SW = HW Google's Jeff Dean, employee #20

Google has some really smart people and there is an inner circle of smart rich people who keep Google infrastructure going.  Silicon Valley has an article on Google's Jeff Dean.

How Google's Jeff Dean became the Chuck Norris of the Internet

By Will Oremus, Slate


"The speed of light in a vacuum used to be about 35 mph. Then Jeff Dean spent a weekend optimizing physics." — Jeff Dean Facts

Jeff Dean facts aren't, well, true. But the fact that someone went to the trouble to make up Chuck Norris-esque exploits about Dean is remarkable. That's because Jeff Dean is a software engineer, and software engineers are not like Chuck Norris. For one thing, they're not lone rangers - software development is an inherently collaborative enterprise. For another, they rarely shoot cowboys with an Uzi.

Jeff is a low level guy who gets to the bits running on the HW.  What really smart people like this get is it is all about processing bits.  Processing bits is done in SW and HW, and sometimes SW changes the HW. 

Nevertheless, on April Fool's Day 2007, some admiring young Google engineers saw fit to bestow upon Jeff Dean the honor of a website extolling his programming achievements. For instance:

Jeff Dean (Courtesy: Google)

Compilers don't warn Jeff Dean. Jeff Dean warns compilers.

Jeff Dean writes directly in binary. He then writes the source code as documentation for other developers.

When Jeff Dean has an ergonomic evaluation, it is for the protection of his keyboard. Jeff Dean was forced to invent asynchronous APIs one day when he optimized a function so that it returned before it was invoked.


Here is a bit of a peak into the inner circle fueled by cappuccinos

Almost every morning, he comes into work at the GooglePlex in Mountain View, Calif., and sits down for coffee with the same core group of people. "We've made 20,000 cappuccinos together" over the years, he estimates. These people don't all work together. In fact, as Google has grown, some have moved to different buildings on opposite sides of the campus. But when they get together to dish about what they're doing, their problems spark ideas in one another, Dean says. These coffee talks are what has enabled Dean to put his expertise in optimization, parallelization and software infrastructure to work on such a wide array of projects. That and healthy doses of ambition and confidence. "He's always very enthusiastic and optimistic about how much we can get done," says Ghemawat, his longtime collaborator. "It's hard to discourage him."

Here is a presentation that Jeff did on Google in 2009, it gives you some history and pictures of what Google Data Centers used to look like.