[Arcana] the travelling salesman problem solved!

Karl Fogel kfogel at red-bean.com
Fri Mar 21 19:23:48 CDT 2008

"Jim Blandy" <jimb at red-bean.com> writes:
> Matthias Felleisen often took similar positions to the ones Dijkstra
> takes in that essay.  They're full of crap.
> The reason software matters in society, instead of being an obscure
> branch of mathematics or engineering, is that people do astonishing
> things with it, like Smalltalk, the Mac, the Internet, IRC, the
> world-wide web, video games, and cell phones.  All of those things
> were, by Dijkstra's standards, ad-hoc slap-dash attempts to just get
> something that works at all, perhaps refined later in the presence of
> much more money.  The techniques Dijkstra claims one is a moron if one
> does not use increase the investment required to get something that
> works so much that these things would have come decades later, or, in
> the case of the skunkworks projcts, wouldn't have happened at all.
> Dijkstra's correct, I think, that it's silly to expect flawless
> software without the help of formalism like those he's promoting.  But
> correct software five years later is demonstrably not valuable
> compared to shockingly cool software now.
> That is, I think Dijkstra is correct that his techniques are necessary
> to achieve the goal he has in mind, but I think that Dijkstra's goal
> is not socially or economically interesting.
> (I don't know if this is a question it's worthwhile to have an opinion
> on, but I've got one, dammit.)

That's exactly what I was thinking, but I was thinking it in a much more
verbose and vague way.

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