Well crap - RIP Fredric P. Brooks Jr.

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From the New York Times:

Frederick P. Brooks Jr., Computer Design Innovator, Dies at 91
Frederick P. Brooks Jr., whose innovative work in computer design and software engineering helped shape the field of computer science, died on Thursday at his home in Chapel Hill, N.C. He was 91.

His death was confirmed by his son, Roger, who said Dr. Brooks had been in declining health since having a stroke two years ago.

Dr. Brooks had a wide-ranging career that included creating the computer science department at the University of North Carolina and leading influential research in computer graphics and virtual reality.

But he is best known for being one of the technical leaders of IBM’s 360 computer project in the 1960s. At a time when smaller rivals like Burroughs, Univac and NCR were making inroads, it was a hugely ambitious undertaking. Fortune magazine, in an article with the headline “IBM’s $5,000,000,000 Gamble,” described it as a “bet the company” venture.

And his book:

Dr. Brooks took the hard-earned lessons from grappling with the OS/360 software as grist for his book “The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering.” First published in 1975, it soon became recognized as a quirky classic, selling briskly year after year and routinely cited as gospel by computer scientists.

The tone is witty and self-deprecating, with pithy quotes from Shakespeare and Sophocles and chapter titles like “Ten Pounds in a Five-Pound Sack” and “Hatching a Catastrophe.” There are practical tips along the way. For example: Organize engineers on big software projects into small groups, which Dr. Brooks called “surgical teams.”

The most well known of his principles was what he called Brooks’s law: “Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.” Dr. Brooks himself acknowledged that he was “oversimplifying outrageously,” but he was exaggerating to make a point.

It is often smarter to rethink things, he suggested, than to add more people. And in software engineering, a profession with elements of artistry and creativity, workers are not interchangeable units of labor.

One of the titans of the industry.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on November 24, 2022 8:49 AM.

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