[xquery-talk] XML/XQuery academic conferences ?

David Lee dlee at calldei.com
Wed Oct 12 17:46:08 PDT 2011

Good luck with that.
I'm all for education, especially mathematics (although I actually favor
Asttro physicist over Physicists over Mathematicians in terms of accepting
reality over theory ...)

I remember 25+ years ago when I worked a at a CADCAM company we hired a
fresh grade with an MA in Math.  His one saving grace (why the boss hired
him) was he studied geometric transformations which included as mapping from
Sphere to any shape.  In theory if you could plot a path on a sphere you
could just apply a nice transformation and it would apply to any shape ...
say a cube.
This should have really saved us some serious work when plotting cutting
paths for a CMC machine on bars of metal or wood ... Just compute the sphere
pattern and transform it !  Wow,.

Sweet !

well ... something I immediately noted as "obvious" is that when going from
Sphere to Cube there are some practical ramifications for any real device.
Like the really interesting non-linear changes in a cutting tool turning the
90deg corner where the mathematical model shows it a simple point-to-point

Needless to say he didn't last long (and actually at his choice, he didn't
have the staying power of someone who actually wanted to get real work

Math. Nice.
when it works.   Until then , give me someone who knows the difference
between theory and reality.


David A. Lee
dlee at calldei.com

-----Original Message-----
From: talk-bounces at x-query.com [mailto:talk-bounces at x-query.com] On Behalf
Of Steven Ericsson-Zenith
Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 8:17 PM
To: Michael Kay
Cc: talk at x-query.com
Subject: Re: [xquery-talk] XML/XQuery academic conferences ?

I agree with Michael. Software Engineering is in a deplorable state for
these reasons. It has a real impact in the economy because maintenance costs
and failure rates are unreasonably high. It compensates by providing work
for lower skilled workers prepared to work hard. 

It's tolerated by some (start-up) corporations only because a small team of
motivated, productive and hard working bumblers can build stunning and
unreasonable corporate financial value. The costs are born by other
corporations (and the public) because they know, or can get, nothing better.

We are in a growth phase of new technology usage. It will continue for
awhile but it won't go on forever. At some point in the not too distant
future Software Engineers will need the skills of Mathematicians (and no,
they do not have those skills now). They will need these skills because it
is ultimately the only way to manage the increasing complexity.

The fact of the matter is that Ph.D.s often do write less code, and that is
often because less is better. It is also because they typically spend more
time thinking about the problem in order that they can write less code. If
they have the mathematical skills I allude to then the code may never need
maintenance (because you will be able to prove that it has the desired
properties). But when placed in an environment in which there is an urgency
to patch failures or there is a deadline that does not allow time for
thought they often can't compete. 

The hacker will be needed as long as we write software this way. But it is
the wrong way to write software.

I've been both BTW, I began as an industry hacker long before my Ph.D. - and
I've run project teams with both.

Speaking now as an Academic. I use XML, XSLT and XQuery in my research. I do
so primarily because system design and programming with schema awareness is
a step in the right direction.

With respect,

On Oct 12, 2011, at 4:22 PM, Michael Kay wrote:

>>> Few  of the cs phds  I've interviewed could do ANY of the tasks you
quote.  None had to pass an exam in making programs that actually worked
> I have to say my experience is the opposite. I've worked with a great many
software developers who were good at making things, but lacked the education
to discover the theory of how they ought to be made: they were mechanics
rather than engineers. As a result I've seen a lot of people building things
using home-grown invented techniques that were vastly inferior to the state
of the art available from the research literature. Or doing crazy things
like trying to parse XML with regular expressions. You get something that
works most of the time (if you're lucky), but often costs a lot more and
performs a lot worse than if the designers had had a higher level of
professional education.
> Of course that doesn't mean that everyone with a PhD is a good programmer
or designer, but most of those I have worked with have been.
> Michael Kay
> Saxonica
> _______________________________________________
> talk at x-query.com
> http://x-query.com/mailman/listinfo/talk

talk at x-query.com

More information about the talk mailing list