Making Reasonable Use of Computer Resources

The computers sitting on our desks are incomprehensibly fast. They can perform more operations in one second than a human could in one hundred years. We live in an era of CPUs that can perform billions of instructions per second, tens of billions if we take multi-cores into account, of memory that can transfer data to the CPU at hundreds of gigabytes per second, of disks that support streaming reads of gigabytes per second. This era of incredibly fast hardware is also the era of programs that take tens of seconds to start from an SSD or NVMe disk; of bloated web applications that take many seconds to show a simple list, even on a broadband connection; of programs that process data at a thousandth of the speed we should expect. Software is laggy and sluggish — and the situation shows little signs of improvement.