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Programming Languages

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131492D
Original Publication Date: 1982-Apr-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-11
Document File: 22 page(s) / 77K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

James W. Hunt: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

Programming languages not only determine the ultimate forms of solutions to various problems, they may also shape the ways engineers think about problems. Programming languages are of fundamental importance to the computing community. In addition to providing an effective medium for describing computations to be done by a machine, a programming language is often the most effective medium for people to describe computations to each other. Increasingly, these languages are the primary design tools of the computer systems engineer. They not only determine the ultimate forms of solutions to various problems, but may also shape the ways engineers actually think about problems. Given the critical role of programming languages in computing today, the reader might suspect that the computing community quickly recognized the significance of the notion of high-level languages, and afforded its inventors the recognition and praise commensurate with such an important concept. On the contrary, the early proponents of programming languages were hard pressed to convince their colleagues that the notion of a high-level language was more than mere folly. Fortunately, those who believed in the merits of programming languages persevered, and gradually people began to realize that it was not only reasonable, but necessary to use the computer to make programming easier.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

This record contains textual material that is copyright ©; 1982 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact the IEEE Computer Society http://www.computer.org/ (714-821-8380) for copies of the complete work that was the source of this textual material and for all use beyond that as a record from the SPI Database.

Programming Languages

James W. Hunt,

Bell Laboratories

Programming languages not only determine the ultimate forms of solutions to various problems, they may also shape the ways engineers think about problems.

Programming languages are of fundamental importance to the computing community. In addition to providing an effective medium for describing computations to be done by a machine, a programming language is often the most effective medium for people to describe computations to each other. Increasingly, these languages are the primary design tools of the computer systems engineer. They not only determine the ultimate forms of solutions to various problems, but may also shape the ways engineers actually think about problems.

Given the critical role of programming languages in computing today, the reader might suspect that the computing community quickly recognized the significance of the notion of high-level languages, and afforded its inventors the recognition and praise commensurate with such an important concept. On the contrary, the early proponents of programming languages were hard pressed to convince their colleagues that the notion of a high-level language was more than mere folly. Fortunately, those who believed in the merits of programming languages persevered, and gradually people began to realize that it was not only reasonable, but necessary to use the computer to make programming easier.

The pioneering work of a small number of brilliant people in the late 1940's and early 1950's paved the way for the development of two very important languages: Fortran and Cobol. Once these languages matured, their effectiveness helped sustain the rapid growth of the computing industry. Even so, the criticism of programming languages and their developers persisted and continues to persist, although for different reasons.

Undoubtedly, Fortran and Cobol reduced the effort and cost of writing scientific and business applications software, but while they were maturing, the demand for software of all types was increasing at a phenomenal rate. Computers were becoming more reliable, faster, cheaper, and capable of storing larger amounts of program text and data. Consequently, they were being applied to a broader spectrum of problems of increasing size and com plexity by a growing, technically heterogeneous community of users. Doubts about the wisdom of using valuable computer time and memory to translate a highlevel language into machine code were replaced by growing indignation that programming languages were not more...