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#1 c0mrade  Icon User is offline

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What's your Blub?

Posted 12 May 2009 - 04:50 PM

Paul Graham said:

Blub falls right in the middle of the abstractness continuum. It is not the most powerful language, but it is more powerful than Cobol or machine language.

And in fact, our hypothetical Blub programmer wouldn't use either of them. Of course he wouldn't program in machine language. That's what compilers are for. And as for Cobol, he doesn't know how anyone can get anything done with it. It doesn't even have x (Blub feature of your choice).

As long as our hypothetical Blub programmer is looking down the power continuum, he knows he's looking down. Languages less powerful than Blub are obviously less powerful, because they're missing some feature he's used to. But when our hypothetical Blub programmer looks in the other direction, up the power continuum, he doesn't realize he's looking up. What he sees are merely weird languages. He probably considers them about equivalent in power to Blub, but with all this other hairy stuff thrown in as well. Blub is good enough for him, because he thinks in Blub.

http://www.paulgraham.com/avg.html

The classic language 'Blub' invented by Paul Graham...

I think we all have a bit of "Blub Programmer" in us. I try to stay as agnostic as possible when it comes to languages, but I still find myself bias against the Microsoft stuff.

What's your Blub?

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#2 dsherohman  Icon User is offline

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Re: What's your Blub?

Posted 13 May 2009 - 03:38 AM

I'd say the fundamental flaw in that argument is the assumption that power rankings among languages are objective fact. Why would someone who follows ESR's advice not program exclusively in Lisp? Because in their hands Lisp is not the most powerful language.

There are also times when other factors are more important than raw power. I'm sure that any professional race driver would say that a Formula 1 car is far more powerful than standard mass-market vehicles, but what do you see them driving to the store when they need groceries?

I also take issue with his claims that Lisp-style macros are unique among the five languages on ESR's list. I haven't touched Lisp in far too long to clearly remember using them myself, but, based on his description of them, their capabilities are well within the reach of Perl practice - I use code-generating code in almost every non-trivial Perl project. Although it's a somewhat different way of going about it, C has often been used to write self-modifying programs, which I consider to be at a similar level of raw power, even if it is less likely to be useful on a regular basis (and certain to be far less maintainable!). I've not gotten around to picking up Python yet, but I seem to recall that it has Lisp-macro-like capabilities as well.

To answer the actual question, though, Perl is definitely the most powerful language (in my hands) that I've encountered.
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