Monday, October 26, 2009

Xeno's Paradox and Software Delivery

Originally uploaded by Jennifurr-Jinx
The ancient Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea composed a paradox to support his teacher, Parmenides's view of motion and change in the universe. His story is about a race between Achilles and a turtle. The turtle gets a small head start, but before Achilles can overtake the turtle, he must catchup with the turtle. Once Achilles has caught up, the turtle has moved forward, so Achilles must move a little further to where the turtle is now. But by now the turtle is ahead and Achilles must again catchup etc... so Achilles never really reaches the turtle.

I've noticed this same phenomenon in software development with regard to last minute features being requested to be thrown into the release. With three days to go before release, we get a small 4-hour feature request to be added. Then two days before the release another smaller item - really tiny, wouldn't take much effort at all - just two hours. One day to go, and another almost infinitesimally small item to be added - it will just delay the release by one hour and it's really needed.
In Zeno's world, the software will never get released.

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