[Haskell-cafe] Alternative name for return

damodar kulkarni kdamodar2000 at gmail.com
Wed Aug 7 16:09:43 CEST 2013

> "It is intuitive" has no other discernable meaning than "*I* am familiar
> with it, or something very much like it."

Thanks for pointing this out, I was not able to point my thoughts in this

But I still have a doubt: if my familiarity doesn't come in the form of
some "analogy", then my acquired intuition about "it" would be of little
use. In fact, it may well be misleading. Am I correct?

If so, the best we can hope is the name-giver to describe, as explicitly as
possible, the "analogy" (sort of a thought process) he/she had had in
his/her mind while giving a particular name to a given concept?
It will help others to share *at least some amount of* of intuition
(analogy) the originator had had.

Are such thoughts documented in this case?

Thanks and regards,
-Damodar Kulkarni

On Wed, Aug 7, 2013 at 11:37 AM, Richard A. O'Keefe <ok at cs.otago.ac.nz>wrote:

> On 7/08/2013, at 2:10 PM, damodar kulkarni wrote:
> > I bet you can find an abundance of C programmers who think that
> > "strcmp" is an intuitive name for string comparison (rather than
> compression, say).
> >
> > But at least, 'strcmp' is not a common English language term, to have
> acquired some unintentional 'intuition' by being familiar with it even in
> our daily life. The Haskell terms, say, 'return' and 'lift', on the other
> hand, do have usage in common English, so even a person with _no_
> programming background would have acquired some unintentional 'intuition'
> by being familiar with them.
> "Lift" is - a brand of soft drink, the thing Americans call an elevator,
> a thing put in your shoes seem taller, and a free ride, amongst other
> things.
> As a verb, it can mean to kick something.
> To find "lift" intuitive, you have to be familiar with the *mathematical*
> idiom of "lifting" a value from one space to another via some sort of
> injection.  Fair enough, but this *still* counts as an example of
> "intuitive = familiar", because this is *not* a sense of "lift" that is
> familiar to undergraduate and masters computing students unless they have
> taken rather more mathematics papers than most of them have.
> If you're familiar with *English* rather than, say, the C family of
> programming languages, "return" isn't _that_ bad, there is certainly
> nothing about the word that suggests providing a value.  I once tried
> to propose a C-style 'return' statement to some people who were
> designing a programming language, before I or they had ever heard of
> C, and they flatly rejected it.  Months later I found out that this
> was because they were looking for something that did not just resume
> the caller but also provided a value, and when I protested that that's
> exactly what 'return' did in the languages I proposed stealing from,
> they -- being familiar with Fortran -- said that it had never occurred
> to them that 'return' could have anything to with providing a value.
> "It is intuitive" has no other discernable meaning than "*I* am familiar
> with it,
> or something very much like it."
> _That's_ the point I want to make.  *Whatever* anyone uses for Haskell's
> "return", many people are bound to find it unintuitive.  Choose a name
> on any grounds but that.
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