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Frederick Phillips Brooks, Jr.

Born April 19, 1931 (1931-04-19) (age 78)
Durham, North Carolina
Fields Computer Science
Institutions IBM
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Doctoral advisor Howard Aiken
Known for OS/360
The Mythical Man-Month
Notable awards Turing Award

Frederick Phillips Brooks, Jr. (born April 19, 1931) is a software engineer and computer scientist, best-known for managing the development of OS/360, then later writing candidly about the process in his seminal book The Mythical Man-Month. "It is a very humbling experience to make a multi-million-dollar mistake, but it is also very memorable." Brooks received a Turing Award in 1999 and many other awards.

Contents

Life and career

Born in Durham, North Carolina, he attended Duke University, graduating in 1953, and he received a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics (Computer Science) from Harvard University in 1956. Howard Aiken was his advisor.

Brooks joined IBM in 1956, working in Endicott and Yorktown, New York. He worked on the architecture of the Stretch (a $10m scientific supercomputer for the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory) and Harvest computers and then was manager for the development of the System/360 family of computers and the OS/360 software they ran.

It was in The Mythical Man-Month that Brooks made the now-famous statement: "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later." This has since come to be known as "Brooks's law." In addition to The Mythical Man-Month, Brooks is also known for the paper No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering.

In 1964, Brooks left IBM to found the Department of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and chaired it for 20 years. As of 2008 he is still engaged in active research there, primarily in virtual worlds and molecular graphics.

In the mid 1980s, Brooks gave a talk at De Anza College, near the headquarters of Apple Computer. Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée had ordered a copy of The Mythical Man-Month for every Apple engineer, technical writer, and other product-development employee. The lecture hall was filled with Apple employees, most holding well-thumbed copies of the book. After the lecture, Brooks had a number of interesting conversations with Apple employees, many of whom had learned the book's lessons the hard way.

In January 2005 he gave the IEE/BCS annual Turing Lecture in London on the subject of "Collaboration and Telecollaboration in Design". In 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.

A "20th anniversary" edition of The Mythical Man-Month with four additional chapters was published in 1995.

He is also an evangelical Christian who is active with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students.[1]

Bibliography

  • Brooks, Frederick P.; Kenneth Iverson (1963). Automatic Data Processing.  
  • Brooks, Frederick P.; Kenneth Iverson (1965). Automatic Data Processing, System/360 Edition. ISBN 0-471-10605-4.  
  • Brooks, Jr., Frederick P. (1975). The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-00650-2.   (Reprinted with corrections, January 1982)
  • Brooks, Jr., Frederick P. (1995). The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering: Anniversary Edition. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-83595-9.   (A republication of The Mythical Man-Month with four extra chapters.)
  • Brooks, Frederick P. (1987). No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering.   (Reprinted in the 1995 edition of The Mythical Man-Month)
  • Brooks, Frederick P.; G. A. Blaauw (1997). Computer Architecture: Concepts and Evolution. ISBN 0-201-10557-8.  

Service and Memberships

He has served on a number of U.S. national boards and committees.[2]

  • National Science Board (1987–92)
  • Defense Science Board (1983–86)
  • Chairman, Military Software Task Force (1985–87)
  • Member, Computers in Simulation and Training Task Force (1986–87)
  • Member, Artificial Intelligence Task Force (1983–84)

Awards

In chronological order:[2]

  • National Medal of Technology (1985)
  • A.M. Turing Award, Association for Computing Machinery (1999)
  • Bower Award and Prize in Science, Franklin Institute (1995)
  • Eckert-Mauchly Award, Association for Computing Machinery and The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers–Computer Society (2004)
  • Allen Newell Award, Association for Computing Machinery (1994)
  • John von Neumann Medal, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (1993)
  • Harry Goode Memorial Award, American Federation of Information Processing Societies (1989)
  • McDowell Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Computer Art, IEEE Computer Group (1970)
  • Distinguished Service Award, Association for Computing Machinery (1987)
  • Honorary Doctor of Technical Science, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zurich (1991)
  • Distinguished Fellow, British Computer Society (1994)
  • Foreign Member, Royal Academy of Engineering, U.K. (1994)
  • Foreign Member, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (1991)
  • Member, National Academy of Science (2001)
  • Member, National Academy of Engineering (1976)
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1976)
  • Guggenheim Fellowship for studies on computer architecture and human factors of computer systems, Cambridge University, England (1975)
  • Computer Pioneer Award, IEEE Computer Society (1982)
  • Fellow (initial inductee), Association for Computer Machinery (1994)
  • Fellow, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (1968)
  • Fellow Award, The Computer Museum History Center (2001)
  • Thomas Jefferson Award, UNC-Chapel Hill (1986)
  • Order of the Golden Fleece, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Computer Sciences Distinguished Information Services Award, Information Technology Professionals (1970)
  • National Science Board (1987-1992)
  • Defense Science Board (1983-86)
  • Chairman, Military Software Task Force (1985-87)
  • Member, Computers in Simulation and Training Task Force (1986-87)
  • Member, Artificial Intelligence Task Force (1983-84)
  • CyberEdge Journal Annual Sutherland Award (April, 1997)

See also

References

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

"It is a very humbling experience to make a multi-million-dollar mistake, but it is also very memorable."

Frederick Phillips Brooks, Jr. (born April 19, 1931) is a software engineer and computer scientist, best-known for managing the development of OS/360, then later writing candidly about the process in his seminal book The Mythical Man-Month. Brooks received a Turing Award in 1999 and many other awards.

Contents

Sourced

  • The programmer's primary weapon in the never-ending battle against slow system is to change the intramodular structure. Our first response should be to reorganize the modules' data structures.
    • As quoted in Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction, by Steve C. McConnell
  • … well over half of the time you spend working on a project (on the order of 70 percent) is spent thinking, and no tool, no matter how advanced, can think for you. Consequently, even if a tool did everything except the thinking for you – if it wrote 100 percent of the code, wrote 100 percent of the documentation, did 100 percent of the testing, burned the CD-ROMs, put them in boxes, and mailed them to your customers – the best you could hope for would be a 30 percent improvement in productivity. In order to do better than that, you have to change the way you think.
    • As quoted [paraphrased] from [1]
  • Some people have called the book the "bible of software engineering". I would agree with that in one respect: that is, everybody quotes it, some people read it, and a few people go by it.
    • As quoted in Quoted Often, Followed Rarely, [2]

The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering (1975, 1995)

Originally published in 1975; page numbers refer to the substantially expanded Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition), 1995, Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-83595-9

  • The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. […] Yet the program construct, unlike the poet's words, is real in the sense that it moves and works, producing visible outputs separate from the construct itself. […] The magic of myth and legend has come true in our time. One types the correct incantation on a keyboard, and a display screen comes to life, showing things that never were nor could be.
    • Page 7
  • The bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned.
    • Page 17
  • Brooks's Law: Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.
    • Page 25 (italics in source, bold added)
  • The management question, therefore, is not whether to build a pilot system and throw it away. You will do that. […] Hence plan to throw one away; you will, anyhow.
    • Page 116 (italics in source)
  • How does a project get to be a year late? … One day at a time.
    • Page 153 (italics and ellipsis in source)
  • … the organization chart will initially reflect the first system design, which is almost surely not the right one […] as one learns, he changes the design […]. Management structures also need to be changed as the system changes …

No Silver Bullet (1986)

Page numbers refer to Chapter 16 of The Mythical Man-Month, Anniversary Edition, cited above.
Originally published in Information Processing 1986, the Proceedings of the IFIP Tenth World Computing Conference, H. K. Kugler, ed., Elsevier Science, 1986, pp. 1069–1076. Also reprinted in the IEEE magazine Computer, 20, 4 (April, 1987), pp. 43–57.

  • The essence of a software entity is a construct of interlocking concepts: […] I believe the hard part of building software to be the specification, design, and testing of this conceptual construct, not the labor of representing it and testing the fidelity of the representation.
    • Page 182 (italics in source)
  • The complexity of software is an essential property, not an accidental one. Hence, descriptions of a software entity that abstract away its complexity often abstracts away its essence.
    • Page 183
  • Einstein repeatedly argued that there must be simplified explanations of nature, because God is not capricious or arbitrary. No such faith comforts the software engineer. Much of the complexity he must master is arbitrary complexity […] because they were designed by different people, rather than by God.
    • Page 184
  • Even perfect program verification can only establish that a program meets its specification. […] Much of the essence of building a program is in fact the debugging of the specification.
    • Page 195
  • Study after study shows that the very best designers produce structures that are faster, smaller, simpler, clearer, and produced with less effort. The differences between the great and the average approach an order of magnitude.
    • Page 202
  • A little retrospection shows that although many fine, useful software systems have been designed by committees and built as part of multipart projects, those software systems that have excited passionate fans are those that are the products of one or a few designing minds, great designers.
    • Page 202

External links

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