16. Reuse: On Not Reinventing the Wheel

When the superior man refrains from acting, his force is felt for a thousand miles.

Tao Te Ching (as popularly mistranslated)

Reluctance to do unnecessary work is a great virtue in programmers. If the Chinese sage Lao-Tze were alive today and still teaching the way of the Tao, he would probably be mistranslated as: When the superior programmer refrains from coding, his force is felt for a thousand miles. In fact, recent translators have suggested that the Chinese term wu-wei that has traditionally been rendered as “inaction” or “refraining from action” should probably be read as “least action” or “most efficient action” or “action in accordance with natural law”, which is an even better description ...

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