Peter Amey wrote:

What is wrong with this picture ?

I see both of you willing to mandate the teaching of C and yet not
mandate the teaching of any of Ada, Pascal, PL/I etc.

Makes sense to me. what is the point of teaching dead languages like Ada, Pascal, and PL/I? Teach C, Assembler, and Java/C# (for the mainstream), and some lisp variant (Scheme, ML, Haskell) and Prolog variant for variety. But Ada, Pascal, and PL/I are suitable only for a "history of programming languages" course :)

I do hope that is a sort of smiley at the end of your message. Please.

It is a sort-of smiley. On one hand, I find the whole thing amusing. On the other hand, I find it patently absurd that someone would suggest that curriculum in 2004 would comprise Ada, Pascal, and PL/I, all of which are (for industrial purposes) dead languages.

On one hand, university should be about learning concepts rather than languages, because the concepts endure while the languages go in and out of fashion. Evidence: 20 years ago, when I was in college, "Ada, Pascal, and PL/I" only included one dead language :) On the other hand, the students do need to get a job when they graduate, and we do them a disservice to not at least teach concepts using a language currently in use in industry.

There is also room for a lot of breadth in a college program. I was only overtly instructed in languages a few times, the rest were "read the book then do this assignment." But in that approach, I learned COBOL, Pascal, PL/M, 68000 assembler, C, C++, FORTRAN, VAX assembler, Prolog, LISP, and Maple. Its not like this list needs to be short.


Crispin Cowan, Ph.D.
CTO, Immunix

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