Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Achieving Perfection

One of my personal traits is that I strive for perfection
in what I do. Perfection however is something one very
rarely achieves and if it is achieved it takes a very
long time and hard work.

In my working life I can recall three moments of having the
feeling of achieving perfection. The first one was in
building a interrupt handler for a LAN device. The last
performance improvement that finally made the LAN device
completely stable in not losing data was when I removed the
first instruction after the interrupt (it was an instruction
that changed from decimal execution to binary execution in
case the user had turned on decimal execution. However after
checking through non-interrupt code I found that there was
no such code at all so it was a wasted instruction. This
meant 2.25% better performance which was enough to stabilise
such that I always handled RS232 interrupts on 19.2 kBaud
before they were overwritten by the next byte arriving.
The second was when building an interpreter and I finally
came down to a minimum of 7 SPARC assembler instructions
to handle the simplest interpreted instruction plus making
the interpreter pipelined in two stages. Quite interesting
design to make software in a similar manner to how hardware
is designed. The third was when I achieved linear scalability
on DBT2 for MySQL Cluster.

For me bringing something to perfection is beatiful and it
sort of turns on positive vibes in my soul. The path to
perfection is however full of agony, full of mistakes,
where we often think we're close to the solution, but
somehow there is another problem to resolve before
perfection is achieved.

In my personal life I experienced similar days of feeling
that I reached some level of perfection. However I'm
soon taken down from my lofty thoughts and shown what
more I can perfect before I'm done.

Jesus challenged us to become perfect as our Heavenly Father
is perfect. To me this means entering a path of constantly
striving for perfection in our personal lifes. It means
feelings of agony, it means experiencing mistakes, it means
days of feeling good about where you are and where you're
heading. I'm sure we won't reach perfection before this
life ends, but I'm sure eventually we can reach there and
it's a path that I know is worthy of following.

Another trait of reaching to perfection is prayer. For me all
of the above perfections came through a long series of
inspiration from above. One thing I noted about prayer is that
in order to receive the answer to your prayers for perfection
you have to work hard on your own to learn all the details
already known through books, other people and so forth. However
when you've done all that then answers to your prayers will
flow to you constantly. This happened to me at the end of my
Ph.D studies. I had a period of a little more than a year when
I almost on a daily basis had a flow of inspiration coming to me.

So my experience of the path to perfection is that one should
work hard, be prayerful, expect to be knocked down in all
senses of the word on the way and expect to find a lot of joy
also on the path to perfection.