Beefy Boxes and Bandwidth Generously Provided by pair Networks
Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister

comment on

( #3333=superdoc: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??
skyknight wrote:
Yes, we humans do manage to deal with the vagaries of natural language, but I don't really see this fact as being a good defense of similar issues cropping up in artificial languages. Why do we have programming languages for developing software at all? It's because specifying the solutions to engineering problems is damned near impossible in English, at least when it comes to the nitty-gritty details. We need programming languages for the precision with which they allow us to specify the operation of systems. Anything that goes against this end ought to be considered a misfeature.
I would ask a different question: why do we have multiple programming languages at all? Rather than one, clear, precise way of specifying an algorithm, we have hundreds of them. Many people seem to think that this makes some sort of sense, that different languages do a better job on different problems and/or with different people.

Would there be any point in having multiple programming languages if all of them were essentially the same with only minor syntactical variations between them?

The opinion that computer languages should be based on some concept of mathematical elegance is pretty common... perl and perl alone is pursuing a different path, focusing on "expressiveness" in analogy with natural languages.

My personal opinion is that there isn't really any proof whatsover that one approach is better than the other: demonstrating that "mathematical elegance" is best would require some very difficult social science experiments, and the guys who are proponents of "mathematical elegance" not coincidentally just want to do mathematical proofs. So instead people fall back on introspection, and it seems that some people like one way, and some like another.

Some issues to consider (though they might be side issues):

  • The standard of writing (books and documentation) in the perl world is very high... programmers who like thinking "linguistically" also make eloquent writers?
  • The pearl at the center of perl culture is the spirit of collaboration: CPAN, perlmonks, comp.lang.perl.*, and so on. Is there a reason that this particular language has inspired this?
  • Occasionally the "mathematical" crowd take a stab at designing a language to replace "natural language". The result never seems to catch on. Look up Loglan/lojban. And maybe: "sapir-whorf", "general semantics", and "babel-17".

In reply to Mathematical elegance vs. linguistic expressiveness by doom
in thread Some Insights from a Traveler Between Languages by skyknight

Use:  <p> text here (a paragraph) </p>
and:  <code> code here </code>
to format your post; it's "PerlMonks-approved HTML":

  • Posts are HTML formatted. Put <p> </p> tags around your paragraphs. Put <code> </code> tags around your code and data!
  • Titles consisting of a single word are discouraged, and in most cases are disallowed outright.
  • Read Where should I post X? if you're not absolutely sure you're posting in the right place.
  • Please read these before you post! —
  • Posts may use any of the Perl Monks Approved HTML tags:
    a, abbr, b, big, blockquote, br, caption, center, col, colgroup, dd, del, div, dl, dt, em, font, h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6, hr, i, ins, li, ol, p, pre, readmore, small, span, spoiler, strike, strong, sub, sup, table, tbody, td, tfoot, th, thead, tr, tt, u, ul, wbr
  • You may need to use entities for some characters, as follows. (Exception: Within code tags, you can put the characters literally.)
            For:     Use:
    & &amp;
    < &lt;
    > &gt;
    [ &#91;
    ] &#93;
  • Link using PerlMonks shortcuts! What shortcuts can I use for linking?
  • See Writeup Formatting Tips and other pages linked from there for more info.
  • Log In?

    What's my password?
    Create A New User
    and the web crawler heard nothing...

    How do I use this? | Other CB clients
    Other Users?
    Others browsing the Monastery: (5)
    As of 2020-06-05 03:03 GMT
    Find Nodes?
      Voting Booth?
      Do you really want to know if there is extraterrestrial life?

      Results (35 votes). Check out past polls.