Programming language failings [was Re: strangest systems I've sent email from]

Diane Bruce db at
Sat Apr 30 13:43:59 CDT 2016

On Sat, Apr 30, 2016 at 11:53:40AM -0600, Eric Smith wrote:
> On Sat, Apr 30, 2016 at 7:39 AM, Diane Bruce <db at> wrote:
> > Now on that we furiously agree. One problem has been getting that through
> > to people who insist that C is still a high level assembler and has
> > not changed from the time when it was a hand crafted recursive descent
> > LR to the modern compiler with all the lovely optimisations we can do.
> Sure, the compilers are way better than they were back then. That
> doesn't make the language itself any higher level. The semantic level

To be clear, I never said it did make it any higher level.

> of the language and the level of abstraction it provides have barely
> changed, so the language itself is still a mostly portable substitute

We have for all but specialized applications taken the procrustean approach
and our processors mostly have started to fit the language. 
I remember being related a story from when I was working for
CDC Canada of a Unix port that was done for one of the Cybers. They
essentially emulated a PDP-11 then ported unix on top of that. *shudder*

Oddly, C is not a good fit for the Transputer.

> for assembly language. As Chuck points out, it isn't a good substitute
> for any particular CISC assembly language, but then those aren't
> portable at all.

Also to be clear, I also agreed with that statement.

Are we talking at cross purposes or what? My point is simple.
We cannot use the same outdated ideas we used to use for 'C'
that we used 40 years ago today. Compilers have improved.
Know your tools. And that's all I have said. 


- db at db at

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