Re: [offtopic] The Airplane Example (was Re: Streami
On Sat, 01 Jan 2005 14:57:05 +0000, Bill de hÓra <bill.dehora@p...> wrote: > On the other hand trying to delineate what's engineering and what's > alchemy in a software sense is no bad thing I'm not sure I follow. To me, it's not clear what is alchemy and what is engineering and what is computer science in the real world. The Cali plane crash example seems to illustrate that -- the on-board software worked as designed, and the design was rational, it just made assumptions about a) the distribution of navigation beacons and b) the attention to detail on the part of the pilots that turned out to be over-optimistic. Is this engineering or alchemy? I'm not sure. Benjamin Franz seems to think that best practices are clear and a good process could have caught these unrealistic assumptions in advance. Maybe, but I have a feeling that "best practice" is more of a collection of hard lessons learned from investigating disasters, and anticipating new flaws at the design phase is more in the realm of alchemy than engineering. But maybe this is just a matter of using slippery and value laden words in inconsistent ways, not real disagreement. But remember that Newton was an alchemist, and Kepler was an astrologer :-) So, it probably is worth trying to delineate engineering from alchemy, but I expect the line to be pretty fuzzy.
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