Terminology: "reference" versus "pointer"

Laura Creighton lac at openend.se
Sat Sep 12 16:41:06 CEST 2015


In a message of Sat, 12 Sep 2015 05:46:35 -0700, Rustom Mody writes:
>How about lay-English ontology in which "point to" and "refer to" are fairly
>synonymous?

This I have found is important in teaching, which is why I favour 'bind'
and 'binding' -- rather than pointer, pointer, refer to, referring.

However, the problem that even people who have never used C, and
probably have never read about it, either (children) really want
a word that means 'when I use this name I get this physical chunk
of memory, over there' cannot be completely defeated with this
simple language change.  I know kids who think that python variable
names bind to actual physical chunks of their memory sticks, because
they haven't got around to understanding what RAM is, yet.

On the other hand, being able to say 'Right.  You are a garbage collector.
Because only garbage collectors need to care about such things.' makes for
a pretty memorable lesson.

Laura


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