• Subject: Re: Extract number from character field(Perl syntax) (wayyofftopic)
  • From: Jim Langston <jlangston@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 08:08:05 -0800
  • Organization: Conex Global Logistics Services, Inc.

boldt@ca.ibm.com wrote:

> I think Perl is a good example.  It's a powerful language
> that gives little ground to amateurs.  It's a language
> designed by and for those who know what they're doing.
> Let's look at an analogy - human language.  Should it be
> easy to learn a foreign language?  It's not.  But the
> rewards of learning another language are great.  Should
> the speakers of, say, Russian change their language to
> make it easier for us to learn?

SHOULD it be easy to learn a foreign language? Yes.
IS it easy to learn a foreign language?  No.
Spoken language is something thrust upon us at birth.  We do not
choose which language we grow up learning, our parents do.  But,
as you are probably aware, English is becoming the standard language
world wide.  In just about every country in the world English is spoken
by a good percentage of the population, even though it is not the
native language.  This is not to say that English is actually better than
any other language, but people of the world needed to be able to
communicate.  And the English language is mutating constantly as
new words are introduced.

But, in computer languages we have quite a few choices.  Chiefly
among these is which language we are going to learn.  Also, as designers
of languages we can choose to make them easier to understand.

> Two months ago?  Two months ago, RH 5.2 was already almost
> a year old.  6.0 had already been available for at least
> four or five months!

Well, I just bought 3 books on Linux and RH 5.2 was included.

> There are lot's of different weird and wonderful
> languages available on Linux:  TCL, Python, bash, csh
> to name a few.
> <snip>
> True, APL is certainly a "write-only" language.  But
> programs written in any other language can be quite
> maintainable in the hands of an expert.  Some languages,
> like Perl and Java, include facilities to automate the
> generation of documentation.
> <SNIP>
> It certainly was not unheard of in the late 1960's.
> Never heard of PL/I?  One of the early great attempts
> at AI.  I think PL/I put an end to the idea that one
> language could do everything.

In the 1960's, yes.  But there were quite a number of limitations on
computers in the 1960's that just don't exist today.  Memory, Speed
and DASD being the top 3.  We are no longer limited to 64k boxes,
speed is growing exponentially all the time, and DASD is coming
out in bigger and bigger chunks.  From 4.77mhz to 500 mhz is a
BIG leap.

> No, I don't think we'll ever see a convergence of
> programming languages.  There are simply too many
> conflicting goals.

We are already seeing a convergence of programming languages.
Basic has pointers now.  And Subroutines, and functions, and
OO.  There was once a time when anything written in Basic was
know to be much slower than C code.  It has come to be that
VB code will sometimes run as fast, or faster, than C code.  Basic
always took the approach of ease of learning over speed.  With
modern day compilers and processors, that limitation has pretty
much been annihilated.  Now you can pretty much do anything in
C, Basic or Pascal as any of the other one of the 3.  Now it has
just become a matter of syntactical differences.


Jim Langston

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