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Extended STL, Volume 1: Collections and Iterators by Matthew Wilson

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Chapter 6. The Law of Leaky Abstractions

 

The stronger the faith, the closer the devil.

 
 --Unattributed

In November 2002, in a particularly important and informative installment of his popular online column, “Joel on Software,” Joel Spolsky coined a new software law, which he calls the Law of Leaky Abstractions.

Law

All nontrivial abstractions, to some degree, are leaky.

Essentially, Joel’s thesis is that all (nontrivial) abstractions are imperfect, and there is always a point at which a user of an abstraction will need to know something about what’s underneath the abstraction in order to survive.

STL is a marvelous abstraction. Literally marvelous; I mean it. Take a moment to consider just how marvelous, and if you don’t agree now, be sure to take ...

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