Where are programming languages going?

I found this talk of one of my all-time heroes, Anders Hejlsberg. Turbo Pascal was my second programming language after QBasic, and therefore it is great seeing him firing up Turbo Pascal in the beginning of this video 🙂 Takes me back 17 years. Here is the link.

In this video, I especially like his conclusion that the evolution of PL lies in the intersection of declarative languages, concurrency, and dynamic languages. Actually, I hope that I can develop Babel-17 to conquer the very heart of this intersection. In the end he says, expect it to happen, but not too fast, because we programming language designers are a slow bunch. Yep, I totally agree. It will have taken me about 1.5 years to advance Babel-17 from the first prototype implementation in 2009 to the more refined language that Babel-17 will be at the end of 2010. A big part of this refinement is “purely functional structured programming”. Even Anders Hejlsberg distinguished between imperative and functional programming by the possibility of something like “x = x + 1” as opposed to “y = x + 1” in imperative languages. Clearly he should know better and must know in the back of his head that the only difference is shadowing. Spelling this out explicitly in my pfsp paper has helped me enormously to give Babel-17 a simple yet very powerful core that does not represent the end, but the beginning of the line of development of Babel-17.


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