A Bug By Any Other Name ...

Phil Runciman philr at aspexconsulting.co.nz
Tue Jul 7 19:04:25 EDT 2009

-----Original Message-----
From: Dennis Lee Bieber [mailto:wlfraed at ix.netcom.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, 7 July 2009 4:45 p.m.
To: python-list at python.org
Subject: Re: A Bug By Any Other Name ...

On Mon, 6 Jul 2009 19:48:39 -0700, Daniel Fetchinson
<fetchinson at googlemail.com> declaimed the following in

> Yes, there are plenty of languages other than Java and C, but the
> influence of C is admittedly huge in Python. Why do you think loops
> are called "for", conditionals "if" or "while", functions return via
> "return", loops terminate via "break" and keep going via "continue"
> and why is comparison written as "==", etc, etc? All of these are
> coming from C (or an even earlier language) and my point is that users

	for, if, and return were common keywords in FORTRAN.

	Not to mention BASIC

	Both of which predate C


Guido was probably influenced by the ALGOL language stream, which used "for" and "if". ALGOL 60 was a joint American and European effort and was significant in the late 50s and 60's.

Guido's fellow countryman, Edsgar Dijkstra, took this publication language (the ALGOL60 version) and produced a compiler for it. (It was not the first, but was very early on). Then B. Randell and L.J. Russell visited him, learnt from his experiences and returned to the UK to produce the KDF9 Whetstone ALGOL60 Compiler. Their book "ALGOL 60 Implementation" was a very early and influential book in the field and occupies a significant place in the history of computing. Computer language designers, including Nicholas Wirth (Pascal, Modula, Oberon), have been influenced by ALGOL.

Sadly, "C" and its ilk, come from a totally different stream of language development beginning with the likes of "CPL", "BCPL", "B" and developing into "C" and "C++". This stream was originally focussed on language portability and performance. This stream was much closer to the assembler language end of the language spectrum, whereas the other stream was heavily biased towards publication and later teaching. 

I could say more but will restrain myself.

My 2c 


FWIW "++" reeks of assembler language notation.

The KDF9 Whetstone ALGOL60 Compiler was the one I used at Whetstone for 1-Dimensional Transient Heat-Flow calculations and Steam-Table generation. Our course on it was 2.5 days long. We had wonderful training by English Electric, Kidsgrove staff. I hate to think how long the same course would be now, a month? 

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