[FoRK] the plural of anecdote is data

Wayne Baisley baisley at alumni.rice.edu
Tue May 15 00:05:26 PDT 2012

On May 10, 2012, at 6:18 AM, Dave Long <dave.long at bluewin.ch> wrote:

> Fig 1. on the 3rd page of "Do Values Grow on Trees?"[0] shows relatively different editing behaviors for (a tiny selection of) students who went on to receive, respectively good, fair, and poor grades in a programming class.
> The interesting thing is that (consistent with industry practice) the good student spent a much larger fraction of time with intermediate programs that, whether or not they had the desired functionality, at least compiled.
> My speculation is that programmers may be like riders, in that a classical goal of riding is to be in such an equilibrium that an outside observer does not notice the dialog between horse and rider (software is like sausage: the people who consume it often have little to no interest in how it is produced), and the great distinction between good and poor riders is that when a horse requires correction, a strong rider quickly restores the invariant that the horse is at least doing *something* in good form (even if it remains to patiently, incrementally, teach what was desired in the first place), while a weak rider expends a great deal of time in which the horse is not doing anything in particular besides being confused about what might possibly be expected of it.
> Do good programmers make frequent, effective even if occasionally not subtle, interventions in their programs, while poor programmers make infrequent, ineffective ones?
> -Dave
> [0] Marceau, Fisler, Krishnamurthi "Do Values Grow on Trees? Expression Integrity in Functional Programming" 2011
> http://www.cs.brown.edu/~sk/Publications/Papers/Published/mfk-val-grow-tree-expr-integ-fp/paper.pdf

I would like to include this in my Job-Seekers' Compendium, "Do References Grow On Trees?". I'm also contemplating a Social-Throw-Weight Companion, "Do Names Reduce In Maps?", which may/not include a deconstruction of the 1972 Melanie hit song, "Brand New Key:Value Pair".

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