Performance and Optimization Isn’t Evil

Donald Knuth is a fairly amazing guy.  I consider him one of the most influential contributors to computer science of all time.  Unfortunately, most of the time I hear his name, I cringe.  This is because it’s typically somebody quoting a small portion of one of his famous statements on optimization: “premature optimization is the root of all evil.”

I mention that this is only a portion of the entire quote, and, as such, I feel that Knuth is being quoted out of context.  Optimization is important.  It is a critical part of every software development effort, and should never be ignored.  A developer who ignores optimization is not a professional.  Every developer should understand optimization – know what to optimize, when to optimize it, and how to think about code in a way that is intelligent and productive from day one. Read more