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Re: why tail recursion matters and why Java isn't it, was Re: lispperformance was Re: problems with lisp

Guy Steele - Sun Microsystems Labs wrote:
>    Date: Thu, 04 Sep 2003 21:54:45 +0200
>    From: Pascal Costanza <costanza@iai.uni-bonn.de>
>    To: Guy Steele - Sun Microsystems Labs <Guy.Steele@sun.com>
>    Cc: matthias@ccs.neu.edu, ll1-discuss@ai.mit.edu
>    > But if by "a matter of
>    > taste" you mean that what leads to greater productivity may differ
>    > from one programmer to another, then that is an objective matter that
>    > is in principle subject to measurement, and one can furthermore ask
>    > other questions, such as: if one were to choose a single aesthetic
>    > category and force everyone to use it, which choice of category
>    > would maximize total productivity?  Or, if we can afford to support
>    > at most three aesthetic categories, which set of at most three
>    > would maximize totla productivity?
>    Why would you want to force someone to use a single aesthetic category? 
>    Why would you want to limit the number of admissible aesthetic categories?
> The usual ugly pragmatic constraints.  It costs money to support
> multiple categories, for a variety of reasons, ranging from the
> cost of testing the extra software for the multiple categories
> to the cost of programmer A not being able to maintain the code
> of programmer B when he gets hit by a bus.

This explains why programmers should agree on a language for a specific 
project, and to a certain extent why a company might decide to 
specialize on a language and work in problem domains that this language 
is useful for.

So I would agree if you modify your questions to: "Which choice of 
category would maximize totaly productivity of our programmers for the 
given project?"

>    If the success of specific aesthetic categories varies from one 
>    programmer to another, wouldn't it be best to let everyone decide 
>    themselves what aesthetic category to use in order to maximize 
>    productivity? Of course, it should be a well-informed decision.
>    The problem with the state of computer science today isn't that everyone 
>    uses Java. The problem is that everyone thinks that there should be only 
>    one language.
> I certainly don't think that---but I also don't think
> that having a separate language for every programmer
> is the optimal design point, either.

Sure. But I don't think this is likely to happen. The number of 
programming paradigms is stabilizing, isn't it? ;)


Pascal Costanza               University of Bonn
mailto:costanza@web.de        Institute of Computer Science III
http://www.pascalcostanza.de  Römerstr. 164, D-53117 Bonn (Germany)