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From: jnc@mercury.lcs.mit.edu (Noel Chiappa)
To: tuhs@minnie.tuhs.org
Cc: jnc@mercury.lcs.mit.edu
Subject: Re: [TUHS] roff(7) [ and other related stuff ]
Date: Sat,  1 Jan 2022 23:02:17 -0500 (EST)	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <20220102040217.CE36D18C08E@mercury.lcs.mit.edu> (raw)

    > From: John Cowan

    > Why use C syntax? What was wrong with Fortran, Lisp, or Cobol syntax,
    > extended to do what you wanted?

Why do all hammers look basically the same? Because there's an 'ideal
hammer', and over time hammer design has asymtoted toward that 'ideal hammer'
design. One can't just keep improving the design indefinitely - diminishing
returns set in.

So I suspect there is, to some degree, a Platonic 'ideal syntax' for a
'classic block-structured' programming language, and to me, C came pretty
close to it.

I except LISP from that assessment, because LISP is built around a
fundamentally different model of how computations/algorithms are organized,
and C and LISP aren't directly comparable.

But that realization points to a deeper bug with the 'Platonic ideal
language' concept above, which is that languages are fundamentally, albeit at
a very deep conceptual level, tied to the basic concept of the computing
hardware they are to run on. C/COBOL/FORTRAN/etc are all for von Neumann-like
(in a broad sense) computing engines - a single thread of computation, which
happens sequentially.

But we've pushed that paradigm about as far as it can go, we're into
diminishing returns territory on that one. The future, starting with the
hardware, will be very different - and will need quite different languages.
(Go, from what little I know of it, is a baby step in this direction - it is
intended to make it easy to use multiple simultaneous loci of execution,
making use of the mutiple cores that are common now.)

I suspect we'll be shifting to radically different paradigms, 50 years from
now - massively parallel computing meshes (think Connection Machines on
steroids - or the human brain), and those will use fundamentally different
computing paradigms, and programming languages for them, which in turn will
need very different syntax.

	Noel

             reply	other threads:[~2022-01-02  4:02 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 13+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2022-01-02  4:02 Noel Chiappa [this message]
2022-01-02 10:46 ` markus schnalke
  -- strict thread matches above, loose matches on Subject: below --
2022-01-02  4:10 Douglas McIlroy
2021-12-31 15:47 [TUHS] roff(7) Douglas McIlroy
2021-12-31 23:07 ` George Michaelson
2021-12-31 23:40   ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-01 20:00     ` [TUHS] roff(7) [ and other related stuff ] Jon Steinhart
2022-01-02  0:12       ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-02  1:04         ` John Cowan
2022-01-02  1:20           ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-02  1:47             ` Steve Nickolas
2022-01-02  2:12               ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-02  3:56               ` Jon Steinhart
2022-01-02  1:48             ` Jon Steinhart
2022-01-02  3:04             ` John Cowan
2022-01-02  3:30               ` Warner Losh

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