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Programming Methodology
In the first decade of computing science, in the “decade of hardware” as Dijkstra called it, it was not obvious that programming was an activity deserving any methodology at all. Programming was rather regarded as an “art” requiring special talent and not much more. However, already Descartes, who can be regarded as the father of the modern scientific methodology wrote in his ‘Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, and Seeking Truth in the Sciences’ that “For to be possessed of a vigorous mind is not enough; the prime requisite is rightly to apply it.” In computing science it was Edsger W. Dijkstra who claimed in a similar sense that programming must no longer be an ad-hoc activity; it must become a systematic and scientific approach. In 1969 he wrote his ‘Notes on Structured Programming’ (Dijkstra, 1969). He sent only twenty copies to friends abroad, but by that time photocopiers had became ubiquitous and the text spread like wildfire. In the same year the IFIP Working Group 2.3 on Programming Methodology was founded. Maybe the most compact formulation of the essence of Programming Methodology is from Dahl: “The only efficient way to deal with complicated systems is in a hierarchical fashion. The dynamic system is constructed and understood in terms of high level concepts, which are in turn constructed and understood in term of lower level concepts, and so forth. This must be reflected in the structure of the program which defines the dynamic system; in some way or another the higher level concepts will correspond to program components…. Each concept necessarily concerns a limited aspect of the system and should correspond to a piece of program obtained by decomposition of the total program. Good decomposition means that each component may be programmed independently and revised with no, or reasonably few, implications for the rest of the system.” (Dahl, 1972) [Sources: (Dijkstra, 1969) Edsger Wybe Dijkstra, Notes on Structured Programming, Personal note EWD249, 1969 (Second Edition 1970); (Dahl, 1972)Ole-Johan Dahl and C. A. R. Hoare, Hierarchical Program Structures, In Ole-Johan Dahl, Edsger Wybe Dijkstra, C. A. R. Hoare, Structured Programming, pp. 175-220, Academic Press, 1972; Laszlo Böszörmenyi: Notes to the Virtual Exhibition "People behind Informatics"]
 

 

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