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PCR (was: XP for Large Projects)

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  • Dinwiddie, George
    Hmmm... I ve read Mullis book Dancing in the Mind Field and I didn t see where it said that PCR was discovered as a by-product of simple, careful research
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 1, 2001
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      Hmmm... I've read Mullis' book 'Dancing in the Mind Field' and I
      didn't see where it said that PCR "was discovered as a by-product
      of simple, careful research in genetics." As I recall, it was a
      sudden insight while driving through the dark for a weekend getaway
      with a sleeping girlfriend in the passenger seat and with a lifetime
      background of "doing chemistry" (including ingesting hallucinigenic
      chemicals).

      Maybe this is a good way to approach software development? ;-)

      - George

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Tim Burns [mailto:tburns@...]
      Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2001 12:54 AM
      To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [XP] RE: XP for Large Projects (Was Re: XP in telecom?)


      I don't know if this is really on topic, but it got me thinking about my
      feelings on XP practices in general.

      In the debate between UML/RUP/CMM processes and lightweight software
      processes like Extreme Programming and Crystal Clear, I firmly believe
      lightweight processes are the best. I feel they are right from a gut level,
      because they approach software from a more scientific level than an
      engineering level.
      For example, science is exploratory. The most profound ideas of science are
      usually discovered by accident within the context of pursueing a similiar
      problem. Take the Kary Mullis' discovery of the Polymerase Chain Reaction
      for instance. PCR is a good example, because it is a process, or even say a
      program for copying DNA.

      Certainly, no software process I have seen approaches PCR in terms of its
      impact on society, but I think the analogy is good. It wasn't the case that
      someone thought, "Hey, I want to replicate genes, I will write up some UML
      and have some design meetings and we will figure out how to do it." No, it
      was discovered as a by-product of simple, careful research in genetics.

      My best development work has always been a fortunate by-product of lots of
      unit testing and incremental development, always looking for the most
      elegant solution. Sometimes in direct defiance of BDUF managers that were
      screaming at me to write pages and pages and pages UML and design documents.
      In the end, though, my code worked and the customer was pleased, so I never
      got fired, and eventually got my way. If I look back on projects, there is
      no way I could have known up front of the small object patterns that fell
      out and saved me a lot of time in the long run. In fact, I think that design
      up front can obscure quality development by locking you into a framework
      where the programmer can't or is discouraged from making effective design
      changes spontaneously.

      On the other hand, the more I learn about Extreme Programming the more I
      believe its subtle as hell. Many of the features are easy to state, but I am
      sure very easy to do badly. Pair programming for instance, it seems pretty
      trivial, two people sit down and code together. I think it would be a gross
      error though to say that doing that was doing "Extreme Programming". In
      fact, I doubt that pair programming on its own, and without some mentorship
      would not be that effective. It has to be the whole thing and in the right
      way. I wouldn't want to do Extreme Programming without a full on-board
      support from everyone I worked with, and perhaps a boot camp with some
      experts.



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    • Glen B. Alleman
      Could be, but since we have neighbors that do drug research for a living, the model is a bit off. It s the 1000 s of hours of methodical work, most of it
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 1, 2001
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        Could be, but since we have neighbors that do drug research for a living,
        the model is a bit off. It's the 1000's of hours of methodical work, most of
        it worthless in the short run. The detailed analysis of ALL the clinical and
        experimental data, the months and sometimes years of "hard labor" followed
        by the "one stroke of insight" that comes up with the answer.

        It's the combination of both method and insight, method bring data to bear
        on the insight. I earned my living for awhile in the mid 70's as a software
        developer on a partial physics machine. This was the consolation prize for
        not passing the PhD qualifier, they gave me a Masters and a job for awhile
        until I found real work. The particle world is much the same. years of
        experimental data processing, and a brief "stroke of insight" as to what all
        this means. One cannot exist without the other. The philosophical issues
        associated with theory and experiment, as well as brilliant discovery are
        well discussed in the physics world. The software world may or may not be
        similar. I don't know. Probably not since SW has not fundamental axioms to
        base the theory on (not counting the Turing stuff).

        The larger the project the more these two activities must interact. See
        Rechtin for a nice discussion on the emerging heuristic based process in
        aerospace.

        Glen Alleman

        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: Dinwiddie, George [mailto:George.Dinwiddie@...]
        > Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2001 9:28 AM
        > To: 'extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com'
        > Cc: 'tburns@...'
        > Subject: [XP] PCR (was: XP for Large Projects)
        >
        >
        > Hmmm... I've read Mullis' book 'Dancing in the Mind Field' and I
        > didn't see where it said that PCR "was discovered as a by-product
        > of simple, careful research in genetics." As I recall, it was a
        > sudden insight while driving through the dark for a weekend getaway
        > with a sleeping girlfriend in the passenger seat and with a lifetime
        > background of "doing chemistry" (including ingesting hallucinigenic
        > chemicals).
        >
        > Maybe this is a good way to approach software development? ;-)
        >
        > - George
        >
        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: Tim Burns [mailto:tburns@...]
        > Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2001 12:54 AM
        > To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: [XP] RE: XP for Large Projects (Was Re: XP in telecom?)
        >
        >
        > I don't know if this is really on topic, but it got me thinking about my
        > feelings on XP practices in general.
        >
        > In the debate between UML/RUP/CMM processes and lightweight software
        > processes like Extreme Programming and Crystal Clear, I firmly believe
        > lightweight processes are the best. I feel they are right from a
        > gut level,
        > because they approach software from a more scientific level than an
        > engineering level.
        > For example, science is exploratory. The most profound ideas of
        > science are
        > usually discovered by accident within the context of pursueing a similiar
        > problem. Take the Kary Mullis' discovery of the Polymerase Chain Reaction
        > for instance. PCR is a good example, because it is a process, or
        > even say a
        > program for copying DNA.
        >
        > Certainly, no software process I have seen approaches PCR in terms of its
        > impact on society, but I think the analogy is good. It wasn't the
        > case that
        > someone thought, "Hey, I want to replicate genes, I will write up some UML
        > and have some design meetings and we will figure out how to do it." No, it
        > was discovered as a by-product of simple, careful research in genetics.
        >
        > My best development work has always been a fortunate by-product of lots of
        > unit testing and incremental development, always looking for the most
        > elegant solution. Sometimes in direct defiance of BDUF managers that were
        > screaming at me to write pages and pages and pages UML and design
        > documents.
        > In the end, though, my code worked and the customer was pleased,
        > so I never
        > got fired, and eventually got my way. If I look back on projects, there is
        > no way I could have known up front of the small object patterns that fell
        > out and saved me a lot of time in the long run. In fact, I think
        > that design
        > up front can obscure quality development by locking you into a framework
        > where the programmer can't or is discouraged from making effective design
        > changes spontaneously.
        >
        > On the other hand, the more I learn about Extreme Programming the more I
        > believe its subtle as hell. Many of the features are easy to
        > state, but I am
        > sure very easy to do badly. Pair programming for instance, it seems pretty
        > trivial, two people sit down and code together. I think it would
        > be a gross
        > error though to say that doing that was doing "Extreme Programming". In
        > fact, I doubt that pair programming on its own, and without some
        > mentorship
        > would not be that effective. It has to be the whole thing and in the right
        > way. I wouldn't want to do Extreme Programming without a full on-board
        > support from everyone I worked with, and perhaps a boot camp with some
        > experts.
        >
        >
        >
        > To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
        >
        > To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
        > extremeprogramming-unsubscribe@...
        >
        > Ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com
        >
        > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
        >
        >
        > To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
        >
        > To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
        > extremeprogramming-unsubscribe@...
        >
        > Ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com
        >
        > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
        >
        >
      • Tim Burns
        I guess though it begs the point, what is insight? Its not a result of planning, but of process. I am sure the context of the work (over the week, not at the
        Message 3 of 3 , Mar 1, 2001
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          I guess though it begs the point, what is insight? Its not a result of
          planning, but of process. I am sure the context of the work (over the week,
          not at the day) was mostly simple with difficult problems interspersed.
          That is the mindset of benchwork, or any thing that must be done
          incrementally. That is what I meant as a "by-product": we do things small
          and they add up to insights that come to us as a course of normal events.
          We are working on things, we see things, and it is the cumulative simple,
          small tasks that give us the insights into the big things. Two ideas come
          out of this, it is good to keep doing small pieces of work and understanding
          as you go. Second, good software developers go home and do other things,
          and bad software developers work 12 hours a day, making themselves
          miserable, and making the code more miserable. :)

          Tim

          > -----Original Message-----
          > From: Dinwiddie, George [mailto:George.Dinwiddie@...]
          > Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2001 10:28 AM
          > To: 'extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com'
          > Cc: 'tburns@...'
          > Subject: PCR (was: XP for Large Projects)
          >
          >
          > Hmmm... I've read Mullis' book 'Dancing in the Mind Field' and I
          > didn't see where it said that PCR "was discovered as a by-product
          > of simple, careful research in genetics." As I recall, it was a
          > sudden insight while driving through the dark for a weekend getaway
          > with a sleeping girlfriend in the passenger seat and with a lifetime
          > background of "doing chemistry" (including ingesting hallucinigenic
          > chemicals).
          >
          > Maybe this is a good way to approach software development? ;-)
          >
          > - George
          >
          > -----O
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