Xah Programing Blog Archive 2012-08

Regex Limits, or, Should You Read Mastering Regular Expressions?

Slashdotted by Hacker News?

a mention on Hacker News gets you 3.2 k visits. (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4309527) I'm not sure how 3.2k compares to average Hacker News item. But i think it's nothing like the good old slashdotted days.

Humor: when a female engineer got a problem, versus, when a male engineer got a problem

Microsoft has a new logo

Microsoft logo 2012
Microsoft's new logo, 2012-08-23

Rule or Suck?

See also: Logo Design in Software Industry

Tutorial: git basics

Unicode Emoji 😄

is gitopuss male or female? (image source github.com )

Github Mascot: The Gitopuss in Many Guises

Google Says: Put Your Password Plainly in a File: Linux .netrc

Convert Your code.google.com Project from svn to git

Apple Mac OS X Unix Ad

updated: One Language to Rule Them All? Or, What Language to Use for Find Replace?

Steve Jobs

Several updates:

apple store 2001 Steve Jobs 2
Steve Jobs, at the newly opened Apple Store, on

Variable Naming: English Words Considered Harmful

am thinking of a language, where, all variable names must not carry English meaning, for example, they are named like math variables α, β, γ or random symbols △, □, or random string x1834. This way, the program is forced to be written in a way to be understood as a flow of the actual semantics.

i wonder what would happen with such a language.

normally, we name variables to help us understand the program. But there's a problem: namely, the names has absolutely no correlation to its real meaning or how it's used. In a sense, you are introducing a secondary semantics, that our brain interprets as priority, but this semantics has no actual relation to the algorithm specified in the code.

normally this isn't problem, but sometimes it can be misleading. Also, strictly speaking, most variables are probably not that well-named, because naming something correctly really takes a lot training in logic and linguistics studies, and is very time consuming to name variables correctly. Normally, we don't do that. Variable names are used simply as a help, indicator, that give as some idea how it'll be used.

but if we eliminate meaningful variable names, it will probably have a significant effect on how the program is written. The code structure will probably change a lot. The use of temp variables will probably reduce a lot.

the gist of this post is to explore the question what would happen with this? What happens to codes of a large project written this way? Will comments or inline documentation be increased naturally? Will it actually increase productivity or readability of the code? What happens if a language is specifically designed for this?

See also: Variable Naming: English Words Considered Harmful .

Rob Pike on the Origin of Unix Dot File Names