[Edu-sig] nouns and verbs

Scott David Daniels Scott.Daniels at Acm.Org
Mon Aug 25 00:05:16 CEST 2008

Edward Cherlin wrote:
> On Tue, Aug 5, 2008 at 10:32 PM, Yoshiki Ohshima <yoshiki at vpri.org> wrote:
>> ...  Now, computer languages are like mathematics, but much more complex
>> in many ways.  It is built on top of some axioms, but the set of
>> axioms tends to be very big.  The notation is less ambiguous than
>> typical mathematics one because one of the intended readers of the
>> notation is the computer.
> Actually, to the mathematician, programming is a fairly simple concept
> that can be expressed in several different ways as the working out of
> only two basic concepts, such as the S and K combinators (Unlambda or
> J), or Lambda expressions and application (LISP and many related
> languages). Most programming languages have a good deal of unneeded
> and counterproductive complexity added on, like C++.

The current ACM has the last half of a great interview with Donald Knuth.
The whole is great, but the second can be read stand-alone.  He was a
and is a mathematician by most lights, but said in this interview,

     "Software is hard.  My experience with TeX taught me to have much
     more admiration for colleagues that are devoting most of their life
     to software than I had previously done, because I didn't realize how
     much more bandwidth of my brain was being taken up by that work than
     when I was doing theoretical work."

--Scott David Daniels
Scott.Daniels at Acm.Org

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