Saturday, March 07, 2009

Are we there yet?

Found an interesting project over there, but their wiki set me off a-ranting, and reminded me of some other blogs which got me a-thinking about languages, and if I can't rant here then WTF?

The interesting project is "enough", and their goal is to "design and implement the computing platform of the future"

Let's set up some points of agreement first (as in: if you don't agree with me on these, there's no point to you reading this, I'd recommend that instead)
  • No programming language is less ambiguous than natural language, because the former are all defined and standardised using the latter. People may often use natural language more sloppily, but they do that in the programming languages too!
  • The "most natural way to express" any idea is multi-paradigmatically. Outside of programming no-one ever expresses themselves using only objects, or only functions, or only ...
  • If "the best way to describe a system is the easiest for a programmer to use", then there can not be one best way to describe a system - apart from homework assignments.

Readability is the only problem. Enough code has already been written - the problem now is to understand enough of it in order to re-use the most relevant parts.


Maybe I've just been reading different books - but it seems to me the problems described on this page have more in common with the ideas of Chomsky, Jackendorf, Pinker, ... than Knuth, Wall, Fowler, ... Because the former group are much more aware of the fact that the real problem is *how people think*, not how they express themselves, nor how machines compute.

Unskilled users don't mind a bit of syntax. People have a natural ability to ignore the things they don't understand, that's how children learn to speak.
Surely also a programming platform can be inducted into ignorance of some superfluous ambiguity?

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