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Humanist Archives: June 2, 2020, 11:53 a.m. Humanist 34.76 - hardware architecture and programming style?

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 76.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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        Date: 2020-06-01 09:26:47+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty 
        Subject: hardware architecture and programming style

Robert Sebestra, in Concepts of Programming Languages (11th edn, 2016),
makes the case that the imperative style of programming characteristic
of most languages now in use is more or less determined by the so-called
von Neumann architecture of hardware common to our machines. Other styles, 
notably the functional one pioneered by McCarthy in Lisp, can be 
accommodated by translating them via a compiler or interpreter into 
imperative code. A number of early comparisons of software with
mathematics draw the distinction based on the outgrown characterisation
of the former as imperative, noting that the latter is descriptive.
Still there's the von Neumann structure to keep the distinction alive.
Promises of other architectures are not difficult to find. Is it reasonable 
to expect a very different relationship between software and mathematics 
that would result if these alternative architectures were widely available?

Those here who know what I am talking about must be able to spot the
muddle I'd very much like to find a way out of. Is clear guidance to be
had? As with any issue involving up-to-the-minute technological
progress, the swarm of promises makes getting out of muddles difficult.
All help appreciated, esp if it comes as reference to credible publications.

Many thanks.

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)

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Editor: Willard McCarty (King's College London, U.K.; Western Sydney University, Australia)
Software designer: Malgosia Askanas (Mind-Crafts)

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