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[REBOL] Re: What language am I looking for?

From: gjones05:mail:orion at: 16-May-2001 7:41

***Major Side-Bar Alert*** (those looking to follow the "real" thread, feel free to skip)
<snip> > From: "Joel Neely" > > The only absolutely extensible "language" I know > > of is Mathematics, where you can make up notation > > suitable for the task at hand. But the various > > sub-branches of Mathematics have evolved their own > > "local dialects" for the various domains of activity, and > > haven't solved the problem of universally-consistent > > notation.
From: "Ken Anthony"
> You are quite right. However, this is where my intuitive kicks > in (and could very well be wrong, I know I'm in the minority > here. Good thing I'm an INTJ.) My intuition tell me that > computer programming is a finite area of mathmatics. Really > finite, we have only two digits in the whole thing! <snip>
Here is where I have to throw in 2 more cents. From my view, you are both saying the same thing; you are just arguing from two different points along the path. The ancient Greek philosphers first appreciated (or, at least, were the first to document their appreciation) that very elemental substances combine to form all the complexity of the universe. The reawakening of this concept is now occurring in the fields of complexity and chaos theory. From a symbolic perspective, two digits are all that are required to represent even the most complex behavior. It is the interactions and feedback amongst these elemental pieces that creates the behavior. In a sort of object-oriented paradigm, each piece "knows" what it can do and can't do. It is in the interactions that complexity is born. The universe requires no notation to work its magic. It simply "does." As we seek to understand, we apply notations as markers (dynamic variables, if you will allow). Mathematicians deal largely in abstractions that may not have a physicial counterpart. Programmers seek to create and capture behavior that is correct and reproducible (at least where reproducibility is the goal!). Both require notation and the notation is arbitrary. Joel speaks of mathematicians not having "solved the problem of universally-consistent notation," that from my perspective (in the form of two examples), means that "namespaces" may clash, and/or that values are not directly assignable. Joel apparently uses the mathematical discipline as an example because of its longer heritage as compared to computer "science" and/or programming "art/science". I think that few would argue the mathematics, as a discipline, would benefit from having one, true notation (apologies to Ken), but. like delving into a Mandelbrot graphic, the complexity extends and even seems to expand as one goes to the smaller scales. The general purpose notations/tools fail to be adequate in explaining and expressing this behavior. Hence, more complexity and extension of notation is created to deal with the new behavior. Ken seems to be arguing that the relm of programming falls into one sub-plot of the Mandelbrot, and, therefore, surely one notation could be adequate for dealing with this relm. My intuition tells me that, like a Mandelbrot plot, that the more one delves into the behavior of a problem, the more likely one will discover more complexity, not less. Hence, more extension of the notation is required. So, I hope I've made my argument that this is a "spectrum thing" (apologies now to George Bush, The Elder), meaning a spectrum of complexity. The beauty of this discussion is that REBOL is one of the few languages (of which I am familiar) that allows for new expressivity as a part of its built-in feature set. LISP was undoubtedly the great grandpappy, but like many great grandpappies, its large around the middle and a bit crusty when it comes to expressivity in that everything is "parenthetical" (lame attempt at humor :-). Spoken/written language allows for great expressivity, because of the flexible way in which units can be combined and new dialects (nee notations) can be created. But with extension and growth misunderstandings can and do occur. The same is true of REBOL or any new/different programming language.
> I'm not arguing perfection. I suggesting... that the quest is worthy.
As I've already pitched in over the weekend, I agree. I'm sure Joel agrees; he's just being more realistic. With best regards, --Scott Jones