Back-to-Basics Weekend Reading - Hints for Computer Systems Design

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For a while now I have been on a track to read one influential/fundamental Computer Science paper each weekend. I find that going back to the basics of system, network and language design forces a good appreciation for keeping designs simple and focus on those fundamentals that matter most to users.

Often I posted the paper on twitter and a number of times I have had requests like “what was the paper you posted three weeks ago about memory management?”. I will now post them here so going back in time will be easy.

Last weeks paper was the classic End-To-End Arguments in System Design, by J. H. Saltzer, D. P. Reed, and D. D. Clark, ACM Transactions on Computer Systems 2(4):277-288, November 1984.

This weeks paper is an excellent companion to end-to-end paper: Butler Lampson’s Hints for Computer Systems Design Proceedings of the Ninth ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles, pp. 33-48, October 1983, Bretton Woods, NH, USA.

Butler’s paper shows a great mix of fundamentals en best practices from the early days of large scale system design. Almost all of his advice has withstood the test of time and as such they are even more important now than in 1983.