[FoRK] A brief thought about a historical oddity in programming
Jeff Bone <
jbone at place.org
> on >
Tue Oct 31 20:03:16 PST 2006
On Oct 31, 2006, at 5:02 AM, Dave Long wrote:
>> One thing that amuses me somewhat about how programming languages
>> have evolved over the last 30 years or so...
> Would you believe 40 years*? All of the languages you mention below:
>> It's a bit odd that the entire family of functional languages that
>> this lecture almost directly gave birth to..
> strike me as having descended more from ISWIM than FP/FL. (wasn't
> ML also late 70's?)
> Landin, Peter J. (March 1966). "The next 700 programming
> languages". CACM 9 (3): 157–166.
> (In which Landin, among other things, discusses referential
> transparency and introduces the offside rule)
> For more a more direct FP descent, see <http://www.plasm.net/>.
> For expressing the point-free (pointless?) aspect of Backus'
> vision, maybe J, or Apter's functional array language experiments
> with K would also be more in line.
Points well made, gracefully taken.
Clearly we can legitimately argue over "grandfathered" vs.
"fathered." As far as I know, the science of programming language
evolution has yet to have developed clear paternity tests. It seems
that citation-mining might go a long way towards that, but I'm
lazy. ;-) It seems incontrovertible to me that a generation of
doctorate-aspirants was inspired --- rightly so --- by Backus' moving
and insightful lecture; the remark was on their subsequent focus
more on formal programming language semantics and fun theory work
(pun intended) and less on what the whole Backus proposal was
*actually* meant to accomplish practically. And yes, I agree that
the APL offspring are much more clearly the "genetic" progeny of that
lecture. APL, J, and K (and so forth) are all indisputably great,
and works (and tools) of genius --- particularly APL itself and K;
but please g*d never let me have to *maintain* or *extend* a serious
program in any of them! ;-) I'm just not that geek-macho. Or, at
least, too short-term lazy to be that long-term lazy. ;-) :-)
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