Manoj Rao bio photo

Manoj Rao

Your Average Common Man

Email Twitter Github

No matter which stage of career you are in, managing time and tasks become a matter of utmost priority. Paul Graham’s essay on Maker’s Schedule explains a good way to think about typical programmers vs typical managers schedule.

Beyond this, there is a more specific problem that most programmers battle with intra-project prioritization. You break down a large project into sub tasks and how would you schedule them? Especially if the project is for a client (assuming it doesn’t entail a monolithic purpose to it, since this is extremely rare). For example: it rarely is “Make me a new text editor”

With that said, if you looked into how Operating Systems handle this sort of a thing we can see the various scheduling policies available. In Linux Kernel, there are a ton of such policies:

  • Completely Fair Scheduler (CFS)
  • FIFO or FCFS (First In First Out)
  • Earliest Deadline First or Deadline Scheduling (EDF)

Earliest Deadline First (EDF)

EDF has produces an optimal scheme for minimizing the maximum lateness.

1

If your goal is to simply minimize the amount of lateness only, then this is it. It is the optimal scheme. However, this has the downside of producing a lot of tasks can be late albeit by a smaller margin. What if you want to optimize for minimizing the number of tasks that are late?

Moore’s Algorithm

Moore’s Algorithm optimizes for the number of tasks that are late. It does so by first ordering the tasks as per EDF scheme then trying to spot a largest job that results in delaying a later task in the pipeline. It then moves this large job to the end of the queue.

1

You can break down a big problem into smaller tasks, by simply using the better of these two schemes recursively you have solved your schedule. You have even mathematically optimized your scheduling scheme. Another important, yet underrated benefit is that you have drastically reduced your cognitive load on the planning/scheduling aspect. Instead you get to look deeper into the design and other technical parts of the project.

  1. https://courses.cs.washington.edu/courses/csep521/03sp  2


Bring Your Own Cause

If you think any info here has remotely helped you consider dropping a penny for this cause, just click me . You can visit https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-52672764 Unfortunately, there are plenty of sad things happening all over the world, if you have a different cause or charity you'd rather support please do. And if you did make a donation, please drop a note to me (annotated) or leave a comment here (anonymous is OK!) and I will use that as motivation to write more useful content here.

If you like topics such as this then please consider subscribing to my podcast. I talk to some of the stalwarts in tech and ask them what their favorite productivity hacks are:

Available on iTunes Podcast

Visit Void Star Podcast’s page on iTunes Podcast Portal. Please Click ‘Subscribe’, leave a comment.

Get it iTunes