[Haskell-cafe] Comments from OCaml Hacker Brian Hurt

Paul Moore p.f.moore at gmail.com
Fri Jan 16 05:39:20 EST 2009

2009/1/15 Derek Elkins <derek.a.elkins at gmail.com>:
> On Thu, 2009-01-15 at 18:27 +0000, Lennart Augustsson wrote:
>> On Thu, Jan 15, 2009 at 6:04 PM, Paul Moore <p.f.moore at gmail.com> wrote:
>> >
>> > Mathematical precision isn't appropriate in all disciplines.
>> >
>> That's very true.  But programming is one where mathematical precision
>> is needed, even if you want to call it something else.
> Actually programming requires -far more- precision than mathematics ever
> has.  The standards of "formal" and "precise" that mathematicians use
> are a joke to computer scientists and programmers.  Communication is
> also more important or at least more center stage in mathematics than
> programming.  Mathematical proofs are solely about communicating
> understanding and are not required to execute on a machine.

Hmm. I could argue that coding *terminology* and words used for
human-to-human *discussion* of programs can afford to be far *less*
precise, simply because the ultimate precision is always available in
terms of actual executable code (which offers no scope for
misunderstanding - it's a concrete, executable object, with precise
semantics defined by the implementation).

Mathematical terminology has to be much stricter, because there's no
fallback of "use the source".

That's not to say that I disagree entirely, but it's not as
black-and-white as this discussion makes it seem.


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