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Re: using Lisp in astronomical data analysis

> Date: Fri, 9 Oct 92 19:57:35 -0600
> From: language@skdad.usask.ca
> Subject: Re:  using Lisp in astronomical data analysis
> To: hall@allegra.att.com, hmadorf@eso.org
> Cc: info-mcl@cambridge.apple.com, murtagh@eso.org, piet@guinness.ias.edu,
>         ralbrecht@eso.org
> X-Envelope-To: info-mcl@cambridge.apple.com
> >    existing AIPS1 system. The decision to adopt a fairly conventional
> >    language like C++ was controversial enough; a "weird" language like lisp
> >    would have been impossible to sell to our conservative audience."
> >
> >There is a difference between "conservative" and "ignorant".  The former
> >implies some familiarity with the subject matter.  The adjective
> >"weird" is not one I have heard used in informed debate on programming
> >languages.  If the issue of concern is difficulty in learning/using
> >the language, I'd guess Lisp is much easier to learn from scratch than C++
> this kindof debate is really reminiscant of the old I've got an IBM and
> it's better than your Mac,  or vice versa,  debates...  but,  the fact
> is,  either one will get you the same thing..  computer's a computer
> and a language is a language..  sure,  one might require a bit more typing
> to get the same thing... it's really a matter of style,  and not the
> politics and arrogance apparant in such debates...

There is a phenomena called the complexity barrier. It is a very difficult
topic to get a handle on. If you view programming as fundamentally pushing back 
this barrier, then "matters of style" become of the utmost importance.
Languages can help develop effective styles for attacking the complexity barrier, 
so their differences are not unimportant as you imply in your statement
"a language is a language". It may well be true that lang X is best for
programmer X and lang Y is best for programmer Y. But force each to program in
lang Z and you'll get worse results.