Computer Languages

, 2002

The Measure of a Language

What is Expressiveness in a Computer Language?

Computer languages have a solid mathematical foundation. As such tools, the more solid their technical properties, the better they are. Because they are not 100% mathematics, their validity or usefulness is partially dependent on their user. C gurus may beat Lisper wannabes but that does not mean C is a superior language. The fact that C is popular not mean C is superior. The basis of computer languages's merit lie in their mathematical properties. It is this metric, that we should use as a guide for direction.

As a analogy, we measure the quality of a hammer by scientific principles: ergonomics, material, weight, hardness, construction, statistical analysis of accidents and productivity …, not by vogue or lore. If we go by feelings and preferences, hammer's future will deviate and perhaps become dildos or maces.

If rubes don't recognize a computer, the problem ain't faulty technology but ignorance. If SGML hasn't made a splash but HTML did, that's a problem of social immaturity. SGML remains a superior tool. If C droids don't appreciate lisp, that's trauma of the droids, not lisp.

Aim to have superior tools and knowledgeable people, not downgrading tools or stagnate to fit ordinary people. Education is the key. (education is always good in general.)

Haskell

a Lambda Logo Tour
Haskell logo

Haskell is a purely functional language. The language of the future. I love functional languages, especially no-assignment and absolute-lazy-evaluation ones. (often known as “pure” and “non-strict” respectively.) Such so-called denotational language is a piece of computable mathematics, unerring and exacting.

LISP

Emacs Lisp Tutorial
LISP logo
LISP Logo
newLISP logo
newLISP logo. Artist is Brian Grayless.
Mit Scheme lisp logo 2010
Mit Scheme lisp logo 2010 logo.
Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
Cover of 《Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs》 amazon

One of the best book in computer science The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs by Harold Abelson, Gerald Jay Sussman, Julie Sussman. (Free online at http://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/) The cover features a wizard talking lambda with a witch, with the foot of the table showing.

Guile Scheme logo
Logo of Guile. Guile is a Scheme implementation.

Python

Perl & Python Tutorial
python logo MacPython icon MacPerl icon
The logo of Python, inaugurated in 2006-03. The “16 ton” weight is the application icon of MacPython (deceased in 2002). The camel is the application icon for MacPerl (deceased in 2002).

Perl

What Languages to Hate?

Perl calls for its own page. See Pathetically Elational Regex Language.

Java

What are OOP's Jargons & Complexities?
logo java2 new java logo 2003-06 Java mascot Duke
The original design of the Java logo is a swirl of wispy smoke resembling a hot cup of java (above left). In 2003 June, it got simplified to a few solid strokes, to reduce the associated complexity of Java. The Java mascot is a penguin, named Duke.
Java Tutorial
xah java logo 3
A Java logo designed by Xah Lee. See: Xah's Java Logo.

Java is a all pent-up language with incessant lies.

SQL

SQL is a query language for databases. Supposedly it stands for Structured Query Language, but that may be a fix. SQL is one of the world's most fantastically moronic language. It is a language of ad-hoc-ness; the least structured; a oneliner sequence of awkwardness and inflexibility. There are controversies regarding its pronunciation. Oracle documents would bid for “sequel”, while the venerable database guru Christopher J Date in his A Guide to SQL Standard (4th Edition) amazon dismiss “sequel” pronunciation being a myth and unfit. I have only read the first chapter of this book. This book is for expert-level developers who needs in-depth knowledge about SQL.

Although there are standards for SQL the language, but it is in practice laughable as a portability practice.

A excellent introductory book on SQL is The Practical SQL Handbook, by Judith S Bowman et al. amazon I read the 3rd edition in 1998.

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