Forth, LISP, etc...

Laurent Martelli
01 Jan 1999 07:00:50 +0100

>>>>> "WT" == William Tanksley <wtanksle@UCSD.EDU> writes:

    WT> This is sometimes known as "Fortran notation", since Fortran
    WT> was the first sucessful language to try to imitate a
    WT> mathematical formula.  Most computet scientists spend years
    WT> learning this, and the rest of their lives claiming that it's
    WT> the only reasonable way while desperately trying to solve bugs
    WT> resulting from the fact that computer programs aren't
    WT> mathematical formulas, even in functional languages.

I believe that we need to concentrate first on the semantics of the
language and then be able to display data using different
conventions. And since code is data, this applies to code as well. I
favor a simple notation/syntax which purely reflects the semantics of
the language. Something like Lisp or Forth is good in this sense. And
then, if you are a mathematician and you are used to dealing with
Fortran notation, we can easily build an editor to view and edit
formulas using your prefered notation. 

    >> While I currently favor Forth, I'd use all of the above at the
    >> same time. Fare mentioned how the HP-48 is an RPN calculator,
    >> but it's got an "algebraic expression evaluator" so you can use
    >> normal notation too.  That's a step in the right direction.

    WT> Yes; fully agreed.  Especially cool about the HP-48 is the
    WT> fact that the algebraic evaluator does some pretty
    WT> typesetting.

Fully agreed too. See what I said above.

Happy new year to all, Laurent