Topic: Systems/Systems engineering
Conway's law is an adage stating that organizations design systems that mirror their own communication structure. It is named after computer programmer Melvin Conway, who introduced the idea in 1967. His original wording was:
Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization's communication structure.
The law is based on the reasoning that in order for a software module to function, multiple authors must communicate frequently with each other. Therefore, the software interface structure of a system will reflect the social boundaries of the organization(s) that produced it, across which communication is more difficult. Conway's law was intended as a valid sociological observation, although sometimes it's used in a humorous context. It was dubbed Conway's law by participants at the 1968 National Symposium on Modular Programming.
In colloquial terms, it means software or automated systems end up "shaped like" the organizational structure they are designed in or designed for. Some interpretations of the law say this organizational pattern mirroring is a helpful feature of such systems, while other interpretations say it's merely a result of human nature or organizational bias.
Greenspun's tenth rule of programming is an aphorism in computer programming and especially programming language circles that states:
Any sufficiently complicated C or Fortran program contains an ad hoc, informally-specified, bug-ridden, slow implementation of half of Common Lisp.
- "Greenspun's Tenth Rule" | 2011-08-06 | 13 Upvotes 3 Comments
Hofstadter's law is a self-referential adage, coined by Douglas Hofstadter in his book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (1979) to describe the widely experienced difficulty of accurately estimating the time it will take to complete tasks of substantial complexity:
Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.
The law is often cited by programmers in discussions of techniques to improve productivity, such as The Mythical Man-Month or extreme programming.
Clarence Leonard "Kelly" Johnson (February 27, 1910 – December 21, 1990) was an American aeronautical and systems engineer. He is recognized for his contributions to a series of important aircraft designs, most notably the Lockheed U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird. Besides the first production aircraft to exceed Mach 3, he also produced the first fighter capable of Mach 2, the United States' first operational jet fighter, as well as the first fighter to exceed 400 mph, and many other contributions to various aircraft. As a member and first team leader of the Lockheed Skunk Works, Johnson worked for more than four decades and is said to have been an "organizing genius". He played a leading role in the design of over forty aircraft, including several honored with the prestigious Collier Trophy, acquiring a reputation as one of the most talented and prolific aircraft design engineers in the history of aviation. In 2003, as part of its commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flight, Aviation Week & Space Technology ranked Johnson eighth on its list of the top 100 "most important, most interesting, and most influential people" in the first century of aerospace. Hall Hibbard, Johnson's Lockheed boss, referring to Johnson's Swedish ancestry, once remarked to Ben Rich: "That damned Swede can actually see air."
- "The inventor of the SR-71's rules for project management" | 2014-12-18 | 126 Upvotes 56 Comments
Parkinson's law of triviality is C. Northcote Parkinson's 1957 argument that members of an organization give disproportionate weight to trivial issues. Parkinson provides the example of a fictional committee whose job was to approve the plans for a nuclear power plant spending the majority of its time on discussions about relatively minor but easy-to-grasp issues, such as what materials to use for the staff bike shed, while neglecting the proposed design of the plant itself, which is far more important and a far more difficult and complex task.
The law has been applied to software development and other activities. The terms bicycle-shed effect, bike-shed effect, and bike-shedding were coined as metaphors to illuminate the law of triviality; it was popularised in the Berkeley Software Distribution community by the Danish software developer Poul-Henning Kamp in 1999 and has spread from there to the whole software industry.
- "Parkinson's Law of Triviality" | 2014-02-03 | 51 Upvotes 11 Comments