Re: Best, Simple versus Best (Henry Baker)
Thu, 16 Mar 1995 16:14:21 GMT

          From comp.compilers

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Newsgroups: comp.compilers
From: (Henry Baker)
Keywords: optimize, design
Organization: Compilers Central
References: 95-03-050 95-03-082
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 1995 16:14:21 GMT (Preston Briggs) wrote:
> The entire discussion to this point reminds me of an essay by Richard
> Gabriel (I'm sorry I don't have even a minimal reference) contrasting
> the "MIT/Stanford style of design" with the "New Jersey approach."
> Following Lee, he suggests that the MIT/Stanford approach can be
> captured in the phrase "the right thing." The following
> characteristics are important: (I'll try and quote exactly)
> The New Jersey approach (also called "worse is better") is slightly
> different. Their characteristics are (deliberately caricatured) as

With the advent of Standard ML of New Jersey, Gabriel's 'New Jersey'
reference has become a bit out-dated, since to my knowledge, SML/NJ
tries very hard to do the 'right thing'. Although I have a personal bias
against its syntax, I can admit that SML/NJ has been extraordinarily productive
in the development of relatively simple, but very powerful optimization

Re the 'right thing':

The Romans were phenomenally successful at dominating the world for the
better part of a thousand years, even though they used one of the worst
number systems ever devised. If they had survived long enough to develop
computers, I am absolutely confident that Windoze-XCV (??) would utilize
Roman arithmetic throughout, and the computer science community would now
be teaching fast Roman numeral algorithms to their students.

'Elegance' is a concept that appeals to people who, like Archimedes, want
to personally move the world with a long lever. If you're happy to move
the world one micrometer at a time as one of the faceless horde working
for Mr. Gates, then elegance will have no appeal.

Just as Algol-60 and Algol-68 were considerably better than most of their
successors, ML & Haskell have shown us that the lambda-calculus is
considerably better and more useful than the Towers of Babel that computer
scientists have erected over the years. It's pretty amazing what
straightforward beta-expansion can achieve when you unchain it.

www/ftp directory:

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