The truth about Google’s Jeff Dean

It’s tough being a legend when you’re young.

Google software engineer Jeff Dean became a legend in 2007 when colleague Kenton Varda created a Web site for Google staff touting Dean’s alleged software superpowers called Jeff Dean Facts.

Here’s one: “When Jeff Dean sends an ethernet frame there are no collisions because the competing frames retreat back up into the buffer memory on their source nic.”

They are, of course, not facts at all. So this piece from Slate tries to separate fact from fiction.

Beyond being a fast programmer, Dean has been involved in creating things most of us don’t see: the Google File System and MapReduce. But they’ve spawned the Big Data explosion.

Dean is modest, noting that his accomplishments are almost always accomplished as part of a team.

(Kenton Varda’s tribute page to Jeff Dean)
“A great software developer can do in a week what might take months for a team of 10 lesser developers,” writes author Will Oremus, “which is why the best companies go to such great lengths to attract top talent.”


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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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