economy for programmers

recently I have explained one basic economical fact to myself in programmers' terms, and only then I was able to really understand it. Now I want to share this explanation.

most of the things we humans do can be optimised, but usually you only can optimise for a few parameters, not all at once. Worse than that, quite often improvement of one parameter will negatively affect others. Then you have to pick more important ones, while sacrificing less important.

the most obvious example is about fruits in a supermarket. Consumers want them to be tasty and affordable. Supermarket owner wants fruits to sell well and not to rot. Of these three parameters: price, taste and shelf life, only two are easy measurable and easy to compare. And it's quite difficult to tell, which kind of apples is tastier. Also people tend not to buy two kinds of apples to compare them.

this leads to the obvious result: of all kinds of apples supermarkets usually sell ones with longer shelf life and bigger weight. It's optimization by weight and by shelf life. These kinds might also taste well, but it's much more probable that the tastiest kinds produce less weight per tree or rot quicker. So at first we looked for the cheaper one, and now we complain about tasteless fruits.

anyway, this post is not about the banal fact "good things cost more". It's about the terms which are more obvious to a programmer: apple kinds are optimised for parameters that are important to the seller and highly visible to the consumer.

Артемий Трегубенко,
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