In the commercial jargon, the term "to optimize" means to make better, quicker, smaller, less expensive, more efficient. As for computers, it is often used for compilers.

Now, this word is a lie in itself: "optimal" means "the best", and commercial liars use this word to make believe that their product is "the best" whereas it is only "better" than what they used to provide. And even then, not always. Because those liars are also the paranoid people who won't let you see what exactly their programs do. Hence, all you know is that the program is better when applied to their "holy" not-so-meaningful benchmarks. If you're using their "optimized" or "optimizing" stuff in a context similar to that the benchmarks were designed for, you're in luck. If not, beware, as anything can happen.

Thus, in general, don't trust the word, and just hope that natural selection should keep evolution in the rough general direction of increased welfare. As for computer software, it just means that code produced is better than what a quick cheap straightforward implementation would have been.

We do not mean that what is commonly called an "optimizer" are useless; some are bad, some are great. We are sorry that such a word has spread around as a common technical word in the computer community and increased the world's entropy.

This page is linked from: Code Generation   Feature-Oriented Programming   Mozart   Program Transformation