Posted on Fri 01 May 2015

optimizing the wrong thing

Premature optimization is the root of all evil.” — Donald Knuth, in “Structured Programming With Go To Statements”, 1974.

That was more than 40 years ago.

You think we’d have learned that lesson by now.

Of course we have not.

Now, I am prone to a certain technological conservatism. Things that work are better than things that do not work. New is not better; old is not worse. Making small changes in something that works is better than starting over from scratch. At some point this must break down, because we know that making small changes to a project eventually leads to a project which hasn’t been designed, but is instead a random assortment of ideas that seemed good at the time, a crazed patchwork.

Deciding where that line is, is highly political.


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