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Re: Choose the most powerful language

by mothra (Hermit)
on May 01, 2001 at 17:46 UTC ( #76954=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Choose the most powerful language

I'll start by saying that, in general, I've gotten tired of X vs. Y debates (read "religious wars"). BUT, this article is hardly that. I find it a compelling case to perhaps even learn Lisp in the not to distant future (but then again, I'm doing a fair amount of Python on the side right now so Mr. Graham probably wouldn't look too far down on me :).

One of the excellent points made:

Most Perl hackers would agree that Perl 5 is more powerful than Perl 4. But once you’ve admitted that, you’ve admitted that one high level language can be more powerful than another.

How true, and a near epiphany for me, a hacker (in the making...:) who started to believe that all languages were pretty much equal. This simple quote reminds me that all languages really aren't created equal, but one's level of programming knowledge is what may help to choose the best tool for their particular task, and also which tools will often fall short for them. It's also logical to conclude that this quote can extend to far more than just programming languages, and far more than just computers for that matter.

His point about how startups should seek to do something different -- in terms of what tool they'll develop with to give themselves a better chance to succeed -- also raises a valid point too, IMHO.

And this:

We knew that everyone else was writing their software in C ++ or Perl. But we also knew that that didn’t mean anything. If you chose technology that way, you’d be running Windows. When you choose technology, you have ignore what other people are doing, and consider only what will work the best.

is something I've been practicing for a while. And it's the avoidance of choosing a language based solely on its marketing campaign that is one of the signs of someone who has a clue. :)

I've been shown a reason to change the way I think.

I'm a different programmer now than I was before I ate my toast this morning.

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Re (tilly) 2: Choose the most powerful language
by tilly (Archbishop) on May 02, 2001 at 00:39 UTC
    Note that the intrinsic powerfulness of a language is only a partial order. However let me reinforce the point by showing you one way in which Python (which you are learning) is more powerful than Perl.

    Write code to sort an array of arrays in the most natural way that makes sense in each language and gives some sensible result. Now modify your code to take into account that the third entry in each array is an array.

    Why was that easier in Python, and why did the Python answer do a better job of anticipating your future needs? What connection does this have with the usual syntax complaints about Perl?

    There are other things that Perl does better than Python. This is not meant to be Python advocacy. But as you learn languages, I think it is a very valuable exercise to try and notice details like that.

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