Title: The Mythical Man Month: Essays on Software Engineering
Author: Frederick P. Brooks.Jr
Date Published: April 1995
LOCN: QA76.758.B75 1995
Dewey: 005.1/068 20
Bibliography: 77 (first edition)
Figures: 22 (first edition)
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Perhaps it is too melodramatic to say that The Mythical Man Month changed my life, so suffice it to say that after reading the book, I went on to get a job programming a PDP-11 for Knoxville Utility Board. After I got my degree in chemistry, I changed my career to software engineering and never looked back. Now almost twenty years later, after three years as Assistant Professor of Computer Science specializing in software engineering and a decade in private industry, this book still has a special place in my heart.
With the melodrama now dispatched, let me say that I wholeheartedly recommend this book for any manager of a software engineering project, and especially for anyone involved in a Year-2000 project.
A few more comments follow, arranged by chapter.
Large-system programming has over the past decade been such a tar-pit, and many great and powerful beasts [including the IBM 360 project team] have thrashed violently in it. Most have emerged with running systems -- few have met goals, schedules, and budgets .... No one thing seems to cause the difficulty -- any particular paw can be pulled away. But the accumulation of simultaneous and interacting factors brings slower and slower motion.
Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later
Most European cathedrals show differences in plan or architectural style between parts built in different generations by different builders. The later builders were tempted to "improve" upon the designs of the earlier ones, to reflect the changes in fashion and differences in individual taste ... and the result proclaims the pridefulness of the builders as much as the glory of God.
Brooks goes on to relate this observation to the need for conceptual integrity in the design of a software system, and makes observations on how this can be achieved.
The tar pit of software engineering will continue to be sticky for a long time to come. Once can expect the human race to continue attempting systems just within or just beyond our reach; and software systems are perhaps the most intricate and complex of man's handiworks. The management of this complex craft will demand our best use of new languages and systems, our best adaptation of proven engineering management methods, liberal doses of common sense, and a God-given humility to recognize our fallibility and limitations.
The contents of the first edition follow. The latest edition is not yet in hand.
Chapter 1: The Tar Pit
Chapter 2: The Mythical Man-Month
Chapter 3: The Surgical Team
Chapter 4: Aristocracy, Democracy, and System Design
Chapter 5: The Second System Effect
Chapter 6: Passing the Word
Chapter 7: Why Did the Tower of Babel Fail?
Chapter 8: Calling the Shot
Chapter 9: Ten Pounds in a Five-Pound Sack
Chapter 10: The Documentary Hypothesis
Chapter 11: Plan to Throw One Away
Chapter 12: Sharp Tools
Chapter 13: The Whole and the Parts
Chapter 14: Hatching a Catastrophe
Chapter 15: The Other Face
Chapter 16: No Silver Bullet [Second Edition]
Author: Brooks, Frederick P. (Frederick Phillips) Title: The mythical man-month : essays on software engineering / Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. Edition: Anniversary ed. Published: Reading, Mass. : Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., 1995. Description: xiii, 322 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. LC Call No.: QA76.758.B75 1995 Dewey No.: 005.1/068 20 ISBN: 0201835959 Notes: Anniversary ed. has four new chapters. Includes bibliographical references (p. 293-308) and index. Subjects: Software engineering. Control No.: 94036653
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