The Will and the Word: A Philosophy of Programming

Jim Little
Wed, 27 Jan 1999 23:33:25 -0700

Hi, folks--

I've recently published a paper on my web site that you might be
interested in.  It's called "The Will and the Word: A Philosophy of
Programming."  It discusses the fundamental nature of programming.  I
thought y'all would be interested in it because TUNES involves quite a
bit of philosophy as well.  I think you'll find my take on
metaprogramming particularly interesting.

For those of you who read my previous philosophy paper
("Paradigm-Independence: A Philosophy of Software Engineering"), this is
a complete rewrite of that paper, with somewhat similar ideas presented
in a much different way.

You can find the paper at:

Here's an excerpt, from the "What Are Programs?" section:

This is the answer to our question. Programs aren't physical objects,
such as reams of source code or fluctuating current -- they're
INTENTIONS... the intention that a particular type of programmable
system exhibit specific behavior. A program is the carefully formulated
will of its creator, solidified into a form which a programmable system
can use. The program of a player piano is a SONG, not a roll of paper.
The program is the intention that the piano play a certain melody. The
song is expressed as punches in paper, but the paper is not the program,
any more than a portrait is a person.

Let me know what you think.
-Jim Little  (