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Posts Tagged ‘abstraction’

Abstracting Away Some Details

March 31, 2015 11 comments

The following figure shows the general system architecture of a rotating, ground-based, radar whose mission is to detect and track “air breathing” targets. The chain of specially designed hardware and software subsystems provides radar operators with a 360 degree, real-time, surveillance picture of all the targets that fall within the physical range and elevation coverage capabilities of the Antenna and Transmit/Receive subsystems.

Generic Radar System

The following picture shows the general architecture of a business IT system. Unlike the specialized radar system architecture, this generic IT structure supports a wide range of application domains: insurance, banking, e-commerce, social media, etc.

Generic IT System

To explore the technical similarities/differences between the two platforms, let’s abstract away the details of everything to the left of the Radar Control & Data Processor and stuff them into a box called “Radar Hardware“. We’ll also tuck away the radar’s Communication Gateway functionality by placing it inside the Radar Control & Data Processor:

Business And Radar Archs

Now that we’ve used the power of abstraction to wrestle the original radar system architecture into a form similar to a business IT system, we can reason about some of the differences between the two structures.

Actually, I’m gonna stop here and leave the analysis of the technical similarities and differences as a thought experiment to you, dear reader. That’s because this is one of those posts that took me for freakin’ ever to write. I must have iterated over the draft at least 20 times during the past month. And of course, I had no master plan when I started writing it, so I hope you at least enjoy the pretty pictures.

Categories: technical Tags: ,

Go, Go Go!

August 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Rob Pike is the Google dude who created the Go programming language and he seems to be on a PR blitz to promote his new language. In this interview, “Does the world need another programming language?”, Mr. Pike says:

…the languages in common use today don’t seem to be answering the questions that people want answered. There are niches for new languages in areas that are not well-served by Java, C, C++, JavaScript, or even Python. – Rob Pike

In Making It Big in Software, UML co-creator Grady Booch seems to disagree with Rob:

It’s much easier to predict the past than it is the future. If we look over the history of software engineering, it has been one of growing levels of abstraction—and, thus, it’s reasonable to presume that the future will entail rising levels of abstraction as well. We already see this with the advent of domain-specific frameworks and patterns. As for languages, I don’t see any new, interesting languages on the horizon that will achieve the penetration that any one of many contemporary languages has. I held high hopes for aspect-oriented programming, but that domain seems to have reached a plateau. There is tremendous need to for better languages to support massive concurrency, but therein I don’t see any new, potentially dominant languages forthcoming. Rather, the action seems to be in the area of patterns (which raise the level of abstraction). – Grady Booch

I agree with Grady because abstraction is the best tool available to the human mind for managing the explosive growth in complexity that is occurring as we speak. What do you think?

Abstraction is selective ignorance – Andrew Koenig

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