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¶ complexity
In grade school and college, (and even now sometimes) we used to have these mini contests of who-is-the-most-screwed. You know, like "shit man, I got 3 essays to write that are *all* due this week" or "Man, I got FIVE exams all this week!" or "so for this project I gotta do THIS and THIS and THIS and THIS... (ad inifinitum)" We'd all want to express to our friends how much work we had and on hearing the news, the rest of us would all be like "oh man! that sucks!" or "oh yeah? you think that's bad, wait'll you hear about MY work... (yada yada yada)"

In software engineering, there's this false rubric people use to assess each other's projects that's based on the number of lines of code they write. "hey. how big was your project" "10,000 lines. you?" "20,000" "wow." It's kinda like the big penis thing. Inexperienced coders are wowed by the intial size, but they know nothing of the quality. I've definitely fallen prey to that way of thinking quite a few times in my undergraduate career. In CS32, we were way proud that our code base hit 40,000 lines of C++, but not so proud cause a team in the year before us hit 70,000 lines. Friends always asked us how many lines of code we wrote and we always impressed them with that number.

Once you hit a certain point, though, you start to realize things. You realize that the fewer lines of code there are in a project, the fewer bugs there are going to be. And that its size is inversely proportional to its maintainability and readability. And essentially that the only reason you'd want more lines of code is to impress your friends who don't know jack shit about writing good code.

So I guess what I'm trying to drive at is that people often equate complexity with quality when they shouldn't. If a friend has a crazy schedule and massive workload, you'll sometimes look on and think, "wow, he must be pretty good" instead of, "his life would be so much easier if did X instead of Y" People who see a complicated apparatus that they don't understand will just kind of glaze over their eyes and think the creator must be something pretty smart. But it's true a lot less than we'd think. And I'll wager that we've all had moments when we tried to use the seeming complexity of our knowledge to impress a friend.

Here's a classic example. A friend not in your field asks "So what's your research?" and you immediately rattle of the technical description of your research "oh, I'm studying stochastic techniques in allocating resources for distributed shared memory" knowing he won't understand it, and hoping he'll be pretty impressed by something he doesn't understand. "oh wow. sounds complicated (smart)" right? And then you leave it at that. So now you've left your friend with the impression that you're doing something intelligent without giving them an idea of what you're actually doing, whereas you could've taken maybe 30 seconds to explain in layman's terms what you're life is about.

shit, i started rambling...



Re: complexity
Posted 17 years, 6 months ago by Sonic • • Reply
Frankly, I've given up trying to explain to people what exactly it is that I do since I have a hard enough time explaining to them the point/nature/pursuit/definition of my field in general. But if I want to impress people within music (not theory), then yeah, I guess saying something like "I'm studying the use of traidic superimpositions in post-tonal diatonic repertoire and its post-modernist roots" would make people's eyes glaze over. So silly.
Re: complexity
Posted 17 years, 6 months ago by Brandon Fuller • @ wwwReply
Thanks god somebody is working on stochastic techniques in allocating resources for distributed shared memory. Mine is no good.
Re: complexity
Posted 17 years, 6 months ago by Brandon Fuller • @ wwwReply
Thanks god somebody is working on stochastic techniques in allocating resources for distributed shared memory. Mine is no good.



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