[Haskell-cafe] Unicode Haskell source -- Yippie!

Rustom Mody rustompmody at gmail.com
Sun Apr 27 16:58:17 UTC 2014

On Sun, Apr 27, 2014 at 9:02 PM, Brandon Allbery <allbery.b at gmail.com>wrote:

> On Sun, Apr 27, 2014 at 7:45 AM, Rustom Mody <rustompmody at gmail.com>wrote:
>> 1. I'd like to underscore the 'arbitrary'.  Why is ASCII any less
>> arbitrary -- apart from an increasingly irrelevant historical accident --
>> than Arabic, Bengali, Cyrillic, Deseret? [Hint: Whats the A in ASCII?]  By
>> contrast math may at least have some pretensions to universality?
> Math notations are not as universal as many would like to think, sadly.
> And I am not sure the historical accident is really irrelevant; as the
> same "accident" was involved in most of the computer languages and
> protocols we use daily, I would not be at all surprised to find that there
> are subtle dependencies buried in the whole mess --- similar to how
> (most... sigh) humans pick up language and culture signals as children too
> young to apply any kind of critical analysis to it, and can have real
> problems trying to eradicate or modify them later. (Yes, languages can be
> fixed. But how many tools do you use when working with them? It's almost
> certainly more than the ones that immediately come to mind or are listed on
> e.g. Hackage. In particular, that ligature may be great in your editor and
> unfortunate when you pop a terminal and grep for it --- especially if you
> start extending this to other languages so you need a different set of
> ligatures [a different font!] for each language....)
Nice point!

And as I said above that Pandora's box is already wide open for current
[And python and probably most modern languages] Can we reverse it??


$ ghci
GHCi, version 7.6.3: http://www.haskell.org/ghc/  :? for help
Loading package ghc-prim ... linking ... done.
Loading package integer-gmp ... linking ... done.
Loading package base ... linking ... done.
Prelude> let (fine,fine) = (1,2)
Prelude> (fine,fine)


If you had the choice would you allow that f-i ligature to be thus
confusable with the more normal fi?  I probably wouldn't but nobody is
asking us and the water that's flowed under the bridge cannot be 'flowed'
backwards (to the best of my knowledge!)

In case that seems far-fetched consider the scenario:
1. Somebody loads (maybe innocently) the code involving variables like
into a 'ligature-happy 'IDE/editor'
2. The editor quietly changes all the fine to fine.
3. Since all those variables are in local scope nothing untoward is noticed
4. Until someone loads it into an 'old-fashioned' editor... and then...

Would you like to be on the receiving end on such 'fun'?

IOW the choice
"Ascii is the universal bedrock of computers -- best to stick with it"
"Ascii is arbitrary and parochial and we SHOULD move on"

is not a choice at all. We (ie OSes, editors, languages) have all already
moved on. And moved on in a particularly ill-considered way.

For example there used to be the minor nuisance that linux filesystems were
typically case-sensitive, windows case-insensitive.

Now with zillions of new confusables like the Latin vs Cyrillic а vs a --
well we have quite a mess!

Embracing math in a well-considered and systematic way does not increase
the mess; it can even reduce it.

My 2 (truly American) ¢

PS Someone spoke of APL and someone else said Agda/Idris may be more
relevant.  I wonder how many of the younger generation have heard of
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