|Re: Algorithmically refined...|
Message #11 Posted by Grant Goodes on 28 Aug 2003, 11:23 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by eclectic_echidna
In this day and age of 200-400MHZ pocket PCs, wouldn't a more appropriate algorithm be one that utilizes modern day strengths, speed and memory size?
This is what I personally call the "Micro$oft Falacy": The
delusion that problems are always better solved by a bigger
box with (apparently) fancier software. In fact, as soon
as you enter the realm of mathematics, rigour is more
important than marketing, and "modern day strengths" as you
call them, are but sirens singing you onto the rocks. The
fact that this falacy sells more mother-boards/hard-drives/memory etc., is the explanation
of why it is so pevasive, but that's another thread.
I would claim that having a heavily constrained
platform to develop your algorithms on (say an 8-bit
processor and 4k of memory) almost always results in better
code than the bottomless memory/GHz pit of a modern PC.
You end up having to think, and the tough constraints
necessitate that the algorithm must be thoroughly understaood.
I hate to belabour the point (a lie: Actually I love to
belabour this particular point), but the vast computing
resources available to the average "modern" programmer
means that few ever really bother to write anything more
than a first hack at an algorithm, go through a cycle of
bug-fixing, and release it to the unwitting customers.
With a limited platform, coding inevitably goes through
a cycle of think/write/refine/repeat. I don't think too
many people would apply the word "refined" to the SW out
of Redmond, but the HP-15C? Now there's refined!
I usually draw the analogy of the piano versus the syntesizer: Much music written for the piano (in some
respects, the first "universal" musical instrument, much
like a microprocessor is a universal calculating device)
is far superior to that written for the far more flexible
synthesizer (flexible in the sense that it can make
basically any sound). The very versatility of the
synthesizer ensnares many musicians in a net of infinite
possibilities, most of which just sound bad. The extremely
limiting constraints of the piano seem to result in a
purity of form that often inspires the composer to greater
Just rambling now, I guess, so I'll shut up.