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Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, 2nd ed.

 
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martin
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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 5:26 pm    Post subject: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, 2nd ed.

Abelson-Sussman-Sussman, MIT Press, 1996
{grr}Oh my gawd! There's these people I know and respect that keep telling me Lisp and Scheme are so great you can do anything with them, absolutely totally cool everything. Then I try very hard to get through this book by very famous people and the only message I get is that parenthesis are highly beloved in academia. There's this smug undertone of how great we are and how cute those expressions are and all I see are totally illegible syntax with ass-backwards operators. Meanwhile, I'm totally convinced you can rebalance a B+ tree in one parenthesis-ridden line less than two miles long in Scheme, but I still don't know why you'd want to do such a thing. It's right there in the STL, no? And pray tell me, anyone, how all those tail recursions are going to help me write stateless objects under MTS, tight network wire packages and interthread messaging objects. Not to mention decent user interface validation code. Programming today, at least as I see it, is knowing API's, system architecture, operating system strengths and weaknesses, object libraries, not how to make an algorithm just-so for the next staff presentation. Don't get me wrong; getting the basic algorithms right is the most important thing in most computer programming projects. That's why we use the STL. (2/2001)
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martin
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2004 5:49 pm    Post subject:

I have a strong feeling I'm going to have to eat shit because of my comments on this book. I think I may actually have been an ignorant twit. But I'll leave it there as a terse reminder to myself that I can be judgemental and wrong. Since it's so rare, I'll preserve this example for historians. So, all you others out there, don't take this as an excuse to doubt my general perfection, however. (For the story on exactly how this embarrassing change of heart happened, you have to have a little patience. Another book review is coming up. Once I've gathered the courage for it.)
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martin
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2004 1:06 pm    Post subject:

Ho ho... they're not making it easy to like them... now I know what pissed me off so badly the first time. Just listen to what they say after explaining how a tail-recursion doesn't use up the stack in Scheme (page 35)...

"One reason that the distinction between process and procedure may be confusing is that most implementations of common languages (including Ada, Pascal, and C) are designed in such a way that the interpretation of any recursive procedure consumes an amount of memory that grows with the number of procedure calls, even when the process described is, in principle, iterative. As a consequence, these languages can describe iterative processes only by resorting to special-purpose "looping constructs" such as do, repeat, until, for and while. The implementation of Scheme we shall consider in chapter 5 does not share this defect."

Excuse my face, but to me, the above paragraph reeks of snotty arrogance that isn't in the least motivated by reality. The looping constructs aren't a quick fix invented by inferior minds to avoid having to figure out tail recursion elimination. Also, the tail recursion optimization has been part of many languages before Scheme even existed. Such inflammatory bull has no place in a text for undergraduates, since it stuffs this idiotic attitude into (presumably) receptive minds.

But, I made a promise, so I'll hold my nose and work myself through this book. At whatever cost, only hoping I'm not getting a myocardial in the process.
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nevelsteen



Joined: 19 Jan 2004
Posts: 90
Location: Uppsala, Belgium or Texas

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2004 6:59 pm    Post subject:

Self inflicted torture? I didn't know you had it in you.
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