The Psychology of Computer Programming (Silver Anniversary) Paperback – Aug 1998
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This landmark 1971 classic is reprinted with new commentary and a Preface from the author. Long regarded as one of the first books to pioneer a people-oriented approach to computing, The psychology of Computer Programming endures as a penetrating analysis of the intelligence, skill, teamwork, and problem-solving power of the computer programmer. Returning to topics that are strikingly relevant to today's issues in programming, Gerald M. Weinberg provides a characteristically fresh perspective on his original insights, highlighting the similarities and differences between now and then. Using a conversational style that invites the reader to join him, Weinberg reunites with some of his most enduring, straight-from-the-heart observations on the human side of software engineering. Dorset House Publishing is proud to make this important text available to new generations of Weinberg fans -- and to encourage readers of the first edition to return to its valuable lessons. From the Epilogue "...the reader who has really been touched by this book will start to work on the operating system he carries around in his own central processing unit -- his head. That will be his reward."
Top Customer Reviews
Weinberg did something courageous in his updated text. Instead of whitewashing history, he let his original text stand, unedited, and simply commented on each chapter separately. The approach worked for me, making an already entertaining text a joy to read.
What is all this about? Weinberg writes "This book has only one major purpose--to trigger the beginning of a new field of study: computer programming as a human activity, or, in short, the psychology of computer programming. All other goals are subservient to that one." Indeed there has been much study of computer programming as an art and as a discipline for individuals and for groups. This book may represent the beginning of that noble effort.
Don't be put off by the technology Weinberg occasionally uses within the text. At the time of this book's writing, FORTRAN, PL/1, and APL were in common use and OS/360 was the defacto standard. If echoes of the past bother you, ignore them! Instead, concentrate on Weinberg's main topic: the people who develop software systems. For example, consider the following: "...the average programming manager would prefer that a project be estimated at twelve months and take twelve than the same project be estimated at six months and take nine. This is an area where psychological study could be rewarding, but there are indications from other situations that it is not the mean length of estimated time that annoys people, but, rather, the standard deviation in actual time taken." Of course this notion applies as much today as it did then.Read more ›
Weinberg spoke to the human situation of programming and as a very young programmer I found the book excellent.
However, I have seen his ideas systematically distorted in practice. The idea of programmer "humility" is all very well: but our society does not reward the humble, and the notion that one must be humble has transformed software developers from the uppity hippies of the early 1970s to a class of neo-monks, laboring to illuminate the sacred texts of a society that is obsessed, not with humility, but with power and control.
As Weinberg was well aware and retails in his book, "structured programming" has a definite mathematical meaning that was proven by two Italians in the 1960s: the result was that you can write any conceivable program using a surprisingly small set of logical patterns.
However, the phrase "structured programming" has in fact been generalized by both programmers and their managers. "That's not structured" means in practice "I don't understand it." It has been inappropriately generalized to apply to programmers and has been used as a term of art by those who would discriminate on the basis of age.
In the artistic arena, deliberate introduction of new paradigms is usually benign. The Dutch artist Piet Mondrian gained great power in his art by limiting himself to what be considered "structured painting", for in his mature style, Mondrian refused to use other than lines at right angles and primary colors.
In the purely scientific arena, parsimony is also benign.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book has a wealth of information on how programmers work when in groups, and is a useful read for both managers and individual contributors alike. Read morePublished on Dec 21 2003 by Lars Bergstrom
The book's present-day relevance was amazing. The similarities in the behavior and interaction of the programmers of today and the programmers of old provides a unique perspective. Read morePublished on Dec 4 2001 by David H. Hoover
Some younger programmers may get impatient with the Weinberg's references to obsolete activities, such as keypunching and submitting a debugging run, but they shouldn't stop... Read morePublished on June 24 2001 by Conrad H. Weisert
I've read dozens of books in this area; I was disappointed with this book. A lot of the material is dated (and I'm not interested in learning PL/1 and JCL). Read morePublished on Sept. 4 2000
Not quite a review. Hope this isn't too badly out of place.
The original edition of this book is still high on my list of professional references. Read more
One of the growing movements in software development is the use of patterns. Based on the work of Christopher Alexander as described in his books, A Pattern Language, Oxford... Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2000 by Charles Ashbacher
What prompted me to buy and read this book was Steve McConnel's recommendation in Code Complete. After reading Psychology from cover to cover, I have become a Weinberg fan! Read morePublished on Nov. 28 1999 by Iyad El-Baghdadi
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