Cheat-sheet for More Laws, Principles & the Such

A couple of months ago, I wrote up a cheat-sheet for laws, principles & the such, as a quick reference to theories or adages that I often heard referenced in software development discussions.

Here is the second part, for things that I needed to look up since that first post.

Goodhart’s Law

When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

Dunning–Kruger Effect

A cognitive bias in which people assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.

Moore’s Law

The number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years.

Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy

In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.

Godwin’s Law

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

Dunbar’s Number

A suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships—relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person.

Promise Theory

A model of voluntary cooperation between individual, autonomous actors or agents who publish their intentions to one another in the form of promises.

Some of the above are conclusions of scientific research, others simple observations of common behaviours and experiences. The book The Leprechauns of Software Engineering by Laurent Bossavit does a great job looking into common software engineering beliefs and separating science from fiction. I guess we don’t need to go to the lengths that the book goes to discover the truth, but having a look at the quotes we use and knowing the basis of what we refer to is maybe a good start.

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