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Friday, January 27, 2006

How to build a distributed application: Introduction 

John Cavnar-Johnson
Boyd's fundamental thesis was that the quicker you iterate through the loop, the more effective you become. The most common misimpression is that his thesis is simply about speed. To the contrary, the real key to understanding the loop is that quicker iterations come primarily by combining an initially accurate orientation, which allows you to favor implicit guidance and control (the thick green arrows in the diagram above) over explicit decision-making, with the flexibility to accommodate changes in your orientation based on observation. Automated unit testing makes a good example from the world of software development. Many developers believe that writing unit test will inevitably slow them down. If you take a static view of the process, this seems obvious: production code + unit tests > production code But once you experience developing with effective unit testing, you realize that you can actually write better code faster. In OODA loop terms, you've made the creation of unit tests part of your Orientation ("requirements") phase. Each time you make changes to your code, you run the whole set of unit tests (this is implicit guidance and control) and you can observe whether the changes have adversely affected your conformance to spec (red light/green light). You gain the ability to tighten your coding loop which, in turn, leads to an overall decrease in the amount of time it takes to deliver the right code.

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This post is designed to lay the groundwork for a series of posts that will translate this somewhat esoteric theoretical framework into practical advice.

Topics: DistributedProcessing | Modelling | Representation


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