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 Forum index » Off-Topic Area » Programming
The Coming Software Apocalypse
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Flash
Official Dog Handler


Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 12715
Location: Arizona USA

PostPosted: Tue 10 Oct 2017, 12:09    Post subject:  The Coming Software Apocalypse  

The Coming Software Apocalypse

A pretty good article about programming, from The Atlantic magazine, of all people.
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jafadmin

Joined: 19 Mar 2009
Posts: 675

PostPosted: Tue 10 Oct 2017, 19:51    Post subject:  

The results of using the lowest bidder. Same as it ever was ..
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tallboy


Joined: 21 Sep 2010
Posts: 820
Location: Oslo, Norway

PostPosted: Wed 11 Oct 2017, 00:15    Post subject:  

A very interesting reflection on the programming 'industry'. Thank you, Flash.

tallboy

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6502coder


Joined: 23 Mar 2009
Posts: 409
Location: Western United States

PostPosted: Wed 11 Oct 2017, 17:56    Post subject:  

When I was programming on UNIX way back in the early '80s, I remember pointing out to my colleagues how amazingly primitive it was that we were still creating programs by laboriously typing characters into text files. Even then, I can hardly have been the first to make that observation.

I am skeptical of any suggestion that a breakthrough is anywhere in sight. Fundamentally, a correct program is a logical construct, a collection of (mostly implicit) assertions that since THIS is true, then THAT is true, and so on. The problem is that the logic is often necessarily convoluted, so it is easy to make subtle errors in reasoning. Writing a non-trivial bug-free program is at least as hard, if not much harder, than writing a law that is free of unintended consequences.

Back in '70s and '80s the computer scientist Ole-Johan Dahl (Turing Award winner in 2001) did some really interesting work on the question of how one proves that a program is correct, using the notion of "weakest precondition." On the one hand, it was great to see how one could, for example, prove that a for-loop terminated with the correct result. On the other hand, it was very sobering that so much of the apparatus of formal logic was required just to prove that a simple for-loop was correct, much less an entire non-trivial program.

Graphical aids like the ones described in the article are nice, but can only do so much. As long as programs continue to have to manipulate complex abstractions that have no simple visual rendering, programming will be hard work.
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