Chapter 11. THE NEED FOR SPEED

Optimizing Programs and Writing Efficient Code

There is more to life than increasing its speed.

Mahatma Gandhi

We live in a fast food culture. Not only must our dinner arrive yesterday; our car should be fast and our entertainment instant. Our code should also run like lightning. I want my result. And I want it now.

Ironically, writing fast programs takes a long time.

Optimization is a spectre hanging over software development, as renowned computer scientist W.A. Wulf observed: "More computing sins are committed in the name of efficiency (without necessarily achieving it) than for any other single reason—including blind stupidity." (Wulf 72)

Optimization is a well-worn subject, on which everyone has offered their two ...

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