Paul Koning paulkoning at comcast.net
Fri Jan 15 08:16:05 CST 2021

> On Jan 14, 2021, at 10:55 PM, Fred Cisin via cctalk <cctalk at classiccmp.org> wrote:
> On Thu, 14 Jan 2021, Chuck Guzis via cctalk wrote:
>> It's a different world from BASIC, for sure.
>> Neil maintained that its strength lay in thinking about things in a
>> non-scalar way.  I'll give him that--programming on STAR, where a scalar
>> was treated by the hardware as a vector of length 1 (and thus very slow
>> because of startup overhead) certainly led you toward thinking about
>> things in vector operations, just like APL.
>> Here's the APL*STAR reference manual:
>> http://www.softwarepreservation.org/projects/apl/Books/197409_APL%20Star%20Reference%20Manual_19980800B.pdf
> Thank you for that!
> You are right.  At the time, it simply never occured to me that anybody would use it for anything other than matrix processing of scientific data.
> (MY view of the elephant)
> Yes, I suppose that somebody of sufficient skill COULD write accounting software with it, . . .
> But why?


I used APL around 1995 (with GNU APL, on a Solaris system).  The application was code breaking programs for an online course in cryptanalysis taught by Alex Biryukov at Technion Haifa.  Great course.  It would be nice to clean up that implementation to use Unicode for its APL text.

Did you know there's an ISO standard for APL?  I have it somewhere.

Another APL application I remember reading about was a microcode compiler for an RSA chip designed by Rivest, somewhere in the early 1980s if I remember right.  It's documented in an article in the first issue of what was then Lambda magazine, later renamed to "VLSI design".  Rivest mentioned either in the article or in a lecture at DEC that the microcode was converted to chip layout by a large APL program.  I don't remember how large -- 500 lines?


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