Boyd's Law of Iteration

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2021-08-18 06:30:04

Scott Stanfield forwarded me a link to Roger Sessions' A Better Path to Enterprise Architecture yesterday. Even though it's got the snake-oil word "Enterprise" in the title, the article is surprisingly good.

I particularly liked the unusual analogy Roger chose to illustrate the difference between iterative and recursive approaches to software development. It starts with Air Force Colonel John Boyd researching a peculiar anomaly in the performance of 1950's era jet fighters:

Colonel John Boyd was interested not just in any dogfights, but specifically in dogfights between MiG-15s and F-86s. As an ex-pilot and accomplished aircraft designer, Boyd knew both planes very well. He knew the MiG-15 was a better aircraft than the F-86. The MiG-15 could climb faster than the F-86. The MiG-15 could turn faster than the F-86. The MiG-15 had better distance visibility.

The F-86 had two points in its favor. First, it had better side visibility. While the MiG-15 pilot could see further in front, the F-86 pilot could see slightly more on the sides. Second, the F-86 had a hydraulic flight control. The MiG-15 had a manual flight control.

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