What do we mean by “architecture”?


Form Follows Function

Some things last longer than others

Every systematic development of any subject ought to begin with a definition, so that everyone may understand what the discussion is about.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (196BC ‒ 16BC), De Officiis, Book 1, Moral Goodness (h/t to Glen Alleman, October 8, 2013 Quote of the Day)

One of the joys of the English language is the overloading of words with multiple meanings. While it’s not hard to start an argument over technical issues under normal circumstances, having multiple definitions to conflate makes it that much easier. Take, for example, the word “architecture”. While different dictionaries give slightly different definitions (e.g. Merriam-WebsterDictionary.com and Wiktionary), the common set of definitions boil down to:

  • the practice of architecture (i.e. the discipline of architectural design)
  • an architectural style (e.g. layered, RESTful, etc.)
  • the result of architectural work (i.e. the architecture of a thing – the “decisions of consequence” that define the structure…

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