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We have several established law and a dozen of so not so well established. Among more or less established laws of software development we can mention the following:
Postel's LawParkinson's Law
The law that inspired this post…
Be conservative in what you send, liberal in what you accept.
Jon Postel originally articulated this as a principle for making TCP implementations robust. This principle is also embodied by HTML which many attribute as a cause of its success and failure, depending on who you ask.
In today's highly charged political environment, Postel's law is a uniter.Pareto Principle
Otherwise known as the law of bureaucracy, this law states that…
Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
As contrasted to Haack's Law which states that
Work expands so as to overflow the time available and spill on the floor leaving a very sticky mess.
Also known as the 80-20 rule, the Pareto Principle states…
For many phenomena, 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes.
This is the principle behind the painful truth that 80% of the bugs in the code arise from 20% of the code. Likewise, 80% of the work done in a company is performed by 20% of the staff. The problem is you don't always have a clear idea of which 20%.
... ... ...The Peter Principle
One of the most depressing laws in this list, if you happen to have first-hand experience with this via working with incompetent managers.
In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.
Just read Dilbert (or watch The Office) to get some examples of this in action.
... ... ...Murphy's LawBrook's Law
The one we all know and love.
If anything can go wrong, it will.
Speaking of which, wait one second while I backup my computer.
The developer's response to this law should be defensive programming and the age old boy scout motto, Be Prepared.Conway's Law
Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.
Named after Fred Brooks, aka, Mr. Mythical Man Month. My favorite corollary to this law is the following…
The bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned.
Obviously, Brook was not a statistician.
Having nothing to do with country music, this law states…
Any piece of software reflects the organizational structure that produced it
Put another way…
If you have four groups working on a compiler, you'll get a 4-pass compiler.
How many groups are involved in the software you are building?
... ... ...Moore's Law
Probably the most famous law in computing, this law states…
The power of computers per unit cost doubles every 24 month.
The more popular and well known version of Moore's law states…
The number of transistors on an integrated circuit will double in about 18 months.
And we've been racing to keep up ever since.
... ... ...Wirth's lawZawinski's Law
Software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster.
Ha! Take that Moore's Law!
This law addresses software bloat and states…
Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail. Those programs which cannot so expand are replaced by ones which can.
I hear that the next version of calc.exe is going to include the ability to read email. A more modern formulation of this law should replace email with RSS.
... ... ...
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