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Sussman on computing

Computer Science is in deep trouble. Structured design is a failure. Systems, as currently engineered, are brittle and fragile. They cannot be easily adapted to new situations. Small changes in requirements entail large changes in the structure and configuration. Small errors in the programs that prescribe the behavior of the system can lead to large errors in the desired behavior. Indeed, current computational systems are unreasonably dependent on the correctness of the implementation, and they cannot be easily modified to account for errors in the design, errors in the specifications, or the inevitable evolution of the requirements for which the design was commissioned. ( Just imagine what happens if you cut a random wire in your computer!) This problem is structural. This is not a complexity problem. It will not be solved by some form of modularity. We need new ideas. We need a new set of engineering principles that can be applied to effectively build flexible, robust, evolvable, and efficient systems.
Gerald Jay Sussman, MIT

November 26, 2002 11:07 AM