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Coders at Work question - surprises and themes

 
Greenhorn
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Hi, Peter. Thanks for coming to talk about your book. It looks like it could be fascinating. Were there any things that really surprised you in the process of interviewing all these star coders? Any unexpected themes reveal themselves?

Thanks,
Bert
 
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In some ways the biggest surprise was how sometimes these great programmers seemed just like all the other programmers I know. For instance, Ken Thompson is in more ways than one, the prototypical Unix programmer--he's obviously a genius at programming and knows all about stuff in the domain he's done his work (systems programming, computer chess, etc) but when we got onto some other topics (Lisp, for instance) he had a lot of the same prejudices and out-of-date views as "normal" programmers. The biggest exception to this was Guy Steele who really knows and astounding amount about a huge number of topics.

And the most commonly echoed theme was the difficulty of debugging concurrent code. I asked almost everyone about the hardest to track down bug they ever faced and they almost all told me about some sort of concurrency bug, either in multithreaded code or, in a couple cases, in the code of a garbage collector, which is essentially concurrent since the collector and the mutator are interleaved.
 
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Remind us: what does LISP stand for?
 
Greenhorn
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Is necessary to be a genius to be like them? Hard work and discipline could make one of us like they are? Is that really possible?
 
Peter Seibel
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Armando Flores Ibarra wrote:Is necessary to be a genius to be like them? Hard work and discipline could make one of us like they are? Is that really possible?



Hard to say. Based on my interviwes, hard work (though maybe not discipline) is probably necessary. I have no way of knowing if it's sufficient though.
 
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Armando Flores Ibarra wrote:Is necessary to be a genius to be like them? Hard work and discipline could make one of us like they are? Is that really possible?




In my view, all you need is a good idea, passion, and above average intelligence .
 
Ranch Hand
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Armando Flores Ibarra wrote:Is necessary to be a genius to be like them? Hard work and discipline could make one of us like they are? Is that really possible?


I think that with hard work you can do most of the things. What distinguish these people are the time that they spent in search and study. Normal people tend to procrastinate a lot, don't have focus and frequently waste their time with "unimportant" things.
 
greenhorn
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Leandro Coutinho wrote:

Armando Flores Ibarra wrote:Is necessary to be a genius to be like them? Hard work and discipline could make one of us like they are? Is that really possible?


frequently waste their time with "unimportant" things.



like marriage.

peter, how many were them married?
 
Peter Seibel
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pooja jain wrote:peter, how many were them married?



I didn't specifically ask them about that but I'm pretty sure at least 12 out of 15 were or had been once.
 
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