The Mythical Man-Month: Essays On Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition

Paperback | August 2, 1995

byFrederick P. Brooks

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Few books on software project management have been as influential and timeless as The Mythical Man-Month. With a blend of software engineering facts and thought-provoking opinions, Fred Brooks offers insight for anyone managing complex projects. These essays draw from his experience as project manager for the IBM System/360 computer family and then for OS/360, its massive software system. Now, 20 years after the initial publication of his book, Brooks has revisited his original ideas and added new thoughts and advice, both for readers already familiar with his work and for readers discovering it for the first time.

 

The added chapters contain (1) a crisp condensation of all the propositions asserted in the original book, including Brooks' central argument in The Mythical Man-Month: that large programming projects suffer management problems different from small ones due to the division of labor; that the conceptual integrity of the product is therefore critical; and that it is difficult but possible to achieve this unity; (2) Brooks' view of these propositions a generation later; (3) a reprint of his classic 1986 paper "No Silver Bullet"; and (4) today's thoughts on the 1986 assertion, "There will be no silver bullet within ten years."

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From Our Editors

No book on software project management has been so influential and so timeless as The Mythical Man-Month. Now 20 years after the publication of his book, Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. (best known as the "father of the IBM System 360") revisits his original ideas and develops new thoughts and advice both for readers familiar with his work an...

From the Publisher

Few books on software project management have been as influential and timeless as The Mythical Man-Month. With a blend of software engineering facts and thought-provoking opinions, Fred Brooks offers insight for anyone managing complex projects. These essays draw from his experience as project manager for the IBM System/360 computer fa...

From the Jacket

Few books on software project management have been as influential and timeless as The Mythical Man-Month. With a blend of software engineering facts and thought-provoking opinions, Fred Brooks offers insight for anyone managing complex projects. These essays draw from his experience as project manager for the IBM System/360 computer fa...

Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., was born in 1931 in Durham, NC. He received an A.B. summa cum laude in physics from Duke and a Ph.D. in computer science from Harvard, under Howard Aiken, the inventor of the early Harvard computers. At Chapel Hill, Dr. Brooks founded the Department of Computer Science and chaired it from 1964 through 1984. ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 9.2 × 6.1 × 0.8 inPublished:August 2, 1995Publisher:Pearson Education

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0201835959

ISBN - 13:9780201835953

Customer Reviews of The Mythical Man-Month: Essays On Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perspective is everything One of the most profound observations in this work can be summed up as "to make a late project later, just add people" or, in other words, "you can't put nine women in a room and have a baby in a month". As an exploration of managing software development, this book should be required reading for anyone involved in the delivery software systems. Considering this was written some twenty years ago, it certainly demonstrates that while the "state of the art" in software continues to rapidly evolve, the "state of the practise" in managing the development of those systems has not kept pace. Fred Brooks has much to say about the complexities of managing software engineering, and it is as relevant today, as it was twenty years ago.
Date published: 2000-05-02

Extra Content

From the Author

To my surprise and delight, The Mythical ManMonth continues to be popular after twenty years. Over 250,000 copies are in print. People often ask which of the opinions and recommendations set forth in 1975 I still hold, and which have changed, and how. Whereas I have from time to time addressed that question in lectures, I have long wanted to essay it in writing. Peter Gordon, now a Publishing Partner at AddisonWesley, has been working with me patiently and helpfully since 1980. He proposed that we prepare an Anniversary Edition. We decided not to revise the original, but to reprint it untouched (except for trivial corrections) and to augment it with more current thoughts. Chapter 16 reprints "No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering," a 1986 IFIPS paper that grew out of my experience chairing a Defense Science Board study on military software. My coauthors of that study, and our executive secretary, Robert L. Patrick, were invaluable in bringing me back into touch with realworld large software projects. The paper was reprinted in 1987 in the IEEE Computer magazine, which gave it wide circulation. "No Silver Bullet" proved provocative. It predicted that a decade would not see any programming technique which would by itself bring an orderofmagnitude improvement in software productivity. The decade has a year to run; my prediction seems safe. "NSB" has stimulated more and more spirited discussion in the literature than has The Mythical ManMonth. Chapter 17, therefore, comments on some of the published critique and updates the opinions set forth in 1986. In preparing my retrospective and update of The Mythical ManMonth, I was struck by how few of the propositions asserted in it have been critiqued, proven, or disproven by ongoing software engineering research and experience. It proved useful to me now to catalog those propositions in raw form, stripped of supporting arguments and data. In hopes that these bald statements will invite arguments and facts to prove, disprove, update, or refine those propositions, I have included this outline as Chapter 18. Chapter 19 is the updating essay itself. The reader should be warned that the new opinions are not nearly so well informed by experience in the trenches as the original book was. I have been at work in a university, not industry, and on smallscale projects, not large ones. Since 1986, I have only taught software engineering, not done research in it at all. My research has rather been on virtual reality and its applications. In preparing this retrospective, I have sought the current views of friends who are indeed at work in software engineering. For a wonderful willingness to share views, to comment thoughtfully on drafts, and to reeducate me, I am indebted to Barry Boehm, Ken Brooks, Dick Case, James Coggins, Tom DeMarco, Jim McCarthy, David Parnas, Earl Wheeler, and Edward Yourdon. Fay Ward has superbly handled the technical production of the new chapters. I thank Gordon Bell, Bruce Buchanan, Rick HayesRoth, my colleagues on the Defense Science Board Task Force on Military Software, and, most especially, David Parnas for their insights and stimulating ideas for, and Rebekah Bierly for technical production of, the paper printed here as Chapter 16. Analyzing the software problem into the categories of essence and accident was inspired by Nancy Greenwood Brooks, who used such analysis in a paper on Suzuki violin pedagogy. AddisonWesley’s house custom did not permit me to acknowledge in the 1975 Preface the key roles played by their staff. Two persons’ contributions should be especially cited: Norman Stanton, then Executive Editor, and Herbert Boes, then Art Director. Boes developed the elegant style, which one reviewer especially cited: "wide margins, and imaginative use of typeface and layout." More important, he also made the crucial recommendation that every chapter have an opening picture. (I had only the Tar Pit and Rheims Cathedral at the time.) Finding the pictures occasioned an extra year’s work for me, but I am eternally grateful for the counsel. Deo soli gloria or Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory. Chapel Hill, N.C., F. 0201835959P04062001

Read from the Book

To my surprise and delight, The Mythical Man-Month continues to be popular after twenty years. Over 250,000 copies are in print. People often ask which of the opinions and recommendations set forth in 1975 I still hold, and which have changed, and how. Whereas I have from time to time addressed that question in lectures, I have long wanted to essay it in writing. Peter Gordon, now a Publishing Partner at Addison-Wesley, has been working with me patiently and helpfully since 1980. He proposed that we prepare an Anniversary Edition. We decided not to revise the original, but to reprint it untouched (except for trivial corrections) and to augment it with more current thoughts. Chapter 16 reprints "No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering," a 1986 IFIPS paper that grew out of my experience chairing a Defense Science Board study on military software. My co-authors of that study, and our executive secretary, Robert L. Patrick, were invaluable in bringing me back into touch with real-world large software projects. The paper was reprinted in 1987 in the IEEE Computer magazine, which gave it wide circulation. "No Silver Bullet" proved provocative. It predicted that a decade would not see any programming technique which would by itself bring an order-of-magnitude improvement in software productivity. The decade has a year to run; my prediction seems safe. "NSB" has stimulated more and more spirited discussion in the literature than has The Mythical Man-Month. Chapter 17, therefore, comments on some of the published critique and updates the opinions set forth in 1986. In preparing my retrospective and update of The Mythical Man-Month, I was struck by how few of the propositions asserted in it have been critiqued, proven, or disproven by ongoing software engineering research and experience. It proved useful to me now to catalog those propositions in raw form, stripped of supporting arguments and data. In hopes that these bald statements will invite arguments and facts to prove, disprove, update, or refine those propositions, I have included this outline as Chapter 18. Chapter 19 is the updating essay itself. The reader should be warned that the new opinions are not nearly so well informed by experience in the trenches as the original book was. I have been at work in a university, not industry, and on small-scale projects, not large ones. Since 1986, I have only taught software engineering, not done research in it at all. My research has rather been on virtual reality and its applications. In preparing this retrospective, I have sought the current views of friends who are indeed at work in software engineering. For a wonderful willingness to share views, to comment thoughtfully on drafts, and to re-educate me, I am indebted to Barry Boehm, Ken Brooks, Dick Case, James Coggins, Tom DeMarco, Jim McCarthy, David Parnas, Earl Wheeler, and Edward Yourdon. Fay Ward has superbly handled the technical production of the new chapters. I thank Gordon Bell, Bruce Buchanan, Rick Hayes-Roth, my colleagues on the Defense Science Board Task Force on Military Software, and, most especially, David Parnas for their insights and stimulating ideas for, and Rebekah Bierly for technical production of, the paper printed here as Chapter 16. Analyzing the software problem into the categories of essence and accident was inspired by Nancy Greenwood Brooks, who used such analysis in a paper on Suzuki violin pedagogy. Addison-Wesley's house custom did not permit me to acknowledge in the 1975 Preface the key roles played by their staff. Two persons' contributions should be especially cited: Norman Stanton, then Executive Editor, and Herbert Boes, then Art Director. Boes developed the elegant style, which one reviewer especially cited: "wide margins, and imaginative use of typeface and layout." More important, he also made the crucial recommendation that every chapter have an opening picture. (I had only the Tar Pit and Rheims Cathedral at the time.) Finding the pictures occasioned an extra year's work for me, but I am eternally grateful for the counsel. Deo soli gloria or Soli Deo Gloria -- To God alone be the glory. Chapel Hill, N.C., F. 0201835959P04062001

Table of Contents



 1. The Tar Pit.


 2. The Mythical Man-Month.


 3. The Surgical Team.


 4. Aristocracy, Democracy, and System Design.


 5. The Second-System Effect.


 6. Passing the Word.


 7. Why Did the Tower of Babel Fail?


 8. Calling the Shot.


 9. Ten Pounds in a Five-Pound Sack.


10. The Documentary Hypothesis.


11. Plan to Throw One Away.


12. Sharp Tools.


13. The Whole and the Parts.


14. Hatching a Castrophe.


15. The Other Face.


16. No Silver Bullet -- Essence and Accident.


17. "No Silver Bullet" ReFired.


18. Propositions of The Mythical Man-Month: True or False?


19. The Mythical Man-Month After 20 Years.


Epilogue.


Notes and references.


Index. 0201835959T04062001

From Our Editors

No book on software project management has been so influential and so timeless as The Mythical Man-Month. Now 20 years after the publication of his book, Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. (best known as the "father of the IBM System 360") revisits his original ideas and develops new thoughts and advice both for readers familiar with his work and for readers discovering it for the first time