new years resolutions

Cliff Wells clifford.wells at
Sat Jan 4 22:29:54 CET 2003

On Sat, 2003-01-04 at 12:58, Simon Bunker wrote:
> Might a better definition be that a programming language program that can
> take data input and act on it to produce a particular output?

Are you defining "programming language" or "program"?  By your
definition a circuit board is a program, in fact, by this definition,
the surge suppressor attached to my PC is a "program".  Although, from a
certain point of view, this might be true, I don't think it's the
definition being looked for in this thread.

> HTML does have a lot of variables defined, but HTML itself cannot do
> anything with these without Javascript/PHP/Perl/Python/C/some programming
> language. The borwser has been created by a programming language and takes
> the HTML as data.
> Then again python source code is data too until you take it through the
> interpretter. Running a python module is running a program, viewing a
> webpage isn't.

It's certainly easy to make a declarative statement about what is or
isn't programming, but until you (or someone) can come up with an
accepted definition of "programming" or "programming language", it's
just another opinion.

I've read articles about how software is unique among human endeavors in
that it is neither fully concrete nor fully abstract. It seems likely
that attempting to define it in either fashion is doomed to failure. 
The abstract definitions (Turing complete) can never truly exist in a
finite universe (let alone on a PC) and the concrete definitions
(controlling a machine) are clearly too inclusive.  
I suppose I'll continue to "program" and know what it means and accept
that it might mean something different in a different context or to a
different person.  However, in the future, I'll certainly avoid trying
to tell someone else what is or isn't programming so as to have time to
actually do some <wink>.


Cliff Wells <clifford.wells at>

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