Re: [XP] KISS

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• ... I promote that as a potential path to the dark side, too. The point of my note was that the simplicity rules, when subverted, lead to dogs and cats living
Message 1 of 24 , Jul 1, 2005
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On Friday, July 1, 2005, at 10:37:34 AM, Randy MacDonald wrote:

> You say:

> max((max(a,b),c)

> is a path to the dark side, (actually, in APL or J, I'd say "max/a b c"),
> yet you promote a phrase like:

> > ^(Array with: a with: b with: c) sorted at: 2

I promote that as a potential path to the dark side, too. The point
of my note was that the simplicity rules, when subverted, lead to
dogs and cats living together.

> Which looks a lot like the J solution:

> 1{/:~a,b,c

> It's an interesting if paradoxical perspective.

> All power is not in the dark side.

My eyes don't turn yellow. Would be a good trick, tho ...

Ron Jeffries
www.XProgramming.com
I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way. -- Jessica Rabbit
• ... Or the simplest form: memset( score, 0, sizeof(score) ); Would that score high for simplicity, or low for obscurity? To an experienced programmer, it is
Message 2 of 24 , Jul 1, 2005
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Ron Jeffries wrote:

>>I agree. But it is transparent and accessible to the students. It
>>won't take them very far, but I do think it will help at their
>>level.
>>
>>
>
>It might. However, consider this code:
>
>for (i = 0; i < 4; i++) {
> score[i] = 0;
>}
>
>If I understand them, the rules say that this is more simple:
>
>score[0] = 0;
>score[1] = 0;
>score[2] = 0;
>score[3] = 0;
>
>I don't think so. And I'd think so even less if we had i < 144.
>
>
>
Or the simplest form:

memset( score, 0, sizeof(score) );

Would that score high for simplicity, or low for obscurity?

To an experienced programmer, it is clear, efficient and concise, to a
novice more than a little cryptic. The joys of C.

Ian
• In C, C++, Java: int score[4] = { 0,0,0,0 }; ... -- C. Keith Ray
Message 3 of 24 , Jul 2, 2005
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In C, C++, Java:

int score[4] = { 0,0,0,0 };

On Jul 1, 2005, at 3:09 PM, Ian Collins wrote:

> Ron Jeffries wrote:
>
>>> I agree. But it is transparent and accessible to the students. It
>>> won't take them very far, but I do think it will help at their
>>> level.
>>>
>>>
>>
>> It might. However, consider this code:
>>
>> for (i = 0; i < 4; i++) {
>> score[i] = 0;
>> }
>>
>> If I understand them, the rules say that this is more simple:
>>
>> score[0] = 0;
>> score[1] = 0;
>> score[2] = 0;
>> score[3] = 0;
>>
>> I don't think so. And I'd think so even less if we had i < 144.
>>
>>
>>
> Or the simplest form:
>
> memset( score, 0, sizeof(score) );
>
> Would that score high for simplicity, or low for obscurity?
>
> To an experienced programmer, it is clear, efficient and concise, to a
> novice more than a little cryptic. The joys of C.
>
> Ian
>
>
>
> To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
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--
C. Keith Ray
<http://homepage.mac.com/keithray/blog/index.html>
<http://homepage.mac.com/keithray/xpminifaq.html>
<http://homepage.mac.com/keithray/resume2.html>

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
• Keith, ... And in ruby: score = [0] * 4 Hmm, yummy. :) Is that obscure ? It will read just as well when there are 4, 16 or 256. ... It is, perhaps, the above
Message 4 of 24 , Jul 2, 2005
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Keith,

> int score[4] = { 0,0,0,0 };

And in ruby:

score = [0] * 4

Hmm, yummy. :) Is that obscure ? It will read just as well when there
are 4, 16 or 256.

Ian wrote:

> memset( score, 0, sizeof(score) );
> To an experienced programmer, it is clear, efficient and concise

It is, perhaps, the above things to a programmer experienced *in C*.
To people with years of COBOL experience it won't mean nothing.

Cheers,

-[Laurent]-
Error : keyboard missing ! Press F1 to continue.
• To people with years in COBOL? 01 WS-SCORE PIC X OCCURS 4 VALUE ZEROES. Of course, a period ( . ) in COBOL means a whole other thing than with everybody else.
Message 5 of 24 , Jul 3, 2005
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To people with years in COBOL?

01 WS-SCORE PIC X OCCURS 4 VALUE ZEROES.

Of course, a period (".") in COBOL means a whole other thing than with
everybody else.

-Jonjon

On 7/2/05, Laurent Bossavit <laurent@...> wrote:
>
> Keith,
>
> > int score[4] = { 0,0,0,0 };
>
> And in ruby:
>
> score = [0] * 4
>
> Hmm, yummy. :) Is that obscure ? It will read just as well when there
> are 4, 16 or 256.
>
> Ian wrote:
>
> > memset( score, 0, sizeof(score) );
> > To an experienced programmer, it is clear, efficient and concise
>
> It is, perhaps, the above things to a programmer experienced *in C*.
> To people with years of COBOL experience it won't mean nothing.
>
> Cheers,
>
> -[Laurent]-
> Error : keyboard missing ! Press F1 to continue.
>
>
>
>
> To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
>
> To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
> extremeprogramming-unsubscribe@...
>
> ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com <http://objectmentor.com>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
• From: Jonjon Limjap To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
Message 6 of 24 , Jul 3, 2005
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From: "Jonjon Limjap" <jonlimjap.at.gmail.com@...>
To: "extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com"
<extremeprogramming.at.yahoogroups.com@...>
Sent: Sunday, July 03, 2005 6:14 PM
Subject: Re: [XP] KISS

> To people with years in COBOL?
>
> 01 WS-SCORE PIC X OCCURS 4 VALUE ZEROES.
>
> Of course, a period (".") in COBOL means a whole other thing than with
> everybody else.

I think that

01 WS-SCORE COMP OCCURS 4 VALUE ZEROES.

is likely to be closer to the other ones. Of course,
no modern COBOL requires all upper case, either.

John Roth

>
> -Jonjon
>
> On 7/2/05, Laurent Bossavit <laurent@...> wrote:
>>
>> Keith,
>>
>> > int score[4] = { 0,0,0,0 };
>>
>> And in ruby:
>>
>> score = [0] * 4
>>
>> Hmm, yummy. :) Is that obscure ? It will read just as well when there
>> are 4, 16 or 256.
>>
>> Ian wrote:
>>
>> > memset( score, 0, sizeof(score) );
>> > To an experienced programmer, it is clear, efficient and concise
>>
>> It is, perhaps, the above things to a programmer experienced *in C*.
>> To people with years of COBOL experience it won't mean nothing.
>>
>> Cheers,
>>
>> -[Laurent]-
>> Error : keyboard missing ! Press F1 to continue.
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
>>
>> To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
>> extremeprogramming-unsubscribe@...
>>
>> ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com <http://objectmentor.com>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>
>
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
>
>
>
> To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
>
> To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
> extremeprogramming-unsubscribe@...
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• Oops. You re right... And I meant that to be PIC 9. Yup, am using COBOL 85. Wreaks the head when you switch between that and C#, especially when simplicity
Message 7 of 24 , Jul 3, 2005
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Oops. You're right... And I meant that to be PIC 9.

Yup, am using COBOL 85. Wreaks the head when you switch between that and C#,
especially when "simplicity" is of utmost importance. From my experience
simplicity has different meanings in spaghetti, method-driven and OOP
models.

On 7/4/05, yahoogroups@... <yahoogroups@...> wrote:
>
> From: "Jonjon Limjap" <jonlimjap.at.gmail.com@...>
> To: "extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com"
> <extremeprogramming.at.yahoogroups.com@...>
> Sent: Sunday, July 03, 2005 6:14 PM
> Subject: Re: [XP] KISS
>
>
> > To people with years in COBOL?
> >
> > 01 WS-SCORE PIC X OCCURS 4 VALUE ZEROES.
> >
> > Of course, a period (".") in COBOL means a whole other thing than with
> > everybody else.
>
> I think that
>
> 01 WS-SCORE COMP OCCURS 4 VALUE ZEROES.
>
> is likely to be closer to the other ones. Of course,
> no modern COBOL requires all upper case, either.
>
> John Roth
>
> >
> > -Jonjon
> >
> > On 7/2/05, Laurent Bossavit <laurent@...> wrote:
> >>
> >> Keith,
> >>
> >> > int score[4] = { 0,0,0,0 };
> >>
> >> And in ruby:
> >>
> >> score = [0] * 4
> >>
> >> Hmm, yummy. :) Is that obscure ? It will read just as well when there
> >> are 4, 16 or 256.
> >>
> >> Ian wrote:
> >>
> >> > memset( score, 0, sizeof(score) );
> >> > To an experienced programmer, it is clear, efficient and concise
> >>
> >> It is, perhaps, the above things to a programmer experienced *in C*.
> >> To people with years of COBOL experience it won't mean nothing.
> >>
> >> Cheers,
> >>
> >> -[Laurent]-
> >> Error : keyboard missing ! Press F1 to continue.
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
> >>
> >> To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
> >> extremeprogramming-unsubscribe@...
> >>
> >> ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com <http://objectmentor.com> <
> http://objectmentor.com>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >
> >
> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> >
> >
> >
> > To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
> >
> > To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
> > extremeprogramming-unsubscribe@...
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> >
> >
> >
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> >
> >
> >
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> extremeprogramming-unsubscribe@...
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• ... Looks right for C/C++. But in Java, I think you can only do new int [4] -- when allocating without initializing. So in Java, it s: int score[] =
Message 8 of 24 , Jul 4, 2005
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--- Keith Ray <keithray@m...> wrote:
> In C, C++, Java:
>
> int score[4] = { 0,0,0,0 };

Looks right for C/C++. But in Java, I think you can only do "new int
[4]" -- when allocating without initializing. So in Java, it's:

int score[] = {0,0,0,0};
or
int[] scores = {0,0,0,0};
• ... Of course, COBOL *PROGRAMMERS* may require all upper case. (I wrote some FORTRAN once in all lower case. The project manager went ballistic. ;- But it
Message 9 of 24 , Jul 4, 2005
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--- yahoogroups@j... wrote:
> [...] Of course, no modern COBOL requires all upper case, either.

Of course, COBOL *PROGRAMMERS* may require all upper case.

(I wrote some FORTRAN once in all lower case. The project manager
went ballistic. ;-> But it was trivial to translate it to ALL UPPER
CASE with a CP/M PIP command. (And it would be easy in Unix too.))
• ... I had a colleague whose marking guide to his tutors was 1/3 for correctness, 1/3 for programming and 1/3 for elegance . Worked OK, with the right tutors.
Message 10 of 24 , Jul 5, 2005
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> -----Original Message-----
> From: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
> [mailto:extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Ron Jeffries
> Sent: Friday, 1 July 2005 10:26 PM
> To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
> Subject: Re: [XP] KISS
>
>
> On Friday, July 1, 2005, at 4:00:33 AM, Clark, David wrote:

> > Maintainability
>
> > Some suggested that there should be an emphasis on
> > maintainability. I totally agree with this, and there is. It is
> > one of Bertrand Meyer's "External" quality factors. Things like
> > simplicity, names, constants, etc are "internal" quality factors
> > which help support the external ones. Emphasising these helps push
> > the students in the right direction.
>
> Yes. Those are important. The sooner we begin to teach them
> about beauty and other intangibles, the sooner they'll learn them.
I had a colleague whose marking guide to his tutors was "1/3 for correctness, 1/3 for programming and 1/3 for elegance". Worked OK, with the right tutors. The language was Prolog.
>
> > The measure is simplistic
>
> > I agree. But it is transparent and accessible to the students. It
> > won't take them very far, but I do think it will help at their
> > level.
>
> It might. However, consider this code:
>
> for (i = 0; i < 4; i++) {
> score[i] = 0;
> }
>
> If I understand them, the rules say that this is more simple:
>
> score[0] = 0;
> score[1] = 0;
> score[2] = 0;
> score[3] = 0;
>
> I don't think so. And I'd think so even less if we had i < 144.
Agreed. All along I have been concerned with "play the rules" vs "play the game". I was hoping that playing the rules would be enough to ensure playing the game, but will change their use to
a) bonus marks for simplicity (as before)
b) "based on" the simplicity measure
This gives me flexibility to stomp on things like unrolling loops.
>
> I was always a bit of a troublemaker in class. If I were in there,
> and was getting moderately good at programming, I'd be working with
> the other smart kids to create programs that were really hideous but
> that got really good scores according to the rules.
I'd like to have a few more troublemakers of your ability. There are too many students who enrol in a computing degree having no experience in programming and little ability. Mind you, I have a daughter doing a marine science degree who thought marine science was cuddling dolphins.
>
>
> > But in the context of my subject, a low count on the simplicity
> > measure will help with 2) 3) and 4).
>
> I'm not entirely sure. Here's some counterpoint, item by item:
>
> > 2) Reveals all the intention.
>
> Here I'm very not sure. The examples above reveal less intention in
> their higher-scoring forms, it seems to me. I can always remove a
> for statement by unrolling the loop, for loops of known duration.
> It's never simpler.
True at the micro level (see above), but having marked many assignments, I am convinced that the ones which reveal their intention best would have a low simplicity measure.
>
> > 3) No duplication.
>
> Here again I'm not so sure. Unrolling a loop improves my score but
> increases duplication.
I had in mind that duplication would cause an increased count which could be avoided by writing a function.

> > Consensus marking
>
> > An idea I like very much, but difficult to implement. The
> > assignments are a bit too complex and the solutions so varied and
> > the students too inexperienced for it to be viable. However I do
> > get students to vote on different solutions in class. It works
> > well and I will do more of it.
>
> Yes ... I'd think that this would get them thinking about ideas
> other than their own. I might spend a lot of time drawing them out
> on this. Some might not participate, and that would be too bad. But
> the ones who do would really prosper and those who listen would get
> something too.
After each assignment I devote the next tutorial to discussing variations in the assginments I have marked. They get their assifnments back within a week, so it is still relatively fresh, but their focus has already switched to the next assignment. I also spend time discussing differing approaches before the assignmet is due, but it is a bit of a balancing act between giving them ideas and letting them discover for themselves.

>
> > max = max(max(a, b), c) has a score of 0
> > Yes. I can live with that. If they get in the habit of looking
> > for library functions I am delighted.
>
> Arrgh. This is the path of the dark side. It leads toward cryptic
> code, and ultimately the fate of the Empire will be in the hands of
> these youths.
Hmm. Can you elaborate? My experience has been that the learning in a new language is dominated by learning the libraries. And using libraries makes the program easier to read (the reader is familiar with the library function or class) and more likely to be correct (re-inventing the wheel is fun, but the re-invented wheel may contain a buckle).
Mind you, med = max(min(a,max(b,c),min(b,c)) may be taking it a trifle too far.
>
> > Compound Booleans
> > Someone pointed out that median(a,b,c):
> > if ( ((a <= b) && (b <= c)) || ((a >= b) && (b >= c)) )
> > return b;
> > if ( ((a <= c) && (c <= b)) || ((a >= c) && (c >= b)) )
> > return c;
> > return a;
> > has a score of 2.
> > I had not decided whether to have extra points for compound
> > Booleans. So I waited to see if there were any
> > comments. I do find the above solution easier to read than,
> for example
> > one = a
> > two = b
> > three = c
> > if (one > two) // swap one and two
> > if (one > three) // swap one and three
> > if (two > three) // swap two and three
> > return two
>
> Do you really find it easier to read? Are you sure it's right? Will
> a student be sure it's right?
>
> I don't find either one particularly easy.
>
> If I were looking for a simpler way to do that one, I might go down
> this path and see what happens:
>
> if ( a < b && b < c) return b;
Yes. I agree. 6 conditions, each expressed as a guard.
Arrays do make life easier, though.
I remember a student project that had something to do with the lecturers' mailboxes. These were on 3 floors each floor having a grid with a differnt number of mailboxes in the grid. The assignment gave each mailbox a different dentity and the code had page after page of "if mailbox_11 has been selected ...". Looked pretty from the outside, though.

David
• ... My point exactly. Knowing the libraries well is good. Nesting function calls is cryptic and with today s compilers and gigahertz CPUs, unnecessarily so.
Message 11 of 24 , Jul 5, 2005
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On Tuesday, July 5, 2005, at 3:56:43 AM, Clark, David wrote:

>> > max = max(max(a, b), c) has a score of 0
>> > Yes. I can live with that. If they get in the habit of looking
>> > for library functions I am delighted.
>>
>> Arrgh. This is the path of the dark side. It leads toward cryptic
>> code, and ultimately the fate of the Empire will be in the hands of
>> these youths.
> Hmm. Can you elaborate? My experience has been that the
> learning in a new language is dominated by learning
> the libraries. And using libraries makes the program easier to
> function or class) and more likely to be correct (re-inventing
> the wheel is fun, but the re-invented wheel
> may contain a buckle).
> Mind you, med = max(min(a,max(b,c),min(b,c)) may be taking it a trifle too far.

My point exactly. Knowing the libraries well is good. Nesting
function calls is cryptic and with today's compilers and gigahertz
CPUs, unnecessarily so.

Ron Jeffries
www.XProgramming.com
Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back
of his head. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs,
but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could
stop bumping for a moment and think of it. And then he feels that perhaps
there isn't. -- A. A. Milne
• ... Of course, it helps when the libraries are best suited to your problem domain ([a,b,c].max in Ruby or a b c followed by some Greek letter in superscript in
Message 12 of 24 , Jul 5, 2005
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> >> > max = max(max(a, b), c) has a score of 0
> >> Arrgh. This is the path of the dark side. It leads toward cryptic
> >> code, and ultimately the fate of the Empire will be in the hands of
> >> these youths.
> > My experience has been that the
> > learning in a new language is dominated by learning
> > the libraries. And using libraries makes the program easier to
> > read and more likely to be correct.
> > Mind you, med = max(min(a,max(b,c),min(b,c)) may be taking it a trifle too
> far.
> My point exactly. Knowing the libraries well is good. Nesting
> function calls is cryptic and with today's compilers and gigahertz
> CPUs, unnecessarily so.

Of course, it helps when the libraries are best suited to your problem domain ([a,b,c].max in Ruby or a b c followed by some Greek letter in superscript in APL).

But frankly, using the libraries directly vs building abstractions on them doesn't make the program more likely to be correct any more than writing your program in assembly would. Sure, if you write your own max(anArray) function that abstracts away usage of the max(a,b) function, you might implement it buggily, but by not writing your own max(anArray) function, you're essentially inlining [a specialization of] that same code wherever you need to max() more than two things, and that leads to duplication and THAT leads to a higher chance of bugginess.

I Might Be Wrong (especially about APL),
Devin
• ... went ballistic. ;- 10 years ago, or so, I had the same experience in COBOL. I hadn t done COBOL in a while, and availed myself of the mixed-case
Message 13 of 24 , Jul 5, 2005
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Monday, July 04, 2005, 9:43:11 PM, Jeff Grigg wrote:

> --- yahoogroups@j... wrote:
>> [...] Of course, no modern COBOL requires all upper case, either.

> Of course, COBOL *PROGRAMMERS* may require all upper case.

> (I wrote some FORTRAN once in all lower case. The project manager
went ballistic. ;->>

10 years ago, or so, I had the same experience in COBOL. I
hadn't done COBOL in a while, and availed myself of the
mixed-case capabilities of the, then current, compiler to
write a couple of programs. I was told in no uncertain terms
that the company standards required all uppercase.

--

Doug Swartz
daswartz@...
• ... I once had a colleage who resigned rather unexpectely and the person who took over his jobs found one where the (Fortran) variable names were all mixtures
Message 14 of 24 , Jul 5, 2005
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> -----Original Message-----
> From: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
> [mailto:extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Jeff Grigg
> Sent: Tuesday, 5 July 2005 12:43 PM
> To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
> Subject: Re: [XP] KISS in COBOL
>
>
> --- yahoogroups@j... wrote:
> > [...] Of course, no modern COBOL requires all upper case, either.
>
> Of course, COBOL *PROGRAMMERS* may require all upper case.
>
> (I wrote some FORTRAN once in all lower case. The project manager
> went ballistic. ;-> But it was trivial to translate it to ALL UPPER
> CASE with a CP/M PIP command. (And it would be easy in Unix too.))
>
I once had a colleage who resigned rather unexpectely and the person who took over his jobs found one where the (Fortran) variable names were all mixtures of i, 1, o and 0. This was back 30+ years when you didn't declare anything and the printers of the day didn't distinguish between i and 1 or between 0 and o. The rest of us found it rather droll.
• ... The original context was that I could have something that was objective, and that the students would know before they submitted. Clarity is important, and
Message 15 of 24 , Sep 8, 2005
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> -----Original Message-----
> From: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
> [mailto:extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of
> Steven J. Owens
> Sent: Friday, 9 September 2005 7:26 AM
> To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
> Subject: Re: [XP] KISS
>
>
> > Wednesday, June 29, 2005, 12:59:47 AM, Clark, David wrote:
> > > I teach an introductory programming subject to students [...]
> > > So what to use for the simplicity measure?
>
> As a quick aside, I prefer "clarity" to "simplicity." Clarity is
> something that is easier to point at than simplicty. Even if you can
> still disagree on whether something is clearer or not, you can at
> least discuss more usefully why or how it's clearer or not.
The original context was that I could have something that was objective, and that the students would know before they submitted. Clarity is important, and clearly closely tied to simplicity, but can be in the eye of the author, especially when they are inexperienced.
>
> My rationale is that the more clearly the programmer's intent is
> expressed in the code, the better the compiler can optimize. And
> generally the compiler's optimizations will be better than any that I
> have time/energy/smarts to add... until I measure and find that it's
> not good enough, in which case I'll do a more rigorous performance
> analysis. Add in here the usual arguments against early optimization
> and the usual advice on the right way to do optimization :-).
>
> On Wed, Jun 29, 2005 at 06:30:50AM -0500, Doug Swartz wrote:
> > [...]
> > Simplicity is truly in the eyes of the beholder. The only
> > reason simplicity is important, is because, unlike code written
> > for college courses, code written for industry is usually read
> > many more times than it is written. Thus it is dependent on
> > the experience, skill, and biases of the reader.
> >
> > You could look at using some of the automated complexity
> > calculation algorithms: cyclomatic, essential, .... I'm not a
> > fan of these, but they're, perhaps, better than nothing.
> >
> > Another approach is Steven's suggestion to have the students
> > rate each other's work for simplicity. It is subjective, but
> > it's a good approach because, as noted above, the goal of
> > simplicity is "in the eye of the beholder". I
>
> Does it have to be rated on each project? Maybe follow up each
> project with a review of a solution turned in for the previous class,
> and an examination of how the code could have been simplified and
> refactored. If you want to be brave, you could use a solution from a
> current student, but I'd be wary of the emotions & politics that could
> introduce :-).
I certainly discuss alternate solutions, including students', when I hand back assignments. And it can be valuable. But you have more of their attention before they complete their work than after it.
>
> Or you could make it an extra credit assignment - given this
> solution to the project you last completed, what change would be the
> best way to improve the clarity of the code. Best suggestion gets
> five extra points.
I do give students opportunities to earn bonus marks, and about half of them attempt some bonuses. But it does tail off later in the semester when they have other pressures. I have thought of making your idea an assignment in itself, but have always decided against because the opportunity cost is too high.
cheers,
David
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