Polymath Engineer Weekly #72
SIMD, Graphs, Communities, Microservices, Software, Agile and Cells
Links of the week
“SIMD” often gets thrown around as a buzzword by performance and HPC (high performance computing) nerds, but I don’t think it’s a topic that has very friendly introductions out there, for a lot of reasons.
This post is mostly about
vb64(which stands for vector base64), a base64 codec I wrote to see for myself if Rust’s
std::simdlibrary is any good, but it’s also an excuse to talk about SIMD in general.
Knowledge Graphs are useful in a variety of ways. We can run graph algorithms and calculate the centralities for any node, to understand how important a concept (node) is to the body of work. We can analyse connected and disconnected sets of concepts, or calculate communities of concepts for a deep understanding of the subject matter. We can understand links between seemingly disconnected concepts.
I tried to be fair; I gave the post-Elon Twitter era a week, thinking "how bad could it possibly be?" and good lord, it was so much worse than I could have possibly ever imagined. It's like Elon read the Dilbert pointy-haired-manager book on management and bonked his head on every rung of the ladder going down, generating an ever-growing laundry list of terrible things no manager should ever do. And he kept going!
One big benefit of microservices is that it serves as a technical patch to a social problem: organizing development across two-pizza teams. You assign each team of 5-10 a microservice, and this reduces the communication overhead. Microservices are not without its challenges. Integration is a challenge, but at least it gets you going.
When developing the work as a monolith, where do you start coding, how do you grow the code? Scaling needs to be thought out. Every 10X in size requires a different design. How would growing a monolith for scaling work? Does it start with an unscalable system first? But then what is the design path to make it scalable?
Christopher Alexander had a rare gift, not only to be able to see what many others could not, and not only respond to what he saw with his own work, but also put it into words for others to do the same. This, however, does not make him a saint. It took him, over six decades, hundreds of buildings and thousands of pages of published text to articulate what he saw. If he had succeeded by his own standard, his ideas would have seen more uptake during his lifetime by dint of being more accessible than they were; by being addressable by more people than they are.
The Agile Manifesto is an immune response on the part of programmers to bad management. The document is an expression of trauma, and its intellectual descendants continue to carry this baggage. While the Agile era has brought about remarkable advancements in project management techniques and development tools, it remains a tactical, technical, and ultimately reactionary movement. As long as Agile remains in this position it will be liable to backfire, vulnerable to the very depredations of bad management it had initially evolved to counter.
Book of the Week
Do you have any more links our community should read? Feel free to post them on the comments.
Have a nice week. 😉