Re: A Plain English Compiler

haberg@math.su.se (Hans Aberg)
19 Feb 2006 02:01:28 -0500

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From: haberg@math.su.se (Hans Aberg)
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 19 Feb 2006 02:01:28 -0500
Organization: Mathematics
References: 06-02-122
Keywords: design, Cobol
Posted-Date: 19 Feb 2006 02:01:28 EST

danrzeppa@gmail.com wrote:


> Since this is the 21st century, shouldn't we be able to talk to our
> computers in our own language?


> Well, I speak english, and I found this compiler at www.osmosian.com
> that actually lets me use regular english sentences to program. I
> didn't have to learn any cryptic syntax or weird combinations of
> puncuation. It's just plain english.


One should be aware of that the historical development of mathematics
is going the opposite direction, going from using natural language to
symbols, because it is more expressive to the human.


For example, in the beginning, one might have said "add the first unknown
quantity to the second unknown quantity", but after awhile, symbols "x",
"+", and "y" are introduced, resulting in the more succinct, "x + y".


So, one can go ahead with mathematics, and simply write out in words
the mathematical language, and then design a grammar for that. For
example, "f(x)" would be "the function f applied to x", and so on. But
very simple formulas would quickly become unparsable by humans.


Also, when inventing new notation, one should consider this quote by Mark
Twain, about English spelling reform:


                For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped
to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer
be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained
would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2
might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the
same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with
"i" and Iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all.
                Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear
with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12
or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants.
Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi
ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x" -- bai now jast a memori in the maindz
ov ould doderez -- tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivli.
                Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud
hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.
--Mark Twain


--
    Hans Aberg


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