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Date: 2005-02-14 (09:39)
From: Thomas Fischbacher <Thomas.Fischbacher@P...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] The boon of static type checking

On Mon, 14 Feb 2005, skaller wrote:

> On Mon, 2005-02-14 at 10:59, Thomas Fischbacher wrote:
> > I must say, I did it, transliterating much of (it's not a lot of work 
> > to be done, yet not quite complete) C's syntax to lisp, with the 
> > intention to provide people with their own syntax which they even can 
> > extend, say, for new operators, should they feel like it. I know I 
> > probably will never use it. Neither will _any_ advanced lisp hacker, I 
> > suppose. But it should help some people if you build them a bridge.
> What else is a compiler but a bridge to assembler?

A language is more than just syntax plus a rule how to translate that to 
machine code. One may come to such a conclusion by looking e.g. at C, but 
frequently, much more happens between syntax and machine code.

Take the GC. Take fundamental data types.

> > Just as one can learn more about the structure of the proton by probing it 
> > with electrons rather than with another proton, I would not mind a more 
> > systematic approach towards finding out what makes a good language and 
> > what not than throwing together a set of features from various corners, 
> > shaking it well, and seeing how pretty the thing one gets turns out to be.
> We're open to suggestions on how to do this, for surely
> no one knows. All the maths in the world won't create a good
> programming language, even though it may help weed out poor ones.

Exactly. One of the greatest medical achievements was not the discovery of 
Penicillin, but the introduction of statistical methods and the 
double-blind experiment. Only this allowed us to do systematic studies of 
what's useful and what's not.

No one has a clue how to systematically do a quantitative study of what 
makes a useful language. We even do not seem to be really interested in 
finding the appropriate questions to ask.

regards,                   (o_
 Thomas Fischbacher -  //\
(lambda (n) ((lambda (p q r) (p p q r)) (lambda (g x y)           V_/_
(if (= x 0) y (g g (- x 1) (* x y)))) n 1))                  (Debian GNU)