Re: software progress (RE: Hardware Progress: $319/GF)

From: Eugen Leitl (
Date: Sat Jun 01 2002 - 12:20:26 MDT

On Sat, 1 Jun 2002, Ben Houston wrote:

> Not in my world. The new languages I love such as Java and C# do
> result in higher productivity for me -- which in turn means I can
> write more efficient and complex programs with less effort and in less

I meant an awful lot more with software progress than just a bunch of new
languages (neither of them going beyond Lisp, a gold benchmark by which
every language is measured).

> time. Modern languages have higher productivity for three main
> reasons: more precise/useful language constructs, managed
> environments, and better designed libraries. Both of these languages,
> C# and Java, are also hardware agnostic in that they both compile into
> platform independent "bytecode". There are now versions of Cobol,
> C++, Eiffel, and Visual Basic that also compile down to platform
> independent "bytecode".

Can we write useful, provably correct systems? No. Can we write secure
systems? No. Okay, can we at least write gracefully failing systems? No.
Can we generate code to specs automatically? No. Can we design massively
parallel systems, where millions of asynchronous objects distributed over
thousands of small processors do meaningful work? No. Do we have any clue
as to how break through the complexity bareer, using nonstochastical
methods (coder monkeys)? No and no.

There's no need to go on. We haven't had any palpable progress in the last
decade, arguably two. In fact, the average code quality is decreasing,
though to different reasons.
> I think that software is doing a lot better that you believe. :-)

It is probably doing a great deal worse.

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