The Idiocy of Mechanical Sympathy

By Xah Lee. Date: .

In programing community, a new fad is born: Mechanical Sympathy

The term Mechanical Sympathy was coined by racing driver Jackie Stewart and applied to software by Martin Thompson. Jackie Stewart said, “You don’t have to be an engineer to be be a racing driver, but you do have to have Mechanical Sympathy.” He meant that understanding how a car works makes you a better driver. This is just as true for writing code. You don’t need to be a hardware engineer, but you do need to understand how the hardware works and take that into consideration when you design software.

[2020-06-09 ]

sure, understand the computer hardware do help programing. Actually, only a bit, and in special circumstances only.

but note, understand math and algorithms is even more important. Vast majority of programers, such as web programers, understand little about theoretical computer science.

So, that puts a question about the significance of Mechanical Sympathy. There are hundreds things programers should understand that'll help them write better code. But, we don't always have time to study everything. So, comes the question of: which is more important?

Also, hacker type elite programers have always been obsessed about Mechanical Sympathy. Namely, write your program or create programing languages that is low level close to “bare metal”, so it is fast. See:

The result of C or C++ obsession about speed and “bare metal”, is that we have 20 years stagnation of CPU design and programing language design.

Unfortunately, to many programers, when they see the new jargon “Mechanical Sympathy”, their brain is tickled, and conjure up a plethora head nodding to its significance.

Milen gen idiots, let me give you a jargon to chew on: Mathematics.

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