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* Re: [COFF] [TUHS] Book Recommendation
       [not found]       ` <CAP2nic0d7Kg1-i3w=6220NfBTQh7TaZ6nMsNx7NWLE+dTn5Z7w@mail.gmail.com>
@ 2021-11-16 16:19         ` Clem Cole
  0 siblings, 0 replies; 4+ messages in thread
From: Clem Cole @ 2021-11-16 16:19 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Adam Thornton, COFF


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Moving to COFF ...

On Tue, Nov 16, 2021 at 10:50 AM Adam Thornton <athornton@gmail.com> wrote:

>  I'm not even sure how much of this you can lay at the feet of teachers: I
> would argue that we see a huge efflorescence of essentially self-taught
> programming cobbled together from (in the old days) the system manuals a
>
Ouch ...   this is exactly my point.  In my experience in ~55 years of
programming, with greater than 45 of those being paid to do it, the best
programmers I know and have worked with were taught/mentored by a master --
not self-taught.  As I said, I had to be re-educated once I got the CMU.
My Dad had done the best he knew, but much of what he taught me was
shortcuts and tricks because that is what he knew 🠪 he taught me syntax,
not how to think.  I know a lot of programmers (like myself) that were
self-taught or introduced to computing by novices to start and that
experience get them excited, but all of them had real teachers/mentors who
taught them the true art form and helped them unlearn a lot of crap that
they had picked up or miss-interpreted.

Looking at my father as a teacher, he really had never been taught to think
like a programmer.  In the late 1950s he was a 'computer' [see the movie
"Hidden Figures"].  He was taught FORTRAN and BASIC and told to implement
things he had been doing by hand (solving differential equations using
linear algebra).    The ideas we know and loved about structured
programming and* how to do this well* were still being invented by folks
like Doug and his sisters and brothers in the research community. It's no
surprise that my Dad taught me to 'hack' because he and I had nothing to
compare to.   BTW: this is not to state all HS computer teachers are bad,
but the problem is that most people that are really good at programming are
actually quite rare and they tend to end up in research or industry -- not
teaching HS.  Today, the typical HS computer teacher (like one of my
nieces) takes a course or two at UMASS in the teacher's college.  They are
never taught to program or take the same courses the kids in science and
engineering take 🠪 BTW I also think this is why we see so much of the
popular press talking about 'coding' not programming.  They really think
learning to program is learning the syntax of a specific programming
language.

When I look at the young people I hire (and mentor) told, it's not any
different.    BTW:  Jon and I had a little bit of a disagreement when he
wrote his book.  He uses Javascript for a lot of his examples - because of
exactly what you point out 🠪 Javascript today, like BASIC before it, has a
very high "on-screen results" factor with little work by the user.   Much
is being done behind the covers to make that magic happen.  I tend to
believe that creates a false sense of knowledge/understanding.

To Jon's credit, he tries to bridge that in his book.   As I said, I
thought I knew a lot more about computers until I got to CMU.  Boy was I in
for an education.    That said, I was lucky to be around some very smart
people who helped steer me.

Clem
ᐧ

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* Re: [COFF] [TUHS] Book Recommendation
       [not found]   ` <CAEdTPBdVnPQMaDX0jOL81EkL1M7Eg=U4qWPwKMsr6SBc2Zz9vw@mail.gmail.com>
  2021-11-23 15:23     ` Clem Cole
@ 2021-11-23 19:40     ` Dan Cross
  1 sibling, 0 replies; 4+ messages in thread
From: Dan Cross @ 2021-11-23 19:40 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Henry Bent; +Cc: COFF, Mary Ann Horton


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[-TUHS, +COFF]

On Tue, Nov 23, 2021 at 3:00 AM Henry Bent <henry.r.bent@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Mon, 22 Nov 2021 at 21:31, Mary Ann Horton <mah@mhorton.net> wrote:
>
>> PL/I was my favorite mainframe programming language my last two years as
>> an undergrad. I liked how it incorporated ideas from FORTRAN, ALGOL, and
>> COBOL. My student job was to enhance a PL/I package for a History
>> professor.
>>
>
> What language were the PL/I compilers written in?
>

The only PL/I compiler I have access to is, somewhat ironically, the
Multics PL/1 compiler. It is largely self-hosting; more details can be
found here: https://multicians.org/pl1.html (Note Doug's name appears
prominently.)

Wikipedia claims that IBM is still developing a PL/I compiler, which I
> suppose I have no reason to disbelieve, but I'm very curious as to who is
> using it and for what purpose.
>

I imagine most of it is legacy code in a mainframe environment, similarly
to COBOL. I can't imagine that many folks are considering new development
in PL/1 other than in retro/hobbyist environments and some mainframe shops
where there's a heavy existing PL/I investment.

        - Dan C.

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* Re: [COFF] [TUHS] Book Recommendation
       [not found]   ` <CAEdTPBdVnPQMaDX0jOL81EkL1M7Eg=U4qWPwKMsr6SBc2Zz9vw@mail.gmail.com>
@ 2021-11-23 15:23     ` Clem Cole
  2021-11-23 19:40     ` Dan Cross
  1 sibling, 0 replies; 4+ messages in thread
From: Clem Cole @ 2021-11-23 15:23 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Henry Bent; +Cc: COFF, Mary Ann Horton


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Moving to COFF where this probably belongs because its less UNIX and more
PL oriented.

On Tue, Nov 23, 2021 at 3:00 AM Henry Bent <henry.r.bent@gmail.com> wrote:

> What language were the PL/I compilers written in?
>
I don't know about anyone else, but the VAX PL/1 front-end was bought by
DEC from Freiburghouse (??SP??) in Framingham, MA. It was written in PL/1
on a Multics system. The Front-end was the same one that Pr1me used
although Pr1me also bought their Fortran, which DEC did not.  [FWIW: The
DEC/Intel Fortran Front-End was written in Pascal -- still is last time I
talked to the compiler folks].

I do not know what the Freiburghouse folks used for a compiler-compiler
(Steve or Doug might ), but >>I think<< it might not have used one.
Culter famously led the new backend for it and had to shuttle tapes from
MIT to ZKO in Nashua during the development.  The backend was written in a
combination of PL/1, BLISS32  and Assembler.  Once the compiler could self
host, everything moved to ZKO.

That compiler originally targeted VMS, but was moved to Unix/VAX at one
point as someone else pointed out.

When the new GEM compilers were about 10-15 years later, I was under the
impressions that the original Freiburghouse/Culter hacked front-end was
reworked to use the GEM backend system, as GEM used BLISS, and C for the
runtimes and a small amount of Assembler as needed for each ISA [And I
believe it continues to be the same from VSI folks today].   GEM based PL/1
was released on Alpha when I was still at DEC, and I believe that it was
released for Itanium a few years later [by Intel under contract to
Compaq/HP].  VSI has built a GEM based Intel*64 and is releasing/has
released VMS for same using it; I would suspect they moved PL/1 over also
[Their target customer is the traditional DEC VMS customer that still has
active applications and wants to run them on modern HW].   I'll have to ask
one of my former coworkers, who at one point was and I still think is, the
main compiler guy at VSI/resident GEM expert.


> Wikipedia claims that IBM is still developing a PL/I compiler, which I
> suppose I have no reason to disbelieve, but I'm very curious as to who is
> using it and for what purpose.
>
As best I can tell, commercial sites still use it for traditional code,
just like Cobol. It's interesting, Intel does neither but we spend a ton of
money on Fortran because so much development (both old and new) in the
scientific community requires it.  I answered why elsewhere in more
detail: Where
is Fortran used these days
<https://www.quora.com/Where-is-Fortran-used-these-days/answers/87679712>
and Is Fortran still alive
<https://www.quora.com/Is-Fortran-still-alive/answer/Clem-Cole>

My >>guess<< is that PL/1 is suffering the same fate as Cobol, and fading
because the apps are being/have been slowly rewritten from custom code to
using COTS solutions from folks like Oracle, SAS, BAAN and the like.   Not
so for Fortran and the reason is that the math has not changed.  The core
of these codes is the same was it was in the 1960s/70s when they were
written.  A friend of mine used to be the Chief Metallurgist for the US Gov
at NIST and as Dr. Fek put it so well: * "I have over 60 years worth of
data that we have classified and we understand what it is telling us.   If
you magically gave me new code to do the same thing as what we do with our
processes that we have developed over the years, I would have to reclassify
all that data.  It's just not economically interesting."  *I personally
equate it to the QWERTY keyboard.  Just not going to change. *i.e.* *"Simple
economics always beats sophisticated architecture."*

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* Re: [COFF] [TUHS] Book Recommendation
       [not found] ` <CAFH29tomxKDFn-pRBT21-X+m4ugzzn-tuGyY-Cq0hN6i5-=oeQ@mail.gmail.com>
@ 2021-11-16 15:53   ` Adam Thornton
  0 siblings, 0 replies; 4+ messages in thread
From: Adam Thornton @ 2021-11-16 15:53 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Computer Old Farts Followers


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From TUHS (to Doug McIlroy):
"Curious what you think of APL"

I'm sure what Doug thinks of APL is unprintable.  Unless, of course, he has
the special type ball.

<rimshot>

On Tue, Nov 16, 2021 at 8:23 AM Richard Salz <rich.salz@gmail.com> wrote:

>
> The former notation C(B(A)) became A->B->C. This was PL/I's gift to C.
>>
>
> You seem to have a gift for notation. That's rare.  Curious what you think
> of APL?
>

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