Programming elegance

For the last few days I’ve been looking at the issue of green IT. It strikes me that a major contributor to the energy inefficiency of modern IT is our reliance on Moore’s Law, which has progressively lowered the cost of computing power.

My very first home computer had only 32 Kbytes of memory, yet it was a superb games machine. My first PC only had 512 KB of memory (yes, I mean kilobytes, not megabytes), yet it saw me through three years of undergraduate Computer Science. As I recall, it ran MS-DOS 5.0, Word Perfect 5.0, an 8086 assembler and even the Zortech C++ compiler 1.0.

Clearly things have moved on and my mobile phone now has a 2 Gbyte memory card thanks to Moore’s Law. But, with almost infinite computer resources available to application developers, I worry that we somehow have lost the art of writing elegant, resource-constrained computer programs.

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