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The Mythical Man-month: Essays on Software Engineering Paperback – Special Edition, 2 Aug 1995


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Addison Wesley; 2 edition (2 Aug 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201835959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201835953
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.3 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 94,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From the Back Cover

Few books on software project management have been as influential and timeless asThe Mythical Man-Month. With a blend of software engineering facts and thought-provoking opinions, Fred Brooks offers insight for anyone managing complex projects. These essays draw from his experience as project manager for the IBM System/360 computer family and then for OS/360, its massive software system. Now, 20 years after the initial publication of his book, Brooks has revisited his original ideas and added new thoughts and advice, both for readers already familiar with his work and for readers discovering it for the first time.

 

The added chapters contain (1) a crisp condensation of all the propositions asserted in the original book, including Brooks' central argument in The Mythical Man-Month: that large programming projects suffer management problems different from small ones due to the division of labor; that the conceptual integrity of the product is therefore critical; and that it is difficult but possible to achieve this unity; (2) Brooks' view of these propositions a generation later; (3) a reprint of his classic 1986 paper "No Silver Bullet"; and (4) today's thoughts on the 1986 assertion, "There will be no silver bullet within ten years."

About the Author

Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., was born in 1931 in Durham, NC. He received an A.B. summa cum laude in physics from Duke and a Ph.D. in computer science from Harvard, under Howard Aiken, the inventor of the early Harvard computers.

At Chapel Hill, Dr. Brooks founded the Department of Computer Science and chaired it from 1964 through 1984. He has served on the National Science Board and the Defense Science Board. His current teaching and research is in computer architecture, molecular graphics, and virtual environments.

He joined IBM, working in Poughkeepsie and Yorktown, NY, 1956-1965. He is best known as the "father of the IBM System/360", having served as project manager for its development and later as manager of the Operating System/360 software project during its design phase. For this work he, Bob Evans, and Erick Block were awarded and received a National Medal of Technology in 1985.

Dr. Brooks and Dura Sweeney in 1957 patented a Stretch interrupt system for the IBM Stretch computer that introduced most features of today's interrupt systems. He coined the term computer architecture . His System/360 team first achieved strict compatibility, upward and downward, in a computer family. His early concern for word processing led to his selection of the 8-bit byte and the lowercase alphabet for the System/360, engineering of many new 8-bit input/output devices, and providing a character-string datatype in PL/I.

In 1964 he founded the Computer Science Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and chaired it for 20 years. Currently, he is Kenan Professor of Computer Science. His principal research is in real-time, three-dimensional, computer graphics-"virtual reality." His research has helped biochemists solve the structure of complex molecules and enabled architects to "walk through" buildings still being designed. He is pioneering the use of force display to supplement visual graphics.

Brooks distilled the successes and failures of the development of Operating System/360 in The Mythical Man-Month: Essays in Software Engineering, (1975). He further examined software engineering in his well-known 1986 paper, "No Silver Bullet." He is just completing a two-volume research monograph, Computer Architecture, with Professor Gerrit Blaauw. Now, 20 years after the initial publication of his book, Brooks has revisited his original ideas and added new thoughts and advice within The Mythical Man-Month, Anniversary Edition.

Brooks has served on the National Science Board and the Defense Science Board. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received the the IEEE John von Neumann Medal, the IEEE Computer Society's McDowell and Computer Pioneer Awards, the ACM Allen Newell and Distinguished Service Awards, the AFIPS Harry Goode Award, and an honorary Doctor of Technical Science from ETH-Zürich.



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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Oct 1997
Format: Paperback
Programming languages and development tools may have changed since the first edition of this book, but the problems that arise during a software project development are still the same: lack of communication, division of labor, schedules, etc. Fred Brooks presents case studies where there were such problems and how to face it.
This book is a little bit dated on technical matters, but no book on software management has been so timeless as The Mythical Man-Month.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 31 May 1996
Format: Paperback
One of the best technical overview books I've read. Brooks
was project lead for IBMs system 360 software and
articulates truths I have known and experienced personally
during the last fifteen years of software development.
I really enjoyed his understanding of the limits and
capabilities of the human mind, especially bandwidth
inside one mind compared to bandwidth between minds.
I found Brooks's combination of knowledge and humilty
appealing, and the whole book was a delight to read.

Paul Harper.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jahanzeb Farooq on 17 Aug 2009
Format: Paperback
This a classic work, and as valuable today as it was in 1975. It is mainly a collection of essays, each focusing a different issue in software engineering and management. The book is full of gems like "All programmers are optimists: All will go well", the famous Brook's law "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later", "Bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned" and "An omelette, promised in two minutes, when not ready in two minutes, the customer has two choices - wait or eat it half-cooked. Software customers also have the same choices."

This is a great book for project managers but this certainly doesn't mean it is any less valuable for programmers. The theories Fred. Brooks pioneered 34 years back are now fundamentals of software engineering and project management. Some essays I found valuable in particular are "The Mythical Man-Month" where author discusses managing project schedules, "Plan to Throw One Away" where author discusses the change in user requirements and how to tackle these changes. The best of the lot is "No Silver Bullet", where author compares software construction to werewolves, who appears to be normal but can suddenly turn into monsters. Here author stresses that managing complexity is the essence of software engineering. It includes gems like "Software entities are more complex for their size than perhaps any other human construct, because no two parts are alike. If they are, we make the two similar parts into one, a subroutine. In this respect, software systems differ profoundly from computers, buildings, or automobiles, where repeated elements abound" and "The hardest single part of building a software system is deciding precisely what to built.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By John E. Davidson on 17 Dec 2004
Format: Paperback
One of the best books ever written about software development and computing in general.
Yes, it has dated in places but even so it is still very interesting and often incredibly insightful. The title essay (about how throwing additional people at an already late project simply makes it even later) and the essay about Second System Syndrome at particularly good.
It ought to be (but rather sadly is not) a must read for everybody working in IT.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 May 1997
Format: Paperback
This book is an amazing experience. Whether you come to it with the intention of learning more about how to manage software projects, or simply an interest in the black art of OS programmingit's guaranteed to be an exhiliarating ride. It's not only succinct, refusing to delve into details we wouldn't comprehend, it also contains enough general commentary to make it useful for anyone involved in large projects with creative people (which basically includes just about any form of productivity whatsoever). What makes the book approachable is Brooks' style, which can only be called simple. What keeps you interested in the book are the metaphoric range it has (calling OS programming a tar pit is a considerable reach of the imagination, and yet so obvious) and the rather pragmatic advise Brooks provides at every turn of the page. If you read the book carefully enough, you realize that it makes a series of suggestions about how computing is changing us and the way we create. Brooks may or may not have anticipated this, but his use of the distinction between "essential" and "accidental" difficulties forces one to think long and hard about how these are changing the world of the artist, and the world of art. Just how much writing today is a result of the writer's "liberation" from the static manuscript, either hand/typewritten? What does one lose when this discipline goes away, and what does one gain. Without the accidental difficulties, does tackling the essential ones lead us to inelegant solutions? Or does it simply extend our range, making it possible for more among us to create, and the creative genius to make more than he/she would have otherwise. Throughout the book, what kept coming back to me was the image of a Renaissance painter and his bevy of apprentices. One never knows to what extent the painting's essence was created by the master who drew the outlines and the students who painted the details.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Dec 1997
Format: Paperback
Yes, you should buy the 20th-anniversary edition to get "No Silver Bullets", but I am shocked by how little the book has dated overall. Memory may be cheap nowadays, but the book's core message is timeless: "Adding people to an overdue project makes the project later." One of my mentors says "Every working programmer should reread *The Mythical Man-Month* once a year." He's right.
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