[TYPES] the possibly uselessness of semantics, was -- The type/object distinction and possible synthesis of OOP and imperative programming languages

Uday S Reddy u.s.reddy at cs.bham.ac.uk
Sat Apr 20 17:35:04 EDT 2013

Avik Chaudhuri writes:

>     I would happily endorse these ideas.  In fact, this is what I think
>     would constitute "applied PL research": understanding, evaluating,
>     critiquing, and shepherding new programming languages, which I believe
>     will necessarily come from outside our community because it is the
>     application develepors who understand best where the needs are for new
>     languages.
> I humbly contest this position. It is not the responsibility of others to
> pick up ideas from "our community" and apply it to the "real languages."
> At least some of us should (and do) devote enough time to popularize these
> ideas. We desperately need more people like this:
> http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/.

Perhaps I didn't express myself very clearly.  I meant to say that
interesting new languages will necessarily come from outside our community.
But *we* should engage with them as part of our "applied PL research" to
understand, analyze, critique and perhaps help their language designs.

A strong example that comes to my mind is Dijkstra's efforts during the
DoD's requisitioning for the language that eventually became Ada.  Dijkstra
closely studied all the DoD requirements and every language proposal that
was submitted, and critiqued them.  His critiques were published in SIGPLAN
Notices and should be available in the ACM Digital Library (as well as the
EWD collections).  Even though you might think this was a rather negative
form of engagement, it was still useful for the world to understand how
programming language principles impact or should impact programming language

I am also happy to recollect an oft-repeated aphorism of John Reynolds:
"Programming language semanticists should be the obstetricians of
programming languages, not their coroners."


More information about the Types-list mailing list