On Programming: The Best Epigram on the Slowness of Software I Have Yet Heard

Some software programs are slow, dreadfully so.

Booting up Vista is a case in point. I recall that booting up a Xerox “star” workstation could take over twenty minutes. Early versions of IBM’s risc system running AIX were also as slow as molasses. [1]

Steve Johnson is the author of the following comment about an IBM operating system:

“Using TSO is like kicking a dead whale down the beach.”

My own candidate is due to Jay Earley. During one day in the early 70’s he spoke on his work as part of a small team that had created a timesharing system that was developed at Berkeley. He said the system response time had been very slow, and that much work had gone into improving it. The response time is the interval between entering a command and getting some kind of response from the system.

“Jay Earley: We halved the response time every week for six months, and the system was STILL too slow to be usable.”

Jay is best known as the creator of the “nodal spans” parsing algorithm.

During my years with Jack Schwartz he gave high praise to only a few algorithms. Whenever we discussed parsing, he would always mention nodal spans, though I can’t recall his exact words.

Jay left computing a few years later to pursue a career in another field.

Note:

1. I once read every issue of Reader’s Digest published from 1917 to about 1958. My favorite article was about the bursting of a giant tank filled with molasses that flooded several blocks of downtown Boston.

Advertisements

One Comment

  1. Posted May 7, 2009 at 14:56 | Permalink | Reply

    Dave,

    You have it backwards, computer programs are NOT “too slow”, it is the pace of modern life that is “too fast”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Pages

  • May 2009
    M T W T F S S
    « Apr   Jun »
     123
    45678910
    11121314151617
    18192021222324
    25262728293031
  • RSS The Wayward Word Press

  • Recent Comments

    russurquhart1 on SPITBOL for OSX is now av…
    dave porter on On being the maintainer, sole…
    daveshields on On being the maintainer, sole…
    Paul Tallett on On being the maintainer, sole…
    mrrdev on On being the maintainer, sole…
  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

  • Top Posts

  • Top Rated

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Top Rated

  • %d bloggers like this: