[Beowulf] Stroustrup regarding multicore

Lux, James P james.p.lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Wed Aug 27 11:59:33 PDT 2008

-----Original Message-----
From: Perry E. Metzger [mailto:perry at piermont.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 11:53 AM
To: Lux, James P
Cc: Steve Herborn; Beowulf at beowulf.org
Subject: Re: [Beowulf] Stroustrup regarding multicore

>"Lux, James P" <james.p.lux at jpl.nasa.gov> writes:
>> I would say that you shouldn't be teaching the Scientist to
>> code. You should be teaching them to write good requirements
>> documents & test cases that someone who is skilled at coding can
>> use.

>I think it is very hard to do that.

But is it harder or easier to do that than to teach the Scientist to code?  In the long run, the effort in my approach is better invested, because it allows you to put 2 or more people to work, rather than just one.  If the Scientist spends their time coding, then they're not doing as much Sciencing.

(this is a HUGE problem at places like JPL... It's hard to let go of parts of the task.. the first thought is "I can do it myself faster than I can explain to someone else how to do it", but, in the long run, that means you're not doing what you're a specialist in. If you're the world expert in, say, cryocooler sensors, you shouldn't be spending time doing sysadmin work, or trying to figure out the intricacies of some Perl script, or etc...)

>It is not uncommon for me to get someone asking me a question of the
form "I need to do X, how can I do it", and while explaining to them
how to do X, further questioning slowly reveals that they really
should be doing Y. It just isn't possible for someone who doesn't
program as well as a decent programmer to put together good
requirements because they don't understand well enough what is

But that merely points up the need to develop requirements gathering or generating skills...

>Over the years, I've worked in several very specialized fields. The
people who wrote the best software were both actual computer
scientists and actual domain experts. I admit that such people are
rare, and you usually can't get them, but that is the *ideal* case.

Sure, it's the ideal, but generally unachievable, case. So, given that we have finite resources, and all domain experts aren't expert coders, what's the next best thing...

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