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Re: Language Marketing (was: What design is: 911 vs. Fleetwood)

> Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2001 15:45:13 -0800 (PST)
> From: Paul Graham <paulgraham@yahoo.com>
> We're designing Arc roughly for the language equivalent
> of the 1970 Porsche 911 market.  People who want to 
> solve hard problems with few tokens, and who are not
> going to be intimidated by what a language has to look
> like to do that.

I think you also have to distinguish between conceptual density and token
density.  I like languages that allow interesting programs to be
expressible using a minimal number of language constructs.  I care much
less whether the language construct is called "fn" or "lambda" or

To give an extreme example, the language J (a modern APL;
http://www.jsoftware.com) has a high conceptual density (good) and also
encourages programs that are written in a line-noise syntax with very few
characters (bad, IMO).  This gives rise to programs like this one, which
does quicksort:

    sel =: 1 : ']#~]x.{.'
    qs  =: ] ` ($:@(<sel),=sel,$:@(>sel))@.(1:<#)

I think the J designers could have produced a much clearer language if they
expanded some of the functions into full names instead of one- or
two-letter abbreviations.  Of course, you can do this yourself in J, so
it's not really a swipe at the language as much as at the culture.