The obsession with notation 
Author Message
 The obsession with notation

On another thread, Jim Ryan has been arguing that the APL character set
was not responsible for the decline of interest in APL.  But I think it
is safe to say that discussions like the one now in progress concerning
replicate and reduce are quite unknown outside the APL world.  To many
programmers (including some APLers) such disputes appear overly
sectarian, cultish, irrelevant to "getting the work done".  (Note for
the record that I am not endorsing this view; syntax does matter.)

For those who may be interested, there is a poignant analogy in the
history of mathematics, namely the graphical notation for logic proposed
in the 1890s by Charles Sanders Peirce.  His original papers on the
subject are collected in several volumes edited by Carolyn Eisele, and
there is a good introductory survey by Don Roberts, _The Existential
Graphs of Charles Peirce_.  Arguably a superior notation for (at least)
the elementary portions of logic, no working mathematical logician would
be caught dead talking about S4 in the vocabulary of medieval heraldry.  

sa  



Tue, 18 Apr 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 The obsession with notation


Quote:
(stevan apter) writes:

>On another thread, Jim Ryan has been arguing that the APL character set
>was not responsible for the decline of interest in APL.  But I think it
>is safe to say that discussions like the one now in progress concerning
>replicate and reduce are quite unknown outside the APL world.

I think you are mistaken here.  I have seen similar disputes between the
advocates of K&R C and those of the newer ANSI/ISO C standard (particularly
over prototypes), between C and C++ advocates, between C and Pascal users.
Working programmers often care passionately (sometimes far too much ) about
the details of the notation which they have gotten used to.

              -David E. Siegel
               Software Developer, Financial Reporting Software (FRS)



Tue, 18 Apr 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 The obsession with notation

David:

I think it may be an exaggeration to say that non-Aplers care nothing
for syntax, but surely you would agree that syntax matters more to us
than to others.  I cite the original from which you derive the title of
your upcoming Jersey City conference.

It is not just my opinion that notational issues are given scant
attention in the CS community -- at least by our lights.  It never fails
to amaze me that the first reaction of many newcomers to APL is:  What a
great language!  Do you think you could make the syntax more like C?

Now FORTH is OK -- better no syntax at all than a bad one.

sa  



Tue, 18 Apr 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 The obsession with notation


Quote:
(stevan apter) writes:

>I think it may be an exaggeration to say that non-Aplers care nothing
>for syntax, but surely you would agree that syntax matters more to us
>than to others.

No, in fact, I wouldn't.

Quote:
> I cite the original from which you derive the title of
>your upcoming Jersey City conference.

I do not follow your reasoning here.  I presume you are refering to "APL
is a Tool of Thought" or "APL as a Tool of Thought".  I don't see that
either of those phrases particularly implies a concearn with notation, or
syntax (not the same thing, BTW) as opposed to semantics, data structure,
or other aspects of APL

              -David E. Siegel
               Software Developer, Financial Reporting Software (FRS)



Thu, 20 Apr 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 The obsession with notation

Quote:


> (stevan apter) writes:

> >I think it may be an exaggeration to say that non-Aplers care nothing
> >for syntax, but surely you would agree that syntax matters more to us
> >than to others.

> No, in fact, I wouldn't.

> > I cite the original from which you derive the title of
> >your upcoming Jersey City conference.

> I do not follow your reasoning here.  I presume you are refering to "APL
> is a Tool of Thought" or "APL as a Tool of Thought".  I don't see that
> either of those phrases particularly implies a concearn with notation, or
> syntax (not the same thing, BTW) as opposed to semantics, data structure,
> or other aspects of APL

>               -David E. Siegel
>                Software Developer, Financial Reporting Software (FRS)


In 1979, Ken Iverson received ACM's Turing Award.  Following custom, he
gave a lecture in conjunction with the award presentation; the title of
that lecture was "Notation as a Tool of Thought"; the choice of "APL as
a Tool Of Thought" as the rubric for the NY/SIGAPL workshop/minicon is
not mere coincidence.

// m



Sat, 22 Apr 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 The obsession with notation


Quote:

>In 1979, Ken Iverson received ACM's Turing Award.  Following custom, he
>gave a lecture in conjunction with the award presentation; the title of
>that lecture was "Notation as a Tool of Thought"; the choice of "APL as
>a Tool Of Thought" as the rubric for the NY/SIGAPL workshop/minicon is
>not mere coincidence.

I was not aware of this piece of history, and I have not read this paper.
I have come to APL more recently than some here. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

              -David E. Siegel
               Software Developer, Financial Reporting Software (FRS)



Sat, 22 Apr 2000 03:00:00 GMT  
 
 [ 6 post ] 

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