daniel Wed, 02/11/2015 - 9:26am
I stumbled across this on: David Wiseman's page at uwo.ca
The Parable of the two Programmers
Neil W. Rickert
Dept. of Math, Stat., and Computer Science, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Once upon a time, unbeknownst to each other, the "Automated Accounting
Applications Association" and the "Consolidated Computerized Capital Corpora-
tion" decided that they needed the identical program to perform a certain ser-
Automated hired a programmer-analyst, Alan, to solve their problem.
Meanwhile, Consolidated decided to ask a newly hired entry-level program-
mer, Charles, to tackle the job, to see if he was as good as he pretended.
Alan, having had experience in difficult programming projects, decided to
use the PQR structured design methodology. With this in mind he asked his
department manager to assign another three programmers as a programming team.
Then the team went to work, churning out preliminary reports and problem ana-
Back at Consolidated, Charles spent some time thinking about the problem.
His fellow employees noticed that Charles often sat with his feet on the desk,
drinking coffee. He was occasionally seen at his computer terminal, but his
office mate could tell from the rhythmic striking of keys that he was actually
playing Space Invaders.
By now, the team at Automated was starting to write code. The programmers
were spending about half their time writing and compiling code, and the rest of
their time in conference, discussing the interfaces between the various modules.
His office mate noticed that Charles had finally given up on Space
Invaders. Instead he now divided his time between drinking coffee with his feet
on the table, and scribbling on little scraps of paper. His scribbling didn't
seem to be Tic Tac Toe, but it didn't exactly make much sense, either.
Two months have gone by. The team at Automated finally releases an imple-
mentation timetable. In another two months they will have a test version of the
program. Then a two month period of testing and enhancing should yield a com-
The manager of Charles has by now tired of seeing him goof off. He decides
to confront him. But as he walks into Charles's office, he is surprised to see
Charles busy entering code at his terminal. He decides to postpone the confron-
tation, so makes some small talk then leaves. However, he begins to keep a
closer watch on Charles, so that when the opportunity presents itself he can
confront him. Not looking forward to an unpleasant conversation, he is pleased
to notice that Charles seems to be busy most of the time. He has even been see
to delay his lunch, and to stay after work two or three days a week.
At the end of three months, Charles announces he has completed the project.
He submits a 500 line program. The program appears to be clearly written, and
when tested it does everything required in the specifications. In fact it even
has a few additional convenience features which might significantly improve the
usability of the program. The program is put into test, and, except for one
quickly corrected oversight, performs well.
daniel Thu, 01/29/2015 - 4:07pm