Laws of Software Development
by Joey deVilla
Inspired by Phil Haack's article 19 Eponymous Laws of Software Development, I decided to collect laws, axioms and rules pertaining to mainstream software development. This is by no means a complete list of laws; I've purposely stuck to the ones that apply to everyday software development and steered clear of the more theoretical ones. Maybe I'll compile a more complete list someday. You'll notice that some of the laws come from the world of biology - they also appear in some lists of software laws, and I think they still apply.
Who Said It
What it Says
The speedup gained from running a program on a parallel computer is greatly limited by the fraction of that program that can't be parallelized.
Augustine's Second Law of Socioscience
For every scientific (or engineering) action, there is an equal and opposite social reaction.
Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.
Clarke's First Law
Arthur C. Clarke
When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
Clarke's Second Law
Arthur C. Clarke
The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
Clarke's Third Law
Arthur C. Clarke
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Any piece of software reflects the organizational structure that produced it.
Edward Drinker Cope
There is a general tendency toward size increase in evolution.
The most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management.
Ellison's Law of Cryptography and Usability
The userbase for strong cryptography declines by half with every additional keystroke or mouseclick required to make it work.
Ellison's Law of Data
Once the business data have been centralized and integrated, the value of the database is greater than the sum of the preexisting parts.
The Law of False Alerts
As the rate of erroneous alerts increases, operator reliance, or belief, in subsequent warnings decreases.
Fisher's Fundamental Theorem
R. A. Fisher
The more highly adapted an organism becomes, the less adaptable it is to any new change.
The time to acquire a target is a function of the distance to and the size of the target.
There does not now, nor will there ever, exist a programming language in which it is the least bit hard to write bad programs.
Bandwidth grows at least three times faster than computer power.
As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.
The cost of computing systems increases as the square root of the computational power of the systems.
Whatever the state of a project, the time a project-leader will estimate for completition is constant.
Heisenbug Uncertainty Principle
Most production software bugs are soft: they go away when you look at them.
William Edmund Hick
The time to make a decision is a function of the possible choices he or she has.
Hoare's Law of Large Programs
C. A. R. Hoare
Inside every large problem is a small problem struggling to get out.
A task always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.
Jakob's Law of the Internet User Experience
Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know.
smart(employees) = log(employees), or "No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else."
In cryptography, a system should be secure even if everything about the system, except for a small piece of information - the key - is public knowledge.
Eric S. Raymond, who named it after Linus Torvalds
Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.