RE: xslt core and intuition was RE: [xsl] Reference to variable c annot be resolved.

Subject: RE: xslt core and intuition was RE: [xsl] Reference to variable c annot be resolved.
From: "Roger Glover" <glover_roger@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 15 Feb 2003 00:15:43 -0600
Kienle, Steven C [IT/0200]
> > Then it must take a *lot* of C language history understanding to make
> > statement intuitive.  Dennis Ritchie, creator of the C language, once
> > that this was the most common error that *he* makes when programming in
> Understanding and not making the error are two entirely different
> animals.... Which kind of reinforces my point.

Errr...  I don't see how.  The point to which I was responding was this:

> > >      if (i = j)
> > > That really does make intuitive
> > > sense if you understand the history of the language.

Certainly when one has an "intuitive sense" about some topic, one is less
likely to make mistakes involving that topic.  Otherwise, what is the value
of intuition?  My point is that *NO* depth of understanding of the C
language, historical or otherwise, would give anyone who was taught common
math symbols as a child an "intuitive sense" about C's treatment of that if

> C is a language that grew,
> supposedly intuitively, as a "better assembler."

I believe that Thompson, Ritchie, Kernighan, et al. would consider their
work anything but intuitive.  It is well documented that their sparse,
cryptic syntax was painfully reached based on the unbelievably **slow**
response times of the paper teletype terminals that they used for
interactive access on their project.  Keystroke optimization was such an
overriding concern that they even had informal contests to see who could
write a given program with the fewest number of keystrokes.

While their goal was to create a "high-level, portable assembler", their
circumstances caused them to make some strange (and perhaps unfortunate)
syntax choices.

> If these sorts of errors
> are cased by "intuitive" languages, give me a logical one any day.

Again, as stated above, the premise of this statement is very flawed.

> That being said, the use of the name "variable" in XSLT was perhaps not
> best name for the element.

If you only had exposure to math, and not to procedural programming, XSLT's
use of the term "variable" would seem entirely natural.  Circumstances being
what they are though, I must agree with you.  Who learns XSLT (or PostScript
or Forth or Lisp) as a first programming language?

-- Roger Glover

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