Re: Ada vs Ruby



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Rick DeNatale wrote:

|
| I was pondering this thread earlier today, and before I pitched in,
| and was going to draw an analogy with Frank Borman's comments during
| the Senate commitee hearing on the Apollo 1 fire. He said that the
| real cause of the fire, was "a lack of imagination" about the dangers
| of doing ground testing with the spacecraft filled with pure O2 at
| sea-level atmospheric pressure.
|
| Relying on static-typing to 'prevent' fatal errors exhibits the same
| kind of lack of imagination about the range of possible failure modes.
| Nothing is perfect, but I'll take disciplined testing over relying on
| ceremonial static typing any day.

Indeed. It is about knowing the limits of a language, and its features,
too. Not just "What can @language do?", but also "What can't @language
do?" needs to figure into it.

And a lot of math can figure into it, too. Jim Weirich told an anecdote
to that effect in his keynote at MWRC08 to a similar effect: A bug hits
once in a million. The piece of hardware using that buggy software
stalled "once, maybe twice a day". After a bit of math, the code was
called ~1.3 million times in 8 hours. Resulting in a failure of "one, or
twice a day".

Faith is good. Testing (unit tests, functional tests, integration test,
regression tests, usability tests, acceptance tests...) is better.

As Knuth once said: "Beware of this code. I have merely proven it
correct, not tested it" (or something along those lines, anyway).

|
| Of course even with good process, it's still hard to get it right the
| first time, remember "the bug heard round the world," which kept
| Columbia on the pad during the first attempt to launch STS-1?

No, I don't remember that. I was a wee one when the Shuttle Program
started. :)

However, without process, any process, it is impossible to get things
right at *any* time.

The difficulty is in picking the most correct approach to a problem. The
NASA process doesn't necessarily translate into, say, corporate or web
development, or any situations where requirements change rapidly and/or
are not well understood (in the case of the Space Shuttle, the
requirements were well understood. Or so I hope. Business processes
aren't necessarily well understood, or can even be expressed).

I wouldn't use Agile to build Flight control software. But I wouldn't
use a statistical methodology to build a billing system, either.

Long story short: in today's world, we don't have to be multilingual in
the languages we speak, but adaptable to the methodologies we are able
to work in.

Well, computer science seems to be maturing, and thus software
development, too.

| http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1005928.1005929

Dang, I'll have to find an alternative to this link (lacking the means
to access this resource, unfortunately).

- --
Phillip Gawlowski
Twitter: twitter.com/cynicalryan

~ I'm looking for something that can deliver a 50-pound payload of snow
~ on a small feminine target. Can you suggest something? Hello...?
~ --- Calvin
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