Wed, 6 Nov 1996 08:34:59 -0800
> About fifteen years ago, I had a disturbing experience while working on a
> software project...When I saw this, I felt a twinge of disappointment that I would not
> have anything to debug, immediately followed by revulsion at the thought that I
> might have been hoping for bugs... I suspect that
> most programmers are among those people who enjoy mental puzzles of various
> sorts, and debugging provides the same kind of rewards (as long as one is
> able to make discernible progress).
I had a related experience when took my first programming class at Univ. of Michigan.
Our instructor gave us grades based on our style (25-50% of the grade, inc. readability),
and efficiency of our programs. Computing time was expensive (we were using punch
cards on an Amdahl 460 time shared among 1-200+ jobs at any time) & each student was
given a budget based in the instructor's evaluation of the program complexity. If you used
up your budget, you may be able to get more time if the instructor had "money" left in his
class budget & the instructor didn't think you were abusive. (If you had any money left at
the end of the year you could play Adventure. ;->) When I figured out the cause of a bug
in my first program, I thought how stupid. Afterward, I set out to write programs that would
compiled & run the first time. I was lucky in that we were programming in a derivative of
ALGOL 60, which had much better data structuring & checking then FORTRAN. In any
case, discovered that I enjoyed the puzzle of designing a program that was efficient,
readable, and ran the first time.
I think we need to show people how much more fun & rewarding it is to design something
that works, rather than fixing something that's broken.
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