strangest systems I've sent email from

Swift Griggs swiftgriggs at
Thu Apr 28 20:23:29 CDT 2016

On Thu, 28 Apr 2016, Rich Alderson wrote:
> I received undergraduate and graduate degrees in historical linguistics; 

That is an interesting field of study. I don't really understand a lick of 
it (talk about jargon! nobody beats linguists) but it's neat. As academic 
fields go, I'd do operations research if I ever went back. Those guys seem 
to be the brusin' bad dudes of math when it comes to getting things done.

> all my computer science background is due to my own self-directed 
> study--and I do mean study.  I've read any number of primary papers and 
> books in the field, since that study made me better at using computers 
> for what I really wanted to do.

I've read some Dijkstra, Knuth, Jacob Ziv, and some stuff by David 
Wheeler, Martin Hellman, and a few others. The math for the last three is 
pretty well over my head but I got about 80%. What I read is mostly for 
implementation and "applied" reasons, but it's still interesting.

> I've implemented compilers, and even my own Lisp interpreter, just for 
> the fun of it.

Making compilers is fun. I've done it a couple of times using Jack 
Crenshaw's old papers (and he quotes Chomsky!). The lexical scanning tools 
are a lot better, now though. It's actually not too bad of an exercise if 
you don't have to extend or maintain the language afterwards. :-)

> As you might imagine, I'm a good bit older than either of you; I started 
> at university (since you both want to equate "college" with "trade 
> school"; in the US, we usually say "go to college" even if the 
> institution grants higher degrees as well)

It just seems like using the world "college" irritated fewer people when I 
implied that training & education were not mutually exclusive. It feels 
like some folks really recoil at that idea for universities. I just wonder 
how they apply that same principle to law school, nursing, metallurgy, 
etc... All (at least) 4 year degrees from universities where you'd darn 
well better come out with some training, or you are going to be in 
something of a pickle (failing the bar, losing your license, burning your 
face off, etc..).  Maybe it's only for CS, since that's all we've mostly 
been talking about, and that's fair.

> before Liam was born.  I was married and in grad school by the time 
> Swift came along.

I was born in 75, graduated (high school) in 1993, and dropped out of 
college in 1998.

> I'm sorry that Swift took amiss my intended humor, but it's sparked an 
> interesting long thread.

Ah, did I? Sorry about that. I'm always game for a good joke. 


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