wulf@capa.cs.Virginia.EDU (William Wulf)
Sun, 18 Aug 91 08:42:40 EDT

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Newsgroups: comp.compilers
From: wulf@capa.cs.Virginia.EDU (William Wulf)
Keywords: optimize, performance
Organization: Compilers Central
Date: Sun, 18 Aug 91 08:42:40 EDT

>[Wulf wrote the Bliss book nearly 20 years ago. It'd be interesting to
>find out if he still feels the same way. -John]


Maybe more so, in fact.

If the history of computing teaches us anything, it should be that our
demand/desire for functionality far outstrips the computing capacity
available to us. When we started the Bliss/11 compiler we were both
exhilerated by, and cramped by that hot new 64KB/200KIPS PDP11 in the lab. I
feel exactly the same way about the 16MB/20MIPS machine that's on my desk
now. All thats changed is my expectation of the level of service that I get
from it. I fully expect to feel the same way about the GB/GIPS machine that I
get next time around.

Given that we're always pushing the envelope, it isn't really a question of
how fast a program runs -- but rather how much function we can deliver with
the resources available. The person that said

"... but I can speak for myself: I am willing to give up
substantial speed of execution (a factor of 2, to pick a
number), even in the final product, in order to gain productivity. "

is missing a point, I think. He/she isn't giving up *anything*; his/her
customer is. The customer is either giving up better functionality in this
product, or has lost the opportunity to do something else with the resources
it wasted.

So, yup. I feel the same way 20 years later.

Bill Wulf

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