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ECJ-INTEREST-L  October 2005

ECJ-INTEREST-L October 2005

Subject:

One objection leads to another objection and another…etc!

From:

Colbert Philippe <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

ECJ Evolutionary Computation Toolkit <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 26 Oct 2005 06:49:15 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (88 lines)

Hello Sean!   This is Colbert Philippe.

Thanks for a detailed reply to the question of updating ECJ.  I appreciate
your precise style.   Thatís what is required in software engineering.
Your style encourages me to get more involved in ECJ.   My goals are
simple: I want to use ECJ and take it to the next step.  I want to make
ECJ usable on personal computers or on grid servers where availability,
power is plentiful for a relatively small cost.  I feel that ECJ is almost
there if it can be modernized.   I donít have legacy obligations like you
so I might have to branch off ECJ.  However, I was hoping to convince you
to have a common base that is standard and universally accepted.

Sean, Java is used all over the world in projects that are much bigger
than ECJ.  ECJ has only 363 files and does not qualify as a big project.
I have seen projects with over 10000 files with bigger sources too (mostly
in the business not so much scientific).  There is a huge community of
programmers out there in the commercial community and the open source
community.  The total expertise, the collective intellect and the review
capabilities of communities is one of the most power human intellectual
engine.

Javaís success is partly due to its compliance with standards or common
ways of doing things.  VisualBasic, Fortran, C/C++ has very few effective
standards which incurred great costs to everybody involved.  You donít
seem convinced of this wisdom.  I am.  I want to show you that itís a big
mistake that is costing you a great deal of money.

I understand your biases given the history of ECJ.  Thatís normal.   Every
project has that.  However, I want to show you the other side of the
coin.   Java and popular java tools have been reviewed by a huge number of
people.  The error tracking in developing java is extraordinary for a
language that is platform independent.   There are solid reasons why
changes are done to upgrade Java.   Itís not syntax candy.

Sean, you should be careful before your criticize an award winning utility
like ANT.  They donít give awards to lame utilities.    You are the only
(I mean the only) person I hear saying that ANT is slower than MAKE.  It
is impossible.   You need to demonstrate your claim with precise numbers.
ANT is ultra-fast, much faster than MAKE.   The reason is simple:  MAKE is
not tuned to Java.   MAKE is coded in C/C++.   MAKE invokes a new java
instance sequentially on every wildcard expression.  On the other hand,
ANT generally (can be turned-off) invokes java only once and feeds it the
wildcard expressions.  That saves a lot of time. I should know because I
played with ANT code to grab sections of it for a previous project.   I
talked to the guys who coded ANT several times.   They are very smart and
capable.  MAKE will reload the JVM on every expression while MAKE will
not.   The speed of ANT has been demonstrated in front of me hundreds of
times.  You will have to prove your claim that MAKE is faster than make
with precise numbers.   I suspect that ANT might run slower on your
projects because you are doing something wrong or unusual.  I am
speculating that it might have to do with your directory structure, which
is non-standard (really donít know).

When you donít follow standards or common ways of doing things, you end up
following unproven, inefficient and unbeaten paths.  One objection leads
forcibly to another objection and forcibly to another objection and
anotherÖetc.

Let me give you a clear example of this:

∑ By not using ANT, you are missing out on a lot of good, time-
saving things like testing using testing frameworks like Junit (and
related utilities), source file dependency viewers, archiving, and a huge
amount of utilities that save time and make life easier.   How do you test
ECJ anyways?  A minimal amount of testing is necessary.
∑ By not updating to the latest Java compiler (currently Java 1.5),
you are not benefiting from a number of performance enhancements put into
the JVM.  I am pretty sure that Java 1.5 has for the fist time object
recycling (I read it in Sun article).   This can save you from doing all
sorts of optimizations.  Furthermore, there are frameworks for doing more
involved object recycling using AspectJ.   Most of these tools rely on the
generic feature of Java.   Generics are not syntax sugar.  You are not
benefiting from any of these facilities.

ECJ could probably be significantly simplified if the old and unnecessary
optimization would be taken out.  Also, I feel that ECJ should use more
open-source utilities to again reduce the amount of sources.   As for the
coding style, itís entirely your decision.  I personally think you should
vote on it.  If you keep the same style, me and others are going to have
to run a styling program every time the code gets checked-out.  Itís not a
problem, just an extra step.

I donít really ask that you to make all the changes to ECJ.  I am willing
to do most of it.  All I ask is that we have a common ground that is
standard and universally accepted.

I hope we can talk more about these issues.
Colbert Philippe

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