Lecture0 - Design of Programming Languages 0 G Pecelli...

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Design of Programming Languages - 0 G. Pecelli Computer Science Department - U. Mass. Lowell A bit of history and classiFcation. In the beginning there were tally marks. ..a lot of time passed. ..and zeros got inter- spersed. ..and the binary system came to be. The idea of a programming language is as old as the idea of computation. Unfortunately, it took a long time to understand what we were trying to talk about. The description of algorithms in some notation goes back to the beginning of arithmetical computation, and can be followed in many languages and historical documents, from the Rhynd papyrus and Mesopotamian clay tablets on (2000BC and earlier). Or more relevance to us are the ideas of formalization that started with Classical Greece, and continued through the intervening centuries to culminate with some ideas of Leibnitz (the co-inventor of the Calculus, and a major philosopher of the end of the seventeenth- beginning of the eighteenth century). His idea involved the association of a unique number to each idea and the ability to reason by doing arithmetical computations: translate sentences into arithmetic, use rules of formal computation on the arithmetical quantities and translate back. Computational aids (abaci, etc.) are quite old and descriptions for the carrying out of computations (including foreign exchange) on any such aids could qualify as proto- programming languages. The whole thing didnt go very far at the time, although the Frst mechanical device to carry out logical inferences (syllogisms and some inferences in probability) was constructed and demonstrated by the third Earl of Stanhope (1753-1816) . The Jaquard Loom - a child of that industrial revolution whose textile beginnings were spurred by the invasion of Britain on the part of inexpensive Indian cotton clothing that undersold the locally produced hand loomed fabrics - was invented in the early 1800s and allowed for programming the sequence of steps that created the carpet and the patterns. It used ”punched cards”. The largest program devised for it, a rather complex tapestry - took over 25,000 cards. The ±rench textile workers went on strike, but didn’t succeed in stopping mechanization. 1
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The next series of attempts came in the middle of the nineteenth century, with Charles Babbage (and Ada Lovelace) and the Analytical Engine covering the engineering and pro- gramming aspects and George Boole (boolean algebra) - also an Englishman - covering the formal mathematical development. Babbage had devised an earlier (non-programmable) device known as the DiFerence Engine, and it was for delivery of a working copy of that device that he received various grants from the British Government (they had subsidized an earlier technology race: the design and construction of the Marine Chronometer - accurate to within half a second a day). In true scientist fashion, he used all the money to study the
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Lecture0 - Design of Programming Languages 0 G Pecelli...

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