[Haskell-cafe] Somewhat random history question - chicken and egg
carette at mcmaster.ca
Tue Nov 13 20:32:58 EST 2007
jerzy.karczmarczuk at info.unicaen.fr wrote:
> But... tell me please, ANYONE, who takes part in this inspiring exchange:
> How many COBOL programs have you written in your life?
> How many programs in Cobol have you actually SEEN?
Shudder. In '86, I had to modify a COBOL code generator, *written in
COBOL*. The generated program read some data from a database and
printed out zillions of reports; the generated program took more than 24
hours to run, so rarely ever completed successfully, as the machines
they ran it on was not all that reliable. So I had to modify the
generator to generate 'check-pointing' code, so the reporting program
could be restarted from the last checkpoint rather than from the start.
Report generation was something that COBOL was rather good at; code
generation was an entirely different matter! That first exposure to
(untyped) code-generation probably explains why I'm such a big fan of
metaocaml these days...
That year, I had way more fun figuring out how call-by-name worked in
Algol 60, by starting at the generated thunks in the Burroughs 6800
assembly. Nice thing about that machine was that it was a pure stack
machine - kind of like the JVM, as a matter of fact. The other nice
thing about that machine is that they had completely bootstrapped it, so
that there was only an Algol compiler for it, no user-level assembler at
all [but a disassembler for debugging]. It had been bootstrapped
several years back, or so I was told.
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