Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 74. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 2020-06-01 22:27:54+00:00 From: Dr. Herbert Wender
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.68: on notation Doug, thank you very much for citing in length Iverson on representational aspects in the history of notations! I suppose that all freinds of LISP - and not to forget: the bracketeers in the TEI community - have enjoyed the passage on the history of flatting formulaic notations by hierarchically bracketing expressions. Now I'm awaiting a genuine linguist to explain the influence which will have earlier uses of a sign or his similars when introduced in different notational contexts, and which role may play the earllier meaning of an adopted sign or the atoms in composite signs as ":-" or ":=" resp. "=:" ? And both linguistically and philosophically, IMHO, it is worth to notice that Iverson's accentuated - as Gabriel Egan earlier in this thread, pointing to BASIC's "LET" - the actional, imperative aspect of signs used in programming languages: "You couldn't even say 'A + B.' You had to say, 'Load A into accumulator; load B into so-and-so' -- you couldn't even say that. You had to say, 'Load register 800 into the so-and-so and so on.'" While the most earlier formal languages describe relations or functions the most programming languages describe actions by instructions. Symtomatically Zuse named his forerunner of FORTRAN and AGOL: "Plankalkül". In this respect I would also refer to the first paper in the history of designing IAL / ALGOL which explained the intended goal in terms which specified the object domain of the planned language: "Proposal for a universal language for the description of computing processes." Perhaps the subtext 'universal' behind the initial naming IAL was partially responsible for the feeling of 'pompousness', maybe only the misleading similarity compared with assembly languages like SOAL or SAL motivated the name change. However, the new name was convincing surely because 'algorithmic' accentuates the most prominent property of a language to describe computing processes 'step-by-step'. Regards, Herbert -----Ursprüngliche Mitteilung----- Von: Humanist An: publish-liv Verschickt: Fr, 29. Mai 2020 8:42 Betreff: [Humanist] 34.68: on notation Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 68. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: email@example.com Date: 2020-05-29 03:10:44+00:00 From: Douglas Knox Subject: Iverson on notation as a historical struggle that begins in hand-waving Willard, I appreciate your provocations on ":=" and the subsequent discussion, which led me to look around a bit in the Wexelblat volume from the 1978 History of Programming Languages conference. Ken Iverson, the inventor of the programming language APL, cared a lot about notation, understood math to be embedded historically in language and human culture, and characterized himself as a "renegade mathematician." His closing talk at the conference seems well matched to the generously broad spirit of your provocation while perhaps resisting some premises. I'll sign off here and quote Iverson at length below. Doug Knox What follows is from Kenneth E. Iverson, transcript of presentation, in Wexelblat (1981), pp. 681-682: [...] https://archive.org/details/historyofprogram0000hista _______________________________________________ Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted List posts to: firstname.lastname@example.org List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/ Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php
Editor: Willard McCarty (King's College London, U.K.; Western Sydney University, Australia)
Software designer: Malgosia Askanas (Mind-Crafts)
This site is maintained under a service level agreement by King's Digital Lab.