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Re: [ontolog-forum] C and Ada

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2007 23:05:59 -0500
Message-id: <473D1727.8030703@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ed and Sean,    (01)

I agree with both of you:    (02)

EB>> I think we are talking past each other.    (03)

SB> Agreed, we were - and thanks for comments. From the point
 > of view of defining languages, I entirely agree with you.
 > From the point of view of implemented system lifecycle, I
 > entirely agree with me.    (04)

Ultimately, it is certainly true that the purpose of programming
languages is to program computers.    (05)

But as I said in an earlier note, many of the pioneers, such
as Dijkstra, Knuth, and others, were very much concerned with
designing languages that were readable by humans as well
as computers.    (06)

Even the much maligned COBOL was designed to be highly
readable, and to some extent, it was partially successful.
But that illustrates another point:  there is no such thing
as a computer language that is ideal for all purposes
and easily readable and usable by all users.    (07)

SQL is an example of a language that suffered from some
ill-advised attempts to make it readable without considering
who would be reading it.  For querying relational databases,
the QUEL language (designed for Ingres) was much more elegant
and easier to use, especially for people who had a moderate
amount of logic background (and even for many who didn't).    (08)

A better solution would have been a QUEL-like language for
database professionals and a much more English-like language
for casual users.  SQL, unfortunately, was an attempted
compromise that is equally bad for both.    (09)

There are other languages that tried to satisfy so many
incompatible constraints that they ended up with a
worst-of-all-worlds compromise.    (010)

John Sowa    (011)

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