Ruminations W. KahanPage 2 April 25, 2000 5:53 am
What about computers matters most? Speed?
About every 18 months it doubles.What matters more than speed isThroughput : Tasks/sec, Transactions/sec, …which is not quite the same as speed.Unreliability degrades Throughput : Speed, in Operations per monthMalfunctions per month =––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––No. of Operations between Malfunctions
How many malfunctions per month can you tolerate?
Hardware is getting more reliable as well as faster.Software is not, so it imposes its own
Law of Diminishing Returns
upon hardware speed.Who notices this?Whether it be noticed varies a lot with the application, the personality, and the ability correctly to locate blame for a malfunction:“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, ...” (
I.i.139)or is it due to some anonymous programmer?Witness: expensive wreckage on Mars.