More Ramblings from a Los Angeles Programmer

May 20, 2007

Never Finished

Filed under: coding — Josh DeWald @ 9:57 am

or… Zeno’s Paradox as an Analog to Software Development

Ask any developer out there if a program is ever finished and they’ll tell you “No, of course not, I still need to…”. But, ask any developer out there if the program is almost finished and, assuming that the development cycle has progressed far enough along, their answer will invariably be “Yes, all I have to do…”. They may even quantify it: “80% complete”. Ask them a couple of days, weeks, months (depending on the magnitude of the project) later and you will get a similar response, but with a different percentage, say 90%. And so forth… but never 100%.

No real point here I suppose, but just the observation that it sounds remarkably like Zeno’s Paradox of Motion. I particularly like the version, apparently invented by Philip K. Dick, about a frog jumping out of a well: every jump takes him halfway out so therefore he can never get out, because there’s always another half (of the previous jump) to go.

And so it is with software development.

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