[erlang-questions] Rhetorical structure of code: Anyone interested in collaborating?

Felix Gallo <>
Thu May 5 17:31:40 CEST 2016


The current nigh-untenable mess that is computing was created by a bunch of
people with rigorous, maths-based training in the formal methods of the
time.  Imagine what it's going to be like in 20 years when a bunch of
people trained primarily to ask plaintive questions on stack overflow are
the dominant development culture.  Leftpad is going to seem quaint.

F.

On Thu, May 5, 2016 at 8:19 AM, Oliver Korpilla <>
wrote:

> It's kinda sad that someone would come up with such a lame conclusion and
> such woefully incomplete analysis, especially at MIT.
>
> Yes, I agree, I do poke libraries a lot to see what they can do. But that
> is only part 1 of my job.
>
> In part 2 to n I take all I know to create my part on top of it, or even
> to replace parts that I don't like.
>
> I mean, I had several pitfalls during learning about Erlang, OTP, and
> Elixir. That certainly was poking. But without the lessons from SICP and
> other materials I absorbed throughout the years, where would I go from
> there? Nowhere. Or somewhere with lots of badly hacked code that will
> others wish I hadn't.
>
> It seems to me this is more a tale of burnout... and maybe even spending
> too much time in a certain corner of academia. If you get your hands dirty
> for a prolonged time on a project I don't think you will poke your
> libraries forever, but rather write whole new ones, some of them just to
> compensate for the shortcomings of existing ones. And you will create. And
> reason. And design. And analyse. And yearn for better, more succinct, more
> concise ways to build software and get ideas from your head into those damn
> stupid computer things.
>
> I don't think poking is enough in any domain. I love Python, but I am glad
> I actually worked through SICP on my own.
>
> Oliver
>
>
> Gesendet: Donnerstag, 05. Mai 2016 um 17:04 Uhr
> Von: "Garrett Smith" <>
> An: "Lloyd R. Prentice" <>
> Cc: erlang-questions <>
> Betreff: Re: [erlang-questions] Rhetorical structure of code: Anyone
> interested in collaborating?
> I was initially excited to read what great breakthroughs in
> teaching/learning methods this piece would reveal.
>
> But it's just terribly sad. If programming was poking at things I
> didn't understand - in Python moreover - boy I'd be in another
> profession. I feel bad for those students.
>
> On Thu, May 5, 2016 at 9:51 AM, Lloyd R. Prentice <>
> wrote:
> > Pertinent to the discussion:
> >
> > PROGRAMMING BY POKING: WHY MIT STOPPED TEACHING SICP
> >
> > http://www.posteriorscience.net/?p=206
> >
> > Best wishes,
> >
> > LRP
> >
> > Sent from my iPad
> >
> > On May 5, 2016, at 6:07 AM, Vlad Dumitrescu <> wrote:
> >
> >
> >
> > On Thu, May 5, 2016 at 1:19 AM, Richard A. O'Keefe <>
> > wrote:
> >>
> >>
> >> On 4/05/16 6:49 PM, Vlad Dumitrescu wrote:
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> I don't disagree with you, it's just that for projects larger than
> toys,
> >>> I don't know how to browse the history for something that i don't know
> what
> >>> it looks like and that might or might not be there. Taking erlide as an
> >>> example, there are 6000 files in 7000 commits in the main branch,
> going back
> >>> 13-14 years and if i would have saved all experiments I'd probably
> have a
> >>> tree of at least 5 times that much. I am certain that I wouldn't be
> able to
> >>> find anything faster than I would write it again from scratch.
> >>
> >>
> >> With 6000 files of totally unfamiliar code, there's no way I could find
> >> anything without a map and ground approach radar. (find . -type -f
> -print
> >> |
> >> wc actually counts 2774 files; it did report 6186 before I got rid of
> all
> >> the '._*' junk files you get on a Mac.) OK, so 1344 Java files, 38
> Erlang
> >> files, 2 Ruby files, 1 XSLT file, and 50-odd Xtend files (which I can't
> >> read
> >> yet), even hamcrest (oh don't get me started on hamcrest)...
> >
> >
> > Yeah, I think I forgot to filter out the binary files. Anyway, the point
> was
> > that at that size, having a multitude of alternative histories, many of
> > which might not be relevant at all any more, it gets exponentially
> harder to
> > be able to find anything in there.
> >
> >>
> >> With the ._* junk removed, I measure 33.6 MB. This one Eclipse plugin
> >> is bigger than the whole Quintus Prolog system, including manuals.
> >>
> >> Not only that, it's more than half the size of Pharo, which is a
> complete
> >> Smalltalk system including the refactoring browser. There seems to be
> >> something about Java that forces systems to grow exceeding large.
> >
> >
> > Yes, and most of the important stuff (the Erlang implementation of the
> > kernel functionality) is located in another repository. I also had to
> > include some third party libraries as sources, in order to not depend on
> > external stuff whose availability was unreliable.
> >
> >>>
> >>> We would need an index of the important experiments, with a reason why
> >>> they didn't were chosen for implementation and maybe a brief
> description of
> >>> the design, and a reference to the commits. This requires a lot of
> >>> discipline to maintain (especially when a team is working on the
> project,
> >>> with each person doing its own experiments).
> >>
> >>
> >> Such a thing would, however, be extraordinarily useful for someone in my
> >> position, with NO idea of where to look for ANYTHING, and a dead link to
> >> documentation. The README.md file contains this line:
> >>
> >> Documentation may be found at
> >> [the project site](
> http://erlide.org/erlide.html[http://erlide.org/erlide.html]).
> >>
> >> That site isn't supposed to expire until next year, but right now it's
> not
> >> accessible. So yeah, I'd find lots of history very helpful. And lots of
> >>
> >> advice for the traveller.
> >
> >
> > Thanks for pointing that out, I fixed the link. I will try to keep such a
> > high-level history from now on, I'm sure there will be a lot to learn for
> > myself too.
> >
> > best regards,
> > Vlad
> >
> >
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