November 24, 2007

The Bananananananana Principle

Posted by Ben Simo

... as the little boy said, "Today we learned how to spell 'banana', but we didn't learn when to stop." ... In honor of that little boy, we can elevate his idea to a principle, The Banana Principle:

Heuristic devices don't tell you when to stop.

- Gerald M. Weinberg,
An Introduction to General Systems Thinking

I just had the following exchange with my 12 year old daughter Jessica.

How do software testers know when to stop testing something?

Jessica: When you die! . . . Or when you get really tired of it.

The Banana Principle does not mean that heuristics cannot be useful in determining when to stop. It means that heuristics do not tell us when to stop using the heuristic. There is a tendency to start transforming the most useful heuristics into laws -- in our minds. Heuristics should help us think and not replace thinking. This includes continual questioning of even the most useful heuristics.



November 25, 2007  
Unknown wrote:


I guess the best responses you get are the ones you get form kids.

November 26, 2007  
Gerald M. Weinberg wrote:

Nice blog, Ben. And fun.

Just wanted to thank you for quoting me. The Banana Principle is one of my favorite laws. (So, I think I'll stop now.)

December 04, 2007  
Ben Simo wrote:

Jerry, Thank you for writing so much worth quoting. And thank you for reading.