Now, it’s true that we don’t know how to program (although developments like seL4, coqasm, Excel, NaCl, and PHP seem to be making some progress on that front). But the “software crisis” isn’t about that. Rather, it’s about how Moore’s Law has reduced the cost of computers so much that programming is suddenly the limiting reagent in nearly everything in the economy. You can get a 48MHz ARM processor with 64kB of program Flash for US$1.76 and burn ten thousand lines of C into it, then use it to run a string of Christmas lights. For US$6.46 you can get a 48MHz ARM processor with 1MB of program Flash and burn a hundred thousand lines of C into it. Or you can put a Lua interpreter into 20% of that memory and fill the other 80% with eighty thousand lines of Lua. The “crisis” is that it costs literally a million times more to write the code than it does to make the processor. (Prices from Digi-Key, unit price for quantity 1000.) The “crisis” started in 1968 when the price of hardware at last fell below the cost of writing the software to take advantage of it, and it’s been “worsening” ever since. And that’s the origin of “software engineering”.

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