Algorithmic Efficiency - Criticism of The Current State of Programming

Criticism of The Current State of Programming

  • David May FRS a British computer scientist and currently Professor of Computer Science at University of Bristol and founder and CTO of XMOS Semiconductor, believes one of the problems is that there is a reliance on Moore's law to solve inefficiencies. He has advanced an 'alternative' to Moore's law (May's law) stated as follows:

    Software efficiency halves every 18 months, compensating Moore's Law

    He goes on to state

    In ubiquitous systems, halving the instructions executed can double the battery life and big data sets bring big opportunities for better software and algorithms: Reducing the number of operations from N x N to N x log(N) has a dramatic effect when N is large... for N = 30 billion, this change is as good as 50 years of technology improvements

  • Software author Adam N. Rosenburg in his blog "The failure of the Digital computer", has described the current state of programming as nearing the "Software event horizon", (alluding to the fictitious "shoe event horizon" described by Douglas Adams in his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book). He estimates there has been a 70 dB factor loss of productivity or "99.99999 percent, of its ability to deliver the goods", since the 1980s—"When Arthur C. Clarke compared the reality of computing in 2001 to the computer HAL in his book 2001: A Space Odyssey, he pointed out how wonderfully small and powerful computers were but how disappointing computer programming had become".
  • Conrad Weisert gives examples, some of which were published in ACM SIGPLAN (Special Interest Group on Programming Languages) Notices, December 1995 in: "Atrocious Programming Thrives"
  • Marc Andreessen co-founder of Netscape is quoted in "Mavericks at Work" (ISBN 0060779616) as saying "Five great programmers can completely outperform 1,000 mediocre programmers."

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