Author Archives: Graham

About Graham

I make it faster and easier for you to create high-quality code.

Non-standard components

Another day, another exercise from Software: A Technical History… A software engineering project might include both standard and nonstandard engineering components. Give an example of a software engineering project where this would be appropriate. Kim W. Tracy, Software: A Technical History (p. … Continue reading

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Specific physical phenomena

Continuing the theme of exploring the exercises in Software: A Technical History: Give an example of a specific physical phenomenon that software dependson in order to run. Can a different physical phenomenon be used? If so, giveanother example phenomenon. If … Continue reading

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Related methods and tools

The book Software: A Technical History has plenty of exercises and projects at the end of each chapter, to get readers thinking about software and its history and to motivate additional research. For example, here’s exercise 1 (of 27 exercises … Continue reading

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YX problem

Software people are always all up in the XY problem: someone asks about how to do X when what they’re really trying to solve is Y. I find the YX problem much more frustrating: where software people decide that they … Continue reading

Posted in learning | 2 Comments

Floating point numbers aren’t weird

When people say “floating point numbers are weird”, they typically mean that the IEEE 754 floating point representation for numbers doesn’t meet their needs, or maybe that it meets their needs but it is surprising in its behaviour because it … Continue reading

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Still no silver bullet?

In his 1986 article No Silver Bullet—Essence and Accident in Software Engineering, Fred Brooks suggests that there’ll never be a single tool, technique, or fad that realises an order-of-magnitude improvement in software engineering productivity. His reason is simple: if there … Continue reading

Posted in design, software-engineering | 3 Comments

On whiteboard coding

Another day in which someone lamented to me the demeaning nature of the interview coding challenge. It is indeed embarrassing, when someone with more than two decades of software engineering experience is asked to complete a gotcha-style programming task under … Continue reading

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On software engineering hermeneutics

When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less. Humpty-Dumpty in Alice through the Looking Glass In my recent round of TDD clarifications, one surprising experience is that folks out … Continue reading

Posted in philosophy after a fashion, social-science, software-engineering | Leave a comment

On rational myths

In my research field, one characteristic of institutions is their “rational myths”; ideas that people tell each other are true, and believe are true, but which are under-explored, unverified, and under-challenged. Belief in these myths leads to supposedly rational actions … Continue reading

Posted in academia, social-science, software-engineering | 4 Comments

We shall return one day

On this day 80 years ago, 16th November 1943, the villagers of Tyneham near Lulworth was evacuated to allow Allied military forces to prepare for D-Day. Despite promises that the evacuation was temporary, the UK lurched directly from the second … Continue reading

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