[Edu-sig] Compatibility and legacy in language evolution

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Sun Sep 10 03:03:45 CEST 2006

On 9/9/06, Radenski, Atanas <radenski at chapman.edu> wrote:
> Languages do evolve. For example:
> Pascal => Modula => Oberon
> C => C++
> Java => Generic Java
> Python => Python 3000
> ... etc...

Another interesting example:

APL => J

Kenneth Iverson of Harvard's APL was the first computer language I
fell in love with, made me hate FORTRAN or any other punch card
language.  This was early "dot prompt", an interactive command line.
No big long delayed gratification while you write this huge script,
then debug it for hours.  So *not* the XP style (so the opposite of
unit testing as you go).

APL you may recall, uses a not-ASCII developed as a chalkboard math
notation, then made executable.  J is the same thing, but ASCII.  You
really have to change your thinking to appreciate J's power.

I'm still just a yellow belt in that world, Bruce Lee's retarded
little brother in some late night Kung Fu flick (he protects me from
The Man (played by Roger Hui)).

Even in Python world I'm not Mr. Metaclass, nor smooth talkin' Plone
Archetypes.  Arthur sometimes ridicules my short little code blocks
(where are my thousands of lines (answer: in FoxPro)).

But that's just or "stars in the sky" style over in Buckyville.  We
have these weird slogans, like "YOU be the glue."  Brad says our
private sky is NOT THE WORLD in his posts.  He sounds like a
philosopher.  Some other castle somewhere, where they use "all caps" a
lot (I try to be sparing, but yes, I use them too).

Anyway, does the fact that J doesn't run APL programs mitigate against
it?  Does J have a bright future?  I'd think so.  I sure hope gnu math
teachers find a way to teach it.

Like with other stuff, it's not "down to the chip" that it's open (and
these days, the chip isn't either), and open source J code, like open
source IronPython, doesn't imply .NET itself is completely transparent
(unlike the Monkey -- the Mono -- which is much more so, or so they
tell me (no I don't read a lot of C# in the course of a regular
business day)).


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