Faith, Evolution, and Programming Languages
published: Aug. 19, 2007,
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Faith and evolution provide complementary--and sometimes conflicting--models of the world, and they also can model the adoption of programming languages. Adherents of competing paradigms, such as functional and object-oriented programming, often appear motivated by faith. Families of related languages, such as C, C++, Java, and C#, may arise from pressures of evolution. As designers of languages, adoption rates provide us with scientific data, but the belief that elegant designs are better is a matter of faith. This talk traces one concept, second-order quantification, from its inception in the symbolic logic of Frege through to the generic features introduced in Java 5, touching on features of faith and evolution. The remarkable correspondence between natural deduction and functional programming informed the design of type classes in Haskell. Generics in Java evolved directly from Haskell type classes, and are designed to support evolution from legacy code to generic code. Links, a successor to Haskell aimed at AJAX-style three-tier web applications, aims to reconcile some of the conflict between dynamic and static approaches to typing.
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