Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

Re: Complexity of Code

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Re: Complexity of Code
The roots of this problem are described in an article by Charles O.
Greenlaw, S.E., in the Jan. 1999 issue on SEA Online.  The excerpt below
discusses this issue issue.  The refrenced book  +ACI-The Death Of Common Sense+ACI-
is a must read.

+ACI-the goal is to cover every eventuality so that every the outcomes will be
both certain and uniform for all.  The use of flexibility and judgment by
either the complying person or the enforcer is to avoided at all costs.  The
words of the rules will tell us exactly what to do and not to do, so that
judgment will be precluded.  The well-intentioned benefits of this approach
are to prevent mistakes and errors, and to ensure fairness and
non-discrimination, by means of covering every thing in advance and by
preventing use of discretion and possible abuse by officials.  All that
sounds rational and altruistic but how does it work?  Author Phillp K.
Howard (The Death of Common Sense), says no.  And, he says further, the
harder this method is pushed and the more zealously refined, the worse it
works.  Fairness benefits backfire, the mistakes and errors aren't
prevented, and the worthy purposes of the regulations likely to get lost in
the shuffle.  As size and complexity overwhelms efforts at compliance, code
violations become unavoidable and +ACI-enforcers, who supposedly have no
discretion, have complete power.+ACI-  Then we quit trying.  In the Code
Committee we joked about becoming +ACI-code criminals.+ACI-  Testimony to Congress
Called it +ACI-the Syndrome of involuntary noncompliance.+ACI-

Randy Vogelgesang S.E.