Self Wright

Quotes Page 1 of 38

Most programmers are still locked into the idea of making a program out of a large pile of tiny files containing pieces of programs. They do not realize that this organization was forced by the fact that machines like the PDP 11 only had 8k of memory and a limit of 4k buffers in the editor. Thus there was a lot of machinery built up, such as overlay linkers, to try to reconstruct the whole program.

Tim Daly, “Clojure In Small Pieces”

The idea of “mostly functional programming” is unfeasible. It is impossible to make imperative programming languages safer by only partially removing implicit side effects. Leaving one kind of effect is often enough to simulate the very effect you just tried to remove. On the other hand, allowing effects to be “forgotten” in a pure language also causes mayhem in its own way.

Unfortunately, there is no golden middle, and we are faced with a classic dichotomy: the curse of the excluded middle, which presents the choice of either (a) trying to tame effects using purity annotations, yet fully embracing the fact that your code is still fundamentally effectful; or (b) fully embracing purity by making all effects explicit in the type system and being pragmatic by introducing nonfunctions such as unsafePerformIO. The examples shown here are meant to convince language designers and developers to jump through the mirror and start looking more seriously at fundamentalist functional programming.

The Internet isn’t from 1995. It’s from 1975. In 1995, we learned that a network beats a mainframe. Now, we’ve learned that a 2015 mainframe beats a 1975 network.

So people came up with a bunch of crap-ass languages that still had the exact same abstractions as the underlying machine: a global memory that you update by issuing statements or instructions, expressions that can be computed by the arithmetic-logic unit, conditional branching and loops, subroutines. Everything you need to be “Turing-complete”, which is equivalent to von Neumann-complete.

Steve Yegge, __Math Every Day"_

An argument can be made that the contemporary mainstream understanding of objects is but a pale shadow of the original idea. Further, it can be argued that the mainstream understanding of objects is, in practice, antithetical to the original intent.

David West, “Object Thinking”

What prevents us from actual software engineering is our own cultural evolution. We pride ourselves on not achieving any significant depth of knowledge, but rather just jumping in and flailing at crude solutions. Not standardizing what we build works in favor of both the programmers and the vendors. The former are in love with the delusion of creativity, while the latter deem it as a means to lock in clients. There is also a persistent fear that any lack of perceived freedom will render the job of programming boring. This is rather odd, and clearly self-destructive, since continuously re-writing ‘similar’ code gradually loses its glamour, resulting in a significant shortening of one’s career. It’s fun and ego fulfilling the first couple of times, but it eventually gets frustrating. Solving the same simple problems over and over again is not the same as really solving challenging problems. We do the first, while claiming we are really doing the second.

At the last StrangeLoop there was only one presenter from the pre-1980’s: Joe Armstrong. His talk? “We can do better” Everyone else’s talk? “How to optimize or manage this part of the stack to make your cat photo-sharing site work more efficiently today.

During the program life a programmer team possessing its theory remains in active control of the program, and in particular retains control over all modifications. The death of a program happens when the programmer team possessing its theory is dissolved. A dead program may continue to be used for execution in a computer and to produce useful results. The actual state of death becomes visible when demands for modifications of the program cannot be intelligently answered. Revival of a program is the rebuilding of its theory by a new programmer team.

Backus Naur

It is a misconception, based on the stereotype of a Turing machine as executing a prearranged program one step at a time, to assume that Turing believed that any single, explicitly programmed serial process would ever capture human intelligence in mechanical form.

George Dyson

Formal logical proofs, and therefore programs – formal logical proofs that particular computations are possible, expressed in a formal system called a programming language – are utterly meaningless. To write a computer program you have to come to terms with this, to accept that whatever you might want the program to mean, the machine will blindly follow its meaningless rules and come to some meaningless conclusion. In the test the consistent group showed a pre-acceptance of this fact: they are capable of seeing mathematical calculation problems in terms of rules, and can follow those rules wheresoever they may lead. The inconsistent group, on the other hand, looks for meaning where it is not. The blank group knows that it is looking at meaninglessness, and refuses to deal with it.

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