[FoRK] Who needs efficient code?

rst at ai.mit.edu rst at ai.mit.edu
Fri Jul 30 07:40:40 PDT 2010

Eugen Leitl writes:
 > On Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 10:16:39PM -0700, John Parsons wrote:
 > > As more of a user than a practitioner, this makes sense to me, but as in any endeavour, I decry the abandonment of quality.
 > > 
 > > http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2010/07/the-beauty-of-inefficient-code/60613/
 > > 
 > > > The power of today's hardware is such that, for example, you
 > > > can build a web application that supports thousands of users
 > > > using one of the slowest available programming languages,
 > > > brutally inefficient datastore access and storage patterns,
 > > > zero caching, no sensible distribution of work, no attention to
 > > > locality, etc. etc. Basically, you can apply every available
 > > > anti-pattern and still come out the other end with a workable
 > > > system, simply because the hardware can move faster than your
 > > > bad decision-making.
 > I love the smell of bullshit in the morning. 
 > The language the guy is using makes it look as he knows what he's
 > talking about, but obviously not.

Ummmm... it's not quite clear which guy you're talking about.

The quoted paragraph was written by ex-Twitter API lead Alex Payne,
who doesn't blog for The Atlantic; he was quoted by some other guy who
does.  Payne's obviously talking about Rails, which his (former)
company had to abandon for its most high-volume requests, though they
still use it elsewhere last I checked.

The paragraph was an excerpt from a longer post on Alex's own blog
about why Node.js isn't a scaling panacea either:


which, by the way, points to a lot of other interesting writing
about more graceful ways of scaling large systems (in the paragraph
starting "...taking a hybrid approach to concurrency").

It's, of course, possible that Alex Payne doesn't know what he's
talking about, but it's not obvious to me why you'd think so.  Was
there something else in the Atlantic post that you meant to call
bullshit on instead?


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