13. Complexity: As Simple As Possible, but No Simpler

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.

—Albert Einstein

At the end of Chapter 1, we summarized the Unix philosophy as “Keep It Simple, Stupid!” Throughout the Design section, one of the continuing themes has been the importance of keeping designs and implementations as simple as possible. But what is “as simple as possible”? How do you tell?

We’ve held off on addressing this question until now because understanding simplicity is complicated. It needs some of the ideas we developed earlier in the Design section, especially in Chapter 4 and Chapter 11, as background.

The large questions in this chapter are central preoccupations of the Unix tradition, some of them ...

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