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Humanist Archives: May 27, 2020, 8:55 a.m. Humanist 34.63 - punctuation in the assignment statement

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 63.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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    [1]    From: Willard McCarty 
           Subject: to late to stop the presses (34)

    [2]    From: C. M. Sperberg-McQueen 
           Subject: one more pedantic correction (25)

        Date: 2020-05-26 12:25:29+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty 
        Subject: to late to stop the presses

In my latest posting I mistakenly -- despite the poor fit -- 
expanded the acronym ALGOL into "Algebraic Language" rather than 
its true original, "Algorithmic Language". I must have been thinking 
of IAL, its prototype, the "International Algebraic Language". 
See Alan J. Perlis, "The American side of the development of ALGOL", 
in ACM SIGPLAN Notices 13.8 (August 1978), where we find this:

> Developments, prompted both by reasoning about an abstraction, and
> experience with languages being used, accounted for much of the
> excellence and balance in the language design that came to be known
> as IAL, (The International Algebraic Language) achieved in a few days
> at the Zurich meeting. At one point during the meeting, the acronym
> Algol (Algorithmic language) was suggested as a name for the language
> under design. It was not adopted, perhaps because it did not
> emphasize the international effort involved. Once publicized,
> discussed and debated, the " unspeakable" and pompous acronym, IAL,
> gave way in 1959 to the more verbal and source independent Algol.

What slips by uncommented, teasing me, is the change from 'algebraic' 
to 'algorithmic'. What might Perlis have meant by "pompous"? And 
"source independent"?

Apologies for the error - and further flogging.


Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/),
Professor emeritus, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
(www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20) and Humanist (www.dhhumanist.org)

        Date: 2020-05-27 07:30:16+00:00
        From: C. M. Sperberg-McQueen 
        Subject: one more pedantic correction

You say

> the need for an 'algebraic' language was
> felt strongly enough to drive the development of the hugely influential
> ALGOL (short for 'Algebraic Language’).

Looking at the reports this past week or so, I have
been struck by the fact that while the 1958 ‘preliminary
report’ describes the ‘international algebraic language’,
IAL (the initialism survives in the name JOVIAL for
a programming language derived from Algol 58),
the 1960 report describes an ‘algorithmic language’

Several accounts in the History of Programming
Languages conference proceedings mention the naming
question, sometimes in the interest of reviving
old disagreements.

C. M. Sperberg-McQueen
Black Mesa Technologies LLC

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