Xah's Edu Corner: The importance of syntax & notations.

Peter Keller psilord at merlin.cs.wisc.edu
Sun Aug 16 18:05:01 CEST 2009


In comp.lang.scheme Xah Lee <xahlee at gmail.com> wrote:
> Xah's Edu Corner: The importance of syntax & notations.
> 
> http://www.stephenwolfram.com/publications/recent/mathml/mathml_abstract.html
> 
> this article should teach the coding sophomorons and computer
> ?science? idiotic authors who harbor the notion that syntax is not
> important, picked up by all the elite i-reddit & twittering &  hacker
> news am-hip dunces.

I must have really tweaked you with my "Syntax is not important, ideas are."
statement.

I read Wolfram's article carefully. He applies an intuitive sense onto
why he does or doesn't like a particular notation, but yet can't really
elucidate his feelings. I'm surprised that didn't tweak you worse. He
also goes so far as to mention that:

"But actually we still don't know a clean simple way to represent things
like geometrical diagrams in a kind of language-like notation. And
my guess is that actually of all the math-like stuff out there, only
a comparatively small fraction can actually be represented well with
language-like notation."

It is simply that the method by which the right brain categorizes
and processes visual information is not observable by the left
brain. Therefore no language can EVER be constructed by the left brain to
represent why the right brain "prefers" some visual layouts for languages
over others.  I've done enough classical art training in my life to
understand the conflict between the powerful spatial/visual processor
the right brain has and the (in the context of drawing) meaningless
linguistics of trying to describe the process.

Only when we as human beings build the observation channels needed (with
physical connection between certain areas of the left and right sides of
the brain) will any sort of meaningful left brain language be created
for the visual understanding/gradation of the spatial relationship and
the method by which our right brain performs its processing.

If you want to design a better computer language, hire an artist.

Most semantic objects in programs stand in some spatio-temporal
relation to each other. If you deny that fact, then simply look at the
directed acyclic form/SSA form/CPS transform of any of your favorite
languages. Compiler go through *great* pains to transform left brain
scribblings into large spatio-temporal "2d images" where lots of algorithms
are done before converting them into assembly. This is because it is simply
easier to visually understand how to do the processing of those elements
than not.

Thank you.

-pete



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