Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Hints and Principles for Computer System Design [pdf] (dropbox.com)
124 points by matt_d 26 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 11 comments

Note that this is a much expanded 2020 version of the 1983 classic.

Lampson has been expanding on it over the years. This is an expanded (20 pages) over his 2019 version.


No complaint here. Anything written by Lampson is worth reading.

I used to carry a copy of the (quite a lot shorter) 1983 version with me, and re-read it every few months, each time learning something new, unlocked by my increased experience.

I have just learned that Lampson was a fierce opponent of Lynn Conway's VLSI design methods program, at Xerox PARC. Fortunately, his opposition did not carry the day, the methods took over the industry in record time, and Conway's career at Xerox was not ultimately harmed. It would still be interesting to learn the basis for his opposition.

Here are Lampson's brief descriptions of many many hardware and software systems he has worked on, starting in the 1960s and continuing into the 21st century.


I learned about Lampson from reading Alan Kay, who has praised him highly. He was one of the founding members of Xerox PARC, among many other achievements.

Hadn't looked at the older version for years, now skimming through this, it's Pure Gold (tm).

This is required reading that everyone in CS should revisit frequently. Gold.

Anything in particular that's non-obvious & sticks out to you?

The one thing that stuck with me the first time (when we studied this in grad school) was that designing interfaces (to functions, APIs, etc) is hard - and that you'll never get it right the first time.

Computers.. are becoming old hat.

What's the next big thing?

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact