The programming language market (was Re: [Haskell-cafe] Why functional programming matters

Dipankar Ray dipankar at
Sun Jan 27 18:12:04 EST 2008

Hello Jerzy and Bulat,

Thanks for your perspectives. Bulat, I can understand that you find it 
shocking that the folks at Moscow University still study Lisp, but I 
wouldn't be so quick to condemn them for being dinosaurs. After all, they 
just stopped teaching the SICP course (using Scheme) at MIT, and I don't 
believe that they replaced it with an intro to CS course that uses (say) 
Haskell or ML! Nor has Berkeley, far as I know.

...ok, I looked, the MIT intro course is now taught in python. I'll let 
you decide if that's a step up from scheme.

Which brings us back to the topic of the original thread - Simon's request 
for perspectives. The wonderfulness of advances in type theory these past 
20 years, which are appreciated so readily here - they don't seem to have 
achieved universal acceptance in industry or in academia.

What I mean by this is that if I look at the CS programs at Berkeley, MIT, 
CMU, I don't see a huge emphasis on PL. Looking now at the MIT 
opencourseware offerings in EECS, I see no undergrad course that suggests 
that you'd learn anything about modern type theory.

Of course we know here of success stories involving modern fp languages. 
But there is no haskell or ml book that has had close to the influence of 
K&R's C book. One might argue that adoption on that scale is not the goal 
of the haskell community (was it Kernighan, Ritchie, or Thompson's goal? I 
think not), but still, it's weird to me that:

1) we're clearly on to something, but still

2) many smart people who are interested walk away frustrated (not so easy 
to learn (is the hardness necessary? perhaps?), relative to K&R, for 

3) most of the canonical US universities for CS (MIT, Berkeley, Stanford, 
CMU, etc) basically don't teach haskell or ML, or even talk much about it, 
relative to how much they talk about, say, Java.

It's one thing that companies don't move forward; yet another thing that 
Universities don't either. Why is that? Why, in 2008, is Java taught more 
than Haskell?

On Sun, 27 Jan 2008, Bulat Ziganshin wrote:

> Hello Dipankar,
> Sunday, January 27, 2008, 12:16:38 AM, you wrote:
>> Anyway, no we're older, and we realize that it would have helped our math
>> understanding out quite a bit had we learned more physics, engineering,
>> etc. Or had we learned 19th century mathematics well. The Russian program
>> seems to do this, actually (at least for the sample set of kids that make
>> it to the US).
> oh, yes, they are really still study 19th century physics, but not
> because of great mind, but due to age of university professors. i've
> studied at Moscow University in 89-91 and department of computer
> languages still studied Lisp at those times (!). a few months ago i
> have a conversation with today student and they still learn Lisp (!!!).
> it seems that they will switch to more modern FP languages no earlier
> that this concrete professor, head of PL department, which in 60s done
> interesting AI research, will dead, or at least go to the pension
> -- 
> Best regards,
> Bulat                            mailto:Bulat.Ziganshin at

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