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The Design of Design | Chasing Men Who Stare at Arrays

The Design of Design

This is how Friday went down:

I’m running late, tearing through the house in a where the heck is my bag, sort of way, and then… up pulls the UPS truck.

My books!

Late or not, my Amazon instinct kicks in… luckily the boxes are perfectly designed, they rip open with no struggle at all.  It’s Fred Brook’s new book, of course, The Design of Design. I drop the packaging and immediately flip to the People Index and search for Iverson (p. 72, 124 & 378). Wow.  Twice Brooks juxtaposes Ken Iverson with Google’s Marissa Mayer.  I make a mental note to ask Matt & Susan Gorbet if they know her.

Then I repeat with the subject index and look up APL (p. 72, 124, 141 348). They’re different.  Why?

Well, don’t you know it,  I find an example of not elegant design (pp 141-142) that echos a similar criticism made by Richard Bookstaber in A Demon of Our Own Design. Man oh man are we easy targets! And I’m completely floored – because I believe it is an urban myth.  Not so much that it has never happened, but I don’t believe it has been significant.  But, I guess it makes a good anecdote.  AND sorry folks, I’m not even going to say it because I don’t want to perpetuate its existence in cyberspace.  If you’re burning to know, buy the books!

And just to be extra clear, this is my opinion. And Fred Brooks rocks, so I’m… well… I guess I’m in the dog house again.

Bread Crumbs

In the early 1960’s, Brooks led the IBM System/360 hardware and software project which gave birth to a family of machines with interchangeable software that lead to IBM’s domination of the computer industry for the next 25 years.

Out of Their Minds page 158

Fred Brooks and Ken Iverson were together at Harvard in the 1950’s.   Iverson was hired by IBM in 1960 to develop his special mathematical notation into a programming language for the IBM/360.  And that’s how APL and its family of Array Processing Languages were born.

So…  Guys… I have the best job in the world. It’s terrible form to boast but I just can’t help myself today. After a difficult and trying summer not one, but a few people from the APL Array Language community have stepped up to steady my ship and blow some wind in my sails.  And this feels great.

We rock on!

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