Friday, January 24, 2014

Geek: is Julia the right girl for the cowboy coder?

Geek: is Julia the right girl for the cowboy coder?  Evan Miller thinks so:
The problem with most programming languages is they're designed by language geeks, who tend to worry about things that I don't much care for. Safety, type systems, homoiconicity, and so forth. I'm sure these things are great, but when I'm messing around with a new project for fun, my two concerns are 1) making it work and 2) making it fast. For me, code is like a car. It's a means to an end. The "expressiveness" of a piece of code is about as important to me as the "expressiveness" of a catalytic converter.

This approach to programming is often (derisively) called cowboy coding. I don't think a cowboy is quite the right image, because a cowboy must take frequent breaks due to the physical limitations of his horse. A better aspirational image is an obsessed scientist who spends weeks in the laboratory and emerges, bleary-eyed, exhausted, and wan, with an ingenious new contraption that possibly causes a fire on first use.
While I have a keen interest in programming languages, I do share Evan's view of languages being primarily a tool to get something done.  I've never looked at Julia, but after reading Evan's post I think I'll add it to my list of retirement projects...

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