Many thanks to Hanzík for the Czech translations!

moderately geeky  moderately geeky

Case 63


The nun Zjing had acquired an aversion to heights. A young monk found her in her new quarters: a small hut nestled at the lowest point of a valley seven hundred feet below the Temple.

The monk sat down, for Zjing had taken to working while lying on the floor.

“I have written a most elegant subsystem for our image-rendering pipeline,” said the monk. “It has increased throughput dramatically, yet it is extremely fragile. Every change must be made with the utmost caution or chaos will result. For a solid year I have maintained the code, trusting it to no one else. Now my nerves are frayed. I must move on to other projects or risk the loss of my few remaining wits.”

“I understand,” said Zjing, clutching the floor as she sat upright to examine the code on the monk’s laptop. “You fear the inevitable day when your successor makes a careless change and the system falls apart.”

“Yes—for I shall be blamed, and rightly so!” cried the monk. “How can I best ensure that such a disaster will not occur? By extensive comments in the code? By extensive documentation outside the code? By providing a hundred unit tests that will fail if incorrect changes are made? By permeating the code with a hundred consistency checks—thus increasing its complexity even more? Or by remaining on this project until my brains turn to jelly?”

“Wú,” said the nun. She selected the directory that held the subsystem’s source code, hit the delete button, and crawled out the door.