[FoRK] Niklaus Wirth 80th Birthday Symposium

Dave Long dave.long at bluewin.ch
Fri Feb 21 14:37:21 PST 2014


>> Congratulations to the ETHZ for putting together a great program  
>> to celebrate Niklaus Wirth (call by name? or call by value?)'s  
>> birthday.
>
> But did he apologize for Pascal yet?  In particular: lack of  
> shortcutting of expressions, magic IO (a la Basic) rather than  
> proper library interface mechanisms like C, and no varargs.


It's very likely that Modula-2 and Oberon were his apologies.  If I  
understand correctly, recent Oberons have been used for realtime  
quadcopter control on ARM boards and hence support interrupts, low- 
level bit bashing, and other systems-programmy stuff, a far cry from  
a language which was designed almost entirely for pedagogy at a time  
when, as you point out, such endeavors were mostly done by the blind  
leading the blind.  (cf PL360; it's obvious that Wirth was capable of  
creating languages where you could feel the bits crunch between your  
toes — when it was his goal to do so)

I feel pretty stupid regarding some of my technical decisions from  
5-10 years ago; it's just as well that no one can hold me accountable  
for any technical decisions from 40+ years ago!

-Dave

(Meyer did explicitly point out that he was using C++ as an example  
on the principle that « les absents ont toujours tort »— but had  
Stroustrup been in attendance he might simply have found occasion to  
repeat: "there are only two kinds of languages: the ones people  
complain about and the ones nobody uses")




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