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Tue Aug 11 17:05:08 CEST 2009

Dynamic languages workshop

http://www.ai.mit.edu/projects/dynlangs/wizards-panels.html

Panel 1: runtimes

David Moon:

 ``Start with a small working system and expand it incrementally,
   adding functionality and adding performance.  The big bang way only
   works for God.  Everyone else has to use evolution.''

 ``Sometimes an error message means exactly what it says.''


Panel 2: compilation

An interesting discussion about finalizers.  For libprim tasks, I'm
thinking that C++ destructors might be interesting in combination with
stack-based "pure" tasks: going out of scope due to return or
exceptions calls destructors.  Will Clinger mentions weak pointers
[1].  Also David Detlefs talked about reference counting coming back.
Figure out what he really meant.


Panel 3: Language design

Jonathan Rees: Tension between distributed programming and OO: an
  object is essentially "here": all abstractions around that is
  essentially smoke and mirrors.  (I.e.: physical location/locality
  becomes more important as systems grow physicaly larger.)  This is
  about physical things (state) vs. information.  Object != value.

Guy Steele: little known secrets

 - stacks are overrated

 - GC is good, finalizers are bad (finalizers w. good semantics <- GC
   at every pointer alteration)

 - lexical scoping is good.  easy to screw up when writing
   interpreter.

 - type inference can be good but error reporting is hard.

 - monads maybe very good

 - higher order functionals are underrated.  thinking in APL can
   approve your lisp code.

 - keyword arguments are good (PG)

 - pretty printers are vastly underrated

 - rule-based systems. (20 years ago, time to try again). 

[1] http://www.iecc.com/gclist/GC-faq.html


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