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It grew as the Unix culture learned things about how to get maximum leverage out of Thompson's design. It absorbed lessons from many sources along the way. The Unix philosophy is not a formal design method. It wasn't handed down from the high fastnesses of theoretical computer science as a way to produce theoretically perfect software.
Nor is it that perennial executive's mirage, some way to magically extract innovative but reliable software on too short a deadline from unmotivated, badly managed, and underpaid programmers. The Unix philosophy like successful folk traditions in other engineering disciplines is bottom-up, not top-down.
It is pragmatic and grounded in experience. It is not to be found in official methods and standards, but rather in the implicit half-reflexive knowledge, the expertise that the Unix culture transmits.
It encourages a sense of proportion and skepticism — and shows both by having a sense of often subversive humor. Doug McIlroy, the inventor of Unix pipes and one of the founders of the Unix tradition, had this to say at the time [ McIlroy78 ]: To do a new job, build afresh rather than complicate old programs by adding new features.
Don't clutter output with extraneous information. Avoid stringently columnar or binary input formats. Don't insist on interactive input. Don't hesitate to throw away the clumsy parts and rebuild them.
This is the Unix philosophy: Write programs that do one thing and do it well. Write programs to work together. Write programs to handle text streams, because that is a universal interface.
Rob Pikewho became one of the great masters of Coffers a slightly different angle in Notes on C Programming [ Pike ]: You can't tell where a program is going to spend its time.
Bottlenecks occur in surprising places, so don't try to second guess and put in a speed hack until you've proven that's where the bottleneck is.
Don't tune for speed until you've measured, and even then don't unless one part of the code overwhelms the rest. Fancy algorithms are slow when n is small, and n is usually small.
Fancy algorithms have big constants. Until you know that n is frequently going to be big, don't get fancy. Even if n does get big, use Rule 2 first. Fancy algorithms are buggier than simple ones, and they're much harder to implement. Use simple algorithms as well as simple data structures.
If you've chosen the right data structures and organized things well, the algorithms will almost always be self-evident. Data structures, not algorithms, are central to programming. There is no Rule 6. Ken Thompsonthe man who designed and implemented the first Unix, reinforced Pike's rule 4 with a gnomic maxim worthy of a Zen patriarch: When in doubt, use brute force.
More of the Unix philosophy was implied not by what these elders said but by what they did and the example Unix itself set. Looking at the whole, we can abstract the following ideas: Write simple parts connected by clean interfaces.
Clarity is better than cleverness. Design programs to be connected to other programs. Separate policy from mechanism; separate interfaces from engines.Welcome to the Library at Central Georgia Technical College. Please let us know how we can assist with your educational pursuits.
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