21.033 coding and composing

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 21 May 2007 06:45:55 +0100

                Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 33.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: Desmond Schmidt <schmidt_at_itee.uq.edu.au> (19)
         Subject: Re: 21.030 coding and composing?

   [2] From: "Nathaniel Bobbitt" <flautabaja_at_hotmail.com> (67)
         Subject: RE: 21.030 coding and composing?

         Date: Sat, 19 May 2007 07:25:28 +0100
         From: Desmond Schmidt <schmidt_at_itee.uq.edu.au>
         Subject: Re: 21.030 coding and composing?

Hi Willard,

I can only comment on the bit about correctness and modelling. It
seems to me that the paper you cite by Mr Smith conflates two
separate issues: that of proving programs correct and modelling. He
says they are connected historically. That may be true or not - he
cites no sources for most of his statements - but I remain
unconvinced of the importance of the link. Program correctness is
supposed to eliminate errors in programs. You state a set of
preconditions and prove by translating the programming instructions
into mathematical assertions and by using various rules to prove that
the postcondition also holds. That has nothing much to do with
modelling that I can see. Where you get the preconditions from
perhaps has something to do with modelling, but it's a bit like
saying that the house a builder makes is well-built according to the
desires of the eventual owner because he used a spirit level in building it.

Desmond Schmidt
School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering
University of Queensland

         Date: Sat, 19 May 2007 07:26:13 +0100
         From: "Nathaniel Bobbitt" <flautabaja_at_hotmail.com>
         Subject: RE: 21.030 coding and composing?

see "extreme programming"

nat bobbitt


From: "Humanist Discussion Group
<willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>)" <willard_at_LISTS.VILLAGE.VIRGINIA.EDU>
Reply-To: "Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty
<willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>)" <willard_at_LISTS.VILLAGE.VIRGINIA.EDU>
To: humanist_at_Princeton.EDU
Date: Fri, 18 May 2007 06:42:43 +0100
> Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 30.
> Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
> www.princeton.edu/humanist/
> Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu
> Date: Fri, 18 May 2007 06:39:44 +0100
> From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
> Subject: Coding and Composing
>An interesting article, "Code and Composition", zipped by on
>a few days ago in an announcement of the latest Ubiquity
>(http://www.acm.org/ubiquity/) -- an online magazine that sometimes
>publishes little gems. In this article Luke Fernandez compares the
>two modes of expression and finds them convergent: writing, not
>entirely spontaneous, involves planning and research; coding, not
>entirely planned, involves discovery during the act of composition.
>In this attempt at a parallel, the first seems obvious, if a bit
>overstated, but the second seems to contradict official stories of
>how writing code should proceed. What is the experience of people
>here? I understand that nowadays no one or few preaches the doctrine
>that a complete specification must be devised beforehand (as I was
>told when I learned many years ago). I think the need to come up
>a complete flowchart is what put me off programming eventually,
>with the dreaded "turn-around time" of 2 hrs minimum. In any case,
>would be interesting to know how exploratory programming is known to
>be these days.
>Some of you here will be familiar with Brian Cantwell Smith's
>argument, in "The Limits of Correctness" (1985), later published in
>1995 as "The Limits of Correctness in Computers", (Computers, Ethics
>& Social Values. Ed. Deborah G. Johnson and Helen Nissenbaum.
>Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice Hall) that a fundamental problem we
>have with computing is the whole idea of correctness in any
>algorithmically rigorous description of the world. Fernandez's
>argument leads me to the thought that the problem with the problem
>correctness is in the assumption of a final statement -- and that
>this applies to writing prose as much as to programming, though with
>different consequences. As long as correctness is deferred but still
>a goal we're on the right track.
>Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities Computing | Centre for
>Computing in the Humanities | King's College London |
Received on Mon May 21 2007 - 01:56:20 EDT

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