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Re: [ontolog-forum] IBM Watson's Final Jeopardy error "explanation"

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2011 15:33:10 -0500
Message-id: <4D5ED786.8020100@xxxxxxxx>
Simon Spero wrote:    (01)

> "We were after the C++ programmers. We managed to drag
> a lot of them about halfway to Lisp."
> - Guy Steele, co-author of the Java spec (quoted in:
> http://www.paulgraham.com/icad.html )    (02)

It occurs to me that the 'halfway to Lisp' has a meaning that John and I 
haven't really discussed.
The execution model of LISP is 'composition of functions', what I called 
an 'applicative programming' model.
Java enables an applicative programming style, even though it looks like C.    (03)

I have noticed in my own Java development that I tend to write in an 
applicative style:
and I have also noticed that this style is common in the Java 
community.  I suspect that this is what Guy Steele had in mind.    (04)

BTW, It breaks down only when one of the intermediate methods can fail 
and return null, although that can be made to look like a Lisp 
conditional expansion, at least most of the time.  (I did that in one 
routine, and thus discovered the limitations of my student's program 
comprehension skills.  I have learned to procedurize that, for 
maintainability purposes.  Most Java programmers were not Lisp 
programmers.)  What really makes the code look more procedural is 
intermediate methods that throw exceptions when they fail -- that is an 
Ada/C/C++ pattern.    (05)

-Ed    (06)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                Cel: +1 240-672-5800    (07)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST, 
 and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (08)

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