Conway’s Law

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What Does Conway’s Law Mean?

Conway’s law is an aphorism in IT that posits the idea that “organizations
which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the
communication structures of these organizations.” This idea can be traced back
to a programmer named Melvin Conway who developed this principle in the late
1960s.

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Techopedia Explains Conway’s Law

Another way to explain Conway’s law is that the teams of people that work on a piece of software will make their own marks on its eventual design. One common example used is the example of a software compiler. One of the most frequently cited statements around Conway’s law states that “if you have four groups working on a compiler, you’ll get a four-pass compiler.” A software compiler can be either a one-pass compiler or a multi-pass compiler. The number of “passes” is the number of times that the compiler goes back over a piece of source code. The idea is that if there are multiple groups working on the compiler, each one will construct their own unique pass that will be different than any of the others.

Rather than pooling all of their resources to come up with one monolithic code structure, individuals or groups of firms will contribute their own code modules which are distinctly unique. Some of the implications of Conway’s law are that people always put their own unique stamp on their contributions to a software project, and that humans may be inherently unable to work together in a monolithic way to write source code.

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Margaret Rouse
Editor

Margaret jest nagradzaną technical writerką, nauczycielką i wykładowczynią. Jest znana z tego, że potrafi w prostych słowach pzybliżyć złożone pojęcia techniczne słuchaczom ze świata biznesu. Od dwudziestu lat jej definicje pojęć z dziedziny IT są publikowane przez Que w encyklopedii terminów technologicznych, a także cytowane w artykułach ukazujących się w New York Times, w magazynie Time, USA Today, ZDNet, a także w magazynach PC i Discovery. Margaret dołączyła do zespołu Techopedii w roku 2011. Margaret lubi pomagać znaleźć wspólny język specjalistom ze świata biznesu i IT. W swojej pracy, jak sama mówi, buduje mosty między tymi dwiema domenami, w ten…