[Haskell-cafe] To [] Or Not To []

JK jerzy.karczmarczuk at unicaen.fr
Fri Mar 17 03:04:54 UTC 2017

/Sorry, a looong message./

Le 16/03/2017 à 23:38, Brandon Allbery a écrit :

> programs are best written for clarity; the *compiler* should be 
> optimizing, not the programmer, whenever possible.

A historical anecdote...
When something called 'cybernetics' ceased to be in the Soviet Union a 
bourgeois pseudo-science whose aim was to enslave the the Class of 
Workers, etc., and Russians and their satellites began to manufacture 
computers, they managed quite fast to master the main idea of 
interesting algorithms, exquisite data structures and their processing. 
They COULD have invented some nice programming languages (we are at the 
end of '50-ties...), but among many other calamities,  their forerunners 
said that they had some wonderful teams of very competent 
mathematicians, who, once instructed how to program computers, would do 
Wonders, in the name of the True Proletarian Science.

It was partly true (mathematicians, Andrey Markov Jr., Andrey Ershov, 
etc., not necessarily the Proletarian Science...) .
So, when the ideal personage of THE Programmer became in US a cliché in 
some science-fiction books (e.g., Asimov's), in the world of the True 
Proletarian Science, very decent humans  wasted a horrible amont of time 
producing low-level codes, and neglecting completely the domain of 
compilation... They managed to put Sputnik and Gagarin above our heads, 
but programming languages did not evolve... [[Although the Snobol 
language invented by Ralph Griswold, was partly based on the Markov 
algorithm concept]].

Now, the morale of this story?...
Wait a bit.

Second round.
There is a pedagogical initiative, called the International Olympiad in 
Informatics.  ( http://www.ioinformatics.org/index.shtml ).
The evolution of this contest, participating countries, etc., is a very 
interesting story, but here I want just to tell you something different. 
In Wikipedia you will read that/*it is an annual competitive programming 
competition for secondary school students. It is the second largest 
olympiad, after International Mathematical Olympiad *//*
*//*The contest consists of two days of computer programming and 
problem-solving of algorithmic nature. To deal with problems involving 
very large amounts of data, it is necessary to have not only 
programmers, "but also creative coders, who can dream up what it is that 
the programmers need to tell the computer to do. The hard part isn't the 
programming, but the mathematics underneath it.... "

*/Nice. And now: the TRUTH.*The only languages which are permitted are 
C, C++,  and Java*. Sorry, recently also Pascal, the Eastern Europe 
insisted upon it.
I looked through the proposed tasks. A good percentage of them were 
puzzles of logical kind.  But no logical languages were allowed. 
Something which can be coded in 12 lines of CLP, has to be 
ceeplusjavaised on 8 pages, and the Jury acknowledges the speed and 
efficiency of such programs... Laugh or weep?...
Functional languages? Anybody heard of them?...

Don't  blame the Soviets, please... Look up the *British Informatics 
Olympiad*. The rules I found randomly for the 2000 contest stipulated: 
/*"The languages available will be Turbo Pascal and Turbo C/C++." */Yes, 
not just C++, but compulsory Borland dialect.
Let's see the *ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest*. Rules: 
/*"... They must submit solutions as programs in C, C++, Java or Python 
(although it is not guaranteed every problem is solvable in Python)." 
*/(Most probably the author doesn't know what Python is...)

This is the way we teach our youth to be creative ! In such a way we 
inspire them to became "creative coders". You may think whatever you 
wish, but I am convinced that the best part of the responsibility for 
such a calamitous picture of the CS pedagogy, falls upon those 
feeble-minded "professionals" who know better what is good, what is the 
"main stream" which should be promoted, and what is "wrong", which 
should be severely punished. The totalitarian (or fundamentalist)  
doctrines are everywhere. Let's build some more huge screening walls, 
and forbid the presence of people who think otherwise, and we shall be 
Great Again.

Jerzy Karczmarczuk
/Caen, France/



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