ACM Turing Award Lectures : The First Twenty Years : 1966 to by Susan Graham and Robert Ashenhurst (Edited and Introduction

By Susan Graham and Robert Ashenhurst (Edited and Introduction by)

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Extra info for ACM Turing Award Lectures : The First Twenty Years : 1966 to 1985 (ACM Press Anthology Series)

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Let me therefore also add the considerations that might lead one to the conclusion that this vision could be a very real possibility. The vision is that, well before the seventies have run to completion, we shall be able to design and implement the kind of systems that are now straining our programming ability at the expense of only a few percent in man-years of what they cost us now, and that besides that, these systems will be virtually free of bugs. These two improvements go hand in hand. In the latter respect software seems to be different from many other products, where as a rule a higher quality implies a higher price.

Upon closer analysis this turned out to have a common source: their notion of repetition was so tightly connected to the idea of an associated controlled variable to be stepped up, that they were mentally blocked from seeing the obvious. Their solutions were less efficient, needlessly hard to understand, and it took them a very long time to find them. It was a revealing but also shocking experience for me. Finally, in one respect one hopes that tomorrow's programming languages will differ greatly from what we are used to now: to a much greater extent than hitherto they should invite us to reflect in the structure of what we write clown all abstractions needed to cope conceptually with the complexity of what we are designing.

Two years later, in 1957, I married, and Dutch marriage rites require you to state your profession and I stated that I was a programmer. But the municipal authorities of :he town of Amsterdam did not accept it on the grounds that there was no such profession. And, believe it or not, but under the heading "profession" my marriage record shows the ridiculous entry "theoretical physicist"! 18 EDSGER W. DIJKSTRA So much for the slowness with which I saw the programming profession emerge in my own country.

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