Programming on Paper

From: Douglas Quebbeman <>
Date: Mon Jun 19 12:08:04 2000

On June 17, Dave McGuire wrote:
> On June 17, Mike Ford wrote:
> > >Having a machine to interact with allows you to test your code on the
> > >and if you are writing in an interpreted language the error-checking
> > >interpreter provides is a godsend for the coder. Why anyone would code
> > >without the interaction of the target machine is beyond me.
> >
> > I write perfect code, like Mozart it flows out in its final form to the
> > paper, and then to the system.
> Time for the hip waders,'s getting deep in here. ;)

Ok, here's a quote from one of my favorite computer scientists
(Tom VanVleck, who might respond to being so identified as "Me?
I'm just a programmer!"):

: It is possible to write perfect, bug-free code. I've seen
: it done, with no tool except a pencil. The essential ingredient
: is a decision, by the individual programmer, to make the code
: perfect, and not to release it until it is perfect.

The quote is from an article of his on the Multicians web site:

I left my last job as a full-time programmer in 1990. A young
Russian (who had written some of the software tools used in
generating the control programming for Snowflake, the never-used
Soviet space shuttle) was assigned to take over my work. In the
month we worked together, we became friends, and so stayed in
touch after I left.

A couple or three years later, Dmitri and I were having lunch,
and feeling a mood which had me wondering if I'd done the right
thing in giving up programming, I asked him how much trouble
he'd had with my code. "None." I probed deeper, knowing he was
a good programmer and that he might have misinterpreted the
thrust of the question. Right out, I asked him if he would
character the severity and frequency of the bugs left in the
extensive codebase I'd pushed. He stopped me, saying he'd
understood me perfectly the first time, and said "No bugs
in your code, Doug; you write best assembly language."

If only I could have found an employer who felt that way!
I was ultimately fired because the boss cared more about
expeditiousness than about quality. That, and I think he
tired of some of my behavioral quirks..... ;-)

-doug q

-doug q
Received on Mon Jun 19 2000 - 12:08:04 BST

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