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Imagine you've experienced project heat death at least once. The term "heat death" comes from the second law of thermodynamics: entropy within a closed system increases over time without bound until the system collapses. In software, the entropy we experience most is in the design. Most of the code we add increases design entropy. Project heat death occurs when the design rots to the point where starting over is cheaper than continuing. Project heat death seems inevitable, yet when a large-scale project dies, people often stand around, surprised, asking "why us?" To do better next time, you need a sense of what problems to look for, and you need to start solving them before they spiral out of control. The author hopes this department helps in both regards.
Date of Publication: Sept.-Oct. 2007