- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; Anniversary edition (August 12, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0201835959
- ISBN-13: 978-0201835953
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (290 customer reviews)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#7,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1 in Books > Computers & Technology > Hardware & DIY > Microprocessors & System Design > Microprocessor Design
- #5 in Books > Textbooks > Computer Science > Software Design & Engineering
- #13 in Books > Computers & Technology > Programming > Software Design, Testing & Engineering > Software Development
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) Anniversary Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
The classic book on the human elements of software engineering. Software tools and development environments may have changed in the 21 years since the first edition of this book, but the peculiarly nonlinear economies of scale in collaborative work and the nature of individuals and groups has not changed an epsilon. If you write code or depend upon those who do, get this book as soon as possible -- from Amazon.com Books, your library, or anyone else. You (and/or your colleagues) will be forever grateful. Very Highest Recommendation.
From the Inside Flap
To my surprise and delight, The Mythical Man-Month continues to be popular after twenty years. Over 250,000 copies are in print. People often ask which of the opinions and recommendations set forth in 1975 I still hold, and which have changed, and how. Whereas I have from time to time addressed that question in lectures, I have long wanted to essay it in writing.
Peter Gordon, now a Publishing Partner at Addison-Wesley, has been working with me patiently and helpfully since 1980. He proposed that we prepare an Anniversary Edition. We decided not to revise the original, but to reprint it untouched (except for trivial corrections) and to augment it with more current thoughts.
Chapter 16 reprints "No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering," a 1986 IFIPS paper that grew out of my experience chairing a Defense Science Board study on military software. My co-authors of that study, and our executive secretary, Robert L. Patrick, were invaluable in bringing me back into touch with real-world large software projects. The paper was reprinted in 1987 in the IEEE Computer magazine, which gave it wide circulation.
"No Silver Bullet" proved provocative. It predicted that a decade would not see any programming technique which would by itself bring an order-of-magnitude improvement in software productivity. The decade has a year to run; my prediction seems safe. "NSB" has stimulated more and more spirited discussion in the literature than has The Mythical Man-Month. Chapter 17, therefore, comments on some of the published critique and updates the opinions set forth in 1986.
In preparing my retrospective and update of The Mythical Man-Month, I was struck by how few of the propositions asserted in it have been critiqued, proven, or disproven by ongoing software engineering research and experience. It proved useful to me now to catalog those propositions in raw form, stripped of supporting arguments and data. In hopes that these bald statements will invite arguments and facts to prove, disprove, update, or refine those propositions, I have included this outline as Chapter 18.
Chapter 19 is the updating essay itself. The reader should be warned that the new opinions are not nearly so well informed by experience in the trenches as the original book was. I have been at work in a university, not industry, and on small-scale projects, not large ones. Since 1986, I have only taught software engineering, not done research in it at all. My research has rather been on virtual reality and its applications.
In preparing this retrospective, I have sought the current views of friends who are indeed at work in software engineering. For a wonderful willingness to share views, to comment thoughtfully on drafts, and to re-educate me, I am indebted to Barry Boehm, Ken Brooks, Dick Case, James Coggins, Tom DeMarco, Jim McCarthy, David Parnas, Earl Wheeler, and Edward Yourdon. Fay Ward has superbly handled the technical production of the new chapters.
I thank Gordon Bell, Bruce Buchanan, Rick Hayes-Roth, my colleagues on the Defense Science Board Task Force on Military Software, and, most especially, David Parnas for their insights and stimulating ideas for, and Rebekah Bierly for technical production of, the paper printed here as Chapter 16. Analyzing the software problem into the categories of essence and accident was inspired by Nancy Greenwood Brooks, who used such analysis in a paper on Suzuki violin pedagogy.
Addison-Wesley's house custom did not permit me to acknowledge in the 1975 Preface the key roles played by their staff. Two persons' contributions should be especially cited: Norman Stanton, then Executive Editor, and Herbert Boes, then Art Director. Boes developed the elegant style, which one reviewer especially cited: "wide margins, and imaginative use of typeface and layout." More important, he also made the crucial recommendation that every chapter have an opening picture. (I had only the Tar Pit and Rheims Cathedral at the time.) Finding the pictures occasioned an extra year's work for me, but I am eternally grateful for the counsel.
Deo soli gloria or Soli Deo Gloria -- To God alone be the glory.
Chapel Hill, N.C., F.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
"Humanity has been developing information technology for half a century. That experience has taught us this unpleasant truth: virtually every information technology project above a certain size or complexity is significantly late and over budget or fails altogether; those that don't fail are often riddled with defects and difficult to enhance. Fred Brooks explored many of the root causes over twenty years ago in The Mythical Man-Month, a classic book that could be regarded as the Bible of information technology because it is universally known, often quoted, occasionally read, and rarely heeded."
I have been involved in software engineering for over 25 years, have written many articles and even a few books on the subject. Yet every time I think I've discovered some new insight, chances are I can find it tucked away somewhere in The Mythical Man-Month. And the tarpits and other dangers he lays out plague the IT industry today. I wonder when we will grasp and apply the fundamental insights that Brooks, Jerry Weinberg, and others laid out nearly three decades ago. ..bruce..
To me, the book suffers from two major problems. For one, it is very outdated, and this 'anniversary edition' updates absolutely nothing from the original printing. For a book that is now 40 years old in a sector as fast-moving as software, this is understandable, but I found it puzzling Brooks decided to simply leave the whole script intact in this 1995 re-issue. Worse, the book is consistently described as 'timeless', a word that I feel could not be further from the truth. I will not go into specifics because other reviewers have already effectively described the anachronisms (such as each programmer having a secretary), but I retain the opinion that most of the content in the book is now outdated. Whether this is because the lessons of Brooks have been effectively woven into current best-practices or if the information is simply irrelevant now I cannot say.
Additionally, the parts that Brooks does decide to update are questionable. The book itself is 19 chapters; 1-17 are things that have been re-prints of essays from then- 10-20 years ago, and 18 is simply a summary of the book that asks "is this part of the book actually true or not?". This chapter in particular was one that I could not understand. How is it that after 20 years, we are no closer to finding out if any of the information that is put forth is actually true? And why even include such a chapter, a full 20 years after-the-fact? Only in the final chapter are we updated on Brooks's thoughts. I did not find this chapter to be any more illuminating than the rest of the book.
Another issue I perceived is that Brooks seems to be exceptionally long-winded in getting his point across. True, this is a problem for many books and does not disqualify a text from being valuable. Still, one would expect a more exacting tone from a book that is so frequently lauded as the 'most important' about software process.
The one part that I did find to be interesting and thought-provoking was the essay, No Silver Bullet. The separation of accidental and essential complexity is an intriguing one, even though I disagree with the author's conclusions on that specific point. In my own work, I still think that the vast majority of my time is implementing and verifying that my solution (in code) is correct. If I could think of a solution and immediately have code that corresponds to it, I do think that my effectiveness would increase tremendously. Regardless, the topic is an interesting one that surely does provoke the 'spirited discussion' that Brooks speaks of in the preface.
All in all, my suggestion to prospective readers would be to skip the book entirely (possibly reading a summary, if they must know what the main points are) and instead read No Silver Bullet, freely available online. You will gain just as much value but save at least 5 hours.
Among the pearls of wisdom contained within these pages are the following:
Adding people to a late software project tends to make it later.
While it takes one woman nine months to give birth, nine women cannot accomplish the same task in one month. (Hence, the concept of the mythical man month. People and time are not interchangeable commodities.)
The factor most dispositive of success in software engineering is conceptual integrity.
The first duty of the manager is create a concise and precise written plan.
Communication, and its attendant, organization, require as much skill and careful consideration as any other aspect of technical project leadership.
There are many, many more wonderful insights contained within the corpus of this outstanding book. While dated, no doubt, the truths that emerge from careful consideration of this important work are that overcoming problems of human interaction are really paramount to success in any task as complicated as software engineering and that the discipline of software engineering is perhaps one of the most wonderfully rewarding career paths open to creative and serious folks even today. This outstanding book rightly deserves an honored place in the library of any person who would succeed in a career in information technology now, or in the future. Yes, it deals with human factors that some may argue can be overcome by technology. But, as Brooks so cogently demonstrates in his wonderful essay on the "silver bullet", the search for the final solution to the problem of software engineering is very much like the hope to slay the mythical werewolf with a silver bullet in that it is a search for an enigma to deal with a chimera. It can't realistically hope to succeed.
Finally, in assessing the timeless importance of this classic, we are reminded of the sage advise of that great philosopher, Arnold Schwarzenegger, that, when working with people, everything is political. Yes, the human factors always do matter. And Dr. Brooks has illuminated those human factors of software engineering in a manner both satisfying and edifying. Pick up this timeless classic. Absorb the teachings. And watch your productivity and effectiveness in the discipline soar. God bless.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
IMHO, Brooks has distilled fundamental truths; you might find his ideas slightly outdated; but all will agree Brooks offers at least...Read more