Chaos and Complexity in Software: Challenging the Industry and the New Scienceby Robert Bruce Kelsey
Chaos has been with us for millennia, perhaps ever since primitive humankind first distinguished order from disorder. Early homo sapiens didn't need Chaos Theory to understand the turbulence of a raging river or to appreciate the difficulty of telling the next day's weather from bird behavior and the colors of the evening sky. It is only in the last several decades that Chaos has become an academic rather than a practical challenge. But as soon as Lorenz, Feigenbaum, and others began analyzing the quixotic behavior of nonlinear physical systems, they initiated the second major scientific paradigm shift of this century.
First to feel the effects of the 'new science' were classical physics and classical philosophy of science. Early on, Chaos Theory picked up the assault on the philosophical assumptions of classical physics where quantum mechanics had left off. Just as we had started to get comfortable about the obvious differences between the uncertain world of wave-particles and the predictable world of falling pianos, Chaos presented us with non-linear, dynamical systems that defied typical scientific models for both prediction and explanation. These were the cornerstones of the law-abiding universe we had come to believe in thanks to advances in physics and chemistry in the 18th and 19th centuries. Quantum physics loosened those cornerstones. Chaos yanked them free.
This book is concerned primarily with the first - transposing Chaos and Complexity from the hard sciences into the software industry. It's not simply a matter of applying a metaphor here and a concept there. Paradigm shifts are never that easy.
One of the paradoxical themes of this book is that we have to get moreprecise, more disciplined, more scientific in order to confront the new science, which presents us with an imprecisely known, dynamically changing, nondeterministic, and sometimes flat out confusing reality. The bulk of the third chapter describes in detail how Chaos and Complexity have changed that reality and how we understand it.
The goal of this book is to explain what software-specific Chaos and Complexity are and how they manifest themselves in software execution. Readers who believe that software production and reliability will one day be formulaic and predictable may find this analysis disturbing, perhaps even wrong headed. But the burden of proof is on the industry; this is not the time for 'religious wars' over Truth, Science, and Discipline. Only additional research will show whether software Chaos can be tamed (perhaps even avoided). In that respect, Chaos and Complexity in Software should be seen as an invitation not an affront to classically oriented research.
- Nova Science Publishers, Incorporated
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