weblogs.java.net/blog/johnm/archive/2005/03/belief_of_contr.html).

John D. Mitchell

Posts: 244
Nickname: johnm
Registered: Apr, 2003

What's old is new again Posted: Mar 29, 2005 1:40 PM
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> I see talk about inventing new languages, but I think
> mining our past for good ideas is likely more fertile
> ground and Smalltalk certainly deserves a second look.

Indeed, there's lots that we can learn by looking at powerful stalwarts such as Smalltalk and Lisp. I wish more programmers would learn both of those languages.

Joe

Posts: 24
Nickname: larson
Registered: Nov, 2004

Re: What's old is new again Posted: Mar 30, 2005 12:11 AM
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> > I see talk about inventing new languages, but I think
> > mining our past for good ideas is likely more fertile
> > ground and Smalltalk certainly deserves a second look.
>
> Indeed, there's lots that we can learn by looking at
> powerful stalwarts such as Smalltalk and Lisp. I wish
> more programmers would learn both of those languages.

I can't really see Smalltalk coming back. Is there any example of a "comeback" of a programming language? I can't think of one.

John D. Mitchell

Posts: 244
Nickname: johnm
Registered: Apr, 2003

Re: What's old is new again Posted: Mar 30, 2005 12:31 AM
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> > Indeed, there's lots that we can learn by looking at
> > powerful stalwarts such as Smalltalk and Lisp. I wish
> > more programmers would learn both of those languages.
>
> I can't really see Smalltalk coming back. Is there any
> example of a "comeback" of a programming language? I can't
> think of one.

Well, I did say "learn" those languages, not "use" them. :-? :-)

The languages themselves don't make huge comebacks but the ideas they embody certainly do get recycled into the new generations of languages. For example, look at all of the ideas from those older languages getting used in Python, Ruby, etc.

Todd Blanchard

Posts: 316
Nickname: tblanchard
Registered: May, 2003

Re: What's old is new again Posted: Mar 30, 2005 1:42 PM
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>I can't really see Smalltalk coming back.

Why not? This industry is behaves like the cast members of Gilligan's Island. We come up with some new big idea, throw it at the wall, and when it doesn't succeed, do we analyze the causes of the failure and modify our approach?

No, of course not. We start over every bleedin' time.

Rather than examine and refine an approach, we have to have a completely new half baked idea every episode. No wonder we go round and round and never get off the island.

You can't be seen coding in that, darling, it is a hobo suit.

Joe

Posts: 24
Nickname: larson
Registered: Nov, 2004

Re: What's old is new again Posted: Mar 30, 2005 6:37 PM
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> You can't be seen coding in that, darling, it is a hobo
> suit.

It was just an observation (that I haven't seen a programming language "comeback"). I am totally open to it, if it happens.

I just think it's rather a matter of having a time window for technologies. There are a lot of examples of technologies that were either to early or to late: Laserdisc and DVD is a classic. Although the laserdisc is not too different from a DVD it never made it. 15 years later with some modification the same thing is reborn as DVD and a huge success. The same happend with the Apple Newton and Palm Organizers, there are heaps of examples.

I think that's not too different from what's happening with programming languages.

Todd Blanchard

Posts: 316
Nickname: tblanchard
Registered: May, 2003

You make my point Posted: Mar 31, 2005 5:09 AM
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>Although the laserdisc is not too different from a DVD it never made it.

Of course laserdisc made it. DVD *is* laserdisc with minor evolution. At least when viewed from the user's perspective. Its just movies on shiny optical disks. The only difference is that the disks are smaller because the technology got better.

Smalltalk hasn't been standing still either. Smalltalk today is a bit different from Smalltalk-80. It runs faster, there are improved packaging technologies for building runtimes, and the hardware has caught up with the language so that it now takes up much less space (relatively speaking) and runs at speeds more or less indistinguishable from "traditional compiled" languages.

Stuff doesn't get revisited because there's not upside for the hypesters that drive the adoption of technology. They can't claim to own it. Frankly, I never listen to the hypesters anyhow, they are usually wrong and they benefit from the churn.

Maya Ysf

Posts: 1
Nickname: simsim
Registered: Aug, 2007

Re: Is software engineering, math, science, or what? Posted: Aug 2, 2007 12:51 AM
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I am a softwre engineering student and i have this question pls can any body help and give me the idea of some solutions?
the question is:
You are the project manager in charge of development of a healthcare management infirmation system to be delivered to the customer within 9 months. Three months later, you realized that the project costs would be over budget and the system would not be able to meet the delivery date. What are the possible and immediate actions that you could take to ensure costs within budget and to deliver the system on time?

thanks

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