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I once applied for a job in the military.
"Your resume says you're in IT so we have two available positions, you can become an Oracle DBA or we can test new torture methods on you."
"I'll take the torture methods, please."
They then presented me with an Oracle database
Fetch = tokenFoo
Fetch = tokenBar
Fetch = tokenBaz
// parser recognizes those three in a row so it reduces to a rule
Foobar -> tokenFoo tokenBar tokenBaz
You don't get the rule to reduce to until after the tokens are read. You have no idea how many tokens it takes to resolve a rule until after the fact. Which is fine. Usually.
So to build a tree, you have to keep a stack, push any tokens fetched, and then whenever you reduce to a rule, you pop the tokens on the right hand side of the rule, and push a new token for the left hand side of the rule. Easy.
The trouble is when an error is encountered. You won't necessarily get the right number of tokens back
(the parser can actually handle this part, but the tree builder can't)
Fetch = tokenFoo
Fetch = error
Reduce = FooBar -> tokenFoo error ???
Ouch. I don't have enough tokens.
The trouble is, I don't know I don't have enough tokens until the stack is empty.
So basically, I can't even build trees from a shift reduce/LR parser if there are errors in the input.
This is BAD.
When I was growin' up, I was the smartest kid I knew. Maybe that was just because I didn't know that many kids. All I know is now I feel the opposite.
Observe that for the programmer, as for the chef, the urgency of the patron may govern the scheduled completion of the task, but it cannot govern the actual completion.
An omelette, promised in two minutes, may appear to be progressing nicely. But when it has not set in two minutes, the customer has two choices --- wait or eat it raw. Software customers have had the same choices.
The cook has another choice; he can turn up the heat. The result is often an omelette nothing can save --— burned in one part, raw in another.
Now I do not think software managers have less inherent courage and firmness than chefs, nor than other engineering managers. But false scheduling to match the patron's desired date is much more common in our discipline than elsewhere in engineering.
It is very difficult to make a vigorous, plausible, and job-risking defense of an estimate that is derived by no quantitative method, supported by little data, and certified chiefly by the hunches of the managers.
Clearly two solutions are needed. We need to develop and publicize productivity figures, bug-incidence figures, estimating rules, and so on. The whole profession can only profit from sharing such data. Until estimating is on a sounder basis, individual managers will need to stiffen their backbones and defend their estimates with the assurance that their poor hunches are better than wish-derived estimates.
I'm pretty sure that estimating hasn't changed at all since this was originally written (1982 or so).
Last Visit: 31-Dec-99 19:00 Last Update: 26-Feb-21 21:47