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Re: [ontolog-forum] C and Ada (was: Please thread the discussion)

To: <edbark@xxxxxxxx>, "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Barker, Sean (UK)" <Sean.Barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 10:46:29 -0000
Message-id: <E18F7C3C090D5D40A854F1D080A84CA47A2CDE@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

This mail is publicly posted to a distribution list as part of a process
of public discussion, any automatically generated statements to the
contrary non-withstanding. It is the opinion of the author, and does not
represent an official company view.    (01)

> Sean said:
> >> My impression was that Ada was Pascal++,
> Jean Ichbiah (designer of Ada) would be horrified.     (02)

The comment was based on the way the Stoneman and Ironman proposals that
eventually became Ada were based on submissions that started from
Pascal, rather than any of the alternative approaches - see next
comment.    (03)

> Randy said:
> > There is virtually nothing in common between FORTRAN and C. 
> Spot on.  Certainly there is almost no common thinking in the 
> intent of the languages.
>     (04)

This comment was based on classifying algorithmic languages into those
such as Algol and Pascal which use recursive abstraction, and those such
as FORTRAN and C, which are essentially "flat", and the corresponding
observation that the programmers I worked with preferred either a
recursive or a "flat" style of programming. Consequently, when they
programmed in the "opposite" language, they complained about the
features that stopped them programming in the way they preferred. I
found that learning C required the same approach to programming as
FORTRAN, while Pascal required the same approach as Algol.     (05)

>> > As to
> > your "jaundiced view," little could be further from the 
> truth. C is a 
> > challenging language to program in owing to its very low-level 
> > formalisms    (06)

Again, my comment was from the point of view of the psychology of
programmers. Classification is viewpoint specific - I should have made
my viewpoint a little clearer.    (07)

I have long taken the view that the primary concern of a programming
language is to communicate between people - a way of formally describing
what we expect the computer to do and the rationale for that
description. Most programming is about checking the rationale,
correcting errors in the description and then reusing old work in
changing circumstances.  If this wasn't the case, why don't we just pipe
the instructions directly to a compiler, rather than to a file? Its only
the end user that cares whether the program makes the computer do
something. I appreciate that this is not a mainstream view.    (08)

Sean Barker
Bristol, UK    (09)

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