[Haskell-cafe] Mozart versus Beethoven (was: Writing "Haskell For Dummies ...)

minh thu noteed at gmail.com
Wed Dec 13 14:14:22 EST 2006

2006/12/12, Kirsten Chevalier <catamorphism at gmail.com>:
>  [snip]
> I've been thinking about this. Are there really any programmers who
> are like Mozart in the way you describe? Donald Knuth might be one, or
> at least, he wrote that he wrote and debugged all of TeX on paper
> before entering it into a computer and "only found 13 more bugs" (or
> something like that), once he did. I don't remember if it was 13
> exactly, but "13 more bugs" might be the closest that any programmer
> gets to Mozart, or at least any programmer in the 20th or early 21st
> century.
> But, can you imagine waking up in the middle of the night, sitting
> down, and writing a compiler from start to finish? Well, of course,
> easily, undergrads do it all the time during finals period. But, one
> that works, and that contains original ideas? I know some awesome
> programmers, but I don't think any of them are quite that awesome.
> Whereas it's conceivable to imagine somebody writing a piece of music
> that way, or a poem. Does that just mean that computer science has a
> long way to go in maturation? Or does it mean something else?

Maybe you forget  one fact : we're talking about people who have exprerience,
not undergrad. Moreover, if we talk about experience in one area (for
example computer languages, ore opera/classic music (not electro, pop,
rock, jazz and so on), I'm sure there're people who have enough
experience in compiler to try out a new idea in a short amount of
time. Or in other discipline. I think I've read John Carmack wrote
*several* 3d engines for each of their titles that throw them away.

Another difference with music that strikes me is the level of
abstraction : a note is a note. A line of code (especially in a
imperative setting) is much more than a line of code. Ok, one can
argue that notes interact together but, imo, not in the same way line
of code can do.

Programming is complex, you have to layer code on codeon code. Music
is quite 'direct', you hear it without thinking.

minh thu

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