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Re: Small time coding [Was: Re: About Visual Basic [Was: Industry versus academia]]

On Tuesday, Mar 11, 2003, at 17:55 US/Eastern, Michael Vanier wrote:
> The reason I think so many of us are so interested in programming 
> languages
> is that we want languages that make it easier to do the hard stuff:
> designing complex algorithms and designing, extending and maintaining
> complex programs.

For some reason, I read this and thought of APL.  Type a few 
characters, and suddenly amazing things happened that would otherwise 
have kept you up all night.  But APL also died the way human languages 
go extinct every day.  It just wasn't the sponge mass culture was 
looking for.

If making the hard stuff easy is the goal, are we looking for something 
like a programmer's Mathematica?  That is, you'd express a problem in 
mathematical terms, ask the computer to search the archives for an 
approved algorithmic plugin that solves it within parameters of cost 
and performance, and the computation would succeed or fail based on the 
availability of an existing implementation.

We are part of the way there, with Perl's CPAN and Python's modules.  
There's already so much I don't have to write because others have.  But 
it is still a manual process in that I have to find what I'm looking 
for, make sure it's the best option, and re-check every so often in 
case better alternatives now exist.  That process is good stimulus for 
the brain, but as libraries grow in size, it's more likely our brains 
will miss something instead of finding it.