Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Clay and Form

A couple days ago, I mentioned my being labelled a "syntactic sugar" guy due to my alleged lack of in sufficient zeal for new languages. (Strongtalk looks interesting to me.)

As I see it, languages are the clays of computing. Some clays are more suitable than others in the creation of various forms, some clays have interesting properties, but I tend to find the form more interesting than the clay.

On this note, Bernard Chazelle's updated essay The Algorithm: Idiom of Science.

(via Geomblog)


Blogger Kilroy Trout said...

I agree, and computer languages are a means to an end.

It’s interesting, or sad perhaps, that there seems to be so much emphasis on say Java vs C++ vs whatever in computer science education. I recently had a discussion with a university CS chair lamenting the constant debate and political pressures on language choice for course offerings. In her case, she faces a tsunami of Java advocates wishing to get rid of Pascal & C. It’s obviously wrong minded to think the study of algorithms has anything to do with the language du Jour, and I would argue that object oriented languages get in the way of learning basic concepts. But then you fill seats by catering to what the job market demands, and if CS is diminished so be it. What a pity.

5:25 AM  
Blogger metamerist said...

Agree, agree, agree. There are other posts in me. The value of comparative language courses, for example, is something I can go on and on about.

A weakness I've seen in many CS graduates is a lack of real experience with truly dynamic languages such as Lisp, Scheme, etc.--although I think recent trends are swinging in the right direction. Paul Graham has some essays on the subject that are right on the mark.

On the subject of object oriented languages, I think things have become overly objectified. I don't recall OO ever being an end in itself. I thought it was intended to be a means to ends such as sound design. The design principles OO was supposed to serve often seem to have fallen to the wayside.

7:31 AM  

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