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The Old Is New Again

May 5, 2012 6 comments

Because Moore’s law has seemingly run its course, vertical, single processor core speed scaling has given way to horizontal multicore scaling. The evidence of this shift is the fact that just about every mobile device and server and desktop and laptop is shipping with more than one processor core these days. Thus, the acquisition of concurrent and distributed design and programming skills is becoming more and more important as time tics forward. Can what Erlang’s Joe Armstrong coined as the “Concurrent Oriented Programming” style be usurping the well known and widely practiced object-oriented programming style as we speak?

Because of their focus on stateless, pure functions (as opposed to stateful objects), it seems to me that functional programming languages (e.g. Erlang, Haskell, Scala, F#) are a more natural fit to concurrent, distributed, software-intensive systems development than object-oriented languages like Java and C++; even though both these languages provide basic support for concurrent programming in the form of threads.

Likewise, even though I’m a big UML fan, I think that “old and obsoletestructured design modeling tools like Data and Control Flow Diagrams (DFD, CFD) may be better suited to the design of concurrent software. Even better, I think a mixture of the UML and DFD/CFD artifacts may be the best way (as Grady Booch says) to “visualize and reason” about necessarily big software designs prior to coding up and testing the beasts.

So, what do you think? Should the old become new again? Should the venerable DFD be resurrected and included in the UML portfolio of behavior diagrams?

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