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Structural Fit

These first principles of complex problem solving are all concerned with individual pieces of software, but do not say much about how these parts are best organized into a working whole. Most methods tell us in one form or another to look to the real world, to emulate the structure of the problem in the structure of our solution. In other words, the software should be organized along the same lines as the “real-world” problem it is supposed to solve. This is the principle of structural fit, software engineering's version of the Bauhaus dictum that form should follow from function.

This principle gets its most radical realization in the more simplistic methods of object technology that say all you have to do is look at the real world and construct object classes for whatever you see “out there.” Here's a chair, there's a chair—tada! We create class chair, with superclass furniture. Following this advice too blindly leads to clumsy translations of physical systems into klutzy software. And then there's the problem that your reality and mine may have little overlap.


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