The Psychology of Computer Programming
The Psychology of Computer Programming
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The Psychology of Computer Programming

Last updated on 2015-01-30

About the Book

Finding the chapters strikingly relevant to today's issues in programming, Gerald M. Weinberg adds new insights and highlights the similarities and differences between now and then. Using a conversational style that invites the reader to join him, Weinberg reunites with some of his most insightful writings on the human side of software engineering.Topics include egoless programming, intelligence, psychological measurement, personality factors, motivation, training, social problems on large projects, problem-solving ability, programming language design, team formation, the programming environment, and much more.The author says, "On an inspired eight-week vacation in Italy, I wrote the first draft of The Psychology of Computer Programming. . . . the book quickly became a best-seller among technical titles, running through more than twenty printings and staying in print for twenty-five years. . . ."For this Silver Anniversary Edition, I decided to take my own advice and not try to hide my errors, for they would be the source of the most learning for my readers. I decided to leave the original text as it was—antiques and all—for your illumination, and simply to add some 'wisdom of hindsight' remarks whenever the spirit moved me. I hope you find the perspective brought by this time-capsule contrast as useful to you as it has been to me."J.J. Hirschfelder of Computing Reviews wrote: "The Psychology of Computer Programming . . . was the first major book to address programming as an individual and team effort, and became a classic in the field. . . . Despite, or perhaps even because of, the perspective of 1971, this book remains a must-read for all software development managers."Sue Petersen of Visual Developer said: "In this new edition, Jerry looks at where we were 30 years ago, where we are now and where we might be in the future. Instead of changing the original text, he's added new comments to each chapter. This allows the reader to compare and contrast his thinking over the decades, showcasing the errors and omissions as well as the threads that bore fruit.". . . one issue -- communication -- has been at the core of Jerry's work for decades. Unknown to him at the time, Psychology was to form the outline of his life's work. . . . Psychology is valuable as history in a field that is all too ready to repeat the errors of its past. Read Psychology as a picture of where we've been, where we are now, and where we need to go next. Read it as an index to the thinking of one of the most influential figures in our field."

About the Author

Gerald M. Weinberg
Gerald M. Weinberg

I've always been interested in helping smart people be happy and productive. To that end, I've published books on human behavior, including Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method, The Psychology of Computer Programming, Perfect Software and Other Fallacies, and an Introduction to General Systems Thinking. I've also written books on leadership including Becoming a Technical Leader, The Secrets of Consulting (Foreword by Virginia Satir), More Secrets of Consulting, and the nine-volume Quality Software series.

I try to incorporate my knowledge of science, engineering, and human behavior into all of my writing and consulting work (with writers, hi-tech researchers, software engineers, and people whose life-situation could require the use of a service dog). I write novels about such people, including The Aremac Project, Aremac Power, Jigglers, First Stringers, Second Stringers, The Hands of God, Freshman Murders, Where There's a Will There's a Murder, Earth's Endless Effort, and Mistress of Molecules—all about how my brilliant protagonists produce quality work and learn to be happy. My books that are not yet on Leanpub may be found as eBooks at <http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JerryWeinberg>; on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B000AP8TZ8; and at Barnes and Noble bookstore: http://tinyurl.com/4eudqk5.

Early in my career, I was the architect for the Project Mercury's space tracking network and designer of the world's first multiprogrammed operating system. I won the Warnier Prize, the Stevens Award, and the first Software Testing Professionals' Luminary Award, all for my writing on software quality. I was also elected a charter member of the Computing Hall of Fame in San Diego and chosen for the University of Nebraska Hall of Fame.

But the "award" I'm most proud of is the book, The Gift of Time (Fiona Charles, ed.) written by my student and readers for my 75th birthday. Their stories make me feel that I've been at least partially successful at helping smart people be happy.

Table of Contents

  • The Psychology of Computer Programming
  • Preface to the Silver Anniversary Edition
  • Preface
    • Comments on the Preface
  • Part 1. Programming as Human Performance
      • Comments on Part 1
    • Chapter 1. Reading Programs
      • AN EXAMPLE
      • MACHINE LIMITATIONS
      • LANGUAGE LIMITATIONS
      • PROGRAMMER LIMITATIONS
      • HISTORICAL TRACES
      • SPECIFICATIONS
      • SUMMARY
      • QUESTIONS
      • BIBLIOGRAPHY
      • Comments on Chapter 1
    • Chapter 2. What Makes a Good Program?
      • SPECIFICATIONS
      • SCHEDULE
      • ADAPTABILITY
      • EFFICIENCY
      • SUMMARY
      • QUESTIONS
      • BIBLIOGRAPHY
      • Comments on Chapter 2
    • Chapter 3. How Can We Study Programming?
      • INTROSPECTION
      • OBSERVATION
      • EXPERIMENT
      • PSYCHOLOGICAL MEASUREMENT
      • USING BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE DATA
      • SUMMARY
      • QUESTIONS
      • BIBLIOGRAPHY
      • Comments on Chapter 3
  • Part 2. Programming as a Social Activity
      • Comments on Part 2
    • Chapter 4. The Programming Group
      • FORMAL AND INFORMAL ORGANIZATION
      • PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIAL ORGANIZATION
      • ERROR AND EGO
      • EGOLESS PROGRAMMING
      • CREATING AND MAINTAINING THE PROGRAMMING ENVIRONMENT
      • SUMMARY
      • QUESTIONS
      • BIBLIOGRAPHY
      • Comments on Chapter 4
    • Chapter 5. The Programming Team
      • HOW A TEAM FORMS
      • ESTABLISHING AND ACCEPTING GOALS
      • TEAM LEADERSHIP AND TEAM LEADERS
      • THE TEAM IN CRISIS
      • SUMMARY
      • QUESTIONS
      • BIBLIOGRAPHY
      • Comments on Chapter 5
    • Chapter 6. The Programming Project
      • STABILITY THROUGH CHANGE
      • MEASURING PERFORMANCE
      • PROJECT STRUCTURE
      • COMMON SOCIAL PROBLEMS OF LARGE PROJECTS
      • SUMMARY
      • QUESTIONS
      • BIBLIOGRAPHY
      • Comments on Chapter 6
  • Part 3. Programming as an Individual Activity
      • Comments on Part 3
    • Chapter 7. Variations In The Programming Task
      • PROFESSIONAL VERSUS AMATEUR PROGRAMMING
      • WHAT THE PROGRAMMER IS TRYING TO DO
      • STAGES OF PROGRAMMING WORK
      • SUMMARY
      • QUESTIONS
      • BIBLIOGRAPHY
      • Comments on Chapter 7
    • Chapter 8. Personality Factors
      • THE MAD BOMBER
      • PERSONALITY CHANGES
      • PERSONALITY INVARIANTS
      • CRITICAL PERSONALITY TRAITS
      • PERSONALITY TESTING
      • PERSONALITY TESTING OF PROGRAMMERS
      • SUMMARY
      • QUESTIONS
      • BIBLIOGRAPHY
      • Comments on Chapter 8
    • Chapter 9. Intelligence, or Problem-Solving Ability
      • PSYCHOLOGICAL SET
      • SOME DIMENSIONS OF PROBLEM SOLVING
      • FACETS OF PROGRAMMING INTELLIGENCE
      • APTITUDE TESTS
      • APTITUDE TESTS FOR PROGRAMMING
      • SUMMARY
      • QUESTIONS
      • BIBLIOGRAPHY
      • Comments on Chapter 9
    • Chapter 10. Motivation, Training, and Experience
      • MOTIVATION
      • TRAINING, SCHOOLING, AND EDUCATION
      • FORCES AGAINST LEARNING
      • HOW TO LEARN PROGRAMMING
      • SUMMARY
      • QUESTIONS
      • BIBLIOGRAPHY
      • Comments on Chapter 10
  • Part 4. Programming Tools
      • Comments on Part 4
    • Chapter 11. Programming Languages
      • PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE AND NATURAL LANGUAGE
      • PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE DESIGN
      • SUMMARY
      • QUESTIONS
      • BIBLIOGRAPHY
      • Comments on Chapter 11
    • Chapter 12. Some Principles For Programming Language Design
      • UNIFORMITY
      • LOCALITY AND LINEARITY
      • TRADITION AND INNOVATION
      • SPECIAL-PURPOSE, MULTIPURPOSE, AND TOY LANGUAGES
      • SUMMARY
      • QUESTIONS
      • BIBLIOGRAPHY
      • Comments on Chapter 12
    • Chapter 13. Other Programming Tools
      • PROGRAM TESTING TOOLS
      • OPERATING SYSTEMS
      • TIME-SHARING VERSUS BATCH
      • DOCUMENTATION
      • SUMMARY
      • QUESTIONS
      • BIBLIOGRAPHY
      • Comments on Chapter 13
  • Part 5: Epilogue
      • Comments on Part 5
      • Suggestions for Course Use
    • FURTHER READING

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