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The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) Paperback – Aug 2 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 2 edition (Aug. 2 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201835959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201835953
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.3 x 23.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Amazon

The classic book on the human elements of software engineering. Software tools and development environments may have changed in the 21 years since the first edition of this book, but the peculiarly nonlinear economies of scale in collaborative work and the nature of individuals and groups has not changed an epsilon. If you write code or depend upon those who do, get this book as soon as possible -- from Amazon.com Books, your library, or anyone else. You (and/or your colleagues) will be forever grateful. Very Highest Recommendation.

From the Inside Flap

To my surprise and delight, The Mythical Man-Month continues to be popular after twenty years. Over 250,000 copies are in print. People often ask which of the opinions and recommendations set forth in 1975 I still hold, and which have changed, and how. Whereas I have from time to time addressed that question in lectures, I have long wanted to essay it in writing.

Peter Gordon, now a Publishing Partner at Addison-Wesley, has been working with me patiently and helpfully since 1980. He proposed that we prepare an Anniversary Edition. We decided not to revise the original, but to reprint it untouched (except for trivial corrections) and to augment it with more current thoughts.

Chapter 16 reprints "No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering," a 1986 IFIPS paper that grew out of my experience chairing a Defense Science Board study on military software. My co-authors of that study, and our executive secretary, Robert L. Patrick, were invaluable in bringing me back into touch with real-world large software projects. The paper was reprinted in 1987 in the IEEE Computer magazine, which gave it wide circulation.

"No Silver Bullet" proved provocative. It predicted that a decade would not see any programming technique which would by itself bring an order-of-magnitude improvement in software productivity. The decade has a year to run; my prediction seems safe. "NSB" has stimulated more and more spirited discussion in the literature than has The Mythical Man-Month. Chapter 17, therefore, comments on some of the published critique and updates the opinions set forth in 1986.

In preparing my retrospective and update of The Mythical Man-Month, I was struck by how few of the propositions asserted in it have been critiqued, proven, or disproven by ongoing software engineering research and experience. It proved useful to me now to catalog those propositions in raw form, stripped of supporting arguments and data. In hopes that these bald statements will invite arguments and facts to prove, disprove, update, or refine those propositions, I have included this outline as Chapter 18.

Chapter 19 is the updating essay itself. The reader should be warned that the new opinions are not nearly so well informed by experience in the trenches as the original book was. I have been at work in a university, not industry, and on small-scale projects, not large ones. Since 1986, I have only taught software engineering, not done research in it at all. My research has rather been on virtual reality and its applications.

In preparing this retrospective, I have sought the current views of friends who are indeed at work in software engineering. For a wonderful willingness to share views, to comment thoughtfully on drafts, and to re-educate me, I am indebted to Barry Boehm, Ken Brooks, Dick Case, James Coggins, Tom DeMarco, Jim McCarthy, David Parnas, Earl Wheeler, and Edward Yourdon. Fay Ward has superbly handled the technical production of the new chapters.

I thank Gordon Bell, Bruce Buchanan, Rick Hayes-Roth, my colleagues on the Defense Science Board Task Force on Military Software, and, most especially, David Parnas for their insights and stimulating ideas for, and Rebekah Bierly for technical production of, the paper printed here as Chapter 16. Analyzing the software problem into the categories of essence and accident was inspired by Nancy Greenwood Brooks, who used such analysis in a paper on Suzuki violin pedagogy.

Addison-Wesley's house custom did not permit me to acknowledge in the 1975 Preface the key roles played by their staff. Two persons' contributions should be especially cited: Norman Stanton, then Executive Editor, and Herbert Boes, then Art Director. Boes developed the elegant style, which one reviewer especially cited: "wide margins, and imaginative use of typeface and layout." More important, he also made the crucial recommendation that every chapter have an opening picture. (I had only the Tar Pit and Rheims Cathedral at the time.) Finding the pictures occasioned an extra year's work for me, but I am eternally grateful for the counsel.

Deo soli gloria or Soli Deo Gloria -- To God alone be the glory.

Chapel Hill, N.C., F.


0201835959P04062001


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. Imran on May 29 2004
Format: Paperback
If you have managed some software projects or have worked on some non-trivial software systems, undoubtedly you have faced many difficulties and challenges that you thought were unique to your circumstance. But after reading this book, you will realize that many of the things you experienced, and thought were unique problems, are NOT unique to you but are common systemic problems of developing non-trivial software systems. These problems appear repeatedly and even predictably, in project after project, in company after company, regardless of year, whether it's 1967 or 2007.
You will realize that long before maybe you were even born, other people working at places like IBM had already experienced those problems and quandries. And found working solutions to them which are as valid today as they were 30 years ago.
The suggestions in this book will help you think better and better manage yourself, and be more productive and less wasteful with your time and energy. In short, you will do more with less.
Some of Brooks insights and generalizations are:
The Mythical Man-Month:
Assigning more programmers to a project running behind schedule, may make it even more late.
The Second-System Effect:
The second system an engineer designs is the most bloated system she will EVER design.
Conceptual Integrity:
To retain conceptual integrity and thereby user-friendliness, a system must have a single architect (or a small system architecture team), completely separate from the implementation team.
The Manual:
The chief architect should produce detailed written specifications for the system in the form of the manual, which leaves no ambiguities about any part of the system and completely specifies the external spcifications of the system i.e.
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Format: Paperback
There have been many, many books on software project management lately, but this one still is one of the best. Perhaps the context of older simpler technology helps illustrate the principles more clearly. While some new technologies have an impact on projects, particularly the encapsulation aspect of object-oriented design that allows for real code-reuse, the fundamentals don't change. Further, Brooks shows us why there can never be a "Silver Bullet" that will revolutionize the art.
He covers in great detail critical elements such as team structure, development process, conceptual integrity, and scheduling issues (including the myth of the man-month, for which the book is named). Further, since he draws on experience from classic projects such as IBM's OS/360, the book has interesting history as well.
My only issue is that with recent increases in power of PCs and languages, many "projects" are now of such scope that they need only involve a single developer, in which case a different paradigm is needed.
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By therosen on Nov. 30 2003
Format: Paperback
Perhaps the first mass market book on software engineering, this book is a classic. It has defined the agenda for the software engineering field, as well as guide the organizational design for many software and IT organizations.
Some key concepts from the book...
- It is not good project management to divide effort by time to come up with staffing. Adding people adds commuications complexity, so double staff size quadruples the amount of communications links.
- To insure conceptual integrity, the software project needs the design to be handled by a very small group of people.
- The optimal model for a software development team is a hospital surgical unit.
- There is no silver bullet for improved quality, just a lot of best practices.
Mr. Brooks brings a wealth of experience to bear on this. As the head of some of IBM's largest operating system development projects, he's been in the guts of some of the hardest challenges the industry has to offer. He writes in a non-technical style that cuts to the heart of these difficult topics.
In the latest edition, Mr. Brooks takes a hard look at what he got right and wrong over the years. This rare self-critical analysis makes it a valuable re-read for those that enjoyed it the first time.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book after the instructor of a computer course I took in the mid-1990s highly recommended it to students. There are so many reviews listed here for this book that I am not sure I can add anything of particular note. What I can say is that reading, understanding, and applying principles outlined in this book will help programmers begin their evolution to software engineers. I recommend this book to everyone involved in the software development process, including project managers and all software project stakeholders. Yes, I agree with some reviewers that parts of the book are a bit outdated. However, this is a highly readable book which has much timeless advice. Learn to read between the lines. If the text refers to a procedural language, and your only exposure has been to object-oriented languages, for instance, think about how you can apply the principles to Java or C++ or Smalltalk. Readers just need to understand that a book does not need to be rewritten every time the language-of-the-month changes. This book is not eternal truth. Principles do change over time. Read this as one of your primers to software engineering, and then follow up your reading with other texts. This book is quoted so often in other books and technical journals that it deserves an initial reading.
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