Technology laws about software

Grosch's Law

Herbert Grosch was an American scientist who participated in the last days of the Manhattan Project, the first atomic bomb. His Law of Grosch dates from 1965 and states that: “The economic performance of a computer is the square root of its speed”. In other words: to be able to do a calculation ten times cheaper, the computer must be a hundred times faster. It means that the exponential increases in hardware performance (Moore, Kryder, Koomey) are more than eager to increase software performance.

Wirth's (and May's) Law

Increasing that is no sinecure. Niklaus Wirth is a Swiss computer scientist. In 1995 he formulated his Law of Wirth: “Software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster”. In the eighties and nineties of the last century, the WinTel couple reigned supreme. WINdows (software) from Microsoft ran on the chips (hardware) from InTEL. Wirth's Law was then called the Law of Bill (Gates, boss of Microsoft) and Andy (Grove, CEO of Intel): “What Andy gives, Bill takes”. David May is a British computer scientist who reformulated Wirth's Law as: “Software efficiency halves every 18 months, neutralizing the effect of Moore's First Law”. Computers can do more, much more than before, but they are not getting any faster. This is due on the one hand to 'featuritis', the 'disease' of putting more and more functionality in software, and on the other hand to sloppy software design, for example.

Parkinson's Law

Cyril Parkinson was a British author who researched public administration and made a number of observations. Among other things: “The time spent on an agenda item is inversely proportional to the amount to which it relates”. Parkinson's law at issue here is: “The work (of a task) always takes up all the available time to complete a task”. In other words: the task (the software project) is never finished before the deadline. A software variant of Parkinson's Law that also relates to Wirth's Law: “Requests for more software functionality are infinite, but the resources to realize them are always finite”. Hofstadter's Law Douglas Hofstadter is an American professor and author. His Hofstadter's Law reads: “It always takes longer than you expect, even if you take into account Hofstadter's Law”. Patience is a virtue. With software. In innovation.

Conway's Law

And when that patience is tested, another catch can creep in: Conway's Law. The American scientist Melvin Conway drafted this law in 1968. This law says: “Every piece of software reflects the organizational structure by which it was produced”. An example: Flexible organizations turned out to make software that was much more modular than software that was developed in more hierarchical companies. In other words: it is always wise to look beyond your own organizational blinkers and analyze even better what the market needs.

Linus' Law

That sloppy design, as mentioned in Wirth's Law, can be solved according to Linus' Law, devised by the American author Eric Raymond as a homage to Linus Torvalds, the inventor of the open source operating system Linux. Linus' Law states that: "With enough software developers, no problem is a concern." Put enough people on it and you'll be fine. This led to all kinds of software review techniques such as programming in pairs where one software developer is linked to one software tester and modern techniques such as Agile and Scrum. Brooks's Two Laws The fact that Linus' Law is not an easy task is underlined by the two

Brooks' Laws.

Fred Brooks is an American computer architect and in 1975 he wrote a book in which he posited his two laws. Brooks' First Law states: "Adding extra labor to a late (software) project makes it later". In other words: it takes the existing team members more time to update and familiarize the newcomers than to finish the project itself. This is also related to properly staffing a software project at the start. Brooks's Second Law states: "Good programmers are, on average, five to ten times more productive than their mediocre colleagues".

Joy's law

Bill Joy was the founder of computer hardware producer Sun (later acquired by software company Oracle), is a billionaire investor, bought his sailboat (for €50 million) from the Dutch yacht builder Wolter Huisman and is the author of the article “Why the future doesn't need us" about the coming influence of technology on humanity. Brooks' Second Law, together with Joy's Law, is at the root of the war for talent. His law reads: “It doesn't matter who you are: the most clever people work there


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