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The Art of Unix Programming
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Unix Programming - Basics of the Unix Philosophy - Rule of Economy: Programmer time is expensive; conserve it in

Rule of Economy: Programmer time is expensive; conserve it in preference to machine time.

In the early minicomputer days of Unix, this was still a fairly radical idea (machines were a great deal slower and more expensive then). Nowadays, with every development shop and most users (apart from the few modeling nuclear explosions or doing 3D movie animation) awash in cheap machine cycles, it may seem too obvious to need saying.

Somehow, though, practice doesn't seem to have quite caught up with reality. If we took this maxim really seriously throughout software development, most applications would be written in higher-level languages like Perl, Tcl, Python, Java, Lisp and even shell — languages that ease the programmer's burden by doing their own memory management (see [Ravenbrook]).

And indeed this is happening within the Unix world, though outside it most applications shops still seem stuck with the old-school Unix strategy of coding in C (orC++). Later in this book we'll discuss this strategy and its tradeoffs in detail.

One other obvious way to conserve programmer time is to teach machines how to do more of the low-level work of programming. This leads to...


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The Art of Unix Programming
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