September Lunch Meeting

Chaos Theory, Revisited
Steven Wille - Director Information Technology Applications Development
Cahners Business Information

Several years ago at the RMIMA Winter Conference, Steven Wille spoke about chaos theory (also known as complexity theory). People who attended the conference are still talking about this presentation. The RMIMA board asked Steve to speak at our lunch meeting to revisit and update this subject.

The August 10, 1998, issue of PC Week had a column on complexity theory. "Managing complexity, is that a contradiction in terms? Seems that researchers at the intellectual retreats in Santa Fe, Cambridge and Palo Alto contend that you canít manage systems as they get more complex, that it is better to watch the system as it evolves and align your future with your best guess." It goes on to say, "Maybe one of those researchers in Santa Fe studying ants or termites or bacteria can provide a few useful tips on getting 30 or 40 million lines of code to march in order."

Software growth is complex.  No one, not even Bill Gates, anticipated the explosive growth of the World Wide Web. Who is in control, anyway? No one is in control. Many people in many places doing many things drive the Internet. And no one knows where it is going. Al Gore used to talk about the information super highway. That was before the Web took off on its own, without Alís help.

Steve does not have all the answers for managing complexity, but he does have some of the questions we must address as we develop large scale, multi-platform systems. Steve will give a brief history of complexity theory and then reflect on how it applies to software development projects.

Steve is in charge of software development for Cahners Business Information, the nationís largest publisher of trade publications. The Highlands Ranch data center houses the Cahners circulation database for over 100 magazines serving millions of subscribers around the world. The systems in Highlands Ranch include mainframe, client/server and Web servers, all tightly integrated.