📖How Do Committees Invent?

Conway, Melvin E.
  • when designing a system, it is usually split into subsystems and each subsystem is handled to subcommittee

    • the design of each subcommittee is constrained for subcommittee has a narrowed scope

      Every time a delegation is made and somebody’s scope of inquiry is narrowed, the class of design alternatives which can be effectively pursued is also narrowed.

    • once the sub-designs are done, they are consolidated into a single design
  • q

    This point of view has produced the observation that there’s never enough time to do something right, but there’s always enough time to do it over.

  • each substantial system is structured from smaller subsystems which are interconnected

    • this continues until a subsystem is small enough to be understood without subdivision
    • theory is a system. it is related to the outside world (must explain it or at least not contradict) and consists of subtheories

      • e.g., theory explaining an airplane crash
  • q

    for any node x in the system we can identify a design group of the design organization which designed x; call this X. Therefore, by generalization of this process, for every node of the system we have a rule for finding a corresponding node of the design organization.

    • same with branches: if there is a branch between nodes, than two design groups must have negotiated and agreed upon an interface
    • if there is no branch between nodes, there is not interface to negotiate, and two design groups have nothing to negotiate, and therefore there is not branch between design groups
    • TODO: how this relates to category theory?
  • q

    As long as manager’s prestige an power are tied to the size of his budget, he will be motivated to expand his organization. […] Once the organization exists, of course, it will be used. Probably the greatest single common factor behind many poorly designed systems now in existence has been the availability of a design organization in need of work.


Want to receive my 🖋 posts as I publish them?