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2 points by akkartik 2523 days ago | link | parent

Dijkstra, in the introduction to "A discipline of programming":

  Needless to say, none of the examples in this book have been run on a computer.
:-p


2 points by rocketnia 2523 days ago | link

Wow, what a quote. XD Is this a more accurate version? I can't find any search results for yours, but there aren't many for this one either. :-p

  None of the programs in this monograph, needless to say, has been tested on a machine.

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3 points by akkartik 2523 days ago | link

I was running off memory :) I'll check with my copy when I get home tonight. (Discipline is one of ~ten books I still own. http://www.reddit.com/r/programming/comments/6f0fz/do_you_bu...)

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Update 15 hours later: yep, your version is right. A couple more gems in that Preface:

"..it hurts me to see the semantics of the repetitive construct

  while B do S
defined as that of the call of the recursive procedure

  whiledo(B, S)
Do you think the BS was chosen accidentally? :)

I don't like to crack an egg with a sledgehammer, no matter how effective the sledgehammer..

Contrast the Alan Kay quote that says you should find the most complex construct you possibly need, and build everything in terms of it. (again my google fu is weak)

For the absence of a bibliography I offer neither explanation nor apology.

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My predominant impression after reading Discipline was that EWD was getting high off his programming. He was trying really hard, but failing to get me high as well.

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2 points by rocketnia 2522 days ago | link

I like your book management strategy, BTW. :)

Contrast the Alan Kay quote that says you should find the most complex construct you possibly need, and build everything in terms of it. (again my google fu is weak)

If Alan Kay's the person to credit for OOP, I guess that doesn't surprise me. ^_^ A simple basis of complicated things is just fine. For instance, not all our lambdas actually need to be closures, but that doesn't stop us from reasoning about them as closures for the sake of reducing the number of concepts we're juggling.

The problem comes around when people forget how arbitrary any particular complicated basis is. XD I'm looking at you, "Arc needs OOP" threads.

So maybe the Dijkstra and Kay quotes are compatible, in a sense. Kay can be encouraging people to find appropriate foundations from which to implement concepts, and Dijkstra can be encouraging people to perceive the concept itself rather than taking its implementation for granted.

I guess I can't really say that without knowing more of the context of what Dijkstra and Kay believed. Still, a quote more opposite to Dijkstra's might be this one:

Beyond the primitive operators, which by definition can't be written in the language, the whole of the Arc spec will be written in Arc. As Abelson and Sussman say, programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute. So if a language is any good, source code ought to be a better way to convey ideas than English prose.

- Paul Graham

I think it's similar to foundational math and philosophy. An implementation (model) of a system in terms of another system can admit implementation-specific proofs of things that are false in other implementations. Just because one model or formalization has been found doesn't make it uninteresting to continue considering the motivating informal system on its own merit.

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2 points by evanrmurphy 2522 days ago | link

Found that Alan Kay quote in The Early History Of Smalltalk [1]:

"take the hardest and most profound thing you need to do, make it great, an [sic] then build every easier thing out of it."

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[1] http://www.smalltalk.org/smalltalk/TheEarlyHistoryOfSmalltal...

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3 points by rocketnia 2522 days ago | link

Awesome. :)

My next questions was, why on earth call it a functional language? Why not just base everuything [sic] on FEXPRs and force evaluation on the receiving side when needed? I could never get a good answer, but the question was very helpful when it came time to invent Smalltalk, because this started a line of thought that said "take the hardest and most profound thing you need to do, make it great, an then build every easier thing out of it". That was the promise of LiSP and the lure of lambda--needed was a better "hardest and most profound" thing. Objects should be it.

This so closely parallels the way I'm thinking about Penknife that I suddenly find it spooky that Smalltalk uses square brackets. XD

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