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Showing posts from March, 2018

The Limits of Determinism

There is something a little bit magic about writing code. You start with nothing*, and after hacking around for a while, you end up with a set of executable instructions that can make a computer do something useful or interesting. This is even more true in recent years than when I started, with the explosion of cloud based services that give individual developers (or small teams) the ability to distribute applications globally, with few obstacles, and at a downright reasonable price. I don't think there are too many fields where an individual can produce something valuable without needing approval, lots of money or supplies, or even to leave the house.

Another aspect to programming that I've grown to appreciate over the course of my career is the deterministic nature of software. Barring some circumstances so rare as to be hardly worth mentioning, a piece of software will perform exactly as its told, repeatedly and without error. Granted, programs rarely do exactly what p…