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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Real programmers can write in any language

Interesting article from two computer science professors arguing that Java is a harmful first language to teach in computer science curricula.

While I don't agree with all the tenets of the article, I do agree that each language introduces a different way of thinking, and a good software engineer can embrace each of these idioms where appropriate.

Conversely, we want to say that a competent programmer is comfortable with a number of different languages and that the programmer must be able to use the mental tools favored by one of them, even when programming in another. For example, the user of an imperative language such as Ada or C++ must be able to write in a functional style, acquired through practice with Lisp and ML1, when manipulating recursive structures.

Funny how this ties into something I heard on the radio today,, about a lady who grew up in the Netherlands, and has been living in the US for years. It troubled her that she couldn't think of the Dutch word for grout, but then after a few minutes it clicked in her head, in Dutch they don't have a word for grout, they only talk about the space between the tiles.


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