[Haskell-cafe] Reddy on Referential Transparency

Claus Reinke claus.reinke at talk21.com
Fri Jul 27 16:11:03 CEST 2012

> Have we become a bit complacent about RT?

We're not complacent, we just know things without having to
check references. Just kidding, of course, functional programmers
tend to enjoy improving their understanding!-)

The Strachey reference is worth reading - great that it is online
these days, but it can be useful to complement it with others.

Before Quine, there was Carroll, who explored meaning [1]
and referential opacity [2], among other things. Also useful
is Sondergaard and Sestoft [3], which explores both the history
and the differences between not-quite-equivalent definitions.

I happen to disagree with Reddy's assertion that having to
explain a complicated language with the help of a less complicated
one is perfectly adequate. Reddy himself has done good work on
semantics of programming languages, but I'm a programmer
first - if the language I work with does not give me the qualities
that its semantics give me, then my means of expression and
understanding are limited by the translation.

All to be taken with grain of salt, active mind and sense of humor.

[1, Chapter 6]

[2, the name of the song]

[3] Søndergaard, Sestoft (1990). "Referential transparency,
    definiteness and unfoldability". Acta Informatica 27 (6): 505-517.

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