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But the existence of these narrow languages is natural. There are several reasons why there are so many programming languages, but there are two major ones. The first major reason is functionality. That is to say, the language is best suited for certain types of applications. I wouldn't want to write a payroll program in LISP, which is a list oriented language, suitable for artificial intelligence. Nor would the artificial intelligence people want to write their programs in C O B O L So there's a different functionality that is needed for the different application areas.

Wulf: I would, first of all, repeat the advice I gave to the undergraduate, and add to that that the problems to be solved are large. Sometimes programming languages may be a way of codifying how to solve those larger problems, but don't get trapped into thinking that programming languages, by themselves, independently, are a research problem. They're only a means to an end. our undergraduates and graduates understood what I said to them, I think they'd make better industrial employees. The real trick for them is understanding customer value, and understanding that when you build a system, you build a system to do what your customer needs.

Also I would strongly recommend that students learn more than one language. A l i e n : First of all, they need to understand a variety of these languages. Secondly, I think they need to appreciate how these languages are used. I don't think we understand well enough the environment in which the people who are using them every day exist. And they should become skilled in a couple of very different languages. Dennis: Learn as much as you can about every- thing. Get a broad education. Ferrante: I would say, learn the basics.

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ACM, Programming languages -- Past, Present, and Future - Sixteen Prominent Computer Scientiest Assess Our Field


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