Re: _Machine Beauty_: Science and Art Out of the Closet

Anton Sherwood (
Tue, 03 Mar 1998 19:38:00 -0700

Holger Wagner wrote:
> [...] I remember that one some programming
> newsgroup there once was a thread about how programmers often are
> interested in music. I also was quite surprised to find out that many of
> my fellow students (computer science) are into music and 3d-graphics.
> Just recently, I realized how similar programming software and composing
> music are. With both "arts" you can take the two approaches, btw: you
> can have an idea and then work on it (with the idea never really
> changing), and you can start with something and then - step by step -
> develop something completely different.

How often do you use wholly one approach or the other? One of the rules
of thumb given in _The Mythical Man-Month_ (iirc) is: "Plan to throw one
away." If you're designing a big project, there will almost certainly
come a time when you say to yourself, "If I had known when starting this
what I have learned in the process, I'd have done it very differently"

and it's wise to follow that instinct.

When I was working as a programmer (a long time ago in a galaxy far far away) my coworker remarked one day that Beethoven's feat, composing his greatest symphony while deaf, isn't all that remarkable - it's what we did every day: arranged a sequence of instructions which, if we understood the compiler and hadn't blundered, would produce a desired effect. Neither we nor Beethoven could verify the effect of each symbol as we wrote it; we had to rely on experience to predict what the effect would be. The only difference is that a deaf composer can't debug. ;)

"How'd ya like to climb this high without no mountain?" --Porky Pine
Anton Sherwood   *\\*   +1 415 267 0685   *\\*   DASher@...
	!!  visiting New Mexico, end of March !!