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Re: On Golf

by jmcnamara (Monsignor)
on May 21, 2001 at 20:50 UTC ( #82011=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to On Golf

From this observation we must conclude that this language as a tool is an open invitation for clever tricks

What programming language could stop people from using clever tricks? You see this behaviour everywhere: chess puzzles, crosswords, poetry, mathematics.

It may be a bit fanciful but Abigail has suggested that Knuth would approve of Golf:
I don't think Knuth would be a big fan of Perl, but he loves a programming trick just like many people here, and he certinly likes to play golf.

I recently read an article where Knuth describes a game of golf on a 50's machine. The machine read cards, and one could put 8 machine instructions on a card. The goal was to write a program fitting on one card that would read in a number, and reverse it.

Noone was able to do it, but Knuth once stunned his fellow students. He came in, put a card in the reader, entered the number 123456789, ran the program, and the program outputted 987654321.

Of course, the program would always output 987654321, regardless of the number on input.

Later, the machine got an extension. A whopping extra register, with front panel toggles. Which could be used to store an instruction as well. Knuth was delighted that that enabled him to write a single card program that reversed a number.


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