HLL and misa...

garth zenie gpzF93@hamp.hampshire.edu
Thu, 15 Jun 1995 11:13:21 -0400

let me tell you a little more about our language project, and
ourselves (in no particular order).

the project took form in the spring of 94 when myself and another
student at hampshire college sat down and had a conversation about how
there existed no programming language which satisfied our very high
expectations in a programming language.  

[a little interruption for some history]

we are both what i call new generation programmers.  i started
programming in BASIC when i was 8 years old and learned C, pascal,
C++, Smalltalk, ... by the time i was 14. my friend frank, did kind of
the same.  i am now 20 and he is 24 (i think).

we both prefer programming in CLOS and Common Lisp now over any of the
other mainstream languages.  CLOS is far from ideal though.

there are many problems.  for example the fact that you need to carry
around a 1000 page book in order to use the language when the entire
functionality could be explained in 20 pages.  there is the method
congruency problem that all CLOS programmers have come to know and
love.  there is that fact that it is built on top of CL which makes
it faily inconsistent internally.  there is the fact that simple data
types are hardware defined and not abstract (byte, fixnum, ...).  of
course the class hierarchy is horribly designed with very little use
of overloading (due to the limitations imposed by congruency and
historical naming conventions).  for example to get something out of:

an array: aref indice+
a hashtable: gethash
a list: nth, ...

all of these could be desribed by one kinf of message: "get".  get
would be able to figure out what you were doing by the "types" of
objects you supply to it.

anyhow - i could really go on for many hours about why my favorite
language sucks.  back to misa...

so, frank and i wrote up a proposal to obtain funding from a private
source to develop a new programming language.  our $25000 request was
fulfilled and to be used to by the nessecary "stuff" in order to
research, develop, and implement the language.  we have acquired a few
other people who work on and off on the project.  we have received a
stipend to work on the project full time mid-july through september.

the language is fairly fair in the development phase with some initial
prototypes in CLOS.  my stock description of the language is that it
is a concise, consistent, simple, powerful, concurrent, cross of CLOS,
smalltalk, and scheme.

we have adopted LISP syntax for the base language (aka misa-simple).
there are many reasons for doing so:

a) it is extremely easy to parse and modify dynamically
b) it is extremely easy to translate more complex syntaxes into

by adopting s-expresions for syntax, it allows our language to be
extremley flexible as far as building addtional syntaxes into the

there are really a number of things which exist in misa which don't
exist in other languages which we might consider obtaining patents for
as we believe them to be extremely powerful.  i will go into some of
these at a later date...

well - hopefully that is a sufficient taste of the language!

-- garth