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Humanist Archives: April 20, 2020, 8:17 a.m. Humanist 33.783 - the 'secret' of a programming language

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 783.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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        Date: 2020-04-19 13:11:43+00:00
        From: peter jones 
        Subject: the 'secret' of a programming language

Dear Willard and All,

I enjoyed reading Michael's reply.

Perhaps additional perspectives might be useful (as ever)?

Even distinguishing between the 'secret' of a programming language and
the way programming languages differentiated may be useful. The way,
that is they hybridized through relational database management systems
and the rise of expert systems through to more recent domain specific

Central then to the secret is the purpose(?) - for example, Forth and
control of mechanical systems and resort to reverse Polish notation:

"The philosophy of Forth is to keep things simple and that is one reason
why the system uses Reverse Polish Notation or RPN for equations as that
eliminates the need for parentheses and order of operator precedence."

Forth programming language, history and evolution

     There were many articles on the 'silver bullet' for programming at
the commercial level (databases) which led to "The Last One":

The Last One (software)

A wise Matron / Senior Nursing Officer once told me things go round in
circles so it is good to see that Smalltalk is still very much
alive, especially on the Continent, in the form of Pharo.

Pharo - Welcome to Pharo!

- and with a 50th Anniversary when 'secrets' ('the sauce'?) will no
doubt be deliberated upon through keynote speakers and guests:

50th Anniversary of Smalltalk

Some related videos ...


As in Biology, taking purpose (functionality) into account with the
evolutionary development of programming languages may be another theme
to reflect upon?

Family Trees ... (Developmental history ... Who started afresh? Why? Who
picked up someone else's work?)

Modular, Erlang ... Python, ... Rust ...

Programming A-Z  ('Z' testing - proof*)

I recall Tony Durham in former Computing magazines writing on
programming languages and logic amid the need for 'clean' and 'fuzzy'

Plus, Compiled Vs Interpreted?

Safety Critical Systems

As a former BASIC (microcomputer) programmer I still seek a 'home'
(Drupal Content Management System - use the 'secrets' to do the heavy
lifting?; Ruby, Pharo?) and the skills! Today more than ever, the
(basic) ;-) ingredients, if not the 'secrets', are today often obscured
/ obfuscated by what has become the 'developmental stack'.


Be Well, Be Safe,

Peter Jones
Community Mental Health Nurse, Tutor & Researcher
Blogging at "Welcome to the QUAD"

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