Re: software progress (RE: Hardware Progress: $319/GF)

From: Sam Kennedy (
Date: Sat Jun 01 2002 - 12:45:07 MDT

I think I'm going to have to chime in here...

Eugen Leitl wrote:

>On Sat, 1 Jun 2002, Ben Houston wrote:
>>Not in my world. The new languages I love such as Java and C# do
>>result in higher productivity for me -- which in turn means I can
>>write more efficient and complex programs with less effort and in less
>I meant an awful lot more with software progress than just a bunch of new
>languages (neither of them going beyond Lisp, a gold benchmark by which
>every language is measured).
That's a subjective opinion. C# is perfectly good for anything anyone
would want to do. So is Java, or Eiffel, and so on.

>>Time. Modern languages have higher productivity for three main
>>reasons: more precise/useful language constructs, managed
>>environments, and better designed libraries. Both of these languages,
>>C# and Java, are also hardware agnostic in that they both compile into
>>platform independent "bytecode". There are now versions of Cobol,
>>C++, Eiffel, and Visual Basic that also compile down to platform
>>independent "bytecode".
>Can we write useful, provably correct systems? No.
Why not? Take a look at or any similar project. Real
things are getting done in a distributed way, more so than ten years ago.

> Can we write secure systems? No. Okay, can we at least write gracefully failing systems? No.
>Can we generate code to specs automatically? No. Can we design massively
>parallel systems, where millions of asynchronous objects distributed over
>thousands of small processors do meaningful work? No. Do we have any clue
>as to how break through the complexity bareer, using nonstochastical
>methods (coder monkeys)? No and no.
Progress is being made. From the way you're talking, it seems that you
just aren't up to date. Check out such things as the MOSIX project (I
use this at home). Also, check out Microsoft .NET, and C#. Those are
significant progress.

>There's no need to go on. We haven't had any palpable progress in the last
>decade, arguably two. In fact, the average code quality is decreasing,
>though to different reasons.
Do you have anything but your pessamistic curmudgeony old views to back
that up? Ten years ago, there were no standards for applications running
on PCs (I'm talking about MS-DOS). Now, it's possible to create reliable
programs that will run on any set of platforms, and interoperate, share
data, and so on in ways that hadn't been dreamed of ten years ago, or
possibly even five. Code reuse is lightyears ahead of ten years ago.
With .NET's CTS, whatever you write in one language can be used in any
other with no problems.

Sam Kennedy

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