Re: Flight envelope protections, and mistrust of CS people

From:         ditka!sgiblab!acd4.acd.com!HDFS1.acd.com!jbii ( John O. Bell II )
Organization: Applied Computing Devices, Inc., Terre Haute IN
Date:         04 Dec 92 22:30:34 PST
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>Especially in software, of particular relevance to the net.  A lot (if not
>most) of the people writing this code--4M on the A320, 10M+ on the
>A330 and A340--are *not* aero engineers: just programmers, ostensibly with
                                          ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I used to think that way as an AE grad, until I got my CS degree. Let's face
it, guys, most AEs don't even know where to _begin_ coding this stuff. They
don't have the experience or the background to make clean, fast, fault-
tolerant code for these kind of applications. However, it is true that the CS
types better have a good math/engineering background if they are going to
understand exactly what is required for the code. You can't be a specialist
in everything (much to the company's chagrin >:-)... "Darn, we gotta pay money
to those CS people too? I thought our AEs could handle this!").

Side Note: Every time I see some aerospace article talk about how engineers
           are becoming accomplished computer scientists, I laugh my head off.
           I've been on both sides of the tracks, and I know better. Doing
           scientific programming in FORTRAN does not make you a CS god.

>CS backgrounds (a more frightening thought I can't imagine! :-)), performing
>under strictly governed, structured, controlled environments: to specif-
>ication.

Unlike the AEs, who are allowed to be creative, free-wheeling, loose cannons.
Shyeah, and I'm the Easter Bunny... unless you are a conceptual designer, you
are a glorified paper shuffler just like anyone else. Why do you think they
call Boeing "The Lazy B", anyway (just an example).

>Airbus even mentioned the "CS" types it brought in from "outside" to
>buttress a comment on its quality-control practices, in an article, as if
>to make the point that mere engineers weren't writing this stuff: the
>"pros" are doing it. :-)  Yeah, we know what we're doing, SURE... :-)

Yeah, they do. Evidently the AEs on the project couldn't handle the task
or they wouldn't have hired CS types. Either that, or the code they were
putting together was such a spaghetti-mess of calls and gotos that they
had to get CS people just so they could trace and fix the bugs.

>Robert Dorsett
>rdd@cactus.org
>...cs.utexas.edu!cactus.org!rdd

John Bell
jbii@hdfs1.acd.com
Applied Computing Devices, Inc.