“EWD 1013”

Dijkstra’s EWD 1013, Position Paper on “Fairness”, argues that fairness is a meaningless requirement because it can’t be verified by observing a system for a finite length of time. The weakness in this argument is revealed by observing that it applies just as well to termination. To make the point, I wrote this note, which claims to be an early draft of EWD 1013 titled Position Paper on “Termination”. It is, of course, essentially the same as EWD 1013 with fairness replaced by termination. Because of other things that happened at that time, I was afraid that Dijkstra might not take it in the spirit of good fun in which it was intended, and that he might find it offensive. So, I never showed it to anyone but a couple of friends. I think the passage of time has had enough of a mellowing effect that no one will be offended any more by it. It is now of more interest for the form than for the content.