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Re: gEDA-user: Soft and Hard symbols

On Jan 19, 2011, at 10:31 AM, Peter Clifton wrote:

> Consider my opinion on the matter changed though, as I've heard some
> vaguely convincing use-cases. I did think that stating that the issue
> doesn't matter to me was somewhat unfair though. It does.

I am sorry you feel it was unfair.

Consider the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter in Euclidean geometry. Classically, that's the definition of "Pi". Now square the integral of exp(-x^2) from negative infinity to positive infinity. The result is identical to Pi.

But wait! There are no circles present in the second problem! So that can't be Pi, it must be something else! That's not a "use case" for Pi that anyone could anticipate, so nobody should be allowed to use "Pi" in this way. It doesn't fit the definition.

Fortunately, mathematicians and scientists are more open minded than that: they realize that powerful concepts take on a life of their own, and find many "use cases" far afield from their original intent.

The same is true of software. Tools are generally conceived for particular "use cases", but a truly excellent tool transcends those and goes far beyond the original intent of its designer. But if someone places unnatural restrictions on what the tool is allowed to do simply because they cannot conceive of a "use case" beyond some arbitrary boundary, the excellence of the tool will be abridged. One of the reasons I admire the Bell Labs pioneers so much is that they really understood this basic principle of software excellence.

John Doty              Noqsi Aerospace, Ltd.

This message contains technical discussion involving difficult issues. No personal disrespect or malice is intended. If you perceive such, your perception is simply wrong. I'm a busy person, and in my business "go along to get along" causes mission failures and sometimes kills people, so I tend to be a bit blunt.

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